13th European Skeptics Congress - Speakers

The speakers currently confirmed are:

*We are very happy to announce that Barry Beyerstein’s wife Suzi and his daughter Lindsay will attend the congress. Lindsay will present a paper on behalf of her late father.

Speaker Bios

Professor Massimo Pigliucci

Massimo Pigliucci is a professor of Ecology and Evolution at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and is known as an outspoken critic of creationism and advocate of science education. He received his doctorate in genetics at the University of Ferrara, Italy, a PhD in botany from the University of Connecticut, and a PhD in philosophy at the University of Tennessee.

He received the Dobzhansky Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution, and has been awarded three times the Oak Ridge National Laboratories Science Alliance Faculty Research Award. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal

His research in science focuses on genotype-environment interactions, on natural selection, and on the constraints imposed on the latter by the genetic and developmental makeup of organisms. As a philosopher, he is interested in epistemological issues in the philosophy of science and in the conceptual examination of fundamental ideas underlying evolutionary theory.

Pigliucci writes regularly for Skeptical Inquirer and Philosophy Now, and has occasionally debated creationists. On The Infidel Guy’s internet radio show, he debated Kent Hovind (a creationist).

Pigliucci considers that many problems are caused by a failure on the part of scientists and science educators to appreciate the distinction between methodological and philosophical naturalism; and the distinction between matters of fact and value judgements, suggesting that whereas atheism is a perfectly respectable metaphysical position, science does not necessarily demand atheism.

This bio is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It is adapted from the Wikipedia article “Massimo Pigliucci”.

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Professor Victor Stenger

Victor Stenger is emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. Stenger used to work in particle physics but is principally known as a critic and skeptic of Intelligent Design and other ideas of pseudoscience.

Stenger received his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Newark College of Engineering (now New Jersey Institute of Technology) in 1956, followed by a Master of Science degree and PhD in physics from UCLA. He then took a position on the faculty of the University of Hawaii, retiring to Colorado in 2000. His current position is emeritus professor of physics at the University of Hawaii and adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado. Stenger is a fellow of CSICOP and a research fellow of the Center for Inquiry. Stenger has also held visiting positions on the faculties of the University of Heidelberg in Germany, Oxford in England (twice), and has been a visiting researcher at Rutherford Laboratory in England, the National Nuclear Physics Laboratory in Frascati, Italy, and the University of Florence in Italy.

Stenger’s research career has spanned the period of great progress in elementary particle physics that has ultimately led to the current standard model. He participated in experiments that helped establish the properties of strange particles, quarks, gluons, and neutrinos, and also helped pioneer the emerging fields of very high-energy gamma ray and neutrino astronomy. In his last project before retiring, Stenger collaborated on the Super-Kamiokande underground experiment in Japan that showed for the first time that the neutrino has mass.

He has published a number of books intended for general audiences on the subjects of physics, cosmology, philosophy, religion, and pseudoscience. These include: Not By Design: The Origin of the Universe (1988); Physics and Psychics: The Search for a World Beyond the Senses (1990); The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology (1995); Timeless Reality: Symmetry, Simplicity, and Multiple Universes (2000); Has Science Found God? The Latest Results in the Search for Purpose in the Universe (2003); and The Comprehensible Cosmos: Where Do the Laws of Physics Come from?. His most recent book, God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist, was published in 2007.

This bio is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It is adapted from the Wikipedia article “Victor Stenger”.

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Professor John Crown

Professor John Crown is a Consultant Medical Oncologist at St Vincent’s University Hospital and St Luke’s/St Anne’s Hospital in Dublin. One of the most high-profile cancer researchers in Ireland, he is not averse to speaking out in the media on behalf of his patients.

A graduate of University College Dublin in 1980, John Crown also received his medical training at the State University of New York. After his internship and internal medicine training, his postdoctoral training included posts as a registrar in gastroenterology and general medicine at Guy’s Hospital in London and in haematology at St James’s Hospital in Dublin. He completed his fellowship training in oncology at Mount Sinai Medical Center and in haematology/oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, both in New York. He also served as assistant professor at Cornell University Medical College before returning to Ireland in 1993 to take up his consultant post at St Vincent’s and St Luke’s/St Anne’s Hospitals in Dublin.

