Podcasts

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Listen to hour-long talks at Edinburgh Skeptics monthly Skeptics In The Pub, Edinburgh Fringe & Science festival shows, plus 10 minute interviews with our speakers conducted by regular hosts Mark Pentler, David Frank, Heather Pentler, Claudia Schaffner & Kitty Johnstone.

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10 Questions: Prof Kathy Whaler

Oct 18th, 2017

With tales of moving plates, swirling magma and rabbits, Prof. Kathy Whaler from the University of Edinburgh tackles 10 Questions from Heather Pentler.

Kathy Whaler has been Professor of Geophysics at the University of Edinburgh since 1994. Her main research interests are using permanent geomagnetic observatory and low Earth orbit magnetic satellite data to study the origin and maintenance of the Earth’s magnetic field; the magnetic field of the near-surface rocks of the Earth and other solar system objects that reflects their composition and past history; and using electromagnetic induction to probe the electrical resistivity structure of the crust and upper mantle, particularly as part of multi-disciplinary projects in rifting environments. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the American Geophysical Union, a Past President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s Price Medal.

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SotF 2017: Why The Compass Needle Points North

Oct 18th, 2017

Magnetic compasses may have been used by the Chinese as early as the first century AD, and natural magnets were known to the Greeks in classical times. Knowledge of the magnetic field has been routinely used in navigation (and measurements have routinely made) since the 18th century, soon after Henry Gellibrand discovered that it changed with time.

Nowadays, the geomagnetic observatory network is supplemented by measurements from space – in November 2013, ESA launched a constellation of three low-Earth orbiting magnetic satellites. Why? – partly because we still need to monitor the magnetic field and its changes, but also because fundamental questions remain about its origin and the energy sources that maintain it.

Kathy Whaler has been Professor of Geophysics at the University of Edinburgh since 1994. Her main research interests are using permanent geomagnetic observatory and low Earth orbit magnetic satellite data to study the origin and maintenance of the Earth’s magnetic field; the magnetic field of the near-surface rocks of the Earth and other solar system objects that reflects their composition and past history; and using electromagnetic induction to probe the electrical resistivity structure of the crust and upper mantle, particularly as part of multi-disciplinary projects in rifting environments. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and of the American Geophysical Union, a Past President of the Royal Astronomical Society, and was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s Price Medal.

10 Questions: Prof Tim Whitmarsh

Oct 11th, 2017

As well as full-length talks we’re bringing you interviews with our Fringe 2017 speakers to find out what makes them tick and to grill them in forensic detail about their fields. First off is writer and history Prof Tim Whitmarsh. Tim sat down with our own Heather Pentler to discuss gods, cats, and atheists in the comfortable surroundings of the Royal Mile Radisson.

Prof. Whitmarsh is the author of *Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World*, described by the New York Times as ‘excellent’, by the Guardian as ‘brilliant’, and by his mother as ‘alright if you like that kind of thing’. As well as another 6 books (about Greek literature, thought and culture), he has written for the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books, and has appeared a number of times on BBC TV and radio. He has held professorial positions in the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Exeter.

www.classics.cam.ac.uk/directory/professor-tim-whitmarsh

Twitter: @TWhittermarsh

SotF 2017: Atheism in Ancient Greece

Oct 11th, 2017

Edit: You know when you’ve given the podcast gear to your vice-chair to do interviews at QED and you realise you needed it to record a welcome message for the very first Fringe 2017 podcast? Yeah, that…

It’s a very special time here at Podcast HQ as we start to bring you some episodes from our 2017 Edinburgh Fringe lineup. Normally we’d start with our compilation evening Our Friends On The Fringe, but that must wait for another day (and because we forgot to ask if it was ok. Oops!). So our first release from this year’s Fringe is historian and writer Professor Tim Whitmarsh.

Most people think of atheism as something modern and western, but in fact it has a rich, deep and weird history to rival any religion’s. In Tim’s talk we’ll meet some of classical antiquity’s most brilliant and engaging characters, including Diogenes (who lived in a barrel) and Socrates (who didn’t). We’ll also reflect on what it means, for us now, to think of atheism as something with a history older than Islam and Christianity.

Prof. Whitmarsh is the author of *Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World*, described by the New York Times as ‘excellent’, by the Guardian as ‘brilliant’, and by his mother as ‘alright if you like that kind of thing’. As well as another 6 books (about Greek literature, thought and culture), he has written for the Guardian, the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books, and has appeared a number of times on BBC TV and radio. He has held professorial positions in the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Exeter.

www.classics.cam.ac.uk/directory/professor-tim-whitmarsh

Twitter: @TWhittermarsh

10 Questions: Michael Dougan

Sep 27th, 2017

In this episode of 10 Questions we sit down with Prof. Michael Dougan to ask some searching, evidence-based questions on Brexit. Are we really screwed? What’s the process? And most importantly: how will Scotland fare?

Michael Dougan is Professor of European Law and Jean Monnet Chair in EU Law at the University of Liverpool. He is an established academic authority on EU constitutional law and Joint Editor of Common Market Law Review – the world’s leading scientific journal for European legal studies.

Michael’s public engagement activities, including videos of his lectures on the EU referendum, received extensive media attention in the run-up to the ‘Brexit’ referendum and he continues to be a popular authority on the matter for individuals and groups all around the world.

SitP: Brexit: Where have we got to? And where are we going?

Sep 27, 2017

The UK’s negotiations on withdrawal from the EU are now underway. And so Leave campaigners are now facing a form of accountability they have never experienced before: the accountability of reality. What are the key issues in the UK-EU negotiations? What will be their likely outcomes? What will the Repeal Bill mean for democracy and accountability here in the UK? Our speaker will provide an overview of the current legal and political situation, leaving plenty of time for questions from the floor, to discuss the most important set of challenges facing the UK since 1945.

Michael Dougan is Professor of European Law and Jean Monnet Chair in EU Law at the University of Liverpool. He is an established academic authority on EU constitutional law and Joint Editor of Common Market Law Review – the world’s leading scientific journal for European legal studies.

Michael’s public engagement activities, including videos of his lectures on the EU referendum, received extensive media attention in the run-up to the ‘Brexit’ referendum and he continues to be a popular authority on the matter for individuals and groups all around the world.

SciFest 2017: Forensic Anthropology and its Use in Criminal Investigations

Sep 13th, 2017

Edit: Bit low effort this one on my part. But next week… The Fringe! – Mark

For another trip back to 2017’s Edinburgh International Science Festival we’ll be hearing from Dr Lucina Hackman. Forensic anthropologists are crucial in helping to identify the deceased when there are limited clues to their identity. Dr Hackman’s talk will examine how her work has helped give victim’s their identity to assist with the investigation of crimes.

Dr Hackman is a senior lecturer at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification based in the University of Dundee. She runs postgraduate courses and teaches students in forensic anthropology. Dr Hackman is also a certified, practising forensic anthropologist and works regularly with investigators in this role.

SciFest 2017: Niamh Nic Naeid Interview – Does Forensic Science Have A Future?

Sep 6th, 2017

Yes, it’s us again. Remember us? We do podcasts and then take massive breaks to put on public festivals of science and rationalism. But we’re here again! We’ll have some podcasts from most of our Skeptics on the Fringe 2017 talks over the coming months and there’s so much good stuff coming up. It’ll keep you going for aaaages.

Before that we have a few other podcasts to put out from the Science Festival, starting with this interview with Niamh Nic Daeid. She’ll be telling us all about her incredible career and her current research, as well as telling us about her dreams for the forensics future.

We sadly couldn’t podcast Niamh’s talk for pesky legal reasons, but you’ll be able to hear more from her in a few weeks time on one of our Skeptics on the Fringe 2017 podcasts!

Professor Niamh Nic Daeid is Director of Research at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification and Director of the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science a £10million a year project with the remit to disrupt the forensic science ecosystem. She is a forensic chemist specialising in fire investigation, and the clandestine manufacture and characterisation of drugs of abuse. She is the current Vice Chair of the scientific advisory board of the International Criminal Court and is an advisor to the United Nations on aspects of New psychoactive drugs.

10 Questions: Paul Zenon

Jul 26th, 2017

The morning after the birthday cake-infused Skeptics In The Pub before, Mark Pentler sat down with Paul Zenon (Twitter: @PaulZenon) to discuss the world of psychics and mediums in more detail. Plus they reminisce about Blackpool, the place where they both grew up. It’s like Portabello, only with more Scottish people.

We’re probably taking a break now before our month-long Fringe Binge – there may be time to squeeze in one last podcast. If you’re good and eat all your dinner, obviously.

SitP: Secrets of the Psychics

Jul 26, 2017

Edit: A birthday surprise at the end of this talk. The picture attached should hopefully provide some context…

From long-running TV series to sold-out theatre shows and premium rate phone ‘advice’ lines, the business of ‘Love and Light’ and talking to the dead is very much alive and well. How are psychics able to convince the public that their other-worldly insight is genuine? Why do people insist on believing, despite the lack of evidence of an afterlife? Paul Zenon presents a potted history of what of what Harry Houdini described as ’the filthiest profession in the world’, and takes a look at their methods, past and present.

Paul is possibly best known as a magician; after several series on Children’s BBC in the 90s he became the pioneer of the UK’s Street Magic genre, with a number of one-man C4 and ITV Specials. His career has spanned three decades and seen him performing for audiences in around forty countries while making hundreds of TV appearances as performer, presenter nd pundit; the latter relating in particular to his inside knowledge with regard to matters generally considered by the media to be ‘paranormal’. His last visit to Edinburgh was to the 2016 Fringe, in his roll as Ringmaster in the Olivier Award-winning circus-cabaret show, La Clique. You’ll find him on Twitter @PaulZenon

Consumer Protection Disclaimer: this talk is investigational and for the purpose of entertainment.

Special: Skeptics on the Fringe 2017 Preview

Jun 05, 2017

The podcast returns for one week only! (Probably. Hopefully a few more before the Fringe).

Join Mark, Sean & Heather as they go through each night of the Skeptics on the Fringe 2017 lineup and discuss the people, the topics, and generally lark about for 50 minutes.

Skeptics on the Fringe 2017 began in 2009 and is our contribution to the world’s biggest arts festival. We bring a dose of scientific skepticism, critical thinking, and rationalism to the city during the month of August.

Skeptics on the Fringe will be at its usual venue – The Banshee Labyrinth on Niddry Street (just off the Royal Mile). We’ll be in the Chamber Room at 7:50pm. Details of the complete lineup can be found on the usual places:

Website: http://www.edinburghskeptics.co.uk/
Twitter: @EdSkeptics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EdinburghSkeptics/
MeetUp: https://meetup.com/EdinburghSkeptics/

SciFest 2017: Emma McClure Interview

May 18, 2017

In this interview with EdSkeptics Science Festival speaker Emma McClure we delve deeper into some of the issues with the reliance on certain types of forensic evidence, hear about her journey into skepticism, and find out what happened to her first pet – featuring special guest star Emma’s mother.

Emma McClure is a solicitor specialising in prison and public law whose work sees her regularly representing prisoners during parole hearings and bringing judicial reviews against public bodies. She has given talks around the country on the way in which over-confidence in the veracity of forensic science can lead to miscarriages of justice and has gone undercover to investigate psychics, faith healers and Mind Body Spirit fairs.

Follow Emma on Twitter: @Emmemmemma

SciFest 2017: The Phantom of Heilbronn

May 18, 2017

We’re back but also we never really went away or something. For this double episode of the podcast we have a talk and an interview with prison lawyer Emma McClure. In this talk, she examines the issues with forensic techniques, highlighting the amusing, confusing and sometimes tragic consequences of failing to take a skeptical approach to evidence in the field of forensic science.

Emma McClure is a solicitor specialising in prison and public law whose work sees her regularly representing prisoners during parole hearings and bringing judicial reviews against public bodies. She has given talks around the country on the way in which over-confidence in the veracity of forensic science can lead to miscarriages of justice and has gone undercover to investigate psychics, faith healers and Mind Body Spirit fairs.

Follow Emma on Twitter: @Emmemmemma

Special – A Plastic Tide talk

May 02, 2017

For the podcast this week we have some bonus content for you while we pin down some of our Science Festival speakers for interviews. We have a recording of a talk given at one of our monthly cinema nights.

Over eight million tonnes of plastic enters the ocean each year, killing sea life. Now new evidence says it’s entering our food chain with unknown health effects. Dr Mark Hartl – Associate Professor of Marine Biology, Director, Centre of Marine Biodiversity & Biotechnology – discusses the implications. Microplastic contamination is now ubiquitous in the (marine) environment. Efforts to put mitigating government policy measures in place require a monitoring programme to establish baseline concentrations in order to gauge impact and effectiveness.

Follow Mark on Twitter at: @M_Hartl

SciFest 2017: Stevyn Colgan Interview

Apr 26, 2017

(Sorry for the slightly dodgy audio… – Ed)

Time reasons scuppered our chances of having a nice chat with our old friend, QI Elf, and ex-copper Stevyn Colgan. So, to go along with his Science Festival 2017 talk we’re dusting off the archives and bringing you a EdSkeptics classic – our interview with Stevyn from QED 2016.

