Cork Skeptics

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


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The Importance Of Being Ernst

Cork Skeptics Proudly Present … An Evening With Edzard Ernst
Friday 21 July • 8:00pm • Blackrock Castle Observatory

–> TICKET REQUIRED • BOOK NOW! <–


About the Talk:  Edzard Ernst is an academic tour de force within the skeptic movement.

Starting his career as a medical doctor, he became interested in alternative medicine and eventually became Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, conducting a number of studies into the effectiveness and safety of many common alternative approaches. Finding little evidence supporting the claims made, he has become an outspoken critic of the alternative medicine industry.

As well as over 700 scholarly articles, he co-wrote the bestselling book “Trick or Treatment” with Simon Singh. He retired from academia in 2013, following a dispute with Prince Charles’ Foundation for Integrated Health. Through blogs, newspaper columns and public lectures, he remains actively involved in combatting medical misinformation to the present day.

In 2015, he was awarded the John Maddox Prize for “standing up for science”.

Edzard’s latest book, A Scientist in Wonderland: A Memoir of Searching for Truth and Finding Trouble is available now.


Please Note: While admission is free, this is a ticketed event. We anticipate high demand, so to avoid disappointment, book your ticket now at:
https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/an-evening-with-edzard-ernst-tickets-35303175749


The talk will start at 8.00pm on Friday 21 July at Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork. It is free to attend, though tickets are required (see above), 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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Rethinking Psychology with Professor Brian Hughes

About the Talk:  Attempts to explain the workings of the human mind have persisted as a popular cultural fascination for centuries. This has led to the emergence of scientific psychology, a modern empirical enterprise that uses scientific methods to resolve uncertainties in our understanding of people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

Nonetheless, psychology attracts significant attention from people who hold deeply negative views about science, and is often studied by students and researchers who lack true scientific rigour. This lecture examines psychology’s relationship with science and pseudoscience. It explores the nature of scientific reasoning, the contrasting way fringe scientists study the mind, and the creep of pseudoscientific practices into mainstream psychology.

It also considers the peculiar biases impeding psychologists from being truly rigorous, and argues that pseudoscience not only damages psychology, but threatens the coherence — and dignity — of humanity at large.

 

About the Speaker: Brian Hughes is Professor in Psychology at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He can be found on Twitter and maintains a blog at thesciencebit.net

His book ‘Rethinking Psychology’ is available now.


This talk begins at 8:00pm on Thursday 2 June. The venue is Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork.

It is free to attend and all are welcome—we look forward to seeing you there!


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References from Saturday’s meeting

The meeting on Saturday was particularly good with over 40 attendees. Our speaker, who had been with the Jehovah’s Witnesses from birth and spent over 50 years in the organisation, spoke about the origins of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, their core beliefs, the consequences of being disfellowshipped and how he came to doubt the organisations core tenets. It was a fascinating talk with loads of questions afterwards. Many thanks to everyone who attended.

Our speaker (who prefers not to be named) referred to a number of books in his talk which we provide links to below:

The Demon Haunted World (Carl Sagan)

Demon-Haunted World.jpg

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Demon-haunted-World-Science-Candle/dp/1439505284/

Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters (Donald Prothero)

Evolution (book cover)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Evolution-What-Fossils-Say-Matters/dp/0231139624/

God’s Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer. (Bart Ehrman)

Cover of 'God's Problem' by Bart Ehrman http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gods-Problem-Answer-Important-Question–Why/dp/0061173924/

God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Christopher Hitchens)

God is not great
http://www.amazon.co.uk/God-Not-Great-Religion-Everything/dp/1843545748/

In addition, the speaker mentioned the Silent Lambs website that is helping to document child welfare issues within the JW church:
http://www.silentlambs.org


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Martin Gardner — Personal Reminiscences and Irish Connections

Our next talk takes place on Friday 12th July, and we are delighted to host Mathematics Professor Colm Mulcahy who will be discussing the life and legacy of renowned American writer and sceptic Martin Gardner. Details below.

mgard1About The Talk: American man of letters and numbers—and patterns and puzzles—Martin Gardner (1914-2010) wrote about 100 books, starting with “Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science” over sixty years ago.

