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.
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.
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 English 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!
Niamh O’Connor, a.k.a. the Nutri-Babble Slayer, Puts Online Health & Nutrition Claims Under The Microscope
8:00pm • Friday 24th November • Blackrock Castle Observatory
Having immersed herself in Twitter for the past 7 years, dietitian & consultant nutritionist Niamh O’Connor has seen first-hand the power of social media in healthcare. In that time, Niamh has become a leading voice on social media for Irish dietitians, as an unwavering nutribabble-slaying thorn in the side of opportunistic quacks, celebrities and charlatans, who post misleading, false and incorrect health and nutrition information online!
In this talk, Niamh will chronicle her online odyssey through the world of bogus health and nutrition claims and those that peddle them, as well as providing practical advice on what to look out for and how best to assess these claims.
About The Speaker: Niamh O’Connor qualified with BSc (Hons) in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from TCD & a Diploma in Dietetics from DIT in 1993.
In 1999 she founded Cork Nutrition Consultancy, which was the very first of its kind in Cork, and in 2012 she went on to launch NutriCount® Ireland, which provides professional nutritional analysis, allergen labelling, staff training & mentoring on health and nutrition claims for the hospitality sector.
Niamh is an active member of the Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute (INDI), the professional body for dietitians and clinical nutritionists in Ireland. She advocates for her patients and for her profession, and is a regular contributor to local and national radio, television, print media and social media on all things nutrition.
Colm Ryan of Cork Skeptics will discuss some of the stranger stories arising from our love affair with the cosmos.
Colm will take a sceptical look at astrology, the UFO phenomenon, and the popular conspiracy theories of our culture. In contrast to these are real, scientific quests to find life on planets and moons beyond the Earth.
Lastly, Colm will introduce a baloney detector kit, which may help distinguish outlandish claims from rational scientific discovery.
This talk is part of the Space On The Road! series of events taking place throughout Cork County Libraries this summer, and is one of many events comprising the Summer of Space at Blackrock Castle Observatory. For more information visit www.bco.ie/events or www.ssp17.ie You can also follow along on social media using #SummerOfSpace #SSP17 #OurSpaceOurTime
This talk takes place in Youghal County Library, Cork at 6:30pm on Thursday 27th July. Admission is free and all are welcome to attend.
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.
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.
How The Media Gets Science Coverage Wrong (And How We Can Make It Better)
Science and medicine have transformed our lives immeasurably, and never in history have they been more central to our lives and well-being.
Yet despite this, there is often a glaring disconnect between the findings of actual science and the media reporting of such topics. Consequently there is often a needless chasm between public perception and the evidence on many contentious topics. This can lead to needlessly adversarial and counter-productive discourse of everything from vaccination to climate-change.
In this talk, physicist and science journalist Dr. David Robert Grimes discusses the frequent problems in reporting science – from misunderstandings to bad statistics to false balance, and discusses the factors that influence this and how such problems can be remedied.
Dr. David Robert Grimes (@drg1985) is a physicist and writes regular opinion and analysis pieces on scientific issues for the Irish Times and the Guardian Science. He keeps a blog on these topics at www.davidrobertgrimes.com