Following on from his How to Talk to the Dead show last year, Ash Pryce is returning to expose the tricks of the trade of “psychics”, old and new:
Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! Gather ye round the traveling caravan, as Snake Oil Salesman Ash Pryce demonstrates the miraculous curative abilities of psychic surgery, taught to your humble trickster by a wise man in the Philippines (or a magicians tool book, whichever sounds more wondrous). See with amazement the telekinetic forces at work as you learn how to move objects with your mind, psychically manipulate your finest silverware and read the minds of your peers. Or maybe, it’s all just a trick?
Whereas the sister show How to Talk to the Dead looked specifically at spirit communication in the past, How to be a Psychic Conman will look at the more incredible, magical side of psychic claims that persist today. The types of demonstrations that blur the line between the honest deception of magic, and the dishonesty of those hoping to make a quick buck out of your deep rooted beliefs.
The show will involve demonstrations and explanations of telekinesis tricks, metal bending, psychic surgery and remote viewing as well as look at government funded research into psychic phenomena, and the shoddy protocols that allowed “psychics” to beat the legendary Zener card experiments in the 1930s.
And if that wasn’t enough, interspersed throughout the show will be numerous on stage demonstrations of mentalism to add an extra layer of entertainment to the proceedings.
Warning to those on the front row… there will be blood
Belfast Skeptics are pleased to be taking part in this years NI Science Fest again. This year we have a talk from sense about about science about the ask for evidence campaign.
Every day, we hear claims about what is good for our health, bad for the environment, how to improve education, cut crime, and treat disease. Some are based on reliable evidence and scientific rigour. Many are not. These claims can’t be regulated; every time one is debunked another pops up – like a game of whack-a-mole. So how can we make companies, politicians, commentators and official bodies accountable for the claims they make? If they want us to vote for them, believe them, or buy their products, then we should ask them for evidence, as consumers, patients, voters and citizens.
The Ask for Evidence campaign has seen people ask a retail chain for the evidence behind its MRSA resistant pyjamas; ask a juice bar for the evidence behind wheatgrass detox claims; ask the health department about rules for Viagra prescriptions; ask for the studies behind treatments for Crohn’s disease, and hundreds more. As a result, claims are being withdrawn and bodies held to account.
This is geeks, working with the public, to park their tanks on the lawn of those who seek to influence us. And it’s starting to work. Come and hear what the campaign is going to do next and how you can get involved.
This interactive look at a history of talking to the dead will feature an array of magical treats including levitating tables, ectoplasm manifestation and spirit communication.
Part magic show, part comedy, part rational inquiry this fun show has regularly packed venues at Edinburgh Fringes.
Ash Pryce promises Ouija Boards, Spirit Slates, Spirit Communication, Stopped Pulses, Spewing ectoplasm … and more.
Ash Pryce is a performer and director based in Scotland. He has written and staged several skeptically themed shows looking at myths & legends, ghosts, psychics and mediumship as well as producing full plays ranging from Faustus to more contemporary original shows in Edinburgh. He is the founder of Edinburgh Skeptics, the newly started History in the Pub Edinburgh, and runs what is believed to be the worlds first skeptical ghost tour every Fringe. He lives just outside of Edinburgh with his three Degus, one of which holds a grudge against him.
“Ash Pryce is a naturally funny guy and won’t allow his audience to be bored” “Very entertaining” – edfringereview“
Please note. This is a skeptically themed show and not intended as an actual demonstration of mediumship or psychic abilities”
As part of the NI Science Festival Belfast Skeptics are proud to present Michael Marshall.
Lifting The Lid: Ongoing adventures in the world of pseudoscience
It’s easy to think of pseudoscience existing in a glass case at a museum – something to be examined and critiqued from a safe distance, but not something to touch and to play with. Using examples taken from his own personal experiences in skepticism, Michael Marshall will show what happens when you begin to crack the surface of the pseudosciences that surround us – revealing the surprising, sometimes-shocking and often-comic adventures that lie beneath.
Michael Marshall is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work has seen him organising international homeopathy protests and co-founding the popularQED conference. He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Statesman.
Belfast shows support for the victims of the Paris shooting. Whilst some of the cartoons may be of dubious taste, and in my view not a particularly worthwhile piece of satire, nobody deserves to die for expressing their views. To quote James O’Malley (@psythor)
Ultimately every other right – whether it is to “bear arms”, own property or have religious beliefs of our choosing (and so on) stem from the right to speak freely, and express new ideas. Which is why, on balance, free speech deserves our priority over everything else.
