Tuesday 31 July 2012

The Round-Up w/e 29th July 2012

Ooh, look at me pretending to know things that I don’t know…more on this later. Welcome to the latest Round-up my dear Skeptics. Let’s hope there’s something in this collection of naturally selected links that takes your fancy.

First off, Rebecca Stott will be with us very soon with the story of her ten year search into the history of the idea of transmutation before Darwin. Having recently read the book this promises to be a really interesting talk; Rebecca has done a wonderful job of putting this together. Make sure you get your name down to reserve a copy on the night by sending us a tweet or e-mail us at the usual address.

As we’re in a transmutational kind of mood let’s begin with a few evolutionary themed links:

Did Darwin delay publishing his theories of evolution as usually told? The historical evidence, according to John Van Wyhe at Darwin Online, says no.

Something I know nothing about but thought appropriate for this weekend: Leaner, meaner, faster - the 60 year evolution of F1 design.

Pastor Rick Warren tweets Aurora shooting the fault of evolution then deletes it and pretends it never happened. He does that…

Want to learn more about genetics and evolution? How about a free online course as recommended by Jerry Coyne.

Completing our batch of evolutionary links, those really lovely people at the US based Howard Hughes Medical Institute are giving away free evolution DVD’s, of which I already have three. You have to ask them nicely though, in writing (e-mail). One of the DVD’s is presented by Ken Miller, the plaintiff's lead expert witness in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial. Our previous speaker, Professor Steve Fuller, was a witness for the defense.

With expressions like esoteric breast massage cures cancer, chakra puncture, the ovary whisperer and many, many more, you’d think this was a link to a quackery phrase generator not an article on a spiritual healing centre funded by Medicare.

Palaeontology: Know the signs.

Oo-er Vicar. Worcester was "exceedingly gritty and salty" and Durham was "disappointingly bland", but none came close to the horror of the "foul, sickly sweet" Wakefield. Fortunately Lichfield was tasty and incredibly attractive: Licking 42 Anglican churches. Hurrah! – Slideshow.

Academics say no truth to lying eyes theory . No updates yet on the smile/thin disguise hypothesis.

There’s going to be trouble in the Common Room. Today’s topic for discussion: Philosophy grads smarter than other graduates (incl. sciences)?

Here’s a straightforward TED presentation from Joe Schwartz on chemicals and the importance of skepticism, includes some bad science from Jamie Oliver and this surprising fact: An apple a day delivers 300 compounds to your digestive system including acetone and formaldehyde. Worried? You shouldn’t be. It’s the amounts that count.

From The British Psychological Society's award-winning Research Digest blog: Does being drunk affect how we judge our own appeal?

How about a local story on Batmanism: A cowled street preacher takes the tenets of the bat to the people of the second city. Choice moment “Do not believe in Clooney for he is a false prophet”.

Following hot on the heels of the bat preacher is this study reported at Science Daily- What would Batman eat? How the use of admirable role models could help children make healthy choices.

Bringing this Bat-section to a conclusion with a question: Is Batman a Skeptic too?

More from the excellent resource Science Daily with this piece that challenges the conventional wisdom of the five second contamination rule for food that’s dropped on the floor.

Crop circles are so yesterday. Have a look at these unbelievable works of art. Wow! They are so complex; they must have been made by aliens, ahem, local farmers.

Here’s a song from The Phenomenauts to flush out that annoying Eagles track that’s been milling around your brain from earlier: I’m with Neil.

Irony corner: Following up on the fifty shades of grey replaces bibles story from last week, a vicar condemns the hotel for replacing the bible with an erotic horror novel. At the suggestion that the Bible contained as many sexual references as Fifty Shades, the vicar responds with "You can choose bits out of the Bible and take it out of context I suppose,” Hmmm.

Dr. Peter Boghossian's May 6th public lecture, "Faith: Pretending to know things you don't know". Is it possible to have a meaningful and purposeful life without faith pretending to know things that you don't know"? Worth watching.

The toxic Westboro Baptist Church threatened to picket the vigil for the Aurora shootings but failed to show up after trolling victims with Photoshopped taunts and tweets on twitter.

Is there anything that can't be explained with LEGO? (pdf): Particle Physics anyone?

MRI scans – fascinating. Just been for one followed by a trip to my local cycle shop where they tried to sell me one of these things for £20 – “which really work”, according to the grinning chorus behind the counter. Grrr. Feel my skeptical wrath shop assistants. Actually my response was more along the lines of this, but to no avail. Probably best to get my Shimano spares online in future.

