Newsletter 30: Nine Lessons and Carols … a postscript

1. Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People
2. Top 10 Skeptics Who Kicked Ass in 2008
3. Chiropractic libel case – quick update
4. Forthcoming lectures
5. Bletchley Park
6. Competition Winner
7. New Competition

1. Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People

Just before Christmas I contributed to three shows entitled “Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People”. We played to 5,000 people and the performers ranged from Richard Dawkins to Ricky Gervais.

Although the shows seemed to be a great success, I did receive a few emails criticising me for taking part in such anti-religious events. I should stress, however, that I saw the events as a celebration of science and rationalism, rather than any kind of denigration of religion. Perhaps Robin Ince, the brilliant comic behind the whole idea, explained it best: “Rather than create a marauding mob going out to burn down the churches, it’s about people saying ‘Take me to the library!’”

Based on their success so far, there should be similar shows later this year. In the meantime, Robin is currently on tour in the UK with his great new show, so catch him if you can:
http://www.ents24.com/web/artist/12597/Robin_Ince.html

And you can watch Tim Minchin’s marvellous nine minute beam poem which ended the “Nine Lessons” show (audio only) at:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujUQn0HhGEk

2. Top 10 Skeptics Who Kicked Ass in 2008

I was delighted to be named as one of the “Top 10 Skeptics Who Kicked Ass in 2008”. It was a particular honour to be alongside Sanal Edamaruku. You can find out about his marvelous exploits and see the rest of the list at Rebecca Watson’s Skepchick blog:
http://skepchick.org/blog/?p=4996
www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNoX0XKUZlk

I saw Rebecca when she was in London speaking at Skeptics in the Pub last month. You can find out about similar Skeptic Pub events around the world (from Vancouver to Johannesburg) at:

Skeptics in the Pub

And if you are an isolated skeptic, then you can always listen to the “Skeptics Guide to the Universe” podcast (co-presented by Rebecca):

Home

3. Chiropractic libel case – quick update

The trial date is still uncertain, but it will probably be in the early summer of 2009. I can, however, confirm that the trial will not involve a jury, because of its complicated nature, and instead the final decision will be made by the judge. The best place for news on the case is the Facebook group, which monitors various blogs and articles, and which now has almost 2,000 supporters:
For Simon Singh and Free Speech – Against the BCA Libel Claim
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=33457048634

4. Forthcoming lectures

In February, I will be lecturing in London and Cambridge:
https://www.simonsingh.net/Simon_Lectures.php

5. Bletchley Park

There is a renewed effort to save Bletchley Park, where Alan Turing and other codebreakers cracked the Enigma code and changed the course of the Second World War. You can find out more about the problems at Bletchley Park and sign the petition at:
http://savingbletchleypark.org/

6. Competition Winner

In the last newsletter, I asked: “Which singer was born of a Born of a Born?” The winner was Deborah Bardsley from Cambridge, who knew that Olivia Newton John is the granddaughter of the physicist Max Born, and who receives a signed copy of “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins.

7. New Competition

To celebrate President Obama’s inauguration, his full-blooded endorsement of science and his backing for alternative energy schemes, I tried to think of a question that was both presidential and scientific (or at least mathematical) and here it is – who is the only American president to employ the third derivative in a speech during his re-election campaign?

Send your answer to competition@simonsingh.net – put your answer in the subject header and your address in the body of the email. The closing date for entries is February 5. The winner will receive a copy of “E=mc^2” by David Bodanis, subtitled “A biography of the world’s most famous equation.”

I will leave you with Captain Disillusion’s farewell mantra: “Love with your heart – use your brain for everything else. You can watch his excellent You Tube debunking at:

Cheerio,
Simon.