Stevyn Colgan is an author, artist, public speaker and oddly-spelled Cornishman. He has, among other things, been a chef, a brewer, a comics publisher and – for three decades – a police officer in London, during which time he was set on fire twice, was sworn at by a royal, met two US Presidents and a Pope, was kissed by Princess Diana and let Freddie Mercury wear his helmet. He is a visiting lecturer at a number of UK universities and is a regular speaker at UK and international events such as TED, HybridConf, 5×15, QEDcon, the Ig Nobel Prizes, Latitude, the Hay Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe.

He has appeared on numerous podcasts and radio shows including Freakonomics, Do The Right Thing, Ex Libris, No Such Thing As A Fish, Little Atoms and Josie Lawrence’s Short Cuts. He is also one of the ‘Elves’ that research and write the multi award-winning BBC TV series QI and was part of the writing team that won the Rose D’or for BBC Radio 4’s The Museum of Curiosity.

Find him on Twitter @StevynColgan.

SciFest 2017: The Skeptical Bobby

Apr 26, 2017

The podcast returns! And we’re back with a corker – the first of our run of talks under  the banner of the Edinburgh International Science Festival. First up is QI Elf and ex-London copper Stevyn Colgan. Stevyn was a police officer in Scotland Yard for 20 years, as part of the Problem Solving Unit finding imaginative solutions to quell tensions in communities, from dog shows to lollipops.

Stevyn Colgan is an author, artist, public speaker and oddly-spelled Cornishman. He has, among other things, been a chef, a brewer, a comics publisher and – for three decades – a police officer in London, during which time he was set on fire twice, was sworn at by a royal, met two US Presidents and a Pope, was kissed by Princess Diana and let Freddie Mercury wear his helmet. He is a visiting lecturer at a number of UK universities and is a regular speaker at UK and international events such as TED, HybridConf, 5×15, QEDcon, the Ig Nobel Prizes, Latitude, the Hay Festival and the Edinburgh Fringe.

He has appeared on numerous podcasts and radio shows including Freakonomics, Do The Right Thing, Ex Libris, No Such Thing As A Fish, Little Atoms and Josie Lawrence’s Short Cuts. He is also one of the ‘Elves’ that research and write the multi award-winning BBC TV series QI and was part of the writing team that won the Rose D’or for BBC Radio 4’s The Museum of Curiosity.

Find him on Twitter @StevynColgan.

SotF 2016: Mid Fringe Binge

Apr 19, 2017

For our final trip down the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe memory lane we’re heading back to 2/3rds through the run for our Mid Fringe Binge! We always have a few nights at the Fringe where we invite our old friends to come back and do something for us, plus we scout the Fringe to find some sufficiently nerdy or sciencey shows happening elsewhere to promote to our audience.

First we have some nerdy pirate-themed music courtesy of our old friends and Fringe legends Jollyboat. Arrrrghhhhhh! The boys have played for us many times and they never fail to bring the house down.

Then we find out how to lead a happy life courtesy of stand-up comedian, GP, Private Eye journalist and actual man-off-the-telly Dr Phil Hammond. And some Clangers.

We’ll be back over the next few weeks with some recordings from our crime-themed 2017 Edinburgh International Science Festival talks. We hope you’ve enjoyed these Fringe podcasts, but it’d be even better to see you in person. We’re planning our 2017 Fringe run right now, and we’ll let you know what’s going on later this summer.

SotF 2016: Online and Offline Spaces for Democracy

Mar 22, 2017

For our last talk from the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe we’re having a look at how online and offline spaces work both for and against democracy courtesy of Ella Taylor Smith. If we think of social media as spaces – like rooms – we get a new perspective on what’s going on and why. This talk looks at what people are doing when they’re doing democracy, in online and offline spaces. What is it about these spaces that makes them useful or worrying for our democracies? Spoiler alert – going to talk about spaces being public or hidden and who pays for what.

Ella Taylor Smith has been researching how people use/could use the Internet to get involved in democracy, since 2001, at Edinburgh Napier University’s School of Computing. Last century she moved to Edinburgh in 1988, where she went to Art College, then worked as a chef.

SotF 2016: Charles Cockell Interview

Mar 15, 2017

Many, many, many months after his talk, Claudia Schaffner sits down with Charles Cockell to talk in more detail about life throughout the universe. And how the hell we’re going to find it…

Charles Cockell is Professor of Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the UK Centre for Astrobiology. His academic interests are life in extreme environments and the habitability of extraterrestrial environments. He is the author of the undergraduate text book, ‘Astrobiology: Understanding Life in the Universe’ published by Wiley-Blackwell. He is first or co-author on over 250 scientific papers and he’s Chair of the Earth and Space Foundation, a non-profit organisation he established in 1994. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Find out more at www.astrobiology.ac.uk

SotF 2016: Life in the Universe

Mar 15, 2017

Will we find life elsewhere in the Universe and what are we really looking for? Why has this question suddenly become more interesting? In this talk from the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Charles Cockell guides us through the possibilities and tells us what could be out there and how we can try to find it.

Charles Cockell is Professor of Astrobiology at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the UK Centre for Astrobiology. His academic interests are life in extreme environments and the habitability of extraterrestrial environments. He is the author of the undergraduate text book, ‘Astrobiology: Understanding Life in the Universe’ published by Wiley-Blackwell. He is first or co-author on over 250 scientific papers and he’s Chair of the Earth and Space Foundation, a non-profit organisation he established in 1994. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Find out more at www.astrobiology.ac.uk

Special: SciFest 2017 Lineup!

Mar 01, 2017

This week on the podcast we’re bringing you details of our lineup of talks run under the banner of the 2017 Edinburgh International Science Festival. Join Mark Pentler and science festival curator for this year Heather Pentler as they take you night-by-night through the lineup. This year the theme is The Science of Crime. Expect lots of dead bodies and some truly remarkable techniques on display as we learn how science is being used to both secure and overturn convictions.

Our science festival lineup runs Monday to Thursdays from the 3rd-13th April at the Banshee Labyrinth on Niddry Street. All events start at 7:30 and run until 9pm. Ish. Depends how good you are in the Q and As 🙂

Check out the full line up on our website: http://www.edinburghskeptics.co.uk or on Facebook & MeetUp.

10 Questions: Prof. Peter Sandercock

Feb 22, 2017

Before he gave us his experience of modern medical trials Prof. Peter Sandercock sat down with Mark Pentler to talk about the challenges of keeping up with current research, who is at fault for people’s misunderstanding of trial results, and what can be done about it. We also delve into Peter’s journey into skepticism.

Professor Peter Sandercock (Emeritus Professor of Neurology, University of Edinburgh) set up and ran the first International Stroke Trial (IST-1), the first ‘mega-trial’ in acute ischaemic stroke. More recently, he is the Co-Chief Investigator of IST-3, the largest-ever trial of ‘clot-busting’ thrombolytic therapy for acute ischaemic stroke with over 3,000 patients recruited. In this talk he will expose the challenges and explore the successes of clinical trials in the modern era and how they can bring us not only new treatments and new answers, but also new questions.

http://www.ed.ac.uk/clinical-brain-sciences/people/principal-investigators/prof-peter-sandercock

Special: Clinical Trials: Medical Truth and Medical Fiction

Feb 22, 2017

As part of our effort to reach out to more people in Edinburgh and the surrounding area, we recently partnered with the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh for the first of what we hope will be a much-repeated event in the future. Two fantastic skeptical talks for an audience of people who had never really heard of us, and we’re able to bring you one of those talks on the podcast this week. The College were incredibly gracious hosts and special mention must go to Iain Milne & Daisy Cunynghame for their efforts in making it possible.

Professor Peter Sandercock (Emeritus Professor of Neurology, University of Edinburgh) set up and ran the first International Stroke Trial (IST-1), the first ‘mega-trial’ in acute ischaemic stroke. More recently, he is the Co-Chief Investigator of IST-3, the largest-ever trial of ‘clot-busting’ thrombolytic therapy for acute ischaemic stroke with over 3,000 patients recruited. In this talk he will expose the challenges and explore the successes of clinical trials in the modern era and how they can bring us not only new treatments and new answers, but also new questions.

http://www.ed.ac.uk/clinical-brain-sciences/people/principal-investigators/prof-peter-sandercock

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SotF 2016: Amanda Drake Interview

Feb 15, 2017

Yes, this one’s early too! Claudia Schaffner sits down with this week’s speaker – Dr Amanda Drake – to discuss the issues raised in her talk about the potential for environmental factors to affect our lives. We learn more about Dr  Drake’s work and her motivations for entering this field of research.

Dr Drake studied medicine at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and then undertook initial training in Paediatrics in Bristol, before moving to Edinburgh to undertake a PhD funded by the British Heart Foundation. She then completed training in Paediatrics in Edinburgh, specialising in Paediatric Endocrinology and becoming a consultant in 2007. She heads a research group in the Centre for Cardiovascular Science, studying interactions between in the environment and the epigenome, with a focus on the early life environment, obesity and diabetes.

Find out more at http://www.cvs.ed.ac.uk/users/amanda-drake or by following her on twitter @TeamDrakeUoE

SotF 2016: How the Environment in Early Life Shapes Who We Are

Feb 15, 2017

A whole day earlier than normal (ahahah, what the hell? – Ed.), it’s the Edinburgh Skeptics Podcast! This week we’re going back to the 2016 Fringe to hear from Dr Amanda Drake, from right here in Edinburgh. In this talk Dr Drake will discuss the evidence for environmental factors having an effect on our body and the potential mechanisms which might link experiences in early life with later health outcomes, including changes in chemical marks on genes – so called ‘epigenetic modifications’. Finally, she will discuss how such effects may be transmitted across generations, so that the experiences of our grandparents may also impact on our health today.

Dr Drake studied medicine at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and then undertook initial training in Paediatrics in Bristol, before moving to Edinburgh to undertake a PhD funded by the British Heart Foundation. She then completed training in Paediatrics in Edinburgh, specialising in Paediatric Endocrinology and becoming a consultant in 2007. She heads a research group in the Centre for Cardiovascular Science, studying interactions between in the environment and the epigenome, with a focus on the early life environment, obesity and diabetes.

Find out more at http://www.cvs.ed.ac.uk/users/amanda-drake or by following her on twitter @TeamDrakeUoE

SotF 2016: James Mollard Interview

Feb 08, 2017

For our trip back to the Fringe this week we’re hearing about the problems of communicating science (especially climate science) with James Mollard. Afterwards he spoke to our own Ewan Leeming in what became an uncooperatively noisy pub.

You can find more from James at https://diaryofaclimatescientist.wordpress.com/ or by following him on twitter @mollyman90

SotF 2016: Wake up Sheeple!: Communicating Climate Science

Feb 08, 2017

Why is there a significant difference between what the public believe about climate change, and what climate scientists are writing about? James Mollard discusses where mistakes have been made in both science and climate science communication to the public. It will include a discussion on why uncertainties can be the bane of science communication, explore the damage that has been done to climate science through the years, and will explain how scientists are altering their methods of communication in an attempt to try to educate the public about their research.

James took his undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University, studying Geophysics and Meteorology, specialising in Climate/Environmental Science modules. Since then, he has moved to Reading University on a joint NERC/CASE award, in which he is analysing and improving the effect of carbonaceous aerosols in climate models. This work currently also has him working with the Met Office in Exeter.

You can find out more at https://diaryofaclimatescientist.wordpress.com/ or by following him on twitter @mollyman90

SotF 2016: Keir Liddle Interview

Feb 01, 2017

Despite Mark Pentler clumsily saying this is the last episode of our Fringe 2016 podcasts while forgetting that he often releases them out of order, it definitely isn’t…

Recorded just before our Fringe edition of Devil’s Advocate – EdSkeptics one-time regular-ish skeptical comedy panel show – EdSkeptics founder Keir Liddle joins current chair Mark Pentler to talk about the society, kids playing video games that are too young for them and whether video games will ever be taken seriously as a medium.

Keir Liddle is a PhD at the University of Stirling, and former president of Edinburgh Skeptics committee. He was one of the founders of the longest free skeptical festival in the world (Skeptics On The Fringe) and has a longstanding interest in psychology and video games. His favourite game of all time is the Legend of Zelda: A link to the past.

You can find out more by following him on twitter @keirliddle

SotF 2016: Mind Games: The Psychology of Video Games

Feb 01, 2017

This week we feature a Fringe 2016 talk and an interview courtesy of one of our old friends Keir Liddle.

Psychology plays an important part in video games from attract mode to risk and reward mechanics. Games are often designed around psychological principles designers sometimes take for granted. Games also are associated with a number of social issues: violence and misogyny. This talk will look at the psychology of video games and their wider impact.

Keir Liddle is a PhD at the University of Stirling, and former president of Edinburgh Skeptics committee. He was one of the founders of the longest free skeptical festival in the world (Skeptics On The Fringe) and has a longstanding interest in psychology and video games. His favourite game of all time is the Legend of Zelda: A link to the past.

