Friday, 24 June 2016

Should the Royal Society of Medicine be doing this?

After many years membership, I have just withdrawn from the Royal Society of Medicine's section on 'Hypnosis and Psychosomatic Medicine'.  The section is due to host a workshop at the RSM on ‘Emotional Freedom Techniques: Tapping into Health’. 
Emotional Freedom Techniques is a form of therapy based on the ancient Chinese philosophy of chi, the 'life force' that flows throughout the body. During treatment, patients focus their minds on a specific problem while tapping with their fingers on ‘end points of the body's energy meridians’. The theory on which the treatment is based is contradicted by science and there is no convincing evidence that its efficacy goes beyond that of placebo. 
Over a couple of years ago I attended a lecture at the RSM arranged by the same section on the topic of ‘Spirit release Therapy’ by a psychiatrist who believes in spirit possession.  See

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

'He's Autistic'

The other morning I was walking as usual down the road to the newsagent's for my daily paper when I became aware of something pushing at the back of my lower legs.  I turned around and as I did so heard a woman's voice in a loud harsh tone saying (I have changed the name), 'Nathan, I've told you before not to let him get so close to the person in front!'  I then saw a young lad with a dog on a lead and realised what had happened.  There was also another child.  I wanted to say to the lad that I was not bothered at all but before I could the woman said to me in a voice as loud and harsh as before, 'He's autistic!'  After that, somehow what I wanted to say didn't get said.  I carried on and when I looked to the other side of the road I noticed the family had crossed over, the woman had taken charge of the dog, and the boy was trailing behind looking most disconsolate.  Not the best way to start the day.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Make of this what you will

Make what you will of this story about an event that happened recently.  I am only the messenger, so please - no personal insults, abuse, threats, etc.

In a charity shop two members of staff were watching two customers very carefully.  The customers were both big men who had been in the shop a number of times before and could be quite intimidating.  They were known to other local charity shops for their stealing.  Their modus operandi was for one of them to distract the assistant who was on duty, while the other stuffed items for sale into a bag.  They never actually bought anything.  

Thanks to the vigilance of the two staff members, on this occasion they left the shop empty-handed. 

I think most people would consider it despicable for someone to steal items donated by the public to raise money to help those less fortunate in our society.  And most people would have sympathy for the staff who have to deal with this problem regularly.

When the two men had gone, a young lady customer turned to the two assistants and announced, ‘I’m going to report you!’

What reason do you think this person gave for saying this?
‘For being racist.’      

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

16th European Skeptics Congress

Though not a huge meeting by today’s standards, the 16th European Skeptics Congress, co- organised by ASKE and APRU (the Anomalistic Research Unit at Goldsmiths College) was a highly successful meeting and feedback has been uniformly enthusiastic.  The congress website is still operating ( and post-congress information will appear in due course. Some audio recordings of talks will be online soon and Klaus Schmeh has a video of his talk on parascientific codes on YouTube at  Photographs of the congress may be viewed at and a short video prepared by Mark Williams can be watched at  A video recording of the debate on skepticism and medicine is at: and

Monday, 3 August 2015

Latest on the 16th European Skeptics Congress

The three additional events at the European Skeptics Congress 2015 in September at Goldsmiths College  have now been finalised: 

·         Pre-congress event: ‘Codes, Coincidence and Chocolate Fountains: How Numbers Shape our Lives’. This is a fun Maths event with Simon Singh, Chris French, Helen Wilson and Rob Eastaway in the main congress lecture theatre,  Thursday September 10th  2.30-5.00 p.m. Ticket £5.

·         Greenwich Skeptics in the Pub meeting: The Growth of Skepticism: the UK experience with Chris French, Wendy Grossman, Mike Heap, Mike Hutchinson, Deborah Hyde, Michael Marshall, Ian Ridpath and Richard Wiseman. Each will give a brief talk about the growth of skepticism in the UK. European colleagues are very welcome to share their experiences in their own countries. This meeting is in Goldsmith College's Students Union  on Thursday September 10th and the first speaker is scheduled from 7.30 p.m. onwards. Being a Skeptics in the Pub event, the atmosphere will be informal and there will of course be a bar!  Ticket £5

·         Greenwich Skeptics in the Pub meeting: 'The Science of Magic' by magician and psychologist Gustav Khun . This takes place in the Students Union on Friday September 11th starting at 19.30 hours.  Ticket £5

More details and the programme for the pre-congress Thursday event are available at (‘Other Events’).

Friday, 5 June 2015

Another reminder about the 16th European Skeptics Congress 2015: Promoting Science, reason and critical thinking

Promoting science, reason and critical thinking
September 11th to 13th 2015
Goldsmiths College, London
Speakers include Jim Al Khalili, Richard Wiseman, Edzard Ernst, Mark Lynas, Catherine de Jong, Chris French, Martin Mahner, Antonin Pavlicek, Stephen Law, Klaus Schmeh and many more.  Saturday is devoted to research at the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit of Goldsmiths College and the Koestler Parapsychology Unit of Edinburgh University, and testing claims of paranormal ability in Germany and the Czech Republic.  Details of affordable accommodation for delegates are provided on the congress website.

Friday, 6 March 2015

The 16th European Skeptics Congress, September 11-13, 2015

The 16th European Skeptics Congress

September 11-13, 2015

At the time of writing, the programme for the above conference at Goldsmiths College is all but complete and the registration page is open (congress fee £135 including refreshment and lunches). The programme consists of the following:
·        Keynote lecture by Jim Al-Khalili
·        A whole day (Saturday) on investigating unusual experiences and claims.  Several of Chris French’s postgrad students from APRU will be presenting the results of their research and Martin Mahner from Germany and Antonin Pavlicek from the Czech Republic will be talking about their experiences testing people who claim to have paranormal abilities.  Carolyn Watt will talk about research into paranormal abilities that has been conducted at Edinburgh’s Koestler Parapsychology Unit ( which this year is marking its 30th anniversary.
·        Mark Lynas on science and environmental issues
·        Edzard Ernst on integrative medicine, followed by a debate on medicine and skepticism; participants will include a representative from HealthWatch
·        A panel and audience debate on skepticism and religion with Stephen Law (tbc), Andrew Copson, Rabbi Pete Tobias and Prof. Adam Dinham
·        An Ask for Evidence session by Sense about Science
·        Richard Wiseman on ‘Spreading Skepticism by YouTube’
·         resentations by Deborah Hyde, Mark Newbrook and Klaus Schmeh
·        A special Skeptics in the Pub event on Friday evening with psychologist and magician Gustav Khun

Visit the congress website for further details and registration at: