Cork Skeptics

Promoting Reason, Science & Critical Thinking in Cork City & Beyond


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5G Or Not 5G with Sean Slater

5G OR NOT 5G

Taking Arms Against the Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Pseudoscience

Thursday 28 November at Blackrock Castle Observatory


5th generation mobile networks are coming in for increasing criticism by otherwise reputable sources and commentators. They have been demonised as mind-control, as using ‘untested, weapons-grade, ultra-high frequency technology’ and purported to cause severe harm to the population just by existing.

Are they a back-door for governments to manage their population through technology? Are we simply leaving ourselves open to other countries infiltrating our national infrastructure? Are there real dangers to this new technology?

Sean Slater of Edinburgh Skeptics will try to address these fears head-on and clarify what 5G is and what it is not.

About the Speaker: Sean has worked in the mobile phone business for over 25 years and has seen 2G, 3G, 4G and now 5G being rolled out by several different networks. He is also the vice-chair of Edinburgh Skeptics and as such has taken an interest in the pseudoscience surrounding his industry.

He can be found on Twitter @TheTrueScotsman


The talk will begin at 8.00pm on Thursday 28th November. It is free to attend, and we welcome anyone with an interest in the topic to come along on the night. For directions to Blackrock Castle, see our Skeptics In The Castle information page.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 


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Wildlife Myths with Rob O’Sullivan

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SEPARATING THE BULL FROM THE BS

Wildlife Myths And Why They Matter

Thursday 27 June at Blackrock Castle Observatory


If you’re worried about the hordes of killer spiders invading our shores, or the swarms of seagulls reigning death from above, this talk is for you. Science Communicator, Rob O’ Sullivan, separates the fact from the fiction and shows you how to do the same.

About the Speaker: Rob O’Sullivan is an Irish Zoologist turned Space Nerd.

He knows far too much about animal sex, and nowhere near enough about Space. Rob has received glowing recognition for his Science Communication work including an award of a SMASH Fellowship and getting called a pervert by Phill Jupitus.

You can find Rob by day pottering around CIT Blackrock Castle Observatory, and after dark on Twitter @Rob0Sullivan.

Please note: Due to the nature of this talk, some sections may not be suitable for a younger audience.


The talk will begin at 8.00pm on Thursday 27th June. It is free to attend, and we welcome anyone with an interest in the topic to come along on the night. For directions to Blackrock Castle, see our Skeptics In The Castle information page.

We look forward to seeing you there!


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The Baloney Detection Kit returns to DeBarras

West Cork Skeptics return to DeBarra’s Folk Club, Clonakilty this month to discuss a current issue from the perspective of scientific skepticism. This month’s presentation ‘The Baloney Detection Kit’ by Colm Ryan.

In a wide-ranging talk, Colm explores the world of strange beliefs and discusses some ways to distinguish between good and bad ideas.

The meeting takes place this Wednesday, October 17th, at 8pm.


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Cruise Control • Friday 3 August

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A Talk with Ex-Scientologist John Duignan

8:00pm • Friday 3rd August • Blackrock Castle Observatory

John Duignan (born 1963) grew up in both Stirling in Scotland and in Carrigaline County Cork. He had a difficult and troubled childhood thanks in part to a mentally ill father, an ill and abused mother and the chaotic home life that resulted.

Following the untimely death of his parents in 1974, he and his siblings were fostered by family members on his mother’s side in both County Cork and Wicklow. He left school at the age of 17 and joined an American Christian Evangelical drama group and spent three years traveling Europe and North America forwarding this unique brand of Christian ministry. In 1983, he was operating a branch of this ministry in Vancouver Canada and came to see that much of the Christian message simply did not add up. He moved to Halifax Nova Scotia to live with a group of atheist humanists and to work on an old North German built schooner. About a year later, he found himself in Stuttgart, Germany and during a period of dark depression was recruited by The Church of Scientology.

In 2008 he wrote and published The Complex: An Insider Exposes the Covert World of the Church of Scientology. In this non-fiction book he describes his 22 years in the organization and his eventual awaking partly as a result of attending an event where actor and Scientologist Tom Cruise was given the award of “Most Dedicated Follower”. Duignan began to examine the organization more closely and had doubts about remaining. He left the organization in 2006, after taking measures to avoid investigation by Scientology’s intelligence agency the Office of Special Affairs.

The Church of Scientology responded to the publication of The Complex by sending legal letters to several bookstore retailers that were selling the book, claiming the book contains libelous statements about a member of the organization. His publisher Merlin Publishing, “emphatically denied” these allegations, and an editorial director at the publishing company called Scientology’s claim “vexatious”. The United Kingdom branch of Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, stopped selling copies of the book after receiving legal letters from the Church of Scientology through internationally feared libel firm, Carter Ruck; booksellers Waterstone’s and W H Smith and Borders Books were “warned off” selling the book as well. However the book remained in broad publication here in Ireland and has been stocked in all Irish retailers for a number of years.