In November 2003, he was awarded the Thomas Baldwin Research Chair in Translational Cancer Research from Dublin City University. Translational research involves the link from “bench to bedside” creating a bridge between basic scientific research and clinical treatment conducted by physicians.

He is internationally recognized for his progressive research into improving the effects of chemotherapy dosage on cancer patients and has received a merit award from the European Society for Medical Oncology for his work in breast cancer research — the first Irish oncologist to have received such recognition.

Professor David McConnell

David McConnell is Professor of Genetics at the Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College, Dublin. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin (BA, 1966) and the California Institute of Technology (PhD, 1971), he held an Eleanor Roosevelt Research Fellowship at Harvard University in 1976-77.

He pioneered the development of molecular genetics and genetic engineering in Ireland, participating in several EC biotechnology programmes, and collaborating with ICI, Guinness, Schering Plough, Biocon, BP and NovoNordisk in various biotechnology projects. He planned and led the development of the Smurfit Institute of Genetics, a leading centre for research and teaching of genetics. He was a founding participant in the Yeast Genome Project. He advised the United Nations Industrial Development Organization on many projects, and was Chairman of the Select Committee which reported on the location of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.

Formerly Vice Provost of Trinity College, he is currently a member of the Irish Council for Science Technology and Innovation and Chairman of The Irish Times Trust. He is a member of the Executive Board of the European Federation of Biotechnology and a member of the European Molecular Biology Organisation.

He is also Co-Vice Chairman of European Action on Global Life Sciences (EAGLES) which aims to enhance the collaboration between European researchers and researchers in the developing world to fight hunger and disease.

Dr Brian Hughes

Brian M. Hughes completed a PhD in social support and cardiovascular stress reactivity at NUI Galway having been awarded a College Prize and University Fellowship after his honours BA in psychology. After teaching at NUI Galway and at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology he went on to serve as founding Head of the Psychology Department at Dublin Business School, during which time it became the first ever non-university department in Ireland to receive professional accreditation for a psychology degree programme. He was appointed to the staff of NUI Galway in 2001 and served as Acting Head of Department in 2005. He has served as President of the Psychological Society of Ireland (2004-2005) and was the Founding Chair of its Division of Health Psychology (2003).

Brian Hughes’ research has focused on psychological stress (particularly its impact on health and wellbeing, its causal factors, and its moderators) and his work has been funded by several agencies, including the Irish Heart Foundation, the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences, the National Suicide Review Group, the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, the Department of Health and Children, and the NUI Galway Millennium Research Fund. He is National Representative for Ireland of the Society for Stress and Anxiety Research and was a guest speaker on stress at the 8th World Congress of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention. In 2005 he founded the Centre for Research on Occupational and Life Stress (CROLS), of which he is its first Director.

Another of his research interests concerns the psychology of extraordinary and empirically dubious claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, and medicine. Accordingly, he has published a number of papers on complementary and alternative therapies. He has been interviewed for several newspapers, radio, and television programmes, locally and nationally.

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Lindsay Beyerstein

Lindsay Beyerstein is a freelance writer based in New York City. Her blog, Majikthise, provides daily coverage of local, national, and international politics from a left liberal perspective.

Majikthise features original reporting, including Lindsay’s photography.

Stories covered to date include: the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Tom DeLay’s first court appearance on money laundering charges, the first YearlyKos convention, and Ned Lamont’s primary victory over Joe Lieberman.

Her interview with radio host and senate hopeful Al Franken was published in September, 2006.

Lindsay’s photographs have been published in The Austin Chronicle, Aftenposten (Norway’s second largest newspaper), and Earth Island Journal. She is also available for event photography assignments.

Lindsay speaks regularly on blogging, politics, and media. She has presented at the National Organization for Women conference, The Center for American Progress, BlogHer, and Blogging Liberally. She was also invited to speak at the Personal Democracy Forum Conference.

Lindsay’s writing for Majikthise has been quoted in The Washington Post, Der Spiegel, In These Times, and The Weekly Standard.

