Cork Skeptics

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


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The Baloney Detection Kit at Science Week 2015

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The BALONEY DETECTION KIT @ Science Week 2015

As part of Science Week 2015, Cork Skeptics present “The Baloney Detection Kit” — a furiously fast-paced introduction to skepticism!

From 6 – 7pm on Saturday 14th November, at Blackrock Castle Observatory.


UFOs. Ghosts. Astrology. Homeopathy. Telepathy. Miracle Cancer Cures. People all around the world fervently believe they exist and yet there isn’t a shred of good evidence that they are real in any sense of the word. On the other hand, there is strong scientific support for evolution, climate change and vaccines, yet millions reject the evidence entirely, preferring long debunked ideas instead.

In a wide-ranging talk, Colm Ryan of Cork Skeptics explores the world of strange beliefs and discusses some ways to distinguish between good and bad ideas. Colm will talk about logical fallacies, brain flaws and other tricks that persuade us of things that aren’t so. He will also examine the crucial role that science plays in distinguishing fact from fiction.


Colm is the co-founder of Cork Skeptics, a group dedicated to the promotion of good science while challenging strange claims. Founded in 2010 in Blackrock Castle, we host regular public talks with topics ranging from ghosts to nuclear power and financial scams.

This event takes place in Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork City from 6pm on Saturday 14th November. It is free to attend, and all are welcome.


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Ongoing Adventures In the World of Pseudoscience with Michael Marshall

Marsh_Pseudoscience_Poster_600pxOur next talk will feature Michael Marshall of the Merseyside Skeptics Society recounting his ongoing adventures in the world of pseudoscience! This talk will take place on Thursday 5th February at Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork.

About the Talk:  It’s easy to think of pseudoscience as existing in a glass case at a museum – something to be examined and critiqued from a safe distance, but not something to touch and to play with. Using examples taken from his own personal experiences in skepticism, Michael Marshall will show what happens when you begin to crack the surface of the pseudosciences that surround us – revealing the surprising, sometimes shocking, and often comic, adventures that lie beneath.

About the Speaker: Michael Marshall is the Vice-President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and Project Director of the Good Thinking Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast, as well as co-hosting the Skeptics with a K podcast. His work with the MSS has seen him organising international homeopathy protests and co-founding the popular QED Conference. He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Statesman.


This talk begins at 8:00pm on Thursday 5 February. 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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Tim Minchin in Cork Opera House – two tickets up for grabs

***Congratulations to William Grogan, whose name was drawn first at our meeting on Friday. Many thanks again to everyone who entered the competition.***

The outrageously funny and talented Tim Minchin is playing in Cork Opera House on the 31st of October.

Tim is the originator of the wonderful beat poem “Storm“. He also wrote the lyrics and music for “Matilda The Musical” with the Royal Shakespeare Company. His show is a mixture of comedy, polemic, skepticism, anarchy, and lots of fantastic tunes.

In conjunction with Blackrock Castle Observatory and Cork Opera House, we are pleased to offer two free tickets to one lucky winner.

To be in with a chance to win, simply drop us a mail* at corkskeptics at gmail dot com, with the subject “Tim Minchin at the Cork Opera House” and we will add you to the list. We will announce the lucky winners at our next Cork Skeptics meeting on October 21st. Best of luck!

* We will not share your information with anyone and we will only use it in the context of this competition. One entry per human being please!


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Q: What’s better than a story about aliens over Russia?

A: A story about mystery female cat-like aliens over Russia’s diamond capital of course.

The story is reported in the Daily Mail, so that already proves that the story is true beyond all reasonable doubt.

The only facts that you can really glean from the story is that a Russian aviation employee in Yakutsk’s air traffic control seems to have had an anomaly appear on radar that they could not identify as a legitimate flight. The fact that it is unidentified certainly makes this a UFO, however it does not mean that it can be assumed it is a craft of visitors from another world.

The solid gold money-shot has to be this quote:

“I kept hearing some female voice, as if a woman was saying mioaw-mioaw all the time”.

No sniggering please.

When examining stories like these skeptically, several questions need to be asked:

  • What evidence does anyone have apart from the report that there was a radar anomaly that the air traffic control monitor was unable to assign a valid flight number to?
  • How credible is the witness who reports hearing voices: could he have been mistaken, could he have been mischievously making it up?
  • Could the anomaly have been something else: private airplane, flock of birds, electronic malfunction, deliberate hoax?
  • Why is the story so short on real facts: no names, no dates, just vague references to some unspecified person somewhere and an anonymous month-old Youtube video that appears to have been filmed some time before hand?

Whether there is life out there is one question. Whether that life is capable of space-flight is entirely another. And whether space-faring aliens could travel to distant solar systems and buzz traffic control employees at relatively obscure airports is one that I would cautiously prefer not to affirm, in spite of the Mail’s assurance that “experts claim it is widely known”.

In the immortal words uttered by Squeaky Voiced Teen on The Simpsons“Keep watching the skis!”