Edinburgh Skeptics Presents...

Welcome to the Edinburgh Skeptics Society podcast. We'll be bringing you talks from our guest speakers on a variety of topics in our Skeptics in the Pub podcast. There'll be talks from areas such as science, social issues, politics, and lots more, all with a view to promoting reason and critical thinking. You'll also be able to see what makes our guest speakers tick with our 10 Questions segment, and recordings of our Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Edinburgh International Science Festival events. Do make sure you rate or review us, and get in touch and let us know what we're doing right (or wrong!). Email us at
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Edinburgh Skeptics Presents...




All Episodes
Now displaying: Category: 10 questions
Sep 29, 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.

Jul 28, 2017

The morning after the birthday cake-infused Skeptics In The Pub before, Mark Pentler sat down with Paul Zenon 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.

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.

Dec 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

Oct 5, 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

Jul 6, 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

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

Jan 19, 2016

After our wonderful talk on autism and technology by Sue Fletcher-Watson, we decided to use the tools in our arsenal and handover the 10 Questions this week to our regular Heather Pentler. Heather works with adults with autism, so it seemed logical to have somebody who knows what they're talking about 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.

Follow Sue at & @suereviews

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. 

Dec 10, 2015

With apologies for being a day late, here's a fantastic 10 Questions for you with the amazing comedian and skeptic Iszi Lawrence.

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.

Web: |
Twitter: @iszi_lawrence

Jul 3, 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. 

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.


Jun 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

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.

Jun 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.

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... :-o

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

Apr 22, 2015

Unfortunately, we weren't able to record Dick's talk for us as part of our Skeptics at the Science Festival events, which is a shame, because it was incredibly interesting. Luckily, we were able to grab Dick for a few minutes to fire some questions at him. 10 of them, to be exact...

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.  

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.

Hailing from Perth, Western Australia, David has lived in Japan and Vietnam, and most recently moved to Scotland. He has organised dozens of events for Perth Skeptics, Tokyo Skeptics, The Humanist Society of Western Australia and various other Meetup groups. He currently runs Edinburgh Skeptics’ monthly discussion group Skeptics Underground held at 2pm on the second Sunday of every month. You can read more about him at