Cork Skeptics

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


Leave a comment

Climate Change with John Gibbons

Our next talk features environmental writer and commentator John Gibbons who will discuss the global climate change crisis, with a focus on the role Ireland has played.

About The Talk: An unprecedented global crisis involving biodiversity collapse, water and soil depletion, planetary climate destabilisation and pollution of land, sea and atmosphere threatens to reverse the dramatic gains in wealth, health and well being that humanity has enjoyed over the past two centuries. We live in dangerous times.

But what is truly extraordinary is how this existential crisis has been studiously ignored by our politicians, business and social leaders as well as our media. How this has come to pass is itself one of the most extraordinary stories of our times. In this talk, John Gibbons will attempt to shine some light into the dark corners of the greatest communications failure in human history.
John Gibbons

John Gibbons

About the Speaker: John Gibbons is a specialist environmental writer and commentator with a special focus on Climate Change. He wrote a weekly column in the Irish Times on climate change for nearly three years, and is now a regular contributor on TV, radio and in print on environment, energy and climate-related issues. He maintains a blog at ThinkorSwim.ie

A graduate of UCC and DCU, he is also MD of healthcare publishing and communications organisation MedMedia Group which he co-founded 24 years ago. Married, he has two daughters in primary school and lives in Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin.


This talk begins at 8:00pm on Friday 17 April. The venue is Blackrock Castle Observatory, Cork.

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

Advertisement


1 Comment

How To Find Love On The Internet • Dr Martin Graff

MartinGraff_CorkSkeptics_650pxFriday 2 May at Blackrock Castle Observatory

Are there gender differences in attraction?  Can you really find true love on the Internet?  How do people actually portray themselves online?  Can you have a virtual affair?

In this talk, Dr Martin Graff will examine all of these issues and will draw on current empirical studies on online relationships.  He will cover some of the major research work on the online disinhibition effect, which suggest that we disclose more personal information, and do this more quickly in online environments.

Dr Graff will also give some factual advice on how to construct dating site profiles, and the way to approach an online liaison with a potential dating partner.  With the explosion in the provision of online dating sites, including those dedicated to finding partners for affairs, this will also draw on some of the speaker’s own research on online infidelity, asking whether it is possible to have a virtual affair.

 

About The Speaker:

Dr Martin Graff is Reader in Psychology at the University of South Wales. He is an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Chartered Psychologist.

Over the years he has carried out research in the areas of cognitive processes in web-based learning, individual differences in website navigation, online interaction and the formation and dissolution of romantic relationships online and offline. He has also carried out research in the areas of online persuasion, and online disinhibition, and has supervised several doctoral degrees in this area.

He is a member of the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Education Committee, which oversees the running of Psychology degree programmes at British Universities.  In April 2013, he was invited as a visiting research professor to Cortland University, New York, USA April 2013.

Dr Graff has published widely in the field of Internet behaviour, and has also written for The Psychologist in the area of Online Infidelity.  He has also presented this work at numerous International Conferences.


 

This talk will take place at Blackrock Castle Observatory at 8pm — directions can be found on our information page. There will be plenty of time for questions and answers, and all are welcome at this free event. We hope to see you there!

 


1 Comment

The View From The Watchtower: A Former Believer’s Experience as a Jehovah’s Witness

CorkSkeptics_Watchtower_Poster_650pxMost people at some time or other—usually on the doorstep—have had a brief conversation with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. It probably went something like this: “Isn’t the world in a mess? Do you think things will ever get better? Do you know that the Bible promises that God will make it possible for good people to live forever right here, on an earth that will be transformed into a paradise?” Then often some literature is left that cites Bible texts to support this belief.

The Witness worldview that underpins this theology is quite surprising. What is Armageddon and what will happen to most of the world’s population when it comes?  How do Witnesses view other religions? How do members regard higher education? What is wrong with having a birthday party, celebrating Christmas or voting in elections?