Lindsay is a member of the Washington Post’s Blogger Advance Team on foreign policy issues. She also blogs at AlterNet’s PEEK.

Lindsay will present a paper on behalf of her late father, Barry Beyerstein, Professor of Psychology and a member of the Brain Behaviour Laboratory at Simon Fraser University.

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Professor James Alcock

James Alcock is Professor of Psychology at York University, where he has been a faculty member since 1973, and is a former Director of the Graduate Programme in Psychology. He obtained a BSc (Honours Physics) from McGill University, and a PhD in Social Psychology from McMaster University, and he subsequently underwent post-doctoral training in Clinical Psychology. He has been a Registered Psychologist since 1974, and has served on the Ontario Board of Examiners in Psychology, the Board of the Canadian Registry of Health Service Providers in Psychology, and the Joint Designation Committee of the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards/National Register. He is a Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association and a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

He has a longstanding interest in both the application of science to psychology and the psychology of belief, particularly those beliefs involving anomalous experience. He is the author of Parapsychology: Science or magic? (1981); Science and supernature (1990); and co-author of A textbook of social psychology (now in its fifth edition); co-editor of Psi Wars (2003); and author of nine book chapters and numerous articles and papers, most of which deal with the psychology of belief, and critical examinations of anomalous claims, including those made in the area of alternative medicine.

He is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a Member of the CSI’s Executive Council; a member of the Editorial Board, The Skeptical Inquirer; a member of the Advisory Board, American Council on Science and Health; a member of the Commission for Scientific Medicine and Mental Health; and a member of the Editorial Board of The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine.

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Dr Ben Goldacre

Ben Goldacre is an award winning writer, broadcaster, and medical doctor who has written the weekly Bad Science column in The Guardian since 2003.

He appears regularly on BBC Radio 4 and TV, and has written for The Guardian, Time Out, New Statesman, and the British Medical Journal as well as various book chapters.

He has won numerous awards, including Best Freelancer at the Medical Journalists Awards 2006, the Healthwatch Award in 2006, Best Feature at the British Science Writers Awards twice, in 2003 and 2005, and the Royal Statistical Society’s first Award For Statistical Excellence in Journalism.

He studied Medicine at Magdalen College Oxford where he also edited Isis, the Oxford University Magazine. He left in 1995 with a First. Before going on to clinical medicine at UCL, he was a visiting researcher in cognitive neurosciences at the University of Milan, working on fMRI brain scans of language and executive function, and was also funded by the British Academy to do a Masters degree in Philosophy at King’s College London.

Dr Goldacre works full-time for the UK’s National Health Service.

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Dr Michael Heap

Dr Michael Heap is a clinical and a forensic psychologist. Initially working as a research psychologist in a hospital for patients with brain damage, he started in clinical psychology in 1974. Since then, he has also held part-time teaching and lecturing posts at various universities. In 2001, he qualified in forensic psychology. He now works in private practice; this includes a half-time contract at an NHS medium secure unit.

In his professional work he have developed the following areas of knowledge and expertise:

  • Hypnosis (theory, research, clinical practice and forensic and legal issues). He have published several books and many papers on this subject over the past 25 years or more.
  • The preparation of expert witness reports on defendants (pre-trial and pre-sentence) for the criminal courts and claimants (usually personal injury cases) in the civil courts.
  • The preparation of expert witness reports for the civil courts. He have considerable experience in the psychological effects of road traffic accidents.
  • The assessment and treatment of people with psychological problems and disorders, notably patients who are compulsorily detained under the Mental Health Act.

Dr Heap is also the Chairman/Secretary and a founder member of ASKE, the Association for Skeptical Enquiry. This is a society for people from all walks of life who wish to promote rational thinking and enquiry, particularly concerning unusual phenomena, and who are opposed to the proliferation and misuse of irrational and unscientific ideas and practices. He is editor of ASKE’s quarterly newsletter Skeptical Adversaria and its annual magazine Skeptical Intelligencer.

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Professor Willem Betz

Willem Betz is Professor of Medicine at the Free University of Brussels and Co-founder and Secretary of the Belgian Skeptics organisation, SKEPP.

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