A Camera That Sees Your True Colours? Oh good grief. Have a look if you must. I’m not wasting any more words on it.

Here’s this week’s collection of space articles: take a tour of the moon courtesy of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter; Space smells of raspberries, rum, metal and meat – yummy!, and from National Geographic: Best Satellite Pictures: Winning "Earth as Art" Shots From NASA. Lovely.

A fascinating story now from the New York Times: Are you responsible for your behaviour if your brain “made you do it”? How attributions of blame can be altered simply by giving psychological or neurological explanations for the same behaviour.

Kamikaze termites: Sudden, toxic self-rupture is a mutually destructive move in fights with enemies of the South American termites.

Let’s finish this Round-up how we started with a final article on evolution: Using a process called paleo-experimental evolution, Georgia Tech researchers have resurrected a 500-million-year-old gene from bacteria and inserted it into modern-day Escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli). Jurassic Petri Dish-The Movie doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

Don’t forget we have our open-mic night on September 26th, details to be announced very soon.

See you on the 8th.

This week’s Round-up was compiled by SitP regular Roy Beddowes.

Wednesday 25 July 2012

Wotchya Simon

This is just a quick post to let you know that we’ve invited Simon Brettell to be one of the organisers of the group. Being an organiser is no big deal, we’re not elitist at Birmingham SitP, but it made sense to us. Simon is the one who takes all the fantastic photos that get posted on Facebook and contributes in so many other ways that we’re really just making it official.

Hopefully if Simon survives the special induction process he will be back on duty at the Rebecca Stott talk on August 8th. It’d be good to see you there too.

If you don't know who the organisers are then follow this link. If you come on one of the nights please introduce yourselves, say hi and feel free to let us know anything that you think we're doing right or that we can do better.



Monday 23 July 2012

The Round-up w/e 22nd July 2012

I was going to write “Welcome to the Olympics Round-up” in celebration of the upcoming start of that great event. However as I read through the concise version of the rules regarding the use of those words I will correct that to; “Welcome to the not officially endorsed or connected to the Olympics or Paralympics events in any way Round-up”.

Well-known sports pundits Goldman Sachs have predicted that Team GB will come away with thirty gold medals. Less optimistic is alternative commentator Nostradamus who foresees a bloody massacre. You could probably get odds on that if you asked.

Yep, the sporting event that shall not be named has totally hyped up the conspiracy theorists and they see Zionist illuminati roaming the streets and eating our babies, or something along those lines. Here’s a little example of their way of thinking. Watch then go and have a lie down.

More thought provoking than mind-numbing this time as Nature considers the future of sports with the possibility of enhanced athletes.

Once you know the signs of a good conspiracy you can see them everywhere. Tragic enough is the Aurora shootings without this kind of madness being attached to them. A better stance on that unhappy event is the one over at Shiznit.

The advice  at the end of that previous article is to go and see The Dark Knight Rises and if I wasn’t stuck in here writing this then I would be doing just that. To temporarily sate my heroic needs we have some critical analysis on the efficacy of Batman’s cape. Don’t you just love science?

Well it seems as though summer has tentatively arrived and so your thoughts might be turning to holidays and travel. If you’re going to Canada, famous for grizzly bears and mosquitoes you can buy a government approved repellent that is just as effective on both of these in the case of an attack.

Perhaps that spray would have some kind of ironic effect on the irritants attacking Edzard Ernst as he once again becomes the target of some unscrupulous magical medicine mongers.

A popular pastime for travelling atheists is to play “Hide the Gideon’s Bible” or to sign the front page “With lots of love…  God”.  These wholesome activities could come under threat if other hotel proprietors were to follow the lead of this one in Cumbria.

If one of the places you’ve always wanted to visit is the Pyramids of Egypt, it might be worth booking your holiday soon!

An update from Bruce Hood here on the continuing case of ATSC, the company that brought you dowsing for bombs.

Proof next that the universe is in total harmony and our yins are nicely counterbalanced by our yangs. Kylie Sturgess brings us The Pocket Guide to Critical Thinking –Suitable for Secondary Teaching Whilst the Republican,s aka God’s Own Party, in Texas are trying to outlaw higher order thinking skills in the schools.

Intersting questions posed by Simon Singh about science engagement and education here. Skeptics in the Pub feature in the discussion and in the subsequent update which I can't get a direct link to at the moment but you'll find right after the one that is linked to.

