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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 podcast@edskeptics.co.uk
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Now displaying: Category: sotf2015
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!

Jul 21, 2016

After their amazing performance for us at our 2015 End of Fringe Binge, David Frank sits down with Sticky Biscuits to discuss their music, their influences and their slightly disgusting name.

@stickybiscuits

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

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

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.

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 Hawai’i, 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

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

Jun 8, 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

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.

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.

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

May 4, 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

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

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/

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

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

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

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

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

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

Feb 9, 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

Feb 9, 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

Nov 25, 2015

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

 

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

https://twitter.com/abominablehisto

Nov 10, 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/

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