<< Following year  Previous year >>

Thinking critically about sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Liz Lutgendorff

When?
Monday, November 7 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

40-42 Chalk Farm Road
Camden
London NW1 8BG

Who?
Liz Lutgendorff

What's the talk about?

 A few years ago Liz Lutgendorff set off an a quest to read the top 100 sci-fi and fantasy books, as ranked by NPR’s readers. However, what she found while reading was disheartening - rife with really sexist (and even misogynistic) characters and dialogue, it made her wonder how these could be the top 100 books of the genres she loves?

At the same time the controversy around the Hugo Awards kicked off and we’ve had a backlash against women in geek culture. It felt to Liz that the nostalgia that created that list of 100 books is the same nostalgia that influenced the factions at the Hugo Awards.

This talk will be about thinking critically about what you read, putting your money where your ethics are and reading outside your comfort zone. Warning: what you like is subjective, especially in books, but hopefully this will bring some insight nonetheless.

Liz Lutgendorff is a civil servant by day and PhD student in the history of secularism at night. In between these times she reads a lot and swears even more. In glorious times past she was the deputy editor of the Pod Delusion. At time of writing she has 104 Pokemon in her Pokedex.

Professor Chris French

When?
Monday, October 3 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

40-42 Chalk Farm Road
Camden
London NW1 8BG

Who?
Professor Chris French

What's the talk about?

Can you remember what last month’s talk was about? Are you sure?

The reliability of human memory is often of central importance when considering reports of ostensibly paranormal events given that one is often assessing the report of the event rather than directly assessing the event itself.

This talk will review the scientific literature on the nature of memory, particularly focussing upon the areas of the unreliability of eyewitness testimony and susceptibility to false memories.

We will look at findings from several studies directly addressing the reliability of memory for ostensibly paranormal phenomena. This research indicates that any report of an anomalous event that rests entirely upon human memory should be treated with considerable caution.

Professor Chris French is Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and a Patron of the British Humanist Association. He is a member of the Scientific and Professional Advisory Board of the British False Memory Society and an Honorary Member of the Centre for Memory and Law at City University. His main area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences.

Matt Brown

When?
Monday, September 5 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

40-42 Chalk Farm Road
Camden
London NW1 8BG

Who?
Matt Brown

What's the talk about?

Are the streets of London really paved with gold? Sadly not. But other myths about the capital sound more plausible and have a stubborn knack of persisting. A Union Flag over Buckingham Palace does not mean the Queen is at home. Nylon is not named after NY and London. Jack the Ripper's murders took place on fogless nights. If you thought that the Savoy was the only place in London where you must drive on the right, then you're wrong. If you think Guy Fawkes was executed for masterminding the Gunpowder Plot, then you're doubly wrong.

 

Matt Brown's new book Everything You Know About London Is Wrong reveals the truth behind dozens of stories about the capital. It's an antidote to the many alternative guidebooks that repeat the same old bits of trivia without ever checking the sources. In this talk, he'll turn a skeptical eye on a dozen of his favourite false facts.

Matt is Editor-at-Large of Londonist, a website about London and everything in it. He's been writing professionally about London for more than 10 years and has explored every nook and cranny - including trips down the sewers and onto the roofs of skyscrapers, and an all-night ghost watch in a supposedly haunted museum. 

How thoughts and feelings change how our brain responds to pain

Dr Tim Salomons

When?
Monday, July 4 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

40-42 Chalk Farm Road
Camden
London NW1 8BG

Who?
Dr Tim Salomons

What's the talk about?

How can we learn to gain better control over pain by changing our thoughts and how can a better understanding of the brain help us do this?

Dr Tim Salomons will discuss some of his recent findings suggesting that training individuals to think differently about pain can alter not only their emotional response but their actual sensitivity to painful stimuli.

He is a Lecturer and Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of Reading. His work uses functional neuroimaging to examine how pain is processed in the brain and how the brain can alter pain depending on the context in which it occurs. He is particularly interested in how thoughts and feelings change pain and whether the brain can be trained to cope more effectively.

As usual, we will be taking a break in August and we’ll be back on September 5 with Everything You Know About London Is Wrong.

Daisy Christodoulou

When?
Monday, June 6 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

40-42 Chalk Farm Road
Camden
London NW1 8BG

Who?
Daisy Christodoulou

What's the talk about?

How do we best teach children to be sceptical and questioning? Can they learn everything they need to know from first principles? Are there some things they just need to take on trust? If pupils do need to depend on authority, how can we also teach them to be sceptical of it?

And what does scientific evidence have to tell us – how do we think and learn, and is it even possible to teach critical thinking and scepticism?

Daisy Christodoulou is the head of education research at the charity Ark. She first became known for her outstanding performance on University Challenge as captain of the Warwick University team in 2006-7. She is now known for her book Seven Myths about Education and presented a Radio 4 programme on the subject.

£3 to cover our expenses

Alan Henness and Max Goldman

When?
Monday, May 2 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

40-42 Chalk Farm Road
Camden
London NW1 8BG

Who?
Alan Henness and Max Goldman

What's the talk about?

This month we give you two for the price of one. Alan Henness of the Nightingale Collaboration and Max Goldman from Sense About Science talk about their work, what they have achieved, why they are needed more than ever and their future plans. They will compare notes on their biggest challenges, on areas of bad thinking that have become less prevalent and those that have become more popular in the last few years. Are there trends and fashions in woo just as there are in many other areas?