Dr Nick McCaffrey will look at the relationship between Native American religiosity and the appropriative aspect of New Age spirituality. Drawing upon his own anthropological research at Hopi he will present examples of the ways in which indigenous culture has been idolized by contemporary spiritual seekers, and explore the reasons why the majority of Hopis, like many other contemporary Native American communities, are opposed to the appropriation and commodification of their culture.
Today is the inaugural meeting of The Sunday Assembly in Belfast (Yes I know it’s a Monday). The Sunday Assembly is often referred to as an “AtheistChurch” or “Godless Congregation” much to the chagrin of some fellow non-believers who seem reluctant to acknowledge anything remotely positive about the idea of a church regardless of what is being discussed (or preached) inside. The fear is that if people attend “AtheistChurch” then this will give ammunition to Theists who want to paint Atheism as a religion or a competing belief system. It should be made very clear that Atheism is not a belief system, it is a specific answer to a specific question : Does God exist ? There is no dogma or commandments to adhere to and no obligation to get up early on a Sunday morning. And it could be argued that if you are looking for an alternative world view then humanism already ticks that box. So why the need for The Sunday Assembly? Yes, there may be issues in the way it presents Atheism but the idea of community and getting together with people who share common values with you shouldn’t be under valued. We are social creatures and just because we have a problem with religion doesn’t mean we shouldn’t acknowledge any of the positive aspects, and that is what I think The Sunday Assembly is trying to do with its goals to celebrate life and help others. I had the pleasure of listening to Chris Steadman give his “Faithiest” talk at the black box a few weeks back and he believes we should be involved in multi-faith initiatives when it involves subjects of mutual concern to believers and non-believers alike, such as global poverty. If people value being part of a community why would we want to take that away from them? Acknowledging that one is a an Atheist can be very liberating for people but it can also leave them distanced from close knit church communities and all the social support that comes with that, so if people see worth in these projects who are we to say that there is none? I for one will be attending and singing from the same hymn sheet, especially as that hymn is likely to be don’t stop me now by Queen.
Our speaker for this month will be Matthew Collins.
Matthew may be familiar to some of you as the resident geek on BBC Northern Ireland’s Great Unanswered Questions, where he inhabits the famous wicker chair with his trusty lap-top interjecting pearls of wisdom from the world wide web.
Matthew is also a stand up and we are very lucky to see him preview some of the material he will be performing at this years’ Edinburgh Festival. An academic with a love of science, puzzles, beards, big words and the game of thrones. I think you’ll agree a perfect match for an audience of skeptics.
Well, it’s finally here – the apocalypse, came round quickly didn’t it? Do people really believe that the world is going to end today? Did the Mayans even believe that the world would end today?
A quick perusal of The Mayans on Google reveals a certain amount of conjecture on the subject, as you’d imagine.
It seems that the Mayans tracked cycles of time within greater cycles of time, based on their observations of the heavens over a prolonged period. The 21st December 2012 was significant in that it marked the end of one of these cycles with the intersecting of the central point of the milky way and the plane of the ecliptic creating a “sacred tree”. So using this tree analogy, a lot of “spiritual” folk are not claiming that this will signal the end of the universe, but rather the dawning of a new era of spiritual enlightenment — the age of Aquarius.
As you’d expect the astronomers see it slightly differently, responding to the claim that the sun will be aligned with the centre of the milky way for the first time in 26,000 years Dr Strous states:
“The Milky Way has no clear central line, so there is uncertainty about when the solstitial point crosses that central line. Different groups of people can each use reasonable definitions for the central line that yet deviate from one another. If we estimate (for example) that the uncertainty about the “best” central line of the Milky Way is half a degree (which is only a small fraction of the width of the Milky Way), then the corresponding uncertainty in the date at which the solstitial point crosses the central line is 0.5°/360°*26000 = about 36 years.”
Some wishy washy notion about the dawning of the age of Aquarius may be essentially harmless, but the sad point to all this is that some apocalyptic beliefs can have devastating consequences. The brilliant ‘what’s the harm?’ lists numerous cases of suicide and mass murder associated with predictions about the coming apocalypse.
People have really short memories; there have been numerous end times predictions since the turn of the millennium. Last year it was Harold Camping managing to convince some of his more gullible followers to get rid of all their earthly possessions in preparation for the rapture, this year it’s the Mayans turn, next year there will be someone else.
Just remember folks, all these “end times predictions” have one thing in common — NONE OF THEM EVER HAPPENED!