Our speaker for this event was for many years a devout member of the Jehovah’s Witness community in Cork. In this talk, he will briefly outline the history of the religion, summarise the key beliefs and recount his own experience as a member.

There will be plenty of time for questions and answers, and all are welcome at this free event. This talk takes place at Blackrock Castle Observatory at 8pm — directions can be found on our information page. We hope to see you there!


3 Comments

Water Fluoridation and leukaemia – the missing connection

Over the past day, The Girl Against Fluoride, Aisling Fitzgibbon, posted this message in Facebook, where she attempted to link water fluoridation to leukaemia incidence in Ireland.

20131218-043602.jpg

A pity she didn’t read on. The Irish Cancer Atlas contains a ton of information about the incidences of all sorts of cancers in Ireland. Leukaemia incidence is one of only a small number of cancers that shows a convenient distinction between north and south.

20131218-053047.jpg20131218-053101.jpg20131218-053240.jpg

The leukaemia risk factors mentioned make no reference to water fluoridation. Ionising radiation is a strong risk factor, as are certain types of drugs or viruses.

20131218-052615.jpg

The map itself even contradicts the thesis that fluoridation is linked to leukaemia. While fluoride is added to water schemes in Donegal, it has just as low a risk of leukaemia as Northern Ireland. In addition, the relative risk in the Republic does not seem to distinguish between state water schemes and wells or group schemes, where fluoridation levels may be different or absent altogether.

Other diagrams from the anti-fluoride lobby attempt to show similar linkages for prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer and brain cancer, however in none of these cases is water fluoridation listed as a probable or even possible risk factor.

Whatever the causes of these cancers (and there can be multiple causes), they have nothing to do with water fluoridation. The geographical distribution of these cancers was carefully cherry picked by them, because they seemed to bolster their case. It doesn’t take much effort to show how mistaken this approach is.

More on The Girl Against Fluoride and her strange views on Geoff Short’s blog.

Update: Geoff has pointed me to this post from the National Cancer Registry, which supports my analysis here.


Leave a comment

Eye To The Ground: A Talk by Eoin Lettice for Cork Culture Night

CorkSkeptics_Plants_Poster_450px“Whoever makes two ears of corn, or two blades of grass grow where only one grew before, deserves better of mankind, and does more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together” – Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels)

Humans exist because plants exist. Plants have shaped our world, allowing animal life to evolve and they continue to have an overriding influence on our society. From the food we eat, the medicines we take, the beer we drink and the clothes we wear; plants make life possible on Earth. Indeed, Ireland has built two of its largest industries – agriculture and tourism – on its green image.

In this talk, Eoin Lettice—lecturer in Plant Science at the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences at University College Cork —will examine the importance of plants in society and even unearth some intriguing mysteries which can be solved with a knowledge of plants. What caused the Salem witch trials? Why are the British a nation of tea-drinkers? And what caused the ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’?

Eoin will discuss the present place of plants in culture and society and discuss the idea of ‘plant blindness’ – the inability to see or notice plants (and their importance) around us. Given the crucial importance of plants to critical global problems like food security and climate change, we ignore plant blindness at our peril.

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 23.24.14About The Speaker: Eoin is a lecturer in plant science at the School of BEES, University College Cork where he teaches a diverse range of subjects including plant biotechnology, plant pathology, soil science, biological control and organic horticulture.

His main research focus is the biocontrol of plant pests using sustainable approaches. He’s also interested in science communication, running the Communicate Science blog and novel methods in teaching and learning.

************

This talk is part of Culture Night Cork 2013. It is open to the public, and free to attend. It starts at 7:00pm on Friday 20th September.

Please note that this talk will take place in the Lee Rowing Club, which is a change from our usual venue. Directions and more information can be found here: http://culturenightcork.ie/events/129/lee-rowing-club-cork-skeptics/


Leave a comment

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).

************

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!