Thursday 28th March 2013 – Alan Henness : Rise of the Laptop Lizards
It’s been a short 12 months since the Advertising Standards Authority started to regulate marketing claims made on the Internet. In that time, the Nightingale Collaboration has given the ASA possibly their most serious challenge yet: curbing the misleading claims made on CAM websites. Many practitioners have realised their responsibilities and taken down long lists of ‘what homeopathy can help with…’, etc.
But much more needs to be done and we can’t rely on the ASA to do everything, so we’ve been using other regulators as well, particularly the medicines regulator, the MHRA.
Find out more about what we’ve been up to and what our plans are for the next 12 months.
Thursday 28th February 2013 – Martin Taylor : More Lives Than One ?
Martin S Taylor became interested in hypnosis when he was studying for a PhD at Imperial College, and soon became well known on the student circuit with his science based lecture-demonstration. At first he believed in the traditional view that hypnosis is a special induced state of mind, but discussions with friends and his experience with his own hypnotic subjects led him to subscribe to the ‘social-compliance’ view, namely that hypnosis is best explained by normal, well-understood psychological principles.
He now makes a living as a lecturer and consultant on hypnosis, talking and demonstrating at schools, universities, and anywhere else they’ll pay him. It was at one of Martin’s lectures that Derren Brown was inspired to take up his career, and Martin has worked with Derren on a number of recent television shows. Recently he has been working as a hypnosis consultant for Paramount Pictures, producing promotional videos for horror films.
In tonight’s talk, Martin will be examining the notion that hypnosis can be used to get people to remember past lives, a phenomenon taken by many as evidence of reincarnation.
Thursday 31st January 2013 – Andy Lewis : What Every Parent Needs To Know About Steiner Schools
With Michael Gove and the coalition approving new Steiner Schools to open under the Free School Programme, it is timely to look closely at the origins and beliefs of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the occult movement of Anthroposophy.
Steiner was a mystic who believed he had direct clairvoyant access to cosmic knowledge. As such he developed an esoteric belief system based on karma, reincarnation, astrology, homeopathy and gnomes. His visions gave insights into architecture, art, dance, agriculture, medicine, education, science and diet. His racial hierarchy of spiritual developmental resonated in Germany in the early 20th Century turning a personal belief into a worldwide movement. Today we find hundreds of anthroposophically inspired organisations in the UK alone: everything from Steiner Schools, Biodynamic farms to banks, pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies, charities and cheese makers.
Andy Lewis has been trying to lift the veil on the inner secrets of the movement and will discuss how this secretive movement has direct impact on public life.
Thursday 13th December 2012 – Christmas Bumper Fun Pack !
Thursday 29th November 2012 – Helen Czerski : Bubbles: The Bath and Beyond
Bubbles in liquids are a fascinating and important part of our everyday world, but we still associate them mostly with having baths. After dealing with why there are bubbles in the bath in the first place, we’ll look at what bubbles do and why they’re important in our world. And then we’ll get to why a snail would blow a bubble, how penguins use them to go faster and why bubbles are a champagne connoisseur’s best friend.
My research is on bubbles formed by breaking waves in the ocean, and there’s lots to say about the most up-to-date ocean bubble discoveries and how bubbles affect weather and climate. I’ll show how we study the ocean surface in practice (often not elegant), and why it matters.
This talk will give an overview of the ways that bubbles affect our lives, both the ones we can see if we know where to look and the ones that are more remote but still important. Hopefully the audience will leave with new eyes for bubbles and some great ways to play with bubbles at home. Sadly, I can’t promise a recipe for the perfect bubble bath !
Thursday 25th October 2012 – Nick Cohen : You Can’t Read This Book
Nick Cohen is a secularist, atheist and columnist for the Observer. His latest book You Can’t Read This Book: Censorship in an age of freedom looks at how religion, the wealthy and the state threaten freedom of speech.