You can find out more by following him on twitter @keirliddle

SotF 2016: Leonard Sym Interview

Jan 25, 2017

In this interview recorded during the 2016 Fringe our host Kitty Johnstone talks to Leonard Sym on the subject of radiocarbon denialism and its role in debunking theories like the Earth being 6000 years old. You know, the mad one.

Leonard teaches management, both commercially and in higher education. Current work includes management education at middle and senior management level within the oil industry, as well as the design and delivery of management training for a range of organisations throughout the world. He briefly studied Archaeology at Glasgow University as part of his first degree and has kept up an interest in the subject ever since. Over the last few years he has become increasingly aware of how our knowledge of the past has been increasingly attacked for religious reasons. This has inspired him to revisit the topic and defend the educated viewpoint.

SotF 2016: It’s Never That Old! Science Denial and Radiocarbon Dating

Jan 25, 2017

This week we’re going back to the 2016 Fringe to look at Radiocarbon Dating, especially when it pertains to questioning the claims of religious people that the Earth is only 6000 years old.

Join Leonard Sym as he takes us through this scientific field, and looks at how the dating system works, how it is calibrated, and how its limits of measurement have been pushed back to 50,000 years BP. We also have a great interview with Leonard where he goes into more detail about the subject.

Leonard teaches management, both commercially and in higher education. Current work includes management education at middle and senior management level within the oil industry, as well as the design and delivery of management training for a range of organisations throughout the world. He briefly studied Archaeology at Glasgow University as part of his first degree and has kept up an interest in the subject ever since. Over the last few years he has become increasingly aware of how our knowledge of the past has been increasingly attacked for religious reasons. This has inspired him to revisit the topic and defend the educated viewpoint.

SotF 2016: Stephen Makin Interview

Jan 18, 2017

If you enjoyed our own Dr Stephen Makin’s talk on how to spot medical bullshit in the press and how to read a scientific paper, then grab this interview conducted by Heather Pentler. Stephen talks about the pressures doctors face to keep up with recent knowledge as well as talking about his own entry into skepticism.

Apologies for the delay on this one, technical gremlins were among us…

SotF 2016: How To Read A Scientific Paper

Jan 18, 2017

Every day the newspapers have stories about ‘the latest scientific breakthrough’. But how do you tell if the latest paper is novel and ground breaking, or just a load of nonsense? Critically appraising scientific papers used to be a specialist skill, but it’s something anyone can do.

What is good quality evidence? What is statistically significant? Just what is a p value?

Stephen is a clinical lecturer in Geriatric Medicine at Glasgow University where his role combines research into aging and clinical practice, and has just finished writing up his PhD.

SitP: Christmas Open Mic 2016

Jan 11, 2017

For our December Skeptics in the Pub meeting we decided to try something different: An open mic! It was specifically aimed at people who thought they wanted to have a go at doing a skeptical talk but had never done one before. We had 7 speakers all doing different skeptical topics, and our committee member and host for the evening Heather Pentler had a buzzer (from the QI board game, no less!) to let people know when their time was up.

All 7 talks are presented here in their entirety for you, although the audio quality is a bit shit in places, for which we can (as always) only apologise and promise to do better next time.

You’ll hear from:

Heather Pentler – Autism Myths
John Raven – Education, Hierarchy, and the Destruction of Life on Earth.
Tracey Jolliffe – 2 FameLab talks for practise 🙂
Ewan Leeming – What You See Is Not Quite What You Get
Stefano Bosisio – Where Do My Medicines Come From?
Dan Ridley-Ellis – The Christmas Tree Lecture (an unexplanation)
Mark Pentler – Audiophile Bullshit
Brian Eggo – Unpredicta-Bull: End of Year Summary

Special: A Closer Look At Theta Healing (Part 2)

Dec 28, 2016

After last week’s look at the purely bonkers practice of Theta Healing (registered trademark) join Mark Pentler, Heather Pentler, and Claudia Schaffner as we investigate Theta Healing’s thoughts on racial DNA and religion, plus how mean cults can be about your personality.

If you enjoyed these two specials, do let us know either on social media or via email: podcast@edinburghskeptics.co.uk – and don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes!

Special: A Closer Look At Theta Healing (Part 1)

Dec 21, 2016

Note: Sorry about the first twenty minutes or so. We got a new mixing desk and I rather stupidly plugged the recorder into the wrong socket. Stick with it – Mark

This week we’re trying something a bit different. Yes it’s a round table chat. No it’s not about the week’s skeptical news…

Over the past year our committee member Heather Pentler has been investigating all sorts of woo – including healing, alternative medicine, all that malarkey – and she’s built up quite a collection. The one thing that really caught her eye was something that is – as far as we can see – not very well known within the skeptical community. So we decided to tell you about it.

Join Mark Pentler and Claudia Schaffner alongside Heather as we delve into Theta Healing’s training manuals to investigate what it actually is, what it claims to do, and how it all seems to be set up.

The recording is split into two parts, so we’ll have another episode on this coming up next week.

SotF 2016: Anna Temp Interview

Dec 14, 2016

In our latest Fringe 2016 podcast PhD researcher Anna Temp joined us to discuss how human beings cope with working in extreme environments, specifically the people who were the subjects of her study on the Arctic island of Svalbard.

In a slightly busy pub near the University of Edinburgh Mark joins Anna to discuss the issues in more depth. She’ll be talking about penguins, supermarkets, and burglary and how it all links back to the human psyche.

Anna is from Hamburg, Germany. When she was maybe 10 years old, her Dad gave her a book on Shackleton’s Endurance expedition and that sparked her interest in explorers and remote areas. Eventually, it became her passion. She went to school in Germany and moved to the University of Buckingham, England, for her undergraduate Psychology degree. After that, she joined Edinburgh for their Human Cognitive Neuropsychology postgraduate course (don’t let this fool you: all we do is looking at behaviours and the brain). She loved Edinburgh so much that she stayed for her PhD…in Polar Psychology. In my free time She is the Head of Gryffindor of the Harry Potter Society and she also pole dances.

You can find out more here, or by following her on twitter @northpoleanna

SotF 2016: Humans In Extreme Environments – Exploring the Explorers on Svalbard

Dec 14, 2016

This talk from our 2016 Fringe run focuses on the people who spent a year at the Polish Polar Station, Hornsund, Svalbard. Svalbard is where Northern Greenland is, just on top of Norway instead of next to Canada. It’s the world’s northermost settlement. Anna’s research participants spent the calendar year between July 2015 and June 2016 there. Imagine yourself being unable to go to the supermarket for a year. Unable to go to your family’s birthdays, Christmas, Easter…for the whole year. This is what the participants endured. Meanwhile, polar bears lurked outside, and for three months, the sun didn’t rise in the polar night. Anna will be talking about the effects this had on their mental health, their mood, their social connections and on their memory, attention and reasoning skills.

Anna is from Hamburg, Germany. When she was maybe 10 years old, her Dad gave her a book on Shackleton’s Endurance expedition and that sparked her interest in explorers and remote areas. Eventually, it became her passion. She went to school in Germany and moved to the University of Buckingham, England, for her undergraduate Psychology degree. After that, she joined Edinburgh for their Human Cognitive Neuropsychology postgraduate course (don’t let this fool you: all we do is looking at behaviours and the brain). She loved Edinburgh so much that she stayed for her PhD…in Polar Psychology. In my free time She is the Head of Gryffindor of the Harry Potter Society and she also pole dances.

You can find out more here, or by following her on twitter @northpoleanna

10 Questions: Ali Floyd

Wed 7, 2016

After dazzling us with tales of the life of the professional science communicator (both bad and good. There was definitely some bad) he sat down with our own Mark Pentler to talk some more about the art of science communication and how difficult it is in this post-truth world.

Ali was born and raised in a small village on the East coast of Scotland called Edinburgh, and at 17 ran away to the bright lights of the sprawling metropolis known as Glasgow. After gaining a degree in microbiology, Ali again ran away to the life of a travelling performer, though the cruise ship rather than the more-traditional circus.

His career as a science communicator began with a stint at Glasgow Science Centre and a regular freelance presenter for STV’s The Hour as the face of “Weans’ World of Science”, working with luminaries such as Grant Stott and Michelle McManus. Perhaps his proudest moment was her eureka moment of understanding space weather and aurorae. He subsequently worked at Edinburgh International Science Festival and has recently been originating the role of Science Engagement Officer at the National Museum of Scotland, developing new programming to go alongside their exciting new Science and Technology galleries.

He has an excessive fondness for cheese, tea, running and the Madeiran wall lizard.

Twitter: @sir_ali_floyd
Blog: Ali Floyd | National Museums Scotland Blog

SitP: Lies, Damn Lies and Science Communicators

Wed 7, 2016

With the rise of the science centre as an educational experience a new profession has arisen: the professional, full-time science communicator. Distinct from researchers who carry out engagement as part of their work and unwilling to be teachers, these people roam the Earth, dispensing wisdom and fun, often with a healthy dose of foam and fire. But, 15 years on from the Millennium projects that spawned them, what state is the industry in? Are they providing a clarity beyond more traditional academics, or have they created a whole mystic lore of their own? Join Ali Floyd, Science Engagement Officer at the National Museum of Scotland, as he explores some of the not-quite-truths he has experienced in the business.

Ali was born and raised in a small village on the East coast of Scotland called Edinburgh, and at 17 ran away to the bright lights of the sprawling metropolis known as Glasgow. After gaining a degree in microbiology, Ali again ran away to the life of a travelling performer, though the cruise ship rather than the more-traditional circus.

His career as a science communicator began with a stint at Glasgow Science Centre and a regular freelance presenter for STV’s The Hour as the face of “Weans’ World of Science”, working with luminaries such as Grant Stott and Michelle McManus. Perhaps his proudest moment was her eureka moment of understanding space weather and aurorae. He subsequently worked at Edinburgh International Science Festival and has recently been originating the role of Science Engagement Officer at the National Museum of Scotland, developing new programming to go alongside their exciting new Science and Technology galleries.

He has an excessive fondness for cheese, tea, running and the Madeiran wall lizard.

Twitter: @sir_ali_floyd
Blog: Ali Floyd | National Museums Scotland Blog

SotF 2016: Tristram Wyatt Interview

Nov 30, 2016

In a surprisingly challenging and skeptical interview our own Claudia Schaffner grills Tristram Wyatt about the evidence for and against human pheromones, along with how we challenge bad science in the field (and in general).

Tristram is a founding fellow of Kellogg College and a senior researcher at the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford. The second edition of his single-author book Pheromones and Animal Behavior (Cambridge University Press) won the Royal Society of Biology’s prize for the Best Postgraduate Textbook in 2014. His next book, Animal Behaviour: A Very Short Introduction, will be published by OUP in 2017. His TED talk on human pheromones has had 1 million views.

Twitter: @pheromoneevo
Web: http://www.zoo.ox.ac.uk/people/view/wyatt_td.htm

SotF 2016: Sexing Up Human Pheromones

Nov 30, 2016

A corporation interested in patenting ‘human pheromones’ for profit created a long lasting myth that has roped in many scientists as well as the general public. Tristram Wyatt will describe what went wrong and what would be needed to establish that we do have pheromones (chemical signals within a species). One of the most promising leads is communication between mothers and babies, not sex.

Tristram is a founding fellow of Kellogg College and a senior researcher at the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford. The second edition of his single-author book Pheromones and Animal Behavior (Cambridge University Press) won the Royal Society of Biology’s prize for the Best Postgraduate Textbook in 2014. His next book, Animal Behaviour: A Very Short Introduction, will be published by OUP in 2017. His TED talk on human pheromones has had 1 million views.

Twitter: @pheromoneevo
Web: http://www.zoo.ox.ac.uk/people/view/wyatt_td.htm

SotF 2016: Fran Day Interview

Nov 23, 2016

Before Fran Day entertained us with talk of particles, collisions and the end of the world she sat down for a natter with our own Claudia Schaffner.

Fran Day is a PhD student in theoretical physics at the University of Oxford. She is searching for hints of new particles by looking at the light from galaxies and galaxy clusters. Fran is a science comedian, using comedy to tackle topics ranging from quantum field theory to women in science.

Twitter: @FrancescaDay
Web: https://physicsfran.wordpress.com/

SotF 2016: Physics Fan Fiction

Nov 23, 2016

What do theoretical physicists do all day? It’s a funny story actually… Apocalypses and politics go hand in hand as University of Oxford physicist Fran Day takes a break from studying particles that probably don’t exist to take to the stage in a stand-up comedy spectacular that is witty, irreverent and occasionally surreal. Fran gets stuck in to how physicists are searching for new particles at the Large Hadron Collider and why it’s a good idea to study made up particles, with plenty of jokes along the way.

Fran Day is a PhD student in theoretical physics at the University of Oxford. She is searching for hints of new particles by looking at the light from galaxies and galaxy clusters. Fran is a science comedian, using comedy to tackle topics ranging from quantum field theory to women in science.