Alan Henness is Director of the Nightingale Collaboration, set up by Simon Singh to challenge misleading healthcare claims. A serial complainer, he has been active for more than a decade in challenging advertising claims made by chiropractors, homeopaths, acupuncturists etc and getting the relevant regulators to do what they are supposed to do: protect the public from misleading claims.

Max Goldman joined Sense About Science in March 2013, working specifically as development and communications manager on the Ask for Evidence campaign. Before that, he completed a Masters of Research degree at the London Consortium, a cross-disciplinary group of museums, galleries and academic institutions designed to bridge the gap between public and academic discussion. His dissertation explored the relationship between scientific progress and the public perception of science.

£3 to cover our expenses.

Dr Lynette Nusbacher

When?
Monday, April 4 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

40-42 Chalk Farm Road
Camden
London NW1 8BG

Who?
Dr Lynette Nusbacher

What's the talk about?

Like any other event in the real world, Brexit would have good and bad effects. Because the vote is in-or-out, however, the discourse is binary:  leaving the EU would be a disaster or a godsend. The discussion isn’t based on realistic scenarios. Not many people talk about the effects on the EU of a British departure. Fewer still talk about changes to the UK if there’s a vote to remain. Talking with no advocacy agenda about what the world might be like after the 23rd of June 2016 is rare. Answering questions about the future using structured methods is rarer.

Predicting the future is a mug’s game, but looking to the future without correcting for your cognitive biases is foolish. This is why structured horizon scanning is the first step in making strategy.

Lynette Nusbacher is a professional strategist. She was the first head of the Strategic Horizons Unit in the Cabinet Office, conducting futures work to underpin the UK National Security Strategy. Before that she served as Senior Intelligence Advisor and Devil’s Advocate to the Joint Intelligence Committee, responsible for analytical integrity of national intelligence assessments. Before that she was Senior Lecturer in War Studies at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Dr Kat Arney

When?
Monday, March 7 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

40-42 Chalk Farm Road
Camden
London NW1 8BG

Who?
Dr Kat Arney

What's the talk about?

The language of genes has become common in the media. We know they make your eyes blue, your hair curly or your nose straight. We're told that genes control the risk of cancer, heart disease, alcoholism or Alzheimer's. The cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted from billions of pounds to a few hundred, and gene-based advances in medicine hold huge promise.


There are 2.2 metres of DNA inside every one of your cells, encoding roughly 20,000 genes. These are the 'recipes' that tell our cells how to make the building blocks of life, along with all the control switches ensuring they're turned on and off at the right time and in the right place. But rather than a static string of genetic code, this is a dynamic, writhing biological library. With the help of cats with thumbs, fish with hips and wobbly worms, Kat will unpack some of the mysteries in our DNA, explain the latest thinking and challenge deterministic ideas about how our genes work.

Dr Kat Arney is a science communicator and award-winning blogger for Cancer Research UK, as well as a freelance science writer and broadcaster whose work has featured on BBC Radio 4, the Naked Scientists and more. She has just published her first book, Herding Hemingway's Cats, about how our genes work.

There will be copies of the book on sale and you can pay by cash or card.

Martin Graff

When?
Monday, February 1 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

40-42 Chalk Farm Road
Camden
London NW1 8BG

Who?
Martin Graff

What's the talk about?

More and more people are looking for love online rather than meeting people the old fashioned way. There’s good evidence that relationships are good for our physical and mental health and you can’t snuggle up with a PS4 on a cold night.

Drawing on psychological research, this talk focuses on seven reasons why online dating may not be the answer.

Some of the principal considerations are that we make bad decisions in online dating and people are certainly not what they seem to be. This means that such a matching system is not a good predictor for the sustainability of relationships face-to-face.

Dr Martin Graff is Reader and Head of Research in Psychology at the University of South Wales, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Chartered Psychologist. He has researched cognitive processes in web-based learning, the formation and dissolution of romantic relationships online and offline, online persuasion and disinhibition. He has written over 50  scientific  articles,  published  widely  in  the  field  of  Internet  behaviour,  and presented his work at numerous International Conferences. He also writes a blog in Psychology Today.

This talk is rescheduled from last year, just in time for Valentine's Day!

Dr Chris Peters

When?
Monday, January 4 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

40-42 Chalk Farm Road
Camden
London NW1 8BG

Who?
Dr Chris Peters

What's the talk about?

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.

Max Goldman joined Sense About Science in March 2013 to work on the Ask for Evidence campaign. He has a Masters from the London Consortium, a cross-disciplinary group of museums, galleries and academic institutions designed to bridge the gap between public and academic discussion. His dissertation explored the relationship between scientific progress and the public perception of science. 

Deborah Hyde

When?
Monday, December 7 2015 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

40-42 Chalk Farm Road
Camden
London NW1 8BG

Who?
Deborah Hyde

What's the talk about?

Krampus is a demon-like creature from Alpine folklore who punishes naughty children at Christmas, in contrast with jolly St Nicholas who brings presents.

Krampusnacht is usually celebrated on December 5th and involves dressing up as the Krampus and roaming the streets frightening children with chains and bells.

The Krampus phenomenon has been re-kindled; growing in popularity in the US it is increasingly appearing in the UK.

Deborah Hyde writes about religion and superstition at jourdemayne.com. She regularly