And if you’d like a copy of Nick’s book, local independent booksellers P&G Wells will be there to help you.
Thursday 27th September 2012 – Simon Frantz : Nobel Prizes: A century of genius, myths and controversies
The Nobel Prizes may have been created at the turn of the last century, but they still make headlines today. Part of the reason is that from its very beginnings it has been surrounded by secrecy, myths and controversies. I’ll explore a selection of the most interesting and debated stories over the decades – from Alfred Nobel’s will itself to the three-person selection dilemma in the world of big science projects – and show how they reveal as much about the evolving nature of scientific progress as they do about the nature of the prize.
Simon Frantz is the science and technology features editor at BBC.com, creator of the Nobel Prize Watch blog and until recently was a senior editor of Nobelprize.org and Nature Publishing Group.
The Nobel Prizes are announced in the next few weeks following Simon’s talk.
Thursday 30th August 2012 – Alom Shaha : The Young Atheist’s Handbook
How can children brought up in religious families reconcile the different ‘truths’ they are told about the world? And to what extent should we discuss these issues in schools: what exactly should science teachers say when asked about the ‘truth’ of science by religious students?
In this talk, Alom Shaha will describe his personal experiences growing up in a Bangladeshi Muslim community in London, what role his science education played in his journey towards atheism and how, as a Physics teacher, he responds to the apparent conflict between science and religion in the classroom.
And if you’d like a copy of Alom’s book, local independent booksellers P&G Wells will be there with copies.
Thursday 26th July 2012 – Prof. David Nutt : Drugs – Without the Hot Air: Minimizing the Harms of Legal and Illegal Drugs
Professor David Nutt is the current Edmond J Safra chair in Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London and was a member of the Committee on Safety of Medicines, and was President of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology but it was during his chairmanship of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) and his refusal to fudge the issue of perceived drug harm that brought him into the public spotlight.
It is with great pleasure that we welcome Professor Nutt to Winchester Skeptics in the Pub and we hope you can join us too.
P&G Wells book sellers will be attending so you can get yourself a copy of Prof. Nutt’s new book.
Thursday 28th June 2012 – Mark Henderson : The Geek Manifesto, Why Science Matters
There are 650 MPs in the House of Commons. 158 have a background in business, 90 have been political advisers or organisers, and 86 are lawyers. Only one of them is a scientist. Is it any wonder that politics so often lets science down, and fails to exploit its skeptical methods to design policies that are fit for purpose?
In the Geek Manifesto, to be published by Bantam Press in May 2012, Mark Henderson explores this disconnect between science and politics, and charts the emergence of a new force that is promising to mend it. From the Simon Singh libel case to the sacking of David Nutt and the Science is Vital campaign, people who care about science are starting to stand up to be counted. The geeks are coming — and our country needs us.
Thursday 24th May 2012 – Martin Robbins : Bad Science in The Developing World, trailing the homeopaths of East Africa
Martin Robbins of the Guardian’s Lay Science talks about dangerous pseudo-medical practices outside the Western world, from homeopaths in East Africa to flat earthers and anti-vaccine campaigns in Nigeria.
As part of the talk, Martin will be showing video clips from a trip to visit homeopathic projects in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania last year, shot for a film he’s making with Michael Story, with support from the Wellcome Trust.
NOTE : This event is on the second to last Thursday, the 24th, and not the usual last Thursday which is the 31st. Only applies to this SitP.
Thursday 26th April 2012 – David Allen Green : Thinking Skeptically About Law and Policy
David Allen Green will explore how critical thinking and an evidence-based approach can fit in with law and policy making.
David is a lawyer and journalist. He is legal correspondent of the New Statesman and is currently long-listed for the 2012 George Orwell Prize. His journalism has included exposing Johann Hari as “David Rose” and uncovering the Times newspaper’s hack of Nightjack. David has also recently given evidence to the Leveson Inquiry. As a lawyer he is currently acting for the appellant in the “Twitter Joke Trial”. In January 2012 GQ magazine listed him as one of the most influential men in Britain.
