James Randi to attend CICAP-Fest

James Randi will be back to Italy and will attend CICAP-Fest in Cesena from September 29 to October 01.

Randi will also be a special guest at the magic workshop held at CICAP-Fest, giving people the opportunity to learn from him how to create and investigate “paranormal” effects.

James Randi is a retired stage magician and a scientific skeptic, co-founder of Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). He has extensively challenged paranormal and pseudoscientific claims.

Skeptics in Russia hold 3rd Skepticon

This weekend, the Russian-speaking Skeptic Society (Общество скептиков, Óbščestvo skeptikov) holds its 3rd Skepticon (Скептикон) in Moscow. Based on the number of tickets sold, about 350 attendees have joined the conference, which centres around Health Myths this year.

      Speakers are:
Alexander Sergeyev.
          • Alexander Sergeyev, science journalist and member of the Commission to Fight Pseudoscience and Falsification of Scientific Research, on ‘Pseudoscience under the guise of fighting against pseudoscience’.
          • Vasily Vlasov, MD, professor of School of Economics, editor of several scientific medical journals, on ‘Myths about evidence-based medicine’.
          • Natalia Zakharova, psychiatrist, PhD, at the Department of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology of the Russian National Research Medical University, on ‘Recovery from depression’.
          • Sergey Velkov, chemical engineer and blogger, on ‘Placebos without deception’.
          • Anton Zakharov, psychologist and populariser of science, on ‘Genetics of sex’.
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Elena Rydkina.
        • Elena Rydkina, sex education
          author and co-founder of the Sexprosvet18+
          conferences, on ‘Myths about sexuality’.
        • Alexey Payevsky, science journalist and editor-in-chief of the portal Neuron, on ‘What we have learned about the brain in the last half century?’
        • Katya Zvereva, co-founder and coordinator of Obscestvo skeptikov, on ‘But it works for me!’ Logical fallacies in defence of alt med.
        • Boris Tsatsulin, author and presenter of videoblog CMT. Scientific approach, on ‘The benefits and dangers of vitamins’.
        • Alisa Kuznetsova, good cop in the Prize named after Harry Houdini, and massage therapist, on ‘Alternative Medicine: Insights’.

          TIm Skorenko.
        • Tim Skorenko, editor of the magazine Популярная механика (Popular Mechanics) and the website popmech.ru, on ‘Technical quackery: bio proofreaders, the healing power of the Egyptian techniques and other amazing devices’.
        • Konstantin Kunakh, practicing psychologist-consultant, on ‘Psychotherapy: Can something that has not been proven scientifically actually work?’
афиша_скептикон_2016_sched6-01-01
Skeptican 2016 programme in Russian.

Portuguese skeptics ‘Explain the Brain’

On 19 November 2016, the Portuguese Skeptical Community (COMCEPT) hold their 5th annual conference – ComceptCon – in the city of Porto. This year, the recently formalised association focuses on the theme “Explain the Brain!” (Esmiuçar o Cérebro!), and is supported by the Associação Viver a Ciência and facilitated by Pólo das Indústrias Criativas da UPTEC. About 100 guests are expected to join the convention, which is free to attend.

The speakers, coming from several different disciplines and Portuguese national institutes, are:

  • Ana Matos Pires: medical psychiatrist and professor from the University of the Algarve, on exploring the line between ‘normal’ and mental illnesses.
  • Diana Prata: biologist and researcher at the University of Lisbon, about the current state of knowledge of the human brain.
  • Júlio Borlido dos Santos: biologist and science communicator from the University of Porto, on neuro-enhancement (cognitive improvement).
  • Maria Ribeiro: neuroscientist and researcher at the University of Coimbra, about how are senses, especially our vision, can deceive us.
  • Miguel Remondes: molecular biologist and researcher at the University of Lisbon, on the reliability of our memory.

And the Golden Board 2016 goes to…!

The German-speaking skeptical society GWUP nominated three people/institutions for “the most bizarre, most outrageous, brashest pseudoscientific nonsense contribution” in Germany, Austria and Switzerland of 2016: Ryke Geerd Hamer (founder of the dangerous Germanische Neue Medizin), Roland Düringer (comedian turned politician who spreads lots of conspiracy theories) and Krebszentrum Brüggen-Bracht (alternative cancer clinic of Heilpraktiker Klaus Ross). The award is called the ‘Golden Board in Front of the Face’, to rebuke purveyors of pseudoscience who don’t see the harm they’re doing.

The award ceremony was held on 11 October in Vienna, co-organised by the Viennese regional GWUP group Society for Critical Thinking (Gesellschaft für kritisches Denken) and the Freethinkers League of Austria (Freidenkerbund Österreich). A side-event was held in Hamburg Skeptics in the Pub with a livestream of the Viennese ceremony.
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VtdK Symposium 1 October 2016: ‘Quacks’ Tax-exempt Status a Legal Error?’

The Dutch Society against Quackery, Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (VtdK), will hold its annual symposium on 1 October 2016 at De Nieuwe Liefde in Amsterdam. This year, the conference will focus on the tax-exempt status of many alternative therapists, which might lead to the promotion of quackery, and giving it undue legitimacy.

Speakers:
– Prof. dr. René van der Paardt, professor in excise taxes at Erasmus University Rotterdam
– Dr. Cees Renckens, honorary chair of the VtdK and emeritus gynaecologist
– Mr. Saskia Huizer, tax advisor, specialises in VAT, Rotterdam

The symposium will start with the presentation of the Master Quack Award to whoever promoted quackery the most this year in the Netherlands (read here who were nominated). Also, the Bruinsma Brothers Medal will be awarded to Henk van Gerven, MP for the Socialist Party, who has a long record of questioning and criticising dubious medical practices both within regular medicine as well as numerous alternative therapies.

Entrance fees are high for non-members; they are recommended to join the Society, or go along with a member as an introducee.