Twitter: @FrancescaDay
Web: https://physicsfran.wordpress.com/

SotF 2016: Chris French Interview

Nov 16, 2016

Chris French is a bloody good bloke, so good he was the catalyst for Edinburgh Skeptics’ birth. Unfortunately, he can’t remember how… But not to worry! Kitty Johnstone has plenty of other things to ask him about, including ghosts, death, and the public’s belief in the paranormal in general.

Kitty chatted to Chris before his talk for us during the 2016 Fringe, and you can download that talk along side this podcast.

Professor Chris French is Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. He does a metric ton of other work and there’s far too much to list here…

Twitter: @chriscfrench
Web: http://www.gold.ac.uk/apru/

SotF 2016: The Psychology of Ghosts and Hauntings

Nov 16, 2016

Opinion polls repeatedly show relatively high levels of belief in ghosts even in modern Western societies. Furthermore, a sizeable minority of the population claim to have personally encountered a ghost. This talk will consider a number of factors that may lead people to claim that they have experienced a ghost even though they may not in fact have done so. Topics covered will include hoaxes, sincere misinterpretation of natural phenomena, hallucinatory experiences and pareidolia (seeing things that are not there), inattentional blindness (not seeing things that are there), the fallibility of eyewitness testimony, the possible role of complex electromagnetic fields and infrasound, photographic evidence, electronic voice phenomenon (EVP), and the role of the media.

Professor Chris French is Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. He does a metric ton of other work and there’s far too much to list here…

Twitter: @chriscfrench
Web: http://www.gold.ac.uk/apru/

SotF 2016: Kat Arney Interview

Nov 09, 2016

Before her talk for us as part of the Edinburgh Fringe 2016 Dr Kat Arney chatted to host and resident biologist Claudia Schaffner about all things genetics…

Dr Kat Arney is a science writer and broadcaster whose work has featured on BBC Radio 4, the Naked Scientists and more. She recently published her first book, Herding Hemingway’s Cats (Bloomsbury Sigma), about how our genes work.

Twitter: @harpistcat

SotF 2016: Herding Hemmingway’s Cats

Nov 09, 2016

The language of genes has become common in the media. We know they make your eyes blue, your hair curly or your nose straight. We’re told that genes control the risk of cancer, heart disease, alcoholism or Alzheimer’s. The cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted from billions of pounds to a few hundred, and gene-based advances in medicine hold huge promise.

There are 2.2 metres of DNA inside every one of your cells, encoding roughly 20,000 genes. These are the ‘recipes’ that tell our cells how to make the building blocks of life, along with all the control switches ensuring they’re turned on and off at the right time and in the right place. But rather than a static string of genetic code, this is a dynamic, writhing biological library. With the help of cats with thumbs, fish with hips and wobbly worms, Kat will unpack some of the mysteries in our DNA and explain the latest thinking about how our genes work.

Dr Kat Arney is a science writer and broadcaster whose work has featured on BBC Radio 4, the Naked Scientists and more. She recently published her first book, Herding Hemingway’s Cats (Bloomsbury Sigma), about how our genes work.

Twitter: @harpistcat

Special: QED 2016 Part 2

Oct 26, 2016

Here is part 2 of our QED 2016 podcast special for you containing four more excellent interviews with some skeptical figures from the UK and internationally.

Joining us for this episode are András Pintér, Jelena Levin & Pontus Böckman from the European Skeptics Podcast (0:51) magician Paul Zenon (14:09), UK skeptic Myles Power (25:34) and Australian broadcasting legend Dr Karl Kruszelnicki (37:44).
 
We hope you’ve enjoyed our QED 2016 specials and we’ll be back to normal service next week.

Special: QED 2016 Part 1

Oct 19, 2016

QED 2016 has been and gone by the time you read this, but Edinburgh Skeptics were there in force to soak up the atmosphere in a very rainy Manchester.

During the weekend ace reporter Mark Pentler was able to catch up with some of the speakers at the conference and find out a bit more about their QED experience, their lives, and how they’re helping to promote the skeptical cause.

You’ll hear from YouTube superstar Captain Disillusion (01:06), Oxford-based science communicator Sally Le Page (15:30), QI Elf Stevyn Colgan (24:32) and ex-naturopath Britt Hermes (37:26).

Join us for more interviews from QED next week in part 2!

SotF 2016: Robin Tudge Interview

Oct 12, 2016

Tours of North Korea are criticised for being Potemkin tours where the visitors are on a state conveyor belt to see ‘the best of the best’, and see nothing ‘real’. This illustrated talk challenges that criticism and asks what a tour can really tell us beyond the western narrative about the country.

We also have an exclusive interview with Robin alongside this podcast.

Robin Tudge is a writer and tour leader, specialising in North Korea where he been visiting since 2001. Originally from London, he has lived and worked in Chicago, Moscow, Beijing, and Hanoi, and is the author of three books.

Find out more by following him on twitter @robintudge

SotF 2016: Touring North Korea: Beyond the Potemkin

Oct 12, 2016

Tours of North Korea are criticised for being Potemkin tours where the visitors are on a state conveyor belt to see ‘the best of the best’, and see nothing ‘real’. This illustrated talk challenges that criticism and asks what a tour can really tell us beyond the western narrative about the country.

We also have an exclusive interview with Robin alongside this podcast.

Robin Tudge is a writer and tour leader, specialising in North Korea where he been visiting since 2001. Originally from London, he has lived and worked in Chicago, Moscow, Beijing, and Hanoi, and is the author of three books.

Find out more by following him on twitter @robintudge

10 Questions: Rumit Somaiya

Oct 05, 2016

Rumit Somaiya has spent the past 25 years touring casinos throughout the world with his team. Their aim is simply to overcome the ‘House Advantage’ using all cerebral methods available, in order to amass fortunes. Most people don’t understand the maths of gambling and sadly addiction is a major issue.

Rumit spoke for us at our September Skeptics in the Pub event and while his massively-visual talk wasn’t really podcastable (seriously, he turned the Banshee Labyrinth into a casino), we were keen to grab him for our 10 Questions segment to learn a little bit more about a topic that isn’t usually at the front of the minds of skeptics… He’ll also tell you about his new maths-based project which aims to educate the masses about the reality of betting.

Twitter: @rumit2186

SotF 2016: Michael Marshall Interview

Sep 28, 2016

Well, we did say that EdSkeptics regular Rumit Somaiya’s talk would be out this week, but due to “scheduling conflicts” (heh) it will be delayed another week. We’re really happy to bring you a great interview as an alternative, however, as newly-crowned committee member Heather Pentler talks to our old friend Michael Marshall about the media bring crap, weird medical claims and athletes’ obsession with woo.

Michael Marshall is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work has seen him organising international homeopathy protests and co-founding the popular QED conference. He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Statesman.

Find out more at http://goodthinkingsociety.org/ or by following him on Twitter @MrMMarsh and @GoodThinkingSoc

SciFest 2016: Discovering the Materials of Tomorrow

Sep 21, 2016

On this week’s podcast we’re going back to the Spring for the last talk from our Science Festival programme. How do we know that DNA is a double-helix? Why is diamond beautiful but graphite is boring, when they are both made of carbon? Why are there no room-temperature superconductors? These are all questions from the field of materials physics, and their answers are what drive our understanding of everything from flexible computer screens, advanced drug delivery, and how powerful the next generation of iPhone will be.

This talk will look at the techniques that scientists use to look at materials on the atomic level, and how this knowledge helps us to better understand the materials we already know, so that we can dream up new materials to tackle the problems of the future.

Dr Andrew Princep grew up in Western Australia where he graduated from Curtin University of Western Australia with an Honours degree in Nanotechnology in 2008, before completing his PhD in Physics at UNSW Canberra in 2012 and finally taking up his current position as a Postdoc at Oxford University.

https://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/contacts/people/princep

SotF 2016: Our Friends On The Fringe

Sep 14, 2016

Homeopathic solutions are so dilute that there is often only 1 active molecule for every 10^60 molecules of water, or, to put it another way, if you took enough homeopathic “medicine” to equal the mass of the Earth, you would have a 1 in 5 Billion chance of getting 1 active molecule.

Here at Skeptics on the Fringe we do things differently, and for our second podcast from this year’s Fringe we guarantee that 100% of your time with us will be entertaining, informative, and pure, Undiluted Brilliance.

We kicked off our 2016 Fringe run by sharing our stage with some of the other acts that appeal to the Open-Minded, the Curious, to Scientists, Geeks and Skeptics.

Dan Simpson: Twitter
Matt Winning: Twitter
Fran Day: Twitter
Stephen Lingham: Twitter

SotF 2016: Prof. David Nutt Interview

Sep 07, 2016

Before wowing two full rooms of people with an impassioned defence of reason, logic and the scientific method, Prof. David Nutt sat down with our very own Claudia Schaffner for a little chat.

David Nutt is a psychiatrist at Imperial College London. Here he uses a range of brain imaging techniques to explore the causes of addiction and other psychiatric disorders and to search for new treatments. He has published over 400 original research papers, a similar number of reviews and books chapters, eight government reports on drugs and 28 books. He is currently the President of the European Brain Council and Founding Chair of DrugScience (formerly the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD).

He broadcasts widely to the general public both on radio and television. In 2010 The Times Eureka science magazine voted him one of the 100 most important figures in British Science, and the only psychiatrist in the list. In 2013 he was awarded the John Maddox Prize from Nature/Sense about Science for standing up for science.

Twitter: @ProfDavidNutt

SotF 2016: Science & Drug and Alcohol Policy

Sep 07, 2016

We’re back! Finally! And we have a brilliant talk for our first episode after the Fringe – Professor David Nutt! We had two full rooms (main and overspill) for this event – our most attended event in ages – and it was a treat to hear somebody of his calibre entertain and enthral us with his thoughts.

His talk explores the inconsistencies and injustices that emerge from the un-scientific methods we use to control alcohol and other drugs. He explains how there are more rational and functional approaches and encourage Scotland to rise to the challenge of breaking out of the current flawed position.

David Nutt is a psychiatrist at Imperial College London. Here he uses a range of brain imaging techniques to explore the causes of addiction and other psychiatric disorders and to search for new treatments. He has published over 400 original research papers, a similar number of reviews and books chapters, eight government reports on drugs and 28 books. He is currently the President of the European Brain Council and Founding Chair of DrugScience (formerly the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD).

He broadcasts widely to the general public both on radio and television. In 2010 The Times Eureka science magazine voted him one of the 100 most important figures in British Science, and the only psychiatrist in the list. In 2013 he was awarded the John Maddox Prize from Nature/Sense about Science for standing up for science.

Twitter: @ProfDavidNutt

Special: Thank You For Smoking

Aug 03, 2016

As we approach our busiest month we wanted to give you a parting gift until we return in September. This week we have a recording of a talk by one of our committee – David Frank – about the tricks of the trade used by massive global cigarette companies in their advertising – especially in the face of strong legislation. David delivered the talk as part of our monthly film nights in conjunction with the British Science Association before the film Thank You For Smoking.

Don’t forget! If you’re in Edinburgh or close to it, or if you’re going to be here during the Fringe, you should check out our Skeptics on the Fringe 2016 line up. We’ll be doing nightly talks between the 6th-28th August at the Banshee Labyrinth on Niddry Street. All events start at 7:50pm.

Twitter: @TheDF
http://www.davidfrank.com.au

SitP: Summer Skeptacular Fundraiser 2016!

Jul 29, 2016

It’s time for our Summer Skeptacular Fundraiser With @AshWhiffin @stephenlingham & @gussiegrippers. We have a great line-up of comedy, poetry, insects and pelvic floor exercise for you, recorded in mid July as we prepared for the 2016 Fringe run.

Ash Whiffen – who loves insects, particularly the ones that eat dead bodies – will be telling us about ‘Maggots, Murder & Museums’. Stephen Lingham – our Resident Poet – will be doing stand-up poetry which is provocative, funny, controversial and thought provoking spoken word that explores contemporary ideas surrounding free speech. Finally, Elaine Miller, physiotherapist, comedian, mother of three and recovered incontinent shares the wonders of the pelvic floor, her talk involves poo, pee and orgasms in men and women. There is, however, no show and tell.

Every year we put on a vast selection of talks at ‘Skeptics on the Fringe’ and the only way we’re able to do that is through PBH’s Free Fringe. Without PBH and the free fringe crew, we would never be able to afford to put on a show without finding £1000s.

PS: Sorry it’s late…

SotF 2015: Sticky Biscuits Interview

Jul 21, 2016

So our sixth Skeptics on the Fringe draws to an end, and we celebrate with our now legendary last night party. Recorded on the 28th August 2015 we bring you our End of Fringe Binge!

Join us when as we invite friends and Fringe performers to do 10 minute turns and the best advice we can give to the audience is to keep a tight grip and expect the unexpected.

In this recording we hear from:

@mmaarrow
@BBWMelody
@stickybiscuits
@harrybakerpoet

We’ll be back with some recordings of our 2016 Fringe later this year! Stay tuned!