A long-time regular of skeptics in the pub, he is founder and convenor of Westminster Skeptics.
Wednesday 28th March 2012 – Deborah Hyde : The Natural History of the European Werewolf
NOTE : Change of date from the usual last Thursday of the month to the last Wednesday 28th of March. Only applies to this SitP.
The werewolf is an enduring motif. Though there are many good werewolves in folkore, the prevalent type is the ravaging, insatiable beast. The werewolf so often stands for the heart of darkness of the human soul. This talk will explore how the motif was used during one of Europe’s darkest eras – the Great Witch Hunt of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Wednesday 29th February 2012 – Professor Sophie Scott : Faulty Memories
NOTE : Change of date from the usual last Thursday of the month to the last Wednesday 29th of February. Only applies to this SitP.
Sophie is a Wellcome Trust Senior Fellow and Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL. Her research is on the neural basis of human communication has a particular emphasis on how our brains decode the range of information in the voices we hear, and how that can be affected by hearing loss or stroke.
Sophie’s talk will be on the way our memories let us down and why we probably shouldn’t feel as sure of them as we do.
26th January 2012 – Simon Singh, Alan Turing and the Cracking of the Enigma Code
One hundred years after the birth of Alan Turing, Simon Singh discusses how Turing cracked the German Enigma code during the Second World War. He will also look at the history of cryptography prior to the twentieth century and recent developments in information security.
The talk will include a demonstration of a genuine working Enigma cipher machine !
Our Honorary President is warmly welcomed back to Winchester Skeptics to give the inaugural talk at our new venue; The Winchester Discovery Centre where we will all have a fantastic night.
See you there !
Welcome back Simon.
8th December 2011 – Hampshire Skeptics Society Skeptics in the Planetarium !
24th November 2011 – Paolo Viscardi, Monsters, Myth and Misinformation
From the Montauk monster and Chupacabra to Barnum’s much hyped Feejee mermaid, there is an interest in the unusual that can whip up a storm of speculation and spectacle. Cutting through hype, sensationalism and misinformation is important in preventing the mismanagement of expectations and the devaluing of what is genuine.
Join Dave Gorman look-alike, Paolo Viscardi in exploring some weird objects from the past and present – using scientific collections and methods to get beneath the surface of monsters, mermaids and the hype they have inspired.
Paolo Viscardi is a curator of natural history at the Horniman Museum in Southeast London, a science blogger and a contributor for science Q&A site askabiologist.org.uk.
27th October 2011 – Dr. Lewis Dartnell, Life ! Don’t Talk to me About Life !
The origin of life on Earth has long been one of the great challenges in biology, if not all science. After half a century of slow progress, research over the last decade has dovetailed in a remarkable way. Work in astrobiology, earth sciences, microbiology, genetics and chemistry all point from radically different perspectives to a particular kind of deep-sea hydrothermal vent as the ideal incubator. Taken together, these exciting developments make it look as if the origin of life was surprisingly easy, and happened amazingly quickly. All that remains is to test it in the laboratory…
If life seemed to start so readily on Earth, what about the chances of life on other worlds? ‘Astrobiology’ is a brand new field of science, investigating the origins and limits of life on our own planet, and where life might exist beyond the Earth. But what actually is ‘life’ and what are the most extreme conditions terrestrial organisms can tolerate? And where in the cosmos might we reasonably expect to find ET? Come on a tour of the other planets and moons in our solar system which may harbour life, and even further afield to alien worlds we’ve discovered orbiting distant stars, to explore one of the greatest questions ever asked: are we alone…?
Lewis Dartnell is an astrobiology researcher based at University College London, looking into the possibility of life beyond Earth.
29th September 2011 – Chris Lintott, co-presenter of The Sky At Night
Also Chris is the principal investigator of the Galaxy Zoo project that has inspired millions of people to take a greater interest in science and astronomy.
