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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: Page 4
Apr 3, 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

Apr 3, 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

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 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

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

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

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

 

Jan 25, 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!

Jan 19, 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

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 http://www.dart.ed.ac.uk/ & @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. 

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. 

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

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/

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.

Twitter: @dansimpsonpoet
Web: https://dansimpsonpoet.wordpress.com

 

David & Dan proving the Fringe was being torn down around them.

David & Dan proving the Fringe was being torn down around them.

 

Dan’s poster/flyer, in all it's glorious geekiness

Dan’s poster/flyer, in all it's glorious geekiness

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:

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

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

 

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