Curated by The Skeptic Magazine, the Nine Worlds Skepticism track will host talks and discussions on science and critical thinking. Skeptics like evidence - so we get into all the most interesting subjects with the question: "How do you back that up?" If you've ever wondered about alien contact experiences, vampires, the brain-science of religious experiences, how PR came to rule modern journalism, and lots more: these talks and discussions are for you. All in Royal B.
Fairies - 11.45am - 1.00pm
At various times in history, people have sincerely believed in the existence of fairies, but the characteristics, behaviour, and even the appearance of the supernatural creatures have been extremely changeable, reflecting the changing circumstances and environment of the humans who recounted the tales. The Skeptic's editor, Deborah Hyde, will ask: what can we learn about people from the fairies?
Your Skepticism is Banned - 1.30pm - 2.45pm
From outlawing atheism and "blasphemy" and religious non-conformism - to persecutory speech and outright violent attacks against satirists, freethinkers, and human rights advocates - expressing skepticism of the status quo is actually becoming harder than ever in many parts of the world. Bob Churchill, editor of the IHEU Freedom of Thought Report, an annual analysis of discrimination and human rights violations against the nonreligious globally, will outline the basis for "freedom of thought and expression", violations against these rights for the religious and non-religious alike, and what can be done to push back.
Aliens: My Green and Mr Gray cannot visit us today - 3.15pm - 4.30pm
Given the bewildering variety of life on Earth – all stemming from one self-replicating molecule – can we really predict what life on other worlds is like? Maybe not. But we can imagine what it isn’t like.
Stevyn Colgan has been involved with aliens for three decades. He’s held Jabba the Hutt’s face, helped sculpt creatures for Bruce Willis to shoot at, and had a script accepted for Doctor Who in the 1980s. In this entertaining talk, you’ll hear about feuding gangs of scientists, film directors with less imagination than children, and the perils of concrete poo. You’ll also come to realise that if we really are intelligently designed, we're an illogical and inefficient system.
Accelerated Christian Education: the school of tomorrow, today! - 3.15pm - 4.30pm
As mainstream schools continue their slide into bad behaviour, sexual permissiveness, and low academic standards, who will fight to keep quality education alive? Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) is the answer. It stands for going back to basics and back to the Bible. Used in 30 schools in England, every aspect of this curriculum, from science to mathematics, is based on what its proponents claim to represent biblical values. On top of this, it features an innovative teaching style which allows every student to work individually at their own pace, without distractions from other students. Jonny Scaramanga will guide you through this educational wave of the future, showing how it teaches the biblical science that mainstream education covers-up, and the biblical sex roles that feminism and the LGBT rights movements have attempted to undermine.
The Psychology of Possession and Exorcism - 5.00pm - 6.15pm
The belief that individuals may become possessed by a variety of different types of spirits can be found in a wide range of societies, both geographically and historically. It is claimed that possessed individuals are no longer in control of their behaviour and that, in some cases, they must undergo a process of exorcism in order to expel the possessing spirit and regain such control. Some forms of possession, such as speaking in tongues, are viewed as positive experiences. In this talk, Professor Chris French will consider various psychological explanations for the phenomena of possession and exorcism, including those from neurological and socio-cognitive perspectives. Although such beliefs can, in some contexts, provide psychological benefits to the “possessed” individual, the exorcist, and their wider community, in other contexts they can result in tragic outcomes such as the torture and death of innocent children.