Describing the Galaxy Zoo project, Chris commented that, “One advantage is that you get to see parts of space that have never been seen before. These images were taken by a robotic telescope and processed automatically, so the odds are that when you log on, that first galaxy you see will be one that no human has seen before.”
25th August 2011 – Alice Sheppard, When the Universe Came to the People; Citizen Science for Skeptics
Astronomy has been the subject of wonder and speculation for as long as historical records exist. As with all science, people got some things right – and, even with the best methods available, other things wrong.
Since 2007, Alice Sheppard has run the Galaxy Zoo Forum, the discussion area for an online astronomy project with 300,000 members worldwide. Galaxy Zoo has so far produced 21 papers, whose authors and acknowledged contributors include several ordinary citizens. Some of its findings were a direct result of questions or collections of objects created by the users, who became “Citizen scientists”.
Alice takes us through some of the best and worst of astronomical history, and what ancient and modern mistakes are made today. We will hear the questions people have come to Galaxy Zoo with, the ways in which biases were found and dealt with by the scientists and participants, the beautiful and inspiring projects created by untrained people and the scientific thinking they learnt for themselves to apply.
We also take a look at citizen science in general, how Galaxy Zoo taught large numbers of people to understand and use science, and explore what this might mean for skepticism.
Alice is one of Cardiff Skeptics’s two founders (the one who does the Internet stuff while Dean faffs about being witty). By day she’s an office superviser at a charity for disabled people; by night she writes about science and astronomy.
28th July 2011 – Dean Burnett, Comedy and Skepticism
Join Dean as he discusses what he has learned and what his experience can offer after many years practicing a novel and rather extreme form of scientific engagement.
Dean Burnett is a recently qualified Doctor of Neuroscience. He is also a stand-up comedian. For the best part of a decade now, he has been using his comedic skills to promote his field of expertise to the general public, which has resulted in run ins and unfortunate incidents with the media, irate activists, Doctor Who fans, drunken hecklers and even Paramount Studios, Hollywood.
See his Blog at Science Digestive
30 June 2011 – Jon Ronson, The Psychopath Test
Jon Ronson is an award-winning writer and documentary maker. He is the author of two bestsellers: Them: Adventures with Extremists and The Men Who Stare at Goats which was adapted into a Hollywood movie of the same name, and two collections, Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness and What I Do: More True Tales. He will be talking about his latest book The Psychopath Test (due for publication June 2011).
When Jon is contacted by a leading neurologist who has recently received a cryptically puzzling book in the mail he is challenged to solve the mystery behind it. As he searches for the answer, Jon soon finds himself, unexpectedly, on an utterly compelling and often unbelievable adventure into the world of madness. Jon meets a Broadmoor inmate who swears he faked a mental disorder to get a lighter sentence but is now stuck there, with nobody believing he’s sane. He meets some of the people who catalogue mental illness, and those who vehemently oppose them. He meets the influential psychologist who developed the industry standard Psychopath Test and who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are in fact psychopaths. Jon learns from him how to ferret out these high-flying psychopaths and, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, heads into the corridors of power.
Jon Ronson’s official website is JonRonson.com
26th May 2011 – Mark Stevenson, An Optimist’s Tour of the Future
When unexpectedly confronted with his own mortality, Mark Stevenson – a writer, deep-thinker, and stand-up comedian – began to ponder what the future holds for our species.
Stevenson set out simply, asking, “What’s next?” and then traveled the globe in pursuit of the answers.
His voyage of discovery took him to Oxford to meet Transhumanists (they intend to live forever), to Boston where he confronted a robot with mood swings, to an underwater cabinet meeting in the Indian Ocean, and Australia to question the Outback’s smartest farmer. He clambered around space planes in the Mojave desert, got to grips with the potential of nanotechnology, delved deep into the possibilities of biotech, saw an energy renaissance on a printer, a revolution in communications, had his genome profiled, glimpsed the next stage of human evolution … and tried to make sense of what’s in store.
