Curated by The Skeptic Magazine, the Nine Worlds Skepticism track will host talks and discussions on science and critical thinking, with topics including mathematics, supernatural beings, conspiracy theories and much more. They will also be hosting a live recording of the popular Pod Delusion podcast on the Sunday evening.
Alien Mummies, Monsters and Mermaids: challenging the mystery mongers - with Paolo Viscardi
From mummified aliens in deserts and monsters washed up on beaches to mermaids and holy fish, there is an interest in the unusual that can whip up a storm of speculation and spectacle. But cutting through hype, assumptions and misinformation is essential when you're trying to uncover the truth. Join Paolo Viscardi in exploring some weird objects from the past and present - using scientific methods and museum collections to get beneath the surface of aliens, monsters, mermaids and the hype they have inspired.
Paolo Viscardi is a Natural History Curator at the Horniman Museum in Southeast London. He is a fellow of the Linnaean Society and a representative of the Natural Sciences Collections Association. In his spare time Paolo blogs about identifying bones at Zygoma and helps run an online biology Q&A site called 'Ask A Biologist'. He organises and hosts monthly science communication events called PubSci and regularly lectures to a variety of audiences on topics ranging from Darwin to mermaids.
The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets - with Simon Singh
Simon Singh, bestselling author of 'Fermat's Last Theorem' and 'The Code Book', will discuss his forthcoming book 'The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets'. He will explain how a team of mathematically gifted writers have covered everything from calculus to geometry, from pi to game theory, and from infinitesimals to infinity in various episodes of The Simpsons. Singh will also discuss how the writers of Futurama have similarly made it their mission to smuggle deep mathematical ideas into the series.
The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories - with Rob Brotherton
Why do some people believe unproven and implausible conspiracy theories? What's the harm if they do? And just what is a conspiracy theory, anyway? Rob Brotherton provides a psychological perspective on the peculiar phenomenon of conspiracy theorising. Rob is a doctoral researcher at Goldsmiths, University of London and blogs at www.conspiracypsych.com.
The Psychology of Ghosts and Hauntings - with Chris French
Opinion polls repeatedly show relatively high levels of belief in ghosts even in modern Western societies. Furthermore, a sizeable minority of the population claim to have personally encountered a ghost. This talk will consider a number of factors that may lead people to claim that they have experienced a ghost even though they may not in fact have done so. Topics covered will include hoaxes, sincere misinterpretation of natural phenomena, hallucinatory experiences and pareidolia (seeing things that are not there), the fallibility of eyewitness testimony, the possible role of complex electromagnetic fields and infrasound, photographic evidence, EVP, and the role of the media.
Professor Chris French is Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, as well as being a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association and a member of the Scientific and Professional Advisory Board of the British False Memory Society. He has published well over 100 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics within psychology. His main area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims, as well as writing for the Guardian and The Skeptic magazine which, for more than a decade, he also edited. His most recent books are Why Statues Weep: The Best of The Skeptic, co-edited with Wendy Grossman (2010, London: Philosophy Press) and Anomalistic Psychology, co-authored with Nicola Holt, Christine Simmonds-Moore, and David Luke (2012, London: Palgrave Macmillan). His next book, co-authored with Anna Stone, is Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience, which will be published by Palgrave Macmillan in November 2013. Follow him on Twitter: @chriscfrench
Vampires and Werewolves - with Deborah Hyde
Human beings have a habit of believing in gods and kind spirits, but they have also believed in powerful and predatory supernatural creatures. We will go over the European folklore of the werewolf and vampire to find a unique perspective on ourselves.
Deborah Hyde is editor of The Skeptic magazine. She writes, broadcasts, podcasts and speaks internationally on the subject of the malign macabre. Her website is at www.jourdemayne.com.
The Pod Delusion - live podcast
The Pod Delusion is a massively popular weekly podcast about "interesting things". The show, which typically runs for an hour, is broken into series of monologues and short interviews provided by the panel of amateur contributors who usually (though not exclusively) take a skeptical or humanist viewpoint. The show has featured interviews with well known individuals such as Ben Goldacre, Richard Herring, Richard Dawkins, and Mark Steel. The Pod Delusion is a partner of the British Humanist Association and has won a number of awards, including The Skeptic magazine's Ockham Award for Best Podcast in 2011 and the Editor's Choice Award the following year.
The Pod Delusion is edited and presented by James O'Malley, with further extensive editing by assistant editor Liz Lutgendorff.