What did you have for dinner on Sunday, was it pie?

I love it when scientists are baffled, it often means there’s something new or interesting to learn as with this ancient spiral galaxy that defies predictions. If you enjoy looking at galaxies don’t forget you can put that to good use over at Galaxy Zoo.

Still in space but much closer to home scientists are trying to hit Mars with a rover but there’s already some technical worries. Let’s hope it doesn’t go the way of Beagle 2.

What constitutes morality and why we act in such a way is a question that theologians and philosophers have debated for years. Perhaps Paul Zak has something to contribute on a molecular level. Hug anyone?

Worried about wifi signals penetrating your very being? Or maybe you don’t want other people leaching your signal? Either way a bit of home decorating could bethe solution for you.

Mike Aus  explains how religious people don’t have the monopoly on mystery and wonder.

Global warming skepticism is always a troublesome area, not least of all because I have difficulty in figuring which side are the skeptics. Dramatic glacial calving is the inspiration for this post by Phil Plait.

 Who would’ve thought that Tim Minchin might have said something offensive about religion? Just about anybody who knows his work. If you saw the Richard Herring mini-storm about his rohypnol joke on Twitter but missed his blog piece about it, that’s linked to in the piece and also here, worth a read and a think.

Shhhh! Be very very quiet and you just might hear the smallest sound ever as noise goes quantum.

It is agreed that America could be facing its worst outbreak of whooping cough in a long time. Is it because of a problem in the vaccine or due to the work of anti-vaccination propaganda?

Did the universe come in with a bang and will it go out with a rip?

What can a Twitter feed say about you? Maybe a bit more than you think as psychologiststurn their analytical eyes in that direction.

A common theme in these pages is on the abuse and misuse of statistics. Those figures that could be so useful are often set in ways that lead mislead or misdirect. Could that too be the case for cycle casualties?

Thank you to all that came to the quiz and had a good time despite some overly complicated rounds and my random final score generation. It was our first attempt and there were a lot of positives to take away and the next one will be even better with the things that we’ve learned.

October 8th sees us hosting the excellent Rebecca Stott author of Darwin’s Ghosts and other books. This is a Skeptics in the Pub premiere and it would be great to see you there.  Please sign up on the Facebook page if you’re on that particular social media and promote it around your friends. If you’re not on Facebook no worries, just turn up on the night and chuck a couple of quid in the collection jar. I guarantee you’ll be hard pressed to get this level of entertainment for less than a pint of beer anywhere else.

This round-up was compiled by Patrick Redmond (@paddyrex) with contributions from others.

Sunday 15 July 2012

The Round-up w/e 15/7/12

Hello and welcome to the latest Round-Up. A reminder that the very first Skeptics in the Pub quiz is on Thursday (19th July) at our usual venue. You can make up teams amongst yourselves but it's not mandatory and personally I'll be turning up to see what's happening and who's there.

Firstly here's a quick plug for a new UK based skepticism website as pictured above that has sprung up. It's from the people behind the @UKSKEPTICS twitter feed and contains forums blogs and much more. Go check it out.

We had a cracking talk from Danny Strickland on Wednesday but what you might not know is that when he's not giving SitP talks he's a bit of a wiz with Fishbarrel, the simplest way to report the idiocies of dodgy alt-med to the ASA (and other organisations). The complaint which was submitted a year ago (no idea why it took them so long) was against the claims made for Kinesio Tape. If you've seen athletes wearing what seems to be bits of coloured Gaffer Tape stuck to them you're aware of it already even if you didn't know it. The ASA's adjudication is fairly damning with all aspects upheld and it looks like the Gaffer wouldn't be a bad option. Unfortunately two days before the judgement was released a completely uncritical 'advertorial' was broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live (Mon, 9 Jul 12 from 24m15s) on Shelagh Fogarty's Sports programme. (25 days left to download). This despite the fact that if you search for “Kinesio Tape” on the BBC website it gives just one result in which the creator of the tape “admits there have been too few studies to prove these scientific claims“. They really should know better and perhaps need reminding of their own Trust's review of impartiality and accuracy of the BBC’s coverage of science (pdf) authored by Professor Steve Jones.

On a similar note here's the latest set of bogus claims to hit my radar. Anyone fancy reporting Mojo Wristbands?