SotF 2015: End of Fringe Binge 2015

Jul 21, 2016

So our sixth Skeptics on the Fringe draws to an end, and we celebrate with our now legendary last night party. Recorded on the 28th August 2015 we bring you our End of Fringe Binge!

Join us when as we invite friends and Fringe performers to do 10 minute turns and the best advice we can give to the audience is to keep a tight grip and expect the unexpected.

In this recording we hear from:

@mmaarrow
@BBWMelody
@stickybiscuits
@harrybakerpoet

We’ll be back with some recordings of our 2016 Fringe later this year! Stay tuned!

Special: Fringe 2016 Lineup Announcement!

Jul 13, 2016

The time has come to release our 2016 Skeptics on the Fringe lineup, and we thought we’d try something a little different. Join 4 of our committee Ewan Leeming, Mark Pentler, Claudia Schaffner and Sean Slater as we preview the lineup, discuss the topics and take the piss out of Skeptics With A K a wee bit…

We’ll be taking a break during August to actually run the Fringe show, which takes place from 6th-28th August. Every show starts at 7:50pm at the Banshee Labyrinth on Niddry Street (just off the Royal Mile). Shows are free to attend, but we do ask for donations to help cover the cost of putting on events and running the society.

Skeptics on the Fringe is part of PBH’s Free Fringe.

www.edinburghskeptics.co.uk/
www.twitter.com/EdSkeptics

10 Questions:Dr Clio Bellenis

Jul 06, 2016

Like science fiction in general, Star Trek is a show of ideas, with a number of episodes exploring such philosophical questions as: What is it to a person? What is it to be the same person over time and change? Dr Clio Bellenis entertained at our June monthly Skeptics in the Pub with a fantastic talk about the philosophy of Star Trek – a talk which included FAR too many clips from the show for us to be able to use without getting legal letters, sadly. She also asks if some of the characterisation in the show might be loosely drawn from Ancient Greek Philosophical ideas. Vulcans, for example might seem particularly Stoical!

Since we couldn’t bring you the recording, here is our very own Claudia Schaffner chatting to Clio about her talk, along with some of our more infamous questions…

Dr Clio Bellenis has worked in the NHS all her life, as a child and adolescent psychiatrist for the last 25 years. She officially retired in October but hasn’t managed to get away yet.

In 2006 She completed an MA in Philosophy with the OU, and learned that it is a way of thinking that doesn’t come easy to someone with a scientific background! Her thesis was on the Theory of Mind and Autism.

Twitter: @CBellenis

SotF 2015: Thomas Hind Interview

Jun 29, 2016

After an excellent talk during our 2015 Fringe line up, we interviewed Thomas Hind a full 10 months later (!) to find out more about the physics (or not) behind all kinds of ghosts. We also find out about his father, who – remarkably – was an exorcist for the Church of England in their “Ministry of Deliverance” department. We are not making this up.

Thomas Hind is a former physicist turned science communicator turned comedian. He studied Physics at the University of Glasgow and followed it up with an MSc in Science Communication and Public Engagement at the University of Edinburgh as well as briefly working at CERN

Twitter: @ThomasHind

SotF 2015: The Physics of Ghosts

Jun 29, 2016

In the most haunted pub in Edinburgh, we ask “What are ghosts made of?” and follow up by asking why do they haunt specific places? How do they move around and go through walls and throw things across rooms when nobody is looking?

The obvious answer is they don’t – but what if they did? How would it work?

All of these questions and more will be answered, interweaved with real life ghost stories from Thomas’ granddad’s 50 years as an exorcist with the Church of England. These will be debunked, bunked and debunked again and you might learn a thing or two about Quantum Tunneling theory in the process.

Thomas Hind is a former physicist turned science communicator turned comedian. He studied Physics at the University of Glasgow and followed it up with an MSc in Science Communication and Public Engagement at the University of Edinburgh as well as briefly working at CERN

Twitter: @ThomasHind

SotF 2015: Putting Climate Change Under Pressure

Jun 22, 2016

Climate Change is the largest challenge facing the world right now. Each year Skeptics on the Fringe has looked at different aspects of climate change, such public policy, or how to measure its impact. This year we’ve invited one of Edinburgh’s PhD students to share with us her research into an unusual approach which may help us tackle it.

Under extreme conditions, such as high temperatures or pressures, materials behave differently to how they do at the conditions we experience everyday. For example, graphite transforms into diamond, oxygen becomes a metal and water ‘freezes’ at room temperature. In this talk, you’ll find out what happens when you you squeeze ice and gases to high pressures, and how this may help combat climate change.

Mary-Ellen Donnelly is a final year physics PhD student at the Centre for Science at Extreme Conditions in the University of Edinburgh studying what happens when ice and hydrogen mixtures are squeezed to high pressures.

SotF 2015: Lucy Pickering Interview

Jun 15, 2016

Join EdSkeptics regular Kitty Johnstone as she sits down with Lucy Pickering to talk public toilets, knickers, and cottaging (yes, really).

Dr Pickering is a lecturer in medical anthropology at the University of Glasgow. She first got interested in toilets during fieldwork with countercultural Americans in Hawaii, and having to get used to using a composting toilet. She has since published on composting toilets, and on toilet use in heroin use and recovery.

She has recently shifted her focus towards public toilets in the UK and the ways in which people manage being out and about in public through their access to toilets. She is committed to increasing access to public space through public toilet provision and highlighting the ways in which toilet access can be a hidden form of inequality in the UK today.

Twitter: @AwfullySensible

SotF 2015: The Secret Life of the Public Toilet

Jun 15, 2016

Why do fringe goers spend so much time looking for a loo? Why can’t we just wee in the street? Where do homeless people wash? In seeking to answer these and other questions, Lucy explores that most mundane of objects: the toilet. Today every home has one, but they are increasingly vanishing from our streets. In their place have appeared toilets in department stores and cafes, pay-to-use toilets in stations and the like. But is a toilet in a shopping mall public? Who can easily use it? Who can’t? By bringing together the history of hygiene with contemporary urban planning (and a little bit of sociology), Lucy explores how toilets – and in particular public toilets – profoundly shape our lives and the societies we live in.

Dr Pickering is a lecturer in medical anthropology at the University of Glasgow. She first got interested in toilets during fieldwork with countercultural Americans in Hawaii, and having to get used to using a composting toilet. She has since published on composting toilets, and on toilet use in heroin use and recovery.

She has recently shifted her focus towards public toilets in the UK and the ways in which people manage being out and about in public through their access to toilets. She is committed to increasing access to public space through public toilet provision and highlighting the ways in which toilet access can be a hidden form of inequality in the UK today.

Twitter: @AwfullySensible

SotF 2015: Why is IQ So Controversial?

Jun 08, 2016

Smart people don’t like the idea of IQ testing. Even though the tests are some of the most useful measures we have in psychology, they have a toxic reputation: mention IQ in polite company and you’ll be accused of being an elitist, or perhaps worse.

This talk will first make the case that IQ scores are meaningful: we’ll discuss the evidence from a century of research in psychology, neuroscience, genetics, and medicine. Then, we’ll discuss the history of the ‘IQ controversy’. Why are these tests so maligned? How much of the criticism is deserved? What does the future hold for the science of human intelligence?

Stuart Ritchie has spoken for us on topics ranging from Shakespeare to pornography. He is a postdoctoral fellow in the Psychology Department at the University of Edinburgh, researching how intelligence changes across the lifespan, and how it relates to genetics, the brain, and education. His research has been published in journals such as the Current Biology, Journal of Neuroscience, and Psychological Science.

Stuart has a book that was published around the time of this talk: Intelligence: All that Matters, and he’s on Twitter at @StuartJRitchie

SciFest 2016: Dr. Sarah Clement Interview

Jun 01, 2016

After delivering the first talk of our fantastic Edinburgh International Science Festival 2016 lineup, we sat down with Dr. Sarah Clement to talk some more about GMOs and her own journey into skepticism.

Sarah has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Environmental Science. After discovering she was less interested in understanding “”the environment”” as a separate entity, independent from society, her career has focused on examining the space where social and ecological systems overlap. She has worked as a researcher examining the biophysical, social and policy dimensions of environmental problems since 2002.

Sarah was born and raised in the US, where she awkwardly grew up in a small Midwestern town as an atheist and a natural skeptic. It wasn’t until she moved to Australia, however, that she discovered there was not only a term for her constant questioning, but an entire movement. She became active with the Perth Skeptics as one of its organisers. She now resides in the UK; and after her lifetime tour of the colonies, she likes to think she’s returned to the motherland.

https://about.me/saraheclement
If you want to look at Sarah’s GoodReads list, you can find that here

SciFest 2016: GMOs From An Environmental Perspective

Jun 01, 2016

Genetically modified crops have been hailed as both a saviour and villain. The media has put a spotlight on the two extreme ends of this polarised debate, with agricultural corporations on one side and internet celebrities like Food Babe on the other. This talk focuses on that neglected grey area in-between, including what we know about the environmental impacts and how we might translate scientific data and societal values into pragmatic public policy.

Sarah has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Environmental Science. After discovering she was less interested in understanding “the environment” as a separate entity, independent from society, her career has focused on examining the space where social and ecological systems overlap. She has worked as a researcher examining the biophysical, social and policy dimensions of environmental problems since 2002.

Sarah was born and raised in the US, where she awkwardly grew up in a small Midwestern town as an atheist and a natural skeptic. It wasn’t until she moved to Australia, however, that she discovered there was not only a term for her constant questioning, but an entire movement. She became active with the Perth Skeptics as one of its organisers. She now resides in the UK; and after her lifetime tour of the colonies, she likes to think she’s returned to the motherland.

https://about.me/saraheclement
If you want to look at Sarah’s GoodReads list, you can find that here

SciFest 2016: Dr. Eric Stoddart Interview

May 25, 2016

Join our very own David Frank as he quizzes Dr. Eric Stoddart from the University of St. Andrews on surveillance, his thoughts about theology and Big Brother, and the name of his first pet. He’s totally not going to break into his email. Honestly…

Eric Stoddard grew up in Aberdeen where he also went to university – both for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Moving into academic positions later in life he’s been at the University of St Andrews for the past ten years. Since about 2008 he has been researching surveillance and publishing largely on the ethics of this everyday phenomenon. With a colleague from Sweden he is currently developing an international research network to focus specifically on issues of surveillance and religion.

https://ericstoddart.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk
https://twitter.com/es61andrews

SciFest 2016: Big Data, Big Brother, Big Problem?

May 25, 2016

Our next Science Festival 2016 talk addresses the subject of Big Brother. It’s easy to be alarmist about the spread of surveillance technologies into many areas of everyday life. Orwell’s ‘Big Brother’ is a popular image but it doesn’t really get us too far in taking a sober critical stance towards surveillance in its multi-faceted guises. There’s a lot of value in drawing on privacy rights as a way of challenging extensive technological systems that treat us as objects from which data is scraped and on which basis we are then categorised and acted upon. However, Dr. Eric Stoddart is suggesting that thinking about our (in)visibility – the skill we have in managing our visibility in relation to people and institutions – gives us an additional dimension to addressing significant concerns about cultures of surveillance. Considering (in)visibility also takes us quickly into questions of social justice where surveillance is disproportionately targeted at already marginalised groups of people. This means we start thinking about the negative (and possibly positive) effects of surveillance upon the Common Good. Surveillance isn’t all bad so we need a critical approach that doesn’t spiral into alarmist panics. He will explore what just such a response might need to look like.

Eric Stoddart grew up in Aberdeen where he also went to university – both for undergraduate and postgraduate studies. Moving into academic positions later in life he’s been at the University of St Andrews for the past ten years. Since about 2008 he has been researching surveillance and publishing largely on the ethics of this everyday phenomenon. With a colleague from Sweden he is currently developing an international research network to focus specifically on issues of surveillance and religion.

https://ericstoddart.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk
https://twitter.com/es61andrews

Special: Things coming up and general ramblings

May 18, 2016

With massive apologies for not having anything for you this week, Mark rambled on for about four minutes about the podcast and Edinburgh Skeptics in general, along with gratuitous begging and a story about bin bags.

We’ll be back next week. Promise.

SotF 2015: Charles Paxton Interview

May 11, 2016

EdSkeptics regular and podcast co-host Kitty Johnstone sits down with Charles Paxton to talk all things Bigfoot and cryptozoology in general in this interview recorded during our 2015 Fringe run.

Charles Paxton is an aquatic biologist with an interest in the hard science behind reports of sea monsters. He has published papers on amongst other things whales, guppies, catfishes, penguins, Antarctic seals and British freshwater fishes.

Gordon Rutter is a writer, lecturer, photographer, organiser of the Edinburgh Fortean Society and friend to Edinburgh Skeptics.

SotF 2015: Looking for Bigfoot in Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens

May 11, 2016

We’re delighted to welcome back Skeptics on the Fringe regular Charles Paxton for this week’s podcast episode who has talked to us previously about his research into sightings of Nessie and Gordon Rutter who co-ordinates the Edinburgh Fortean Society. Only Gordon wasn’t there due to an unfortunate wedding-related mix up (not his own, don’t worry).