A meticulous researcher, Stevenson sifts the genuine concerns about new technologies from fear-mongering – offering up a balanced take on everything from nanotech ‘grey goo’ to worries about population and resource crises, pandemics, climate change and new forms of terrorism. “I’m not saying the future will be better,” he says “but I do know there’s everything to play for.”
28th April 2011 – Adam Rutherford, The Gene Code
Full details to follow but we are anticipating Adam giving a talk based on his new series which will be airing in February and will cover what genetics can really tell us, and how it it is portrayed like a modern phrenology.
31st March 2011 – Les Rose, Evidence-Free Health Care: Adventures in politics and other public affairs
The present coalition government may have broken the mould of British politics, but Parliament now has the poorest representation of science for very many years. So far, despite promises that things would be different, health ministers are maintaining the irrational stance taken by the previous administration. Andrew Lansley refuses to stop wasting money on homeopathy, and refuses to have alternative medicine evaluated by NICE. Dialogues with politicians and other public figures can be hugely entertaining and revealing, as this talk will show.
Les Rose is a freelance consultant clinical scientist, and has worked for over 30 years in managing clinical trials, training and advising clinical researchers, and evaluating results of trials. He coordinates a group of experts associated with Sense About Science, who are working in support of evidence-based medicine. This group was responsible for the letter which was sent to NHS trusts in May 2006, requesting them to avoid treatments which lack evidence of efficacy and safety. He regularly writes and broadcasts on this and related topics. Les is a Fellow of both the Institute of Clinical Research, and of the Society of Biology. He serves on the editorial boards of `The Biologist’, `Focus on Alternative and Complementary Medicine’ (FACT), and the`Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine’.
24th February 2011 – Mat Parker the Stand-up Mathematician
Matt Parker is an enthusiastic mathematics speaker whose goal in life is to make more people excited about mathematics. He studied mathematics and physics in Australia before training to be a teacher and working in both Australia and the UK. Matt now develops and delivers highly engaging mathematics activities and his favourite number is currently 28.
Matt Parker‘s erudite brand of comedy takes on the topical and the daft in equal measure. Life’s a game for Matt and his playful enthusiasm is so infectious you can’t help but be drawn into his comedy world.
Relaxed and measured, Matt meanders through his thoughts and suggestions as the audience enthusiastically take part. A fixture of the illustrious Mathematics speaking circuit since January 2007, Matt has recently stormed into stand-up and has swiftly established himself as a exuberant new act and compère.
27th January 2011 – Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association
Andrew Copson is the new Chief Executive of the British Humanist Association (BHA), the national charity promoting Humanism and representing the interests of ethically concerned, non-religious people in the UK.
His writing on humanist and secularist issues has appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Times and New Statesman as well as in various journals and he has represented the BHA and Humanism extensively on television news on BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky, as well as on television programmes such as Newsnight, The Daily Politics and The Big Questions. He has also appeared on radio on programmes from Today, Sunday, The World at One, The Last Word and Beyond Belief on the BBC, to local and national commercial radio stations.
Andrew will be delivering a talk about the history of the Humanist movement and why we feel it so important today.
** VENUE CHANGE **
14th December 2010 – The Pod Delusion Live ! and Winchester SitP Christmas Party !
The Pod Delusion is a weekly news magazine podcast about interesting things. From politics, to science to culture and philosophy, it’s commentary from a secular, rationalist, skeptical, somewhat lefty-liberal, sort of perspective. A bit like From Our Own Correspondent but with more jokes.
We’ll lay on some food and have some excellent fun with the guys from the Pod Delusion. If you’d like to contribute to the evening then please let us know.
24th November 2010 – David Allen Green aka. Jack of Kent
David Allen Green is a lawyer and writer living in London. He is also the convenor of Westminster Skeptics and a prolific Tweeter. Most well known for his incisive and clear blogging coverage of the recent libel action of the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) against Simon Singh.