After the recent furore over the discovery of a particle that may well be the Higgs Boson (see last Round-Up), one physics story that hasn't had as much attention as it might is that a ‘finger’ of the Universe’s dark-matter skeleton, which ultimately dictates where galaxies form, has been observed for the first time. Advances in dark matter are few and far between so further news is awaited with anticipation.

A bit of fun physics can be found thanks to xkcd who tell us what would happen if you pitched a baseball at nine tenths the speed of light. It doesn't say your arm would hurt. That would be the least of your worries.

The Higgs gets the last word though as the work of one of the people, a Nobel Laureate, who helped develop the theoretical framework that led to its discover is being wiped from history in his native Pakistan because he belonged to a religious minority.

Ah, religion. They make it so easy to research these Round-Ups.

New Humanist details how creationists are still claiming a victory over the placement of their particular conspiracy theory at the Giant's Causeway. Unfortunately they probably can rejoice in that the government has approved the formation of a creationist free school. Also a Steiner school has been approved in Exeter meaning the country now will have three (aren't we lucky). At least no Maharishi schools slipped through the net but in total a third of the new free schools are religious. This will suit the Bishop of Oxford who is very keen to indoctrinate at an early age.

After the recent furore over Tom Cruise's marriage break-up there has been an increase in the flow of web traffic regarding the church of scientology but for those who are old school here's a handy list of longreads on the subject from the Daily Beast. Let's hope Katie doesn't experience the same treatment as Nicole got. You can also take a quick tour of some of their real estate via the Business Insider. They're not short of a bob or two.

One last piece of religious nastiness, this time much closer to home where four members of a Birmingham family have been found guilty of murdering a pregnant woman they believed was possessed by a djinn, or evil spirit.

A significant win for rational thought here as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has announced that there is no evidence for a coming Zombie Apocalypse. That's a relief.

Some more good news in that the fake bomb detectors that Professor Bruce Hood and many others have been shouting about for years have been banned. No-one seems to know why it has taken so long but action against the sellers is being taken.

It also seems so long since it was announced that the Nature journal and author Quirin Schiermeier were being sued for libel by an Egypt-born engineer-turned-physicist. In fact it's been four years but they finally won. By won I mean it cost them hundreds of thousands of pounds which is probably not recoverable. Such are our libel laws. Here's the author's take on it.

It's not just a UK problem (although we have it worse than almost all others) as German magazine Titanic is being prosecuted by Pope Benny and a diet pill company is suing an Australian medical expert for having the effrontery to suggest that some pills won't negate your last cheeseburger.

There is also a threat to one of our previous speakers David Colquohon from people connected with “Britain´s Number 1 holistic cancer charity”,  CANCERactive. The post that was objected to has been taken down on legal advice but as usual there are no specifics as to what was libellous on it nor do the points made by the litigant bear resemblance to the post's content. As often the complaint is such a mess that it's best to hand over to those who've had time to pick over the dungheap. Some impact is lost due to the lack of context but @jdc325's post is still worth a read. Josephine Jones goes through the claims made on their website and @SkeptiGuy is delving into the inner workings of the net to find out who's who and what's what.

Ever wondered what's behind the doors of your local Traditional Chinese Medicine shop? Fortunately Michael Marshall has so you don't have too (unless you really want).

Further afield in alt-med nuttiness, have you got a branch of Holland and Barrett near you? They seem to have forgotten that they are not allowed to advertise homeopathic remedies for the treatment of any illness or condition (because they don't work). The Nightingale Collaboration would like you to go and have a look.

In India 100,000 (one lakh) homoeopathy, ayurveda and unani “doctors” are demanding rights to prescribe effective (and therefore potentially dangerous) medicines. This update suggests they think they have found a way around this by taking a single year-long course. I hope not.

The woo that keeps on giving, this time in the form of the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths, are extolling the virtues of sugar pills to “help” our Olympians (pdf). I hope no-one tells LOCOG they're using their branding. Finally somebody thinks they've created a homeopathic remedy prepared from the “Annihilation Radiation of Positronium”.

That last one's almost as funny as Mitchell and Webb's Homeopathic Hospital.

Actually it's not, but hey – Mitchell and Webb!

This week's Round-Up was compiled by @christheneck.

Tuesday 10 July 2012

The Round-up w/e 8/07/2012

Photo Credit: NASA
There's only be one place that a round-up of science and skeptical stories can begin with this week, yes Andy Murray lost Wimbledon for the Scottish again. In other news those clever particle smashers over at Cern have only gone and found the Higgs boson (to a very high degree of certainty). Here’s how the day unfolded from the Guardian’s perspective when it was announced.

