Ever since I joined the Greater Manchester Skeptics Society (GMSS) they’ve been talking about something called QED. A conference? For £99? I’ve been to conferences before. They’re often dull, tedious affairs where you get stuck talking to people. Not anything to get excited about.
As the event drew nearer, I saw the list guest speakers: Prof Richard Wiseman, Prof Caroline Watt, Dr Sue Blackmore. Psychologists I have referenced in my dissertation! This looks interesting. As I got to know my fellow skeptics and they became friends, more and more were going. Some were even volunteering.
“There’s a free day you say? Called Skepticamp?” The Friday before the two day event is day where activists can share their experiences and passions in a series of talks. Following the success of my EVP talk at the GMSS Soapbox event I volunteered to discuss my research. So I was going to one of the days at least…
Then I was extremely fortunate to receive a free ticket for the full conference (Sat and Sun). I am so glad I did as I would have missed a wonderful, enlightening experience. I heard some amazing talks and met so many interesting like-minded people. I have many highlights but here are just some:
- Prof. Caroline Watt’s talk on Koestler Unit at Edinburgh University (pre-QED talk at GMSS)
- Dr Sue Blackmore on her out of body experience
- A paranormal panel with Prof. Caroline Watt, Sue Blackmore, Hayley Stevens and Deborah Hyde
- Paul Zenon ‘Secrets of the Psychics’
- The Quirkology room filled with visual illusions
- Learning magic tricks with Dave Alnwick
The skeptical movement has a lot to offer. It has crossover with many disciplines and unlimited scope. As with any collection people motivated by a unifying force, it can fall into the trap of being closed to the very groups it is trying to engage. This point was made at the conference and there were some great examples of ‘reaching out’ to the wider community, such as The Paranormal Challenge and Glasgow Skeptics.
My thoughts on the debate between skeptics and believers is documented on this blog You’ll never change minds if you only talk to those who agree with you!
I would like to thank the organisers, speakers and volunteers at QED for a wonderful experience. I now have post-QED blues and like many others will be counting down the months until the next one.