NOTE : Change of date from the usual last Thursday of the month to the last Wednesday 24th of November. Only applies to this SitP.
28th October 2010 – Frank Swain
In addition to the SciencePunk website, Frank is the creator of the paper-based War On Error zine, and ex-editor of the Korovian. Previously, he worked at Sense About Science, co-editing There Goes the Science Bit…, a report by the Voice of Young Science group investigating dodgy science claims in advertising, and working with BBC’s Newsnight to reveal the pseudoscience behind the Brain Gym programme.
He has written for a number of publications including the Guardian and Times science blogs, Wired, BBC Focus, industry journal IET, art-hipster mag Plastic Rhino, and even got a few words into PR Week this one time. He’s appeared on national radio and opposite the lovely Kylie Morris on More4 News a couple of times to discuss science issues. Frank has hosted science events at the Secret Garden Party festival and the BA Festival of Science, and acted as a judge for the national Debating Matters competition.
He sits on the advisory panel for the non-profit Guerilla Science organisation and helps production companies to develop ideas for science TV.
Frank has a history of making zines, being a filthy scenester, stage-managing burlesque shows, climbing buildings, harrying his betters, arguing the toss and generally being a force for good.
30th September 2010 – Professor Chris French
Ever since records began, in every known society, a substantial proportion of the population has reported unusual experiences many of which we would today label as ‘paranormal’. Opinion polls show that the majority of the general public accepts that paranormal phenomena do occur. Such widespread experience of and belief in the paranormal can only mean one of two things. Either the paranormal is real, in which case this should be accepted by the wider scientific community which currently rejects such claims. Or else belief in and experience of ostensibly paranormal phenomena can be fully explained in terms of psychological factors. This presentation will provide an introduction to the sub-discipline of anomalistic psychology, which may be defined as the study of extraordinary phenomena of behaviour and experience, in an attempt to provide non-paranormal explanations in terms of known psychological and physical factors. This approach will be illustrated with examples relating to a range of ostensibly paranormal phenomena.
Professor Chris French is the Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He has published over 100 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics within psychology. His main current area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims. He is the editor of The Skeptic and writes a regular column for the Guardian’s online science pages. http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/chris-french
26th August 2010 – Professor David Colquhoun
Professor Colquhoun works in the Department of Pharmacology at University College London. He has been an outspoken critic of pseudoscience and scientific fraud for many years, writing extensively on the topic, including articles in Nature and The Guardian. He is particularly critical of alternative medicine, and of the decision of a number of UK universities to offer degrees in complementary and alternative medicine, stating that they are “anti-science” and that “universities that run them should be ashamed of themselves.” His interest in inference extends to methods that are used to assess and manage science, and critical assessment of research “metrics”. In December 2009, Colquhoun won a Freedom of Information judgement, after a three-year campaign, requiring the University of Central Lancashire to release details of their BSc course in homeopathy
Colquhoun created his personal website, Improbable Science, devoted to criticism of scientific fraud and quackery, in 2001. It has a particular focus on alternative medicine (AM), including such practices as homeopathy, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, and others, calling them “pure gobbledygook”. In addition to his outspoken disapproval of AM in academia, Colquhoun frequently speaks out on his website against misrepresentation of AM as science in the media, and governmental support of AM.
29th July 2010 – Andy Lewis
The late eighteenth century was a very creative time for inventing new forms of quackery and some people became wealthy on the back of their creations. Of these creations, it is perhaps only homeopathy that has survived virtually unchanged into the 21st century. The majority of alternative medicines available today have been invented and developed within living memory, despite claims of their origins in antiquity.
What makes an alternative medicine successful? Why should homeopathy survive when the very popular Tractors of Perkins have long since been forgotten? Could you have predicted this in 1800? Today, we have a new industry of quack devices protecting us from mobile phones. Should you invest in such enterprises?
