Skeptics in the Pub

Offending New Humanist

From New Humanist's God Trumps

From New Humanist's God Trumps

A few days ago I attended a talk by Caspar Melville the editor of the New Humanist magazine at a London ‘Skeptics in the Pub’ event. The topic of the talk was ‘taking offence’ and in it he outlined the varied ways that ‘offence’ impacted New Humanist from what received the most complaints to his editorial policy on when offence is permitted. Caspar certainly seems to have given the topic some thought and has even produced a book discussing the topic called Taking Offence: Manifestos for the Twenty-First Century.

The talk and the discussion afterwards were very interesting and while I disagreed with Caspar on a number of points I think he did a good job overall of explaining and defending his positions in the face of some difficult questioning.

However, the topic and surrounding discussion I found most intriguing was Caspar’s editorial decision to not republish the controversial Danish cartoons of Muhammad which caused a worldwide frenzy back in 2005/2006.


Science & Skepticism Fest

I apologise for the long delay in posting. I have not been blogging lately due to the ridiculous sunny weather which London and myself are currently enjoying. However, now that the initial shock of seeing the sun for such extended periods has begun to wear off a little I’m going to try and get back to my regular blogging schedule (which in case anyone is wondering is supposed to be a post every 3-5 days).

Now although I have been enjoying the sun, I have not been completely slacking off as I have also been attending a couple of sciencey/skeptical events in particular ‘The Night of 400 Billion stars (and maybe some string theory)‘ at Bloomsbury Theatre and the Skeptics in the Pub/Ben Goldacre ‘Troublemakers Fringe‘ alternative to the ‘World Conference of Science Journalists’ at the Penderel Oak.

So I thought it might be a good way to get back into the blogging swing to give a ‘short’ roundup/review of both events. Here goes…


Simon-Aid 2009: The Momentum’s Growing!

Bit of a tight squeeze

A big turnout made for a bit of a tight squeeze!

Now that the very special mental fog that can only be created by too many pints of Guinness the night before has begun to lift I thought I’d write a review/summary of the support meeting for Simon Singh held yesterday in the Penderel Oak bar.

I imagine everyone reading this will already be all too aware of the background of this event but just in case here’s a very short summary of events:

Over a year ago a British science writer called Simon Singh wrote a critical article for the Guardian about chiropractic treatments. The British Chiropractic Association didn’t like what it said and so sued him for libel. A year later (last week) Simon received a disastrous decision at a preliminary hearing in which the judge decided that his article meant something he never intended and could not possibly defend in court. Having effectively lost the case before it began he was thus left with the choice to settle or to appeal the decision and try and get the judge’s decision overturned. Last night was an event to show support for Simon and to get an update about what he plans to do.

There are a tonne of sources that go into the case in much greater detail and the post just before this provides a rather substantial list of them so if the above summary doesn’t satisfy then go read some of them!

Now, onto the actual event. (more…)