Following the publishing of The Complex, John returned to education completing a BA in Engljohn_headshot_350pxish and Italian Literature and Italian language at University College Cork.

John counts Christopher Hitchens, Bertrand Russell and A.S. Byatt among his most important intellectual influences. He no longer considers himself to be a religious person.

 


This talk takes place at Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork at 8:00pm on Friday 3rd August. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend!


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Paranoia For The People • Friday 22 June

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Dr David Robert Grimes presents Conspiracy Theories in the 21st Century

8:00pm • Friday 22nd June • Blackrock Castle Observatory

Conspiratorial ideation (e.g., the moon landings were faked; climate-change is a hoax; vaccination is dangerous) is the tendency of individuals to believe that events and power relations are secretly manipulated by certain clandestine groups and organizations. Public acceptance of these ostensibly explanatory conjectures remains high, even when they are non-falsifiable, lacking in evidence, or demonstrably false.

To exacerbate the problem, social media provides fertile ground for conspiracy theories to rapidly propagate, and dedicated echo-chambers can insulate these beliefs from critical examination.

In this talk, we’ll examine what makes conspiracy theories so virile, including recent mathematical models that aim to understand the viability of such beliefs, and models of how they spread. And we’ll see how much damage such claims can cause, and why in our hyper-connected era its more imperative than ever before to combat false narratives.

DRG_headshotAbout The Speaker: Dr David Robert Grimes is a physicist and cancer researcher, currently based at the Queens University Belfast and a visiting researcher at University of Oxford. His research focuses chiefly on the application of radiotherapy physics, and oxygen modelling, and academic work on factors influencing public perception and understanding of science.

He is also a science writer and frequently contributes to the Guardian, Irish Times and BBC on a wide spectrum of science, society and philosophical topics. He was joint recipient of the 2014 Nature / Sense about Science Maddox Prize for Standing Up for Science.

David can be found on Twitter @drg1985


This talk takes place at Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork at 8:00pm on Friday 22nd June. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend!


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Odd Numbers with Darren Dahly

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Darren Dahly, Principal Statistician of the Clinical Research Facility Cork, Presents A Skeptic’s Guide To Common Statistical Paradoxes & Biases

8:00pm • Friday 8th June • Blackrock Castle Observatory

There are lots of ways to fool ourselves with data. This talk will help you defend yourself against the most common statistical paradoxes and biases. Examples will include how regression to the mean can explain most placebo effects, and how collider bias can lead us to think that smoking during pregnancy is actually good for small babies.

Darren_Headshot_350pxAbout The Speaker: Darren Dahly is the Principal Statistician of the Clinical Research Facility Cork, and a Senior Lecturer in Research Methods at UCC.

Darren can be found on Twitter @statsepi

 


This talk takes place at Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork at 8:00pm on Friday 8th June. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend!


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Homeopathy in Organic Farming

Name a country where the Law prioritises Homeopathy over Medicine?

Answer: Ireland (and the UK … and everywhere else in the EU.)

European Council Regulation 834/2007 (Organic Production) Article 14 Clause 1 (e) (ii) states

‘disease shall be treated immediately to avoid suffering to the animal; chemically synthesised allopathic veterinary medicinal products including antibiotics may be used where necessary and under strict conditions, when the use of phytotherapeutic, homeopathic and other products is inappropriate. In particular restrictions with respect to courses of treatment and withdrawal periods shall be defined;’

This Regulation requires that ‘phytotherapeutic (plant remedies), homeopathic (like cures like) and other products (insert whatever takes your fancy)’ must be used by Organic Farmers in the first instance and thereafter, unless they are ‘inappropriate’. Presumably, only when they have failed may medicinal products be applied though it is especially nonsensical to try to determine when homeopathy, etc becomes ‘inappropriate’ for an animal.

Anyone seeking training in the use Homeopathy on Organic Farms could sign up for the 4-day European Advanced Course on ‘Quantum Agriculture’ currently promoted by Ireland’s National Organic Training Skillnet. In addition to homeopathy this course also covers biodynamics (the incorporation of astrological and spiritual principles into farming) and radionics (disease can be diagnosed and treated using ‘energy’/’frequencies’).  Fortunately, the €460 course fees (along with full board €90/day) is 25% subsidised by Skillnets, funded from the National Training Fund (NTF), funded through a levy on Pay Related Social Insurance (PRSI).

A few thoughts ….

1. Why was Organic Farming singled out by the EU for this special measure as Homeopathy and Organic are not related?

2. How was Homeopathy levered into the EU Organic Farming Regulations?

3. If this is such a good idea then why should Non-Organic Farmers not be subject to a similar stipulation?

4. On observing symptoms of Tuberculosis (TB) in cattle should Organic Farmers apply a homeopathic remedy such as Tuberculinum (C12 should do it, no need to go mad!) and wait for it to take effect?

5. What pseudoscience is being contemplated for the next revision of the Regulations?

Author: Vic.