In this talk, Andy will look at the factors that allow patent medicines to thrive, and why consumers and practitioners latch onto them. Importantly, we shall explore the implications of these views for regulation and protecting the public from delusional or fraudulent claims.
Andy Lewis developed the Quackometer website that explores the pseudoscientific claims of alternative medicine websites and their impact on society. Despite his detractors’ claims, he does not own a yacht in the South of France paid for by Big Pharma. He has yet to secure a single penny from such sources for his work.
1st July 2010 – Dr. Andy Russell
From natural cycles to global conspiracies, the climate change “sceptic” uses many arguments to challenge the scientific consensus on climate change. But how well do these arguments stand up and do these people merit the label of skeptics? In this talk we’ll examine some of the most common arguments and assess the level of “scepticism” at work.
Andrew is a weather and climate researcher at the University of Manchester. His work focuses on European extreme events and Antarctic climate change. He runs the North-West branch of the Royal Meteorological Society and often comments on weather and climate issues in the media.
As the year hopefully begins to warm up a bit we welcome Simon Perry, the founder of Leicester SitP to Winchester. Simon is an active campaigner against nonsense. Using the ASA, Trading Standards, other regulatory bodies and even gaining help from MPs, his campaigns have helped shut down dodgy allergy test services, prevented traditional chinese medicine salesmen from claiming to cure cancer and exposed psychic scams.
His largest involvement in a campaign, coined the “Quacklash” by Jack of Kent involved almost 600 separate letters being sent to trading standards to report claims to treat childhood diseases with a back rub. 60 of the letters gained 500 signatories. Further complaints were issued with the General Chiropractic Council.
Simon will be explaining the techniques he’s used to fight woo, what works and what doesn’t and tell stories about some of the crazy nonsense he’s encountered along the way.
Simon runs Leicester Skeptics in the Pub, blogs at http://adventuresinnonsense.blogspot.com and writes a skeptical column in the Leicester Mercury.
You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Simon_Perry.
For our April meeting the inestimable Martin Robins, researcher, science writer and author of The Lay Scientist blog will be hosting a panel group giving short talks and then taking questions from the audience.
1st April 2010 – Deborah Hyde
As we move into Spring we are delighted to be hosting Deborah Hyde who has been writing about the folklore of the macabre for eighteen years. Her book, ‘Unnatural Predators’ will be published this year. She blogs on belief in the supernatural as ‘Jourdemayne’, but often suffers from mission creep. Her daytime, grown-up job is a makeup effects coordinator in the film industry – more vampires and zombies, then.
In deepest Febuary we are proud to say that Richard Wilson will be coming to speak. Richard is a blogger and the author of the highly recommended Don’t Get Fooled Again : A Sceptic’s Handbook and is one of the architects of the Trafigura toxic waste dumping scandal exposé that so recently caused such widespread legal shinanegins.
Simon will be the inaugural speaker of the Winchester Skeptics in the Pub and will be introduced by the fearless leader of the Skepchicks and co-host of The Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast, Rebecca Watson and the awesome Sid Rodrigues, the organiser of the London Skeptics in the Pub.
Simon Singh is the author of several bestselling science books, including ‘Fermat’s Last Theorem’ & ‘Big Bang’. Most recently he co-authored ‘Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial’ with Professor Edzard Ernst. His Radio 4 programmes include ‘Five Numbers’, ‘Five Particles’ & ‘The Serendipity of Science’. Recently there have been a series of high profile libel cases brought against scientists, science writers and medical researchers.
Simon Singh, who is currently being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association, will argue that English libel laws crush free speech and block scientific progress. He will explain how our libel laws are notoriously friendly towards claimants and hostile towards defendants, which means that international libel cases are brought to London. Singh will also give his views on how libel laws could be reformed to bring them in line with other democratic countries, and will explain why he is backing a national campaign for libel reform.