Who is speaking at QED?
Ryan Bell is a former pastor whose time with the church came to an end in headline-making fashion after he announced his intention to ‘try atheism’ for his ‘year without God’ project. Citing his dissatisfaction with the church’s treatment of LGBT issues and women’s rights, Ryan made the decision to follow his doubts and leave behind almost twenty years as a church leader. Ryan, who now works for a homelessness charity, will explain his story, including how his doubts first began to grow and how he dealt with his dwindling faith while still a practicing pastor.
Mitch Benn is a comedian, author and musician most loved for his long-running role with BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Now Show’. His appearance was one of the highlights of QED 2013, which also served as his introduction to organised skepticism. Throughout 2014 his tour ‘Don’t Believe A Word’ took a skeptical message to audiences around the country, opening with “I’m Mitch Benn and I’m a sceptic. But don’t take my word for it. Or indeed anybody’s. For anything.” Mitch will be our MC for the weekend.
Professor Marcel Dicke is professor of Entomology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. His book ‘The Insect Cookbook: Food for a Sustainable Planet’ argues that the Western world undervalues the contribution insects could make to our lives... and to our nutrition. In 2007 he was awarded the NWO-Spinoza award for his work researching the defence mechanisms of plants.
Matt Dillahunty is the former president of the Atheist Community of Austin, Texas, and host of ‘The Atheist Experience’ cable TV show. Raised as a fundamentalist Baptist, Matt is internationally renowned for his clear-thinking approach, having debated some of the most notable proponents of religion and intelligent design, including Ray Comfort. His website ‘Iron Chariots’ has grown to become a comprehensive database of apologetics and counter-apologetics, and an invaluable resource to the secularist and atheist movements.
Jay Foreman is a musical comedian and whose work has appeared on the ‘Answer Me This!’ podcast. He has performed three solo shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe since 2010, and supported Dave Gorman in his recent ‘Dave Gorman's Powerpoint Presentation’ tour.
AC Grayling is a philosopher and author of over thirty books - including ‘The Good Book’, ‘Ideas That Matter’, ‘Liberty in the Age of Terror’ and ‘To Set Prometheus Free’. He has been a regular contributor to the Guardian, the Times, the Literary Review, Observer, Independent on Sunday, Times Literary Supplement, Index on Censorship and New Statesman, as well as frequent broadcaster on BBC Radios 4, 3 and the World Service. Photo Rugby School.
Dr Lucie Green is a physicist and science broadcaster best known for her work on ‘The Sky At Night’ and ‘Stargazing Live’, as well as regular appearances as part of BBC Radio 4’s science programming. In 2009 she was awarded the Royal Society’s Kohn Award for Excellence in Engaging the Public with Science.
Dr Harriet Hall is a retired family physician and former Air Force flight surgeon who writes about medicine, alternative medicine, science, quackery, and critical thinking. She is one of the founders and editors of the ‘Science Based Medicine’ blog, a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and co-author of the textbook ‘Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions’.
Natalie Haynes is a comedian, author and humanist whose appearance at QED 2013 was noted by many as their highlight of the event. She’s a regular contributor to the Guardian and has written for The Times and The Independent. Before retiring from stand-up comedy in 2009, Natalie became the first female nominee for the Perrier Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Her 2014 novel ‘The Amber Fury’ served as a fiction-based follow-up to her previous non-fiction book ‘The Ancient Guide to Modern Life’ – exploring the lessons the modern world can learn from classical societies.
Jennifer Michael Hecht
Jennifer Michael Hecht is a writer, historian, poet and philosopher whose book ‘Doubt: A History’ explored the history of religious and philosophical doubt. Jennifer’s other books include ‘The End of the Soul’, ‘The Happiness Myth’ and her most recent work, ‘Stay: A History of Suicide and the Philosophies Against It’. Jennifer is also a regular essayist and commentator on radio and television, and her poetry has been published in dozens of anthologies and periodicals.
Professor Bruce Hood is an experimental psychologist and author. Since opening the very first QED in 2011 he has given the Royal Institution’s Christmas lectures, won countless awards and prizes, and published extensively in the fields of superstition, supernatural belief and cognitive development.
Dame Sue Ion
Dr Dame Sue Ion is a leading figure in the UK’s nuclear industry and an internationally recognised expert on fuel recycling. During Tony Blair’s Labour government Sue was responsible for bringing about a change in policy on nuclear power, and remains a vocal advocate for nuclear power’s role in a future energy landscape.
Michael Marshall is the Project Director for the Good Thinking Society and Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. Since becoming an active skeptic in 2009, he’s coordinated the 10:23 Campaign, challenged famous psychics, tested the Shuzi sports bands, and taught children how to dowse. And that’s just the stuff that’s been published. He is also a co-host on the podcast ‘Skeptics with a K’, producer-presenter for ‘Be Reasonable’ and makes regular appearances on ‘InKredulous’.
Aron Ra makes videos promoting science education in an area where creationism is often promoted even in public schools. As Texas State Director of American Atheists, he is an activist for secular politics in a heavily religious environment. He was a regular co-host of the Magic Sandwich Show, and Dogma Debate, and he currently hosts the Ra-Men podcast promoting a progressive perspective. He will be arriving at QED fresh from his tour of Australia as part of the ‘Unholy Trinity’, which also featured Seth Andrews and fellow QED speaker Matt Dillahunty.
Kate Smurthwaite is an award-winning comedian and political activist who has appeared on ‘Question Time’, ‘The Big Questions’, ‘This Morning’, ‘Woman’s Hour’ and ‘The Moral Maze’. Kate writes for the BBC Three political comedy show ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’ and ‘Have I Got News For You?’ as well as Cosmopolitan, The Guardian and The Independent. Photo Bronac McNeill.
Rosie Waterhouse is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at City University London, whose extensive twenty-four year investigation saw her researching the links between Satanic abuse, false memories and moral panics. She was previously part of the Sunday Times investigations team and investigations editor at the Independent, as well as having worked with ‘Newsnight’, ‘Dispatches’, ‘Private Eye’ and ‘The New Statesman’.