That lead to his playing a founding role in CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), and the Skeptical Inquirer magazine.  He was most well-known for the 300 columns he wrote for Scientific American, mostly on recreational maths, and the huge body of magic he created.

We’ll survey his legacy and touch on his little known professional Irish interests and connections.

Screen Shot 2013-06-30 at 12.31.31About The Speaker: Dubliner “Card Colm” Mulcahy is Professor of Mathematics at Spelman College, in Atlanta, Georgia, where he’s been teaching since 1988. He was fortunate to know Martin Gardner for the last decade of his life. He is the author of the upcoming book “Mathematical Card Magic” (AK Peters).

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This talk is open to the public, and is free to attend. Directions to Blackrock Castle Observatory can be found on our information page. It begins at 8:00pm and we hope to see you there!


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Pointing Fingers: A History & Analysis of Ireland’s Last Witchcraft Trial with Dr Andrew Sneddon

Our next meeting will take place on Saturday 17th November at Blackrock Castle Observatory, starting at 8.00pm. The talk is by Dr. Andrew Sneddon, lecturer in International History at the University of Ulster.

This talk will re-examine Ireland’s last prosecution for witchcraft at Carrickfergus Assize Court in Co. Antrim in March 1711. It will explore the reasons why eight women found themselves in the dock accused of causing the possession, by means of witchcraft, of a young woman, Mary Dunbar. It will also explore why, in a period of increasing scepticism towards ‘proving’ the crime of witchcraft all over Europe, the women were found guilty under the sixteenth-century, Irish Witchcraft Act. This will all be placed in its theological, intellectual and legal context by exploring the European ‘witch-craze’ of the early modern period.

About the speaker: Dr Andrew Sneddon is lecturer in history at the University of Ulster, specialising in social and intellectual history, exploring through this the religious, legal, medical, and ‘supernatural’ histories of Britain, Ireland and, to a lesser extent, Europe. He has published widely in these fields and in 2008 published a biography of the sceptical witchcraft theorist and bishop of Down and Connor, Francis Hutchinson (1660-1739). He is currently writing an account of the Islandmagee trial, to be published in early 2013 and entitled, Possessed by the Devil, as well as a tome that will explore witchcraft and magic in Ireland, 1586-1949, which is due to be published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014.

This talk is open to the public, and is free to attend. Directions to Blackrock Castle Observatory can be found on our information page. We hope to see you there!


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Alternative medicine – good skeptical reading

In their talk on Saturday, Steve and Ben mentioned a number of books that are worth a read if you are interested in finding more about the research behind alternative medicine. Here are some of the books mentioned. Direct links to Eason’s and Amazon are provided if you are interested in purchasing these books or e-books directly.

Bad Science by Ben Goldacre

This excellent book exposes poor and unscientific practices, no matter where they are to be found. Ben Goldacre pulls no punches and spreads his net very widely indeed. His targets include the cosmetics industry, homeopaths and quacks of all sorts, pharmaceutical companies, and so-called TV “experts” such as Gillian McKeith. It’s an excellent primer on how to distinguish the best medical practice from the worst.

Trick or Treatment by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst

 Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst consider the claims of alternative medicine from a scientific perspective, looking at the studies that have been performed on many well known alternative therapeutic practices such as chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal medicine.

Autism’s False Prophets by Paul Offit

Paul A. Offit, a national expert on vaccines, challenges the modern-day false prophets who have so egregiously misled the public and exposes the opportunism of the lawyers, journalists, celebrities, and politicians who support them. Offit recounts the history of autism research and the exploitation of this tragic condition by advocates and zealots.

Deadly Choices by Paul Offit

In “Deadly Choices,” infectious-disease expert Paul Offit takes a look behind the curtain of the anti-vaccine movement. What he finds is a reminder of the power of scientific knowledge, and the harm we risk if we ignore it.

Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

This terrific book opens the lid on self-deception and cognitive dissonance: how we are hard-wired to justify our decisions and actions, even when it is plainly obvious to others that they were wrong, misconceived and sometimes malevolent.

Please let us know if you know of other books and we will take a look. We hope to do a book swap for books that are worth reading at forthcoming Cork Skeptics meetings, so please bring along your favourite books to our next meeting and feel free to take another one in return!

If you have other suggested titles, we will publish more reading suggestions soon.