This year they ask can we distinguish between truth and lies in accounts of cryptozoological entities? They went to Edinburgh’s Botanical Gardens to find out…

There’s also an interview with Charles available alongside this podcast, courtesy of EdSkeptics regular and podcast co-host Kitty Johnstone.

Charles Paxton is an aquatic biologist with an interest in the hard science behind reports of sea monsters. He has published papers on amongst other things whales, guppies, catfishes, penguins, Antarctic seals and British freshwater fishes.

Gordon Rutter is a writer, lecturer, photographer, organiser of the Edinburgh Fortean Society and friend to Edinburgh Skeptics.

SotF 2015: Alan McClure Interview

May 4, 2016

After wowing us with what can only be described as a performance/talk, we sat down with Alan McClure during the 2015 Fringe run to talk to him some more about his work.

Alan McClure is a singer-songwriter from Galloway, south-west Scotland, whose lyrical depth has been noted by journalists and fellow musicians alike.

A published poet and author, he brings humour and insight to his songs while keeping one ear on the need for a strong melody. Most often seen performing with his band The Razorbills, who were described by Roots magazine as “refreshingly individualistic … quirky and brassy”, he has also recorded and released five solo albums, the most recent of which, according to R2 magazine, “…confirms his status as a profoundly interesting writer.”

http://www.alanmcclure.co.uk

SotF 2015: Inspiration: Science or Soul?

May 04, 2016

A poet should be prepared to have his head in the clouds, but he has the right to choose whether those clouds are the abode of angelic choirs, or are columns of perfectly sculpted water vapour refracting the light of a mid-sized star.

Join a critically acclaimed poet and songwriter as he discusses the inspirational side of science and seeks beauty and grandeur in a deity-free universe. It’s not often we get to have music at our events, but when we do we make sure it’s good.

The same cannot be said, unfortunately, for the quality of it in this podcast, as Alan’s booming voice and aggressive chords clipped like a mofo. Sorry about that. Also I had to record my intro on a phone. Only the best here at EdSkeptics Towers! We interviewed Alan as well, and thankfully that came out clip fine. You can get it along with this podcast.

Alan McClure is a singer-songwriter from Galloway, south-west Scotland, whose lyrical depth has been noted by journalists and fellow musicians alike.

A published poet and author, he brings humour and insight to his songs while keeping one ear on the need for a strong melody. Most often seen performing with his band The Razorbills, who were described by Roots magazine as “refreshingly individualistic … quirky and brassy”, he has also recorded and released five solo albums, the most recent of which, according to R2 magazine, “…confirms his status as a profoundly interesting writer.”

http://www.alanmcclure.co.uk

SotF 2015: Myles Power Interview

Apr 27, 2016

 

After an excellent talk as part of our 2015 Fringe run, Claudia Schaffner sat down with Myles Power to talk about the bonkers world of AIDS denialism.

Myles Power runs the educational YouTube channel powerm1985. He’s originally from Middlesbrough in the North East of England, but has spent a large potion of his adult life living in Manchester. He is a chemist who has over 8 years of experience working in a research lab, which has given him the skills he needs to research and debunk virus psuedoscience theories. He has discussed some of the theories on his YouTube channel including AIDS denialists, 911 truthers, the anti-vaccination movement and homeopathy to name a few. He is also one of the founding members of the podcast The League of Nerds which he co-hosts with James from The History of Infection.

Twitter: @powerm1985
Web: https://mylespower.co.uk

SotF 2015: Miss Twist Interview

Apr 21, 2016

Photoshop is a popular piece of graphics software used to alter photos and create digital art. It allows realistic images to be created in more detail than ever before, but to what end? Can we trust the pictures we’re shown by politicians, the media, advertisers, or even our friends? How are images manipulated, and what happens when things go wrong? Where is the line between ‘art’ and ‘digital fakery’, and how can we tell? A professional photoshopper gives her view!

Miss Twist has been part of Edinburgh Skeptics since 2010 as emcee, roving mic, poster girl, and giving talks on subjects ranging from clothing to astrology and Christmas kitsch. She has been a catwalk model, auditioned for ‘Star Wars’, and has spent far to much time using Photoshop. This last thing makes her extremely skeptical of any pictures she sees…

https://misstwists.wordpress.com/

SciFest 2016: Prof. William Naphy Interview

Apr 13, 2016

To go along with the recording of Prof. William Naphy’s excellent talk for us as part of this year’s science festival, he sat down with our very own David Frank to talk some more about his thoughts on gender, as well as bravely attacking our Bear vs Tiger question.

Having received degrees in Latin and Historical Theology from US institutions, Professor Naphy moved to Scotland to complete his doctoral studies at the University of St Andrews in Reformation History. Subsequently, he worked at New College (Edinburgh) and the University of Manchester before taking up his post at the University of Aberdeen in 1996. He is the author of numerous works on early modern history including ‘Calvin and the Consolidation of the Genevan Reformation’, and ‘Born to be Gay: A History of Homosexuality’. He has appeared frequently in television documentaries including ‘Art and Soul’ presented by Richard Holloway (Primus Emeritus, Scottish Episcopal Church) and is regularly interviewed on television, radio and print media relating to issues of sexuality and gender in history and contemporary society.

Professor William Naphy @ The University of Aberdeen

SciFest 2016: How Many Genders Are There? – Non-Binary Cultures

Apr 13, 2016

For our first Edinburgh International Science Festival 2016 podcast, we’re pleased to bring you a talk by Prof. William Naphy. This event was easily our most attended event in years, with 100+ people in attendance.

Prof. Naphy’s talk examines cultures which historically and contemporaneously have more than two genders. In particular, the talk considers how these societally constructed genders are understood within their society and the socio-cultural gender roles associated with them. Prof. Naphy also suggests that these traditional non-binary understandings of gender are being eroded and changed by Western concepts of sexuality which have developed in a strictly binary understanding of gender.

Having received degrees in Latin and Historical Theology from US institutions, Professor Naphy moved to Scotland to complete his doctoral studies at the University of St Andrews in Reformation History. Subsequently, he worked at New College (Edinburgh) and the University of Manchester before taking up his post at the University of Aberdeen in 1996. He is the author of numerous works on early modern history including ‘Calvin and the Consolidation of the Genevan Reformation’, and ‘Born to be Gay: A History of Homosexuality’. He has appeared frequently in television documentaries including ‘Art and Soul’ presented by Richard Holloway (Primus Emeritus, Scottish Episcopal Church) and is regularly interviewed on television, radio and print media relating to issues of sexuality and gender in history and contemporary society.

Professor William Naphy @ The University of Aberdeen

SotF 2015: Michael Head Interview

Mar 16, 2016

Michael Head’s talk for our 2015 Fringe run was one of my (hello, Mark here) personal favourites. An entertaining and interesting look into the arguments for and against vaccination. We don’t think we’re giving too much of a spoiler away to say that the correct answer is to vax… Join Claudia Schaffer as she talks to Michael in more depth the subject, including why we need all that mercury in our vaccines.

Michael Head is a research associate in infectious diseases at University College London and a visiting academic in the Faculty of Medicine at University of Southampton. He has an undergraduate qualification in Biomedical Science, postgraduate degree in epidemiology and is in the final throes of a PhD with the University of Amsterdam in infectious diseases and global health.

Michael has been working in infectious disease research since 2004, has around 30 peer-reviewed publications in journals including Lancet and Nature journals, and for some reason spends far too much of his spare time reading about ‘bad science’ on the web.

Twitter: @michaelghead

SotF 2015: To Vax or Not to Vax?

Mar 16, 2016

We all love our children dearly and chose to vaccinate them or not vaccinate them because of that deep love. Yet the discussion of whether or not to vaccinate can bring friendships to an end and the decision itself can have life-threatening consequences, not just for babies and unvaccinated children, but for anyone with a compromised immune system such as elderly people in our community.

Michael Head looks at vaccination in the larger context. Smallpox is eradicated, polio has nearly gone the same way and in most countries diphtheria is rare. That’s due to vaccination. Yet headlines are often fixated on measles outbreaks on both sides of the Pond, or the ‘dangers’ of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine.

Michael Head is a research associate in infectious diseases at University College London and a visiting academic in the Faculty of Medicine at University of Southampton. He has an undergraduate qualification in Biomedical Science, postgraduate degree in epidemiology and is in the final throes of a PhD with the University of Amsterdam in infectious diseases and global health.

Michael has been working in infectious disease research since 2004, has around 30 peer-reviewed publications in journals including Lancet and Nature journals, and for some reason spends far too much of his spare time reading about ‘bad science’ on the web.

Twitter: @michaelghead

SotF 2015: Mhairi Stewart Interview

Mar 9, 2016

 

Science and art are thought of as unlikely bedfellows, but there’s more that links them than you might think.

After her excellent talk for us as part of the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe, Claudia Schaffner talks to Dr Mhairi Stewart about her work trying to communicate science through art projects.

Oh, and the Australian joins in…

Dr Stewart started her scientific career as a molecular parasitologist fascinated at the intricate weapons and defences such small creatures can use against us. She came to realise however that her real passion lay in communicating research in innovative and creative ways.

She lives near St Andrews with her artist husband Gary Erskine and two cats named after literary characters, Meg and Mog.

Twitter: @scienceartreach

SotF 2015: Exploring the Interplay Between Science and Art

Mar 9, 2016

In 1959 distinguished scientist and novelist, C.P. Snow proposed that the practice of defining intellectual activity as either science or arts was impeding our ability to solve the world’s problems by creating two cultures.

55 years on we will explore what the ‘Two Cultures’ have to contribute to each other and if they have learnt to collaborate, communicate and combine to become a third culture, or if the void is as wide as ever.

Dr Mhairi Stewart started her scientific career as a molecular parasitologist fascinated at the intricate weapons and defences such small creatures can use against us. She came to realise however that her real passion lay in communicating research in innovative and creative ways.

She lives near St Andrews with her artist husband Gary Erskine and two cats named after literary characters, Meg and Mog.

Twitter: @scienceartreach

SotF 2015: Lewis Dean Interview

Mar 2, 2016

Are chimps people too? A court in America recently ruled that chimpanzees should be regarded as ‘persons’, giving them basic human rights. But with rights come responsibilities. Could a chimp ever be guilty of a human crime?

In this podcast we interview Lewis Dean about his research into this controversial area.

Lewis gave us a challenging talk about animal and human intelligence in the Science Festival last year, and we’re delighted to welcome him back to the Fringe.

He is a primatologist interested in the evolution of human culture and cognition. By examining how different primate species (including chimps, capuchin monkeys, lemurs and humans) solve puzzles and learn new skills he seeks to shed light on why it is that while other species seem to have rudimentary traditions, humans have a such complex culture.

Web: culturedprimate.wordpress.com/about/ | Twitter: @lewisgdean

SotF 2015: A Chimp On Trial

Mar 2, 2016

Are chimps people too? A court in America recently ruled that chimpanzees should be regarded as ‘persons’, giving them basic human rights. But with rights come responsibilities. Could a chimp ever be guilty of a human crime?

Lewis Dean examines what we know about the mental abilities of our closest evolutionary cousins, what we still have to find out and why researchers continue to draw different conclusions from similar data. By exploring this research he’ll ask: should chimps have human rights? Could a chimp commit a human wrong?

Lewis gave us a challenging talk about animal and human intelligence in the Science Festival last year, and we were delighted to welcome him back to the Fringe.

He is a primatologist interested in the evolution of human culture and cognition. By examining how different primate species (including chimps, capuchin monkeys, lemurs and humans) solve puzzles and learn new skills he seeks to shed light on why it is that while other species seem to have rudimentary traditions, humans have a such complex culture.

Web: culturedprimate.wordpress.com/about/ | Twitter: @lewisgdean

10 Questions: Heather Pentler

Feb 24, 2016

Well, this was an odd one to edit. Today’s Skeptics in the Pub talk comes to you courtesy of my wife Heather Pentler. We also have a 10 Questions interview with her which you can download along with this podcast.

Since being diagnosed with a chronic condition, Heather has been snooping into the dangerous advice given by various alternative medical practitioners. Her talk will take you through her experiences and how and why this advice is so harmful.

Heather Pentler is a long-time member of the skeptic community, having first been involved with the Merseyside Skeptics Society, and later on becoming part of the video crew at QEDCon. As a humanities dropout and not a scientist, Heather likes applying skepticism to areas where it would not normally be applied, although she still has a passion for science, evidence and facts.

She has lived and moved all over the country, spending her formative years in East Lancashire, before finding her way to Edinburgh with her husband. She still coos at all of the pretty buildings when she gets off the bus.

