Sunday, 5 February 2012

Weekly Round-Up w/e 5/2/12

Welcome, the round-up is here once again.  We’ve got lots of exciting things this week.  As well as the usual interesting things from around the web we have a few announcements of our own.  We have some good news about an upcoming speaker we’ve just announced.  Our very first DVD as well.  Details are all below.  For now, let’s get on with the round-up.

Let’s start of with the good news.  Comedian and organiser of the godless Christmas shows Robin Ince is going to be our May speaker.  His shows tend to sell out theatres so we expect it’ll be a tight fit in The Victoria.  Those who attended Jon Ronson’s talk will remember how uncomfortable it can get so this time we’ll be selling tickets to control numbers.  The tickets will only be £2.50 each, around the same level as the normal suggested donation.  You can get tickets from each of the upcoming talks, we won’t be selling them online so if you want a ticket, make sure you come along.

Many of us had chemistry sets when we were younger but some of us continued and went further, to the point of developing new medicines and splitting the atom in the kitchen.  Jon Ronson looks at the world of home experimenters and home experimentation gone wrong.

Nick Cohen talks Salman Rushdie and censorship.  The terror of Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwa has faded but the challenge it posed to artistic freedom has not, as a brush with the Indian authorities has shown.

So, what did you think of our visit from Andy McIntosh the other week then?  We asked for your opinions and you gave them to us.  Here’s a blog post with the rather interesting replies.

Did you miss the talk?  If so, fret not, we filmed the talk and will be selling it on DVD for £3.  If you want a copy, you can collect it on Wednesday night, let us know if you want one by emailing us at birminghamskeptics at and we’ll bring you one along.  If you want one posting to you, pretty much anywhere in the world, it’s the same price but you’ll have to pay postage. We’ll have full details soon, in the meantime just email us.

When you watch the DVD, one of the first things that’ll strike you, after your amazement at the quality of the mastering by Chris and the cover design by Paul, is the excellent music.  This was done for us by DJ, remixer and producer Nathan Jay.  Listeners of the Richard Herring and Andrew Collins podcast would know his work.  Have a look at what else he’s done here.

You know that health bill that’s going through that some assert benefits private healthcare providers?  Imagine if the minister in charge of it had received financial backing from a private healthcare provider.  No need to imagine, the telegraph has the details.

Galileo’s Finger by Peter Atkins is based around 10 great ideas of science that have emerged since the time of Galileo and covers evolutionary theory, genetics chemistry, quantum theory, cosmology and mathematics.  Former Birmingham Skeptics regular and now neuroscientist in Norway Tulpesh Patel reviews the book here.

Staying on Tulpesh’s blog, here’s a summary of a talk he attended on the weaknesses and strengths of the climate change debate.  Looks like he’s found a replacement for Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub in Norway. It’s OK, we always knew he’d find something else, we’re not upset. Excuse us for a moment, we have something in our eye.

Alternative medicine practitioners in Australia are fighting claims by a 400-strong lobby group, called the Friends of Science in Medicine, that techniques such as acupuncture and homeopathy are pseudoscience.  The article states that new research from the University of Adelaide has shown that when diagnosed with cancer, more than 50 percent of Australian men are turning to alternative medicine to help find a cure, or to improve their health.  No wonder the alternative medicine practitioners are up in arms, that’s a lot of business to fight for.

Want to brush up on your skeptical skills and knowledge? Well, you’re in luck, Token Skeptic has knocked up a skeptical reading list here in graphic form.

Them Catholics have got themselves a nice card which says what a Catholic does. It only mentions the nice things though. I didn’t see a line stating that ‘as a Catholic I promise to condemn millions to suffering and injustice to uphold traditions that will secure the politcial stability of the Vatican elite’.  Anyway, The Guardian asked folks of other faiths, including humanists, what would be on their card.

One of our previous speakers stirred up a bit of controversy this week.  Hayley Stevens found herself in the Daily Mail, Fox News and other grubby places after an ASA complaint she made was upheld.  She’s been accused of being a group generally opposed to Christianity and an unofficial media adviser for some reason.  Here’s her reasons for the complaint.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, is backing Lesley Pilkington who’s a Christian pychotherapist that offers to ‘cure’ gay men of their homosexuality.  Her therapy was described as "absurd" by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.  Who needs evidence when you’ve got bigotry?

‘Psychic’ Sally is suing the Daily Mail for calling her a scammer.  It’s one of those court cases that you’d like to see both sides lose.  The story in question was written by Paul Zenon (who’ll be speaking at QED).  Former Birmingham Skeptics speaker Ash Pryce had something to say on this.

Good old Brian Cox, he was credited with inspiring a surge in the number of teenagers studying maths and science at ‘A’ Level.  Now he’s been credited with sparking an interest in astronomy in Britain.  As you know, Brian Cox was little heard of until his picture was featured in The Sunday Times in an article about us at Birmingham Skeptics.  I think we should take a little of the credit.

Those who do love their astronomy are in for a treat, Alice Sheppard is coming to speak to us on Wednesday night.  Her talk is called ‘When the Universe came to the people. Citizen science for skeptics.’  You can find the details here.  Make sure you come along.

This week’s round-up was put together by Paul Bryant (@thebigyeti)


Andy said...

Great selection of stories from a very full and interesting week! Good work, Paul...:)

Peter Harrison said...

Top round-up as usual, folks! Essentially my morning reading sorted whenever you do these.