Armed with my O level physics qualification I am of course perfectly placed to understand only a small part of the intricacies of this achievement so I can sympathise with the difficulties that many such as Robert Wright have in grasping it all and commend his honesty. One of the best explanations for people like me that I came across was this one.

And finally on this magnificent subject here’s a wonderful article from Creation Ministeries that shows how the Higgs boson fits into the creationist view of the universe. (I got distracted when they started talking about Lego, I like Lego.)

Whilst it’s great to have some expectations fulfilled it’s wonderful  when scientists discover things that they didn’t expect. There’s some interesting  findings from this ‘MRI’ of the sun.

Perhaps the Daily Mail is looking to extend it's readership with this foray into the extraterrestrial.

Creationism should belong in a museum along with all the other outdated things that have been superseded. Instead it’s got its own museum. But that’s been having a few problems as the ark extension hasn’t had a flood of money. Lest you think that creationist mumbo jumbo is confined to our friends in the States here’s a reminder that it can crop up close to home some time, so beware.

Meanwhile the boffins over at NewsBiscuit have caught sight of an even more elusive article, banker’s morals.

Atheism and skepticism can be an interesting and passionate diversion for many of us, for others it’s much more and has deep repercussions.  Take Sanal Edmaruku for example who is facing imprisonment for trying to stop people drinking holy drainage water.

Picking speakers for Skeptics in the Pub is always a fun game and a conversation that comes up often is whether we should have non-skeptic speakers and if so on what terms. It’s not always cut and dry and there are a lot of different factors but Leeds’ recent plan to have Steve Moxon raised some interesting points.

Sticking  with internal skeptical debates here’s a good take on the recent wranglings amongst sections of skeptics.

A couple of posts about the brain next. Firstly we have Steve Novella of SGU fame on how the brain, as good as it is at its job, can still fool you. And then we have Richard Wiseman who in his new book, Rip it Up, shows the link between behaviour and mind control.

Not only is the science behind supplements somewhat dubious, so are the production methods of many of them. This problem isn’t limited to good old westernised outlets either, as traditional Chinese medicine may also contain a few surprises not listed on the label.

Time for a bit of light relief as the Wisdom of Deepak Chopra is only a click away.

Carl Sagan’s Demon Haunted World is probably the best known skeptical text out there. It’s not exactly new but it is a classic and I’m including this review of it by Tulpesh for a couple of other reasons. One is that he won the book in a charity auction at a Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub event just before going to Norway. Secondly, we just love Tulpesh and he’s great.

A fascinating article by the ever thorough Andy Lewis on the Cult of Rudolf Steiner, worth reading, especially  if you’re a parent looking around at schools for your children.

An interesting study here on the positive social effects of playing computer games. It’s obviously not that simple, things never are, but this has an interesting evolutionary slant on the topic. Sticking with computer games, but crossing into the religious sphere a discussion about the rights and wrongs of using religious imagery in that genre.

Like many other people I signed up for a certain voucher scheme that emails me a bizarre variety of offers every day. A regular one that pops up is the opportunity to have a hose stuck up my backside. I can’t ever say I’ve been curious enough to take the offer up and now there’s no need to as Ross Blocher takes one for the team.

The discovery of a stunning fossil adds evidence to the feathering of the theropods.

One of the stated aims of Skeptics in the Pub is to promote  interest in and knowledge of science, scientific literacy for short. But what  do we really mean by this? A thoughtful post on just that by Alice Bell here.

Homeopathy may not be scientific but perhaps it is religious.

Not actually an article this but I found it interesting. It's a review site  for people that visited shows and  it lists people's opinions of the Sally Morgan shows from her  tour. It's nothing conclusive or  ground breaking but thought provoking nonetheless.

Before I post up our next events you might like to put this one in your calendar, either to take part or to stay off the streets on 31st March 2013 as Jesus takes the Wheel.

There is still time to  join us for  Danny Strickland who will be asking and hopefully answering "What are the 12 Steps". You are also more than welcome to come along to our first Skeptics in the Pub quiz. It'll be fun and there will  be  prizes along with the bragging rights to being the Ultimate Geek. Don't worry if you're not in a team we'll sort  that on the night.

I'll leave you with this short but stunning film of views of the Earth from the International Space Station.

This round-up was compiled by Patrick Redmond (@paddyrex) with help from Roy Beddowes.