Twitter: @LadyPenny

SitP: How Alt Med Tried To Kill Me

Feb 24, 2016

After her excellent talk and investigation into the remedies peddled by alternative medicine practitioners (which you can download along with this podcast), Heather Pentler joins her husband – EdSkeptics podcast producer Mark Pentler – for possibly the most self-indulgent 10 Questions podcast ever. We’re so sorry…

Heather Pentler is a long-time member of the skeptic community, having first been involved with the Merseyside Skeptics Society, and later on becoming part of the video crew at QEDCon. As a humanities dropout and not a scientist, Heather likes applying skepticism to areas where it would not normally be applied, although she still has a passion for science, evidence and facts.

She has lived and moved all over the country, spending her formative years in East Lancashire, before finding her way to Edinburgh with her husband. She still coos at all of the pretty buildings when she gets off the bus.

Twitter: @LadyPenny

SotF 2015: Young Scientists, New Research

Feb 10, 2016

After telling us about the future of biodegradable materials in her Skeptics on the Fringe talk, we interview Fern Sinclair and hear more about the subject. We also speak to Seth Amanfo, who also did a talk for us, but which we were unable to record. His research is incredibly interesting, however, touching on Malaria research and the diagnosis methods available.

The pair talk to us about what its like to be young researchers in the scientific world, including the challenges of balancing the amount of work involved, and the pressures of needing to produce results.

Both Fern and Seth are research students at the University of Edinburgh. You can find more about their work at the following links:

Seth: http://pig.bio.ed.ac.uk/people/seth/
Fern: https://greenmaterialslaboratory.wordpress.com | @GreenMatLab

SotF 2015: Biodegradable Materials

Feb 10, 2016

Medical devices, cars, clothes, toys, kettles, toothbrushes… Everyday commodities that we all take for granted. Everyday objects that are sourced from petroleum resources. Resources that are running out. Resources that contribute to global waste build-up and can cause serious detriment to the environment and wildlife. The development of new to the world biodegradable materials is key. With a simple dance this research can be explained. So join us to see how traditional ceilidh dancing transfers to science.*

* The dance doesn’t work well on a podcast… Hopefully Fern’s narration will help you visualise it…

Fern’s passion for Science began during her school years in Aberdeenshire. She went on to graduate with a first class Master of Chemistry degree from the University of Edinburgh which included one years industrial experience in the USA.

Following graduation, Fern was awarded a prestigious Principal Scholarship from the University which provides four years fully funded research and focuses on entrepreneurial development. She is currently in the second year of her PhD working for Dr Michael Shaver of the Green Materials Laboratory.

Twitter: @greenmatlab
Web: greenmaterialslaboratory.wordpress.com

Special: We talk to skeptical cartoonist Polyp

Feb 3, 2016

A special interview for you this week, with apologies for the sound quality. Phone recordings, eh?

David Frank talks to skeptical cartoonist Polyp about his new Kickstarter project “thINK the Book”. He talks about the content of the book, the trouble he’s had getting it published, and his own life and skepticism.

The book will be a mix of one off vicious panel gags and several longer cartoon ‘short stories’. As well as the collected cartoons themselves, the book is peppered and buffed up with juicy skeptic quotes from the likes of Carl Sagan, Thomas Paine, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Richard Dawkins, Noam Chomsky, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Charles Darwin… and so on. Religion, pseudoscience and conspiracy theories get the full treatment from Polyp.

For details on how you can help fund the project, visit: http://www.thinkthebook.org – there are links on there to the Kickstarter page. The project is currently at 63% funded, so there’s still room to grow! Polyp’s own website is at http://www.polyp.org.uk

SitP: Christmas Stocking 2015!

Jan 27, 2016

Before we celebrate our atavistic winter solstice festival of choice based on our cultural or family heritage (or go home and get pished as you might call it) we like to let our hair down, kick up our heels, open the mic and have a good party.

This episode we have a series of short talks for your listening pleasure from our 2015 event, and we’re only a month late with it!

  • Podcast co-host David Frank talks about growing up as a Jew at Christmas
  • Our chair Ewan Leeming gives us his Christmas Quiz
  • Dave Colville is talking about replicating psychology studies
  • Skeptics regular Tracey Joliffe will be enlightening us on ‘The 12 Lays of Christmas’ as she summarises some interesting bugs we can catch (STIs)

Your compere for the evening is the inimitable Twist!

10 Questions: Sue Fletcher-Watson

Jan 20, 2016

For this podcast, we turn the mic over to one of our regulars, Heather Pentler, who works with adults with autism. She’s far more qualified than any of us to interview Sue…

Sue Fletcher Watson holds the post of Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. She is an associate of the Patrick Wild Centre for research into autism, fragile X syndrome and intellectual disabilities and of The Salvesen Mindroom Centre to understand and resolve learning difficulties. Sue is interested in the application of psychological research methods to questions with clinical, educational and societal impact. Sue’s current work focuses on: intervention for children with autism, especially using technology; outcome measurement for early intervention studies; longitudinal follow-up of at-risk groups especially infants born preterm.

SitP: The (Real) Links Between Technology, Screentime and Autism

Jan 20, 2016

Media dons and science journalists are regularly publishing emotive and dramatic headlines about the purported negative effects of screentime on child development. In particular scaremongering links have been drawn between technology use by children and young people and the increasing rates of diagnosis of autism. In this talk Sue uses scientific evidence and draws on personal testimonies to pick apart the claims made in the papers and expose the truth about the impact of technology on children today.

Sue Fletcher Watson holds the post of Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. She is an associate of the Patrick Wild Centre for research into autism, fragile X syndrome and intellectual disabilities and of The Salvesen Mindroom Centre to understand and resolve learning difficulties. Sue is interested in the application of psychological research methods to questions with clinical, educational and societal impact. Sue’s current work focuses on: intervention for children with autism, especially using technology; outcome measurement for early intervention studies; longitudinal follow-up of at-risk groups especially infants born preterm.

Follow Sue at

http://www.dart.ed.ac.uk/

And @suereviews

10 Questions: Paul Burns

Jan 13, 2016

 

After wowing us with his Skeptics in the Pub talk, we sat down with Paul Burns to fire our 10 (ish) Questions barrage at him. Paul talks more about science fraud and his science fiction writing with our very own David Frank.

Paul is a physics graduate, mass-spectrometer engineer and now a novelist (SF). He became interested in the truth and lies surrounding free energy and cold fusion in particular.

SitP: Believe the Lie: Science Fraud & Credibility

Jan 13, 2016

We’re back for 2016! Hopefully you had a great holiday, and you’re ready for some skepticism. We have a couple of episodes for you, in the form of a great Skeptics in the Pub talk AND a 10 Questions interview afterwards with our speaker for this episode Paul Burns.

Why are so many otherwise intelligent people duped by scientific fraud? 

Paul became fascinated by Andrea Rossi’s claims about cold fusion and set up the website eCatNews to examine them and find out more. At one point the site was receiving over 300k unique views per month. Inviting skeptics and believers alike, the discussion on site is often heated but illuminating and has given Paul insight into what happens when people believe There Is Someone Wrong On The Internet.

It’s a fantastic story, and we can’t do it justice here, so we’ll let you listen to Paul’s engaging yarn about what happened…

Paul Burns is a physics graduate, mass-spectrometer engineer and now a novelist (SF). He became interested in the truth and lies surrounding free energy and cold fusion in particular.

10 Questions: Iszi Lawrence

Dec 10, 2015

Join our very own David Frank as he talks to Iszi about the more interesting but forgotten people from history. Iszi produces a podcast called the Z List Dead List where you can hear even more on the subject with guest appearances from top celebrities from the world of comedy, journalism, and more.

zlistdeadlist.com | http://iszi-lawrence-ym2t.squarespace.com | @iszi_lawrence

SotF 2015: Richard Firth-Godbehere Interview

We chat to Richard Firth-Godbehere to learn more about the murky subject of emotions…

Richard Firth-Godbehere first became interested in emotions, and especially disgust, while his wife was suffering from a phobia for vomiting, emetophobia. Since then, he has been studying what emotions are and were, and trying to find a way through the academic minefield that is the study of emotions. Richard is a Wellcome Trust Scholar in the Medical Humanities at Queen Mary University of London

SotF 2015: Lost Emotions And The Passions Of The Minde In Generall

Nov 25, 2015

Emotions evolved for a reason, but how simple are they? The fun really starts when we discover that what we call ’emotions’ are only a couple of hundred years old. How can this be, and what came before?

In this talk, Richard will embody the voice of Thomas Wright, a 17th Century English Catholic missionary whose book, The Passions of the Minde in Generall, influenced many including some bloke called Shakespeare. Through him, he will explain what feelings came before ’emotions’ and where modern ’emotions’ came from.

Richard will also discuss lost emotions – the ones that have disappeared that we no longer understand – and will do his best to get us to feel feelings we feel we’ve not felt before (or maybe we have, but have forgotten).

Richard Firth-Godbehere first became interested in emotions, and especially disgust, while his wife was suffering from a phobia for vomiting, emetophobia. Since then, he has been studying what emotions are and were, and trying to find a way through the academic minefield that is the study of emotions. Richard is a Wellcome Trust Scholar in the Medical Humanities at Queen Mary University of London

@abominablehisto

 

SotF 2015: Robin Ince fills some time for us

Nov 11, 2015

Warning: recorded on an iPhone… 🙂

What happens when your speaker for the evening isn’t arriving for another ten minutes, and you have a room full of people expecting to be entertained? You simply ask Robin Ince – a man who was up at the Fringe to do one show and ended up doing about 6 – if he wouldn’t mind filling in.

Robin was kind enough to step up and help us fill the time while Steve Mould from Festival of the Spoken Nerd hotfooted it over from the Assembly George Square theatres. We were also able to record his performance on the evening, and it’s presented here for your enjoyment.

We’ll be back in two weeks with a more traditional talk and interview podcast, and we hope you’re enjoying our Fringe 2015 content. Please do email us with any comments (podcast@edskeptics.co.uk) and we hope you’d consider leaving us a review on iTunes to help us promote the podcast more.

@robinince | http://robinince.com/

SotF 2015: Dan Simpson Interview

Oct 28, 2015

After appearing on our first night of the 2015 fringe our roving reporter David Frank sat down with poet and nerdsmith Dan Simpson to ask about his life and his love for poetry.

You can listen to Dan performing some of his excellently nerdy poetry in part 1 of this week’s podcast bundle, recorded at our first night “Our Friends On The Fringe” extravaganza.

dansimpsonpoet.wordpress.com | @dansimpsonpoet

SotF 2015: Our Friends On The Fringe

Oct 28, 2015

Odd that this one is episode 5, but we have our reasons and mind your own beeswax or something…

We kick off by sharing our stage with some of the other acts that appeal to the Open-Minded, the Curious, to Scientists, Geeks and Skeptics. These acts appeared alongside us at the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe, and were kind enough to come down and give us a little sneak peak at their Fringe shows.

Alongside our compere Diane Waugh, you’ll hear from:

  • Rosie Wilby – @rosiewilby
  • Dan Simpson – @dansimpsonpoet
  • Jack Heal – @jackheal

And in part 2 of this week’s podcast bonanza, you can hear an exclusive interview with Dan Simpson.

SotF 2015: Ewan Leeming Interview

Oct 21, 2015

Unlike those internet viral hoaxes, today actually IS Back to the Future 2 day. To celebrate, we have an interview to go with our very own Ewan Leeming’s talk on time travel in popular fiction (which you can also download today). We talk about Ewan’s favourite time travel stories, how he got into skepticism, and his pets as a child…

Ewan is something of a renaissance man: having qualified (and worked briefly) as a Maths Teacher, he’s also been a Gamekeeper, Outdoor Instructor, Science Presenter, Tutor, Farm Worker, Croupier, Shelf Stacker, Science Communicator, Newsletter Editor, Motorsport Event Organiser and probably some other things he’s forgotten about.

Currently he’s a Senior Printer at the best Printers in Edinburgh: The Edinburgh Copyshop. He’s also the chair of Edinburgh Skeptics, attempting to keep everyone else sane while we put on more events per year than any other skeptical group in the country.

You’ll find Ewan on Twitter at @champnav

SotF 2015: Ewan Leeming

Oct 21, 2015

In the year that Back to the Future went back to the future, we just had to have a talk on time travel.

Time travel is something that none of us has any* experience of, yet it’s a very strong and understandable plot device in many books and films. Chair of Edinburgh Skeptics (and Sci Fi geek) Ewan Leeming will look at how, why and where it is used, and the growth away from the traditional science fiction setting towards more mainstream stories.

*non-trivial

Ewan is something of a renaissance man: having qualified (and worked briefly) as a Maths Teacher, he’s also been a Gamekeeper, Outdoor Instructor, Science Presenter, Tutor, Farm Worker, Croupier, Shelf Stacker, Science Communicator, Newsletter Editor, Motorsport Event Organiser and probably some other things he’s forgotten about.

Currently he’s a Senior Printer at the best Printers in Edinburgh: The Edinburgh Copyshop. He’s also the chair of Edinburgh Skeptics, attempting to keep everyone else sane while we put on more events per year than any other skeptical group in the country.

You’ll find Ewan on Twitter at @champnav

SotF 2015: Kathy Charles & Michael Palkowski Interview

Following on from their Fringe talk for us, Mark Pentler spoke to Kathy Charles and Michael Palkowski about their research in this area.

