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15th November 2020

This week’s SITP Online extravaganza kicks off with a live presentation ceremony for the much coveted Ockham Awards, at which host and newly appointed editor of The Skeptic Michael Marshall is predicted to undermine democracy by giving himself another two years as holder of the Award for Skeptical Activism, which he has been clinging on to since 2018.

This coup will be followed by a talk from registered nutritionist Pixie Turner, who thanks to her extraordinary work over the last few years promoting science-based nutrition and countering wellness pseudoscience through her blog and three published books has got to be a strong contender for the award should Marsh ever decide to give it up: count the votes!

A big part of Pixie’s success story is that as a onetime prominent wellness influencer she is clearly a former contender for the Rusty Razor, awarded for the promotion of pseudoscience, but recognising the error of her ways she made a public apology, completed a master’s in nutrition and set about correcting her errors while bringing as many of her old followers as possible with her: stop the count!

Cambridge Skeptics

Pixie Turner and The Ockham Awards Double Bill
Thursday, 19th November 2020 at 7:00pm
The Ockham Awards 2020
with Michael Marshall
Michael Marshall will be hosting the Ockham Awards ceremony, find out who will win the coveted Award for Skeptical Activism and The Rusty Razor, awarded to an individual or organisation who has been the most prominent promoter of unscientific ideas in the last 12 months.

Useful Links:

How Social Media Has Shaped the Way We Eat
with Pixie Turner
Social media is a major part of modern life. Most of us can’t imagine not using it, and it’s unrealistic to assume that’s even possible. We are only just beginning to understand the influence these platforms have over our decisions around food and health, with many of these processes happening without our even being fully aware. 

But maybe we should be aware. 

From influencers deciding what the foods we buy to government policy, via food shaming and comparison envy, activism and extremism, the role social media plays is now undeniable. In her latest book ‘The Insta-Food Diet’, nutritionist Pixie Turner looks at the various ways social media has affected our food choices, our restaurants, and our food policy. She aims to arm readers with knowledge and tactics, so they can take back control and make social media work for them. 

Pixie Turner is a registered nutritionist (RNutr), trainee psychotherapist and science communicator. Alongside her degrees in biochemistry and nutrition, she also has over 130,000 followers on her ‘Pixie Nutrition‘ social media accounts. Pixie has been featured as a nutrition expert on BBC, Sky and Channel 5, and divides her time between her clinic, social media, teaching, hosting her podcast, public speaking, and looking after her growing collection of houseplants. She has written several books, with the most recent, The Insta-Food Diet, looking at the way in which social media has shaped the way we eat. 

Useful Links:

'Pixie Turner manages to strip away the bullshit that surrounds diet and health, replacing it with facts, balance and a long overdue call to re-engage with food. This is the book that the world of wellness desperately needs' - Anthony Warner, the Angry Chef. 

'A manifesto for happy, sensible eating: to encourage us to respect science, to relax and, crucially, to find pleasure in food' - Stella magazine. 

'Pixie's book is a much needed breath of fresh air. She writes honestly and from the heart' - Dr Anjali Mahto.

During this intensely stressful time, it's important to remember that seeking comfort in food is not unusual, and it's not sign of moral failure, writes Pixie Turner for The Skeptic.
Food is all over Instagram, Pinterest, and the rest. Here's how our online appetite has changed our relationship with what we actually put on our plates, write Pixie Turner for Happiful. 
(Un)Well's false balance and fence-sitting is a missed opportunity to demonstrate the real harms of the wellness industry, writes Pixie Turner for The Skeptic.
Registered nutritionist Pixie Turner takes a look at some of the most common covid-19 nutritional myths to arise during the pandemic for The Skeptic.
From snapping pics of dinner to taking diet advice from influencers, social media has transformed our eating habits – and not always for the better, nutritionist Pixie Turner warns Mernie Gilmore of the Mirror.
So, I've Been Thinking...
Wielding the Rusty Razor
The Ockham Awards, which were inaugurated way back in 2012 by The Skeptic’s then editor-in-chief Deborah Hyde to draw attention to those people who work hard to get a great message out, have been revitalised with the relatively recent addition of the Rusty Razor in 2017, which spotlights prominent promoters of unscientific ideas. And, this year’s winner, to be announced at this week's SITP Online, will join a growing list of usual suspects to have been cut down to size. 

The inaugural award found a highly popular recipient in the form of Gwyneth Paltrow’s "wellness" brand Goop thanks to what Deborah Hyde describes as a surprising number of public vote nominations. Hyde lamented that at a time when measles and whooping cough were on the rise due to reduced rates of vaccination, "people prefer to contemplate their yonis," a reference to the company’s discredited vaginal jade eggs which did much to secure the win. 

Hyde’s comments seemed almost prophetic the following year when Goop lost out to disgraced and discredited anti-vax promoter Dr. Andrew Wakefield whose now retracted 1998 paper, which fraudulently alleged an autism-vaccine connection, has been described as "the most damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years," and whose legacy The Skeptic described as "long-lived." "The evidence is overwhelming that vaccination is safe," Hyde reiterated. "Protect your children and your community by using it."

Hopes for this year are high in the Trump team, who after narrowly missing out on the win in 2018 have seen their nominee go from anti-vaccine promotion and climate change denial through cancer causing windmills and bleach injections to becoming the "single largest driver of misinformation around Covid," according to a study from Cornell University. Indeed, such is the confidence that some have attached rusty razors to the campaign's posters.

Speaking of the Ockham awards, Hyde has said her pride is in being an organisation that gets the good news out there, and the addition of the Rusty Razor has certainly brought with it the media coverage necessary to disseminate that message. Previous winners have found their glory celebrated in the reportage of such august institutions as IFLScience, The Daily Mail, Fox News and Breitbart (I’ll spare you the links), it’ll be interesting to see what this year brings.

Chris Gyford, Cambridge Skeptics

Viral claims on social media are expressions of the anxieties people feel - even if the claims aren't true, those anxieties and feelings are - writes Rebecca Fox for The Skeptic.
'Captured by Aliens?' is an excellent introduction to alleged alien contact, but misses the opportunity to update on previous editions, writes Chris French for The Skeptic.
The way in which the GESARA plot has changed over time shows us that conspiracy theories don't disappear, they merely evolve, writes Thiago Vahia Malliagros for The Skeptic.
From the anti-Semitic Flagellants of the Black Death to modern day 5G-hating COVID deniers, epidemics have always driven conspiracy theories, writes Deborah Hyde for The Skeptic.
What does the evidence tell us about how to engage with people we disagree with? Mark Horne and artist Matt Kemp find out for The Skeptic.
Join physicist Dr. Steve Barrett to discuss if there are any UFO images that require an extraterrestrial explanation. This talk, which was streamed live on 12th November 2020, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
Join Undercover Economist and host of BBC Radio 4’s More or Less podcast Tim Harford to learn his ten rules for thinking differently about numbers. This talk, which was streamed live on 5th November 2020, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
Join psychology professors Richard Wiseman and Chris French for a Halloween discussion on apparitional experiences. This talk, which was streamed live on 31st October 2020, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
Join naturopath turned critic Britt Hermes for this Halloween-themed talk on the horrors and spooky practices of her former profession. This talk, which was streamed live on 29th October 2020, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
Join philosopher Aaron Rabinowitz to find out why skeptics should believe that ethics is real and free will is not. This talk, which was streamed live on 22nd October 2020, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
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