Monday 2 July 2012

The Round-up w/e 01/07/2012

Sorry about the glitch in service last week people, I was all tied up. No it has nothing to do with the increasingly popular 50 Shades of Grey; I’m speaking pure metaphor here, honest. I’ll try to make it up to you with a lovely list of links for your consumption.

There are many arenas where superstition and fantasy pervade; one that doesn’t get covered much but is nonetheless fascinating is that of martial arts.

You might think that leaving or defying a church is as easy as getting up and walking out of a door, but that’s not the case, especially if you’re a Mormon. In fact in this other instance just getting up and walking was a problem. Here’s a bit of extra motivation to do just that though.

Apparently 2012 will see the end of evolution. No, it’s not stupid, they have evidence. However if you’re not convinced here’s a fascinating article on natural selection.

Andy Lewis over at the Quackometer is doing his usual excellent job in untangling the intricacies of the legislative mess the homeopaths are finding themselves in. And here is a bit more homeopathic nonsense that very much amused me. It’s a great example of pretend scientific gobbledygook.

Remember Paul the psychic octopus? Well it appears that all kinds of animals are being pressed into the service of sports predictive punditry. Think what you like about it, but not one of them ever used an earpiece.

We had a great skeptic social at the Old Contemptibles this week. I don’t remember anyone getting too drunk but if it ever happens this could be a useful reference.

Oh those cooky Canadian Catholic bishops and their anti-vaccination hi-jinks.

Got a birthday coming up? Be careful then.

Cern are making an announcement this Wednesday. We don’t know what they’re going to say but there’s been loads of speculation across the scientific and not so scientific press. I don’t want to get over-hyped and everything but it is just a teeny weeny bit exciting isn’t it? Let’s hope it’s not just a preview of Brian Cox’s new haircut.

We usually leave the affairs of celebrity couples to such outlets as Heat or Hello. But at the moment those sites are awash with stuff about scientology since the Tom and Katie split and it’s not good publicity for the heirs of Hubbard. Here’s an example and here’s another. Apologies for the non-skeptical take on these but I think it’s interesting when the wider world crosses into the skeptical sphere.

Alan Turing would now be in his hundredth year and plenty of people are happy to celebrate his remarkable life. At the same time there has been some doubts cast around the circumstances of his tragic and untimely death.

It’s very tempting to ignore the infighting that happens in parts of what I shall call, for want of a better term, the skeptical community. But it is happening and perhaps there are some useful lessons that can be learnt from it, although I’m failing to see any at this time. A lot of it comes down to opinion and personalities and they are so difficult to evaluate objectively that adding comment just adds another subjective log to the fire. Rather than giving you my two penneth I’ll point you to the blogs of some of those involved. The issues cover more people, tweets and more posts than these but you can do your own trackbacks if you’re interested and make your own conclusions. Try here, here, here and for good measure here to start.

Moving very swiftly on let’s find something to smile about, if only in a kind of headshaking and disbelief at the underhandedness of some people way. A great article here as it would appear that some phone-in psychics may not be what, or even who, they seem to be.

Interesting ruling in Cologne as religious circumcision is proscribed.

Now what we need is a huge historical hole to get excited about. You’d think we’d already have noticed a 100km wide crater but it’s just not that simple. And let’s stick with interesting craters, but this time a little further afield as astronomers continue their examinations and explorations of the red planet.

It is with great regret that we have to announce that the talk with Prof Alice Roberts in October is cancelled. She’s gone and double booked herself which happens with these incredibly busy and popular people. If you’re still keen to see her on that night and can travel there may be tickets still available for her talk here. If you want to wait though I’m sure that as soon as she can fix another time we’ll be having her at Brum Skeptics in the not so distant future.

This month we have two fantastic events for you. Firstly we have Newcastle Skeptics in the Pub organiser and all round good guy Danny Strickland asking “What are the 12 Steps?” No, it’s not the budget version of the John Buchan adventure, it’s a look at the relevance of the godly and spiritual element of the worldwide programme for giving up addiction, the best known of which is Alcoholics Anonymous. I’m personally very much looking forward to this one as it’s something I know very little about and that always makes for a good sitp.

Secondly we have our first ever Skeptics in the Pub Quiz on 19th of July. Don’t worry if you don’t have a team, just turn up and we’ll find you one. The questions will have a bit of a sciencey, skeptic and geeky bent and it should be a lot of fun.

I'll leave you with this too short video on the life and legacy of Alan Turing.

This week's round-up was compiled by Patrick Redmond (@paddyrex)