SotF 2015: Kathy Charles & Michael Palkowski

Oct 14, 2015

Feederism (or feedism) is the term given to practices and relationships related to erotic weight gain. In its simplest form, feederism is about a feeder (a person who likes to see another person gain weight) and a feedee (a person who enjoys gaining weight).

Following on from their Fringe talk for us, Mark Pentler spoke to Kathy Charles and Michael Palkowski about their research in this area. This work led to the release of a book on the subject, titled Feederism: Eating, Weight Gain and Sexual Pleasure, details of which can be found here on the Palgrave website.

Kathy has been a lecturer at Edinburgh Napier University since 2007. She teaches undergraduate modules in forensic psychology and research methods, and she is the programme leader for the MSc in Applied Criminology and Forensic Psychology. Her research interests are in aversive personalities, unusual interests, and forensic interviewing. She is the director of studies for a PhD student researching aversive personalities. Links: kathycharles.net | @kathy_charles

Michael Palkowski is a Sociologist and PhD student at Edinburgh Napier University, working in the Business school. He is also currently an undergraduate dissertation supervisor in the School of Life, Sports and Social Sciences, where he specializes in autoethnographic projects. He has also presented his work at various international and national conferences. Links: @degarmot

SotF 2015: Festival of the Spoken Nerd Interview

Oct 5, 2015

If you like maths, fire, waves and graphs, Festival of the Spoken Nerd are definitely for you. They’ve just started on a massive UK tour with something like 40 dates in, and we urge you all to toddle off to the FOTSN website and see if they’re playing near you.

The very lovely and wonderful FOTSN (Helen Arney, Steve Mould, and Matt Parker) were a massive help during our Fringe festivities, with each of the trio doing a night for us. In return, they were gracious enough to offer reduced tickets to the filmed version of their main show for EdSkeptics regulars. How nice is that?

In this interview, we speak to the trio about how FOTSN started, their thoughts on science communication and education, what to expect from their new tour, and their Fringe favourites.

Apologies for the sound quality, but this is a much longer interview than normal. We take with one hand, we give with the other. Firm, but fair, that’s the EdSkeptics way.

Links: festivalofthespokennerd.com | @FOTSN

SotF 2015: Ash Pryce Interview

Sep 16, 2015

Every year Edinburgh Skeptics put on a lineup of talks called ‘Skeptics On The Fringe’ (SotF) as part of the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. SotF 2015 features 30 speakers over 22 nights. We’ve recorded the audio from most of the talks, and interviewed most of the speakers, and we’re releasing these over the following year.

To launch our Skeptics On The Fringe podcast series properly (not counting episode zero last week…) David Frank spoke to Ash Pryce, the founder of Edinburgh Skeptics, and co-founder of Skeptics On The Fringe (SotF).

They talked about the early “wild west” days of SotF, some of the stranger things one sees on the high street at the Fringe, and Ash’s blog where he has shared what it’s like as a performer to battle weight-gain and depression.

Ash’s Links: Blog | ashpryce.co.uk | @PsychicConman

SotF 2015: Introduction and Peter Buckley Hill

Sep 6, 2015

It’s been a while since the last podcast, and with good reason. We’ve all been beavering away throughout August running Skeptics on the Fringe, our contribution to the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. 22 nights, 22 separate events, featuring scientific and skeptical talks, some comedy, some music, and even some poetry. And the best bit is that we recorded a bunch of it for you, and we even interviewed some of our speakers and performers as well!

This is episode zero and as well as an overview of what to expect over the coming months, we also have a performance by Peter Buckley Hill as part of our July Fringe Fundraiser event. Peter is the founder of the PBH Free Fringe, one of the many organisations putting on events during the Fringe, and home to Skeptics on the Fringe. Peter very kindly gave his time to help us out for our fundraiser, although we must warn you that he’s also very loud and energetic and you may wish to turn your speakers down a bit… 🙂

Episode zero seemed like the best name for this episode, given that it’s an introduction and also that nobody uses the number zero enough. Is it even a number? Oh well, too late now…

10 Questions: Jennifer Wallace

July 03, 2015

Kitty Johnstone sat down with Jennifer Wallace after her talk on Evidence-Based Public Policy to ask her some more questions about what evidence is and how it should be used, as well as some more questions about her life.

Jennifer Wallace is Head of Policy at the Carnegie UK Trust. She is an experienced manager and public policy researcher and analyst. Her work in the public and voluntary sector has led to positive change in legislation, policy and practice. Based in Scotland, she has experience of working with governments and stakeholders across the UK.

www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk

Twitter: @Jen_CarnegieUK

Skeptics In The Pub: Jennifer Wallace

July 03, 2015

Quick note: Still having radio mic problems. We’re working on it. Sorry!

Evidence-based public policy is a holy grail for researchers but somewhere in the ‘black box’ of policy development other factors are at play.

Drawing on research and personal experiences, this talk will explore key questions such as: to what extent is any policy evidence-based, what types of evidence do decision-makers use and how does evidence interplay with dominant narratives and values systems?

Jennifer Wallace is Head of Policy at the Carnegie UK Trust. She is an experienced manager and public policy researcher and analyst. Her work in the public and voluntary sector has led to positive change in legislation, policy and practice. Based in Scotland, she has experience of working with governments and stakeholders across the UK.

A prolific writer, she has authored more than 30 reports, many of which relating to public service reform. Key areas of interest include community empowerment, user focus in public services and measuring wellbeing. Jennifer holds the degrees of MA (Hons) in Social Policy from the University of Edinburgh and MPhil in Social Science Research from the University of Glasgow. She is a Trustee of Evaluation Support Scotland and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk

Twitter: @Jen_CarnegieUK

10 Questions: Jon Stewart

June 24, 2015

Jon Stewart was guitarist for platinum-selling Britpop band Sleeper, with whom he enjoyed three UK Top 10 albums and eight UK Top 40 singles. He now lectures in cultural history at BIMM Institute in Brighton and is a PhD researcher at University of Southampton. Jon was an enthusiastic and grateful member of AA for fourteen years. He now campaigns for more up-to-date and evidence-based secular treatment options via his blog “Leaving AA & Staying Sober” at http://jonsleeper.wordpress.com.

Jon sat down with our new host Kitty Johnstone to talk about his life, sausage dogs and his love of chocolate. You can also download a recording of Jon’s talk in (ironically) our Skeptics In The Pub podcast.

Skeptics In The Pub: Jon Stewart

June 24, 2015

Alcoholics Anonymous is a media endorsed and popularly recognised remedy for problem drinkers. Yet while AA’s social worth is rarely challenged its efficacy rate, estimated by some to be less than 10%, appears comparable to that of spontaneous remission. Can a non-existent “Higher Power” really offer meaningful solutions to the debilitating and potentially fatal condition of alcoholism? If so, what happens to all those atheist and skeptic alcoholics?

AA’s famous 12 step recovery programme, drawn from a long-forgotten 1930s Christian fundamentalist mass movement, has not changed in eighty years. How did such out-dated mental health technology become the primary self help option for what is arguably the great social health scourge of our age? In the second decade of the twenty first century, is this the best we can do?

Jon Stewart was guitarist for platinum-selling Britpop band Sleeper, with whom he enjoyed three UK Top 10 albums and eight UK Top 40 singles. He now lectures in cultural history at BIMM Institute in Brighton and is a PhD researcher at University of Southampton. Jon was an enthusiastic and grateful member of AA for fourteen years. He now campaigns for more up-to-date and evidence-based secular treatment options via his blog “Leaving AA & Staying Sober” at http://jonsleeper.wordpress.com.

10 Questions: Tracey Jolliffe

June 15, 2015

Bats: Creepy as heck? Or cute and cuddly? Edinburgh Skeptics regular Tracey Jolliffe gave a talk as part of our Edinburgh Science Festival line up to help us find out.

While we were unable to record Tracey’s talk on the night, she sat down (some time after the Science Festival, due to all sorts of reasons) with David Frank to face 10 Questions about her work and about herself.

10 Questions: Victoria Stiles

May 26, 2015

Note: We’ve hilariously called this 9 Questions in the audio, but upon further listening it appears that we’ve definitely asked 10 Questions. Maybe even 11… 😮

The Third Reich was a large, complex, modern state with a thriving mass media, diverse population, and fruitful trade and cultural links with the rest of the world. The ideology behind National Socialism drew upon well-established strands of nationalist and racialist thinking as well as centuries-old anti-Semitism, and the Nazi Party and its government used cutting-edge technology and techniques to give these ideas the broadest possible audience and appeal.

All too often, this baffling web of networks, policies and overlapping interest groups, which changed constantly over the twelve years the Third Reich lasted, gets reduced to the ideas and actions of just one man. From the top of the ivory tower, to the very bottom of the bottom half of the internet, this talk will explore what Adolf Hitler means to all of us, and how our obsession with him is sucking the meaning out one of our most potent historical symbols: the Holocaust.

Victoria Stiles recently completed a PhD in History at the University of Nottingham and is a co-organiser of the Greater Manchester Skeptics Society. Her research encompasses stereotype formation, the manipulation of evidence and attitudes towards imperialism in Nazi Germany, as well as Anglo-German relations. She occasionally blogs about her sources and what it means to “do” history at tattyjackets.blogspot.com.

Special: QED 2015 Special Part 1 and Part 2

Part 1: May 8, 2015, Part 2: May 15

A special podcast recorded at QED Convention 2015 in Manchester, one of the best skeptical events on the calendar (Skeptics on the Fringe excepted, of course…). Featuring Rhys Morgan, Chris French, Marcel Dicke, Mitch Benn, Chris Higgins & Josh Godbee.

Part 2, features Alan Henness of The Nightingale Collaboration, Professor Richard Wiseman, Matt Dillahunty, QED volunteer Steve Malone and Miguel whom we found proselytizing out the front of the venue.

Special: Evidence-Based Hustings 2015 Part 1 and Part 2

Apr 29, 2015

As part of the 2015 Edinburgh International Science Festival, Edinburgh Skeptics and the University of Edinburgh Humanist Society held a General Election Hustings on Tuesday the 14th of April. The panel consisted of the following candidates and representatives: Left Unity – Bruce Whitehead (Edinburgh North & Leith), Scottish Conservative Party – Mark Brown (Na h-Eileanan an Iar), Scottish Green Party – Peter McColl (Edinburgh East), Scottish Labour Party – Cllr. Gordon Munro, Scottish Liberal Democrats – Gary McLelland (Glasgow East), Scottish National Party – Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West), UKIP Scotland – Alan Melville (Edinburgh North & Leith)

Part 1, with 6 pre-published questions known to both the audience and the speakers.

Part 2, with general audience questions from the floor.

Skeptics in the Pub: Dug Campbell

Apr 22, 2015

Bitcoin is one of a new breed of so-called “crypto-currencies” which only exist online. Fans say they provide low-cost secure money transfer without the need for bank accounts, critics say they’re used by criminals and tax evaders. Bitcoin uses a technology called “Blockchain” and, like the Internet in 1990, only a few people have heard of it and, like the Internet in 1990, it is probably on a trajectory to change the world. In this talk Dug Campbell will introduce us to Bitcoin and discuss the story so far in the real world.

Dug Campbell runs the Scottish Bitcoin Meetup and founded the Scottish Bitcoin Conference. He regularly speaks at events and provides press commentary around the disruptive potential of crypto-currencies, in addition to exploring how blockchain technologies will change society over the next few years. After over a decade as a technology lawyer, he completed an MBA before becoming a Digital Strategy Consultant. He also blogs regularly at www.dugcampbell.com.

10 Questions: Dick Byrne

Apr 22, 2015

Dick’s talk for us as part of our Skeptics at the Science Festival was on Animal Intelligence. Details are here.

Dick Byrne is Research Professor in the School of Psychology at St Andrews University, Scotland, where his work focuses on the evolution of cognitive and social behaviour, particularly the origins of distinctively human characteristics. After a degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, his PhD research was on human planning and thought.

10 Questions: David Frank

Apr 20, 2015

After titillating us, entertaining us, and sometimes grossing us out a little bit, Edinburgh Skeptics member David Frank joins us for the very first 10 Questions podcast.

Skeptics in the Pub: David Frank

Apr 20, 2015

Marketer and former radio show host David Frank talked about all things online dating and porn. We could all use some tips on how to market ourselves, whether looking for love online or trying to make the best impression in any situation. There was also a marketer’s insight into why there are few porn sites for women, and an analysis of the porn viewing habits of men. He lampooned the formulas romance novels use for their plots and covers. Finally he looked at a case study of how one porn site markets itself in safe-for-work plain view. There was singing, poetry, and a very interesting Q&A afterwards.

Hailing from Perth, Western Australia, David has also lived in Japan and Vietnam. He has organised events for Perth Skeptics, Tokyo Skeptics, The Humanist Society of Western Australia & more. He runs Edinburgh Skeptics’ monthly discussion group Skeptics Underground.