Stuart Ritchie (who is perhaps best known for being the past President of the Edinburgh University Humanist Society and for a sterling performance representing Edinburgh Skeptics on BBC1’s programme The Big Questions) returned to Skeptics on the Fringe for the third year to give another lively and informative talk to yet another packed audience.
Having taken skeptical looks at Shakespeare and Pornography in years past, this year he focused on his own area of research, Human Intelligence. Ritchie works alongside a lot of people doing cutting-edge research in this field, and so his talk contained a vast number of references to leading research.
He was highly ruthless in his presentation, starting by attacking quotes on intelligence from such famed skeptics as Hitchens and Colquoun, before tackling such controversial questions as whether gender has an effect on IQ (the answer being “no, but…”) and whether there is actually a difference in average IQ between people of different nationalities (the answer, to the sound of indrawn breath from some sections of the audience, being “yes, but…”).
He is clearly enthused by this area of research, and his excitement when talking about a longitudinal study covering the entire population of Sweden through their national service was palpable. His style is very engaging and sometimes brutally honest about contradictions and shortcomings in existing research, and these cannot help but convince his audience.
Last year’s talk on the effects of Pornography became a Scotland-wide tour, and after the reception this talk got on the fringe I wouldn’t be surprised if Ritchie finds himself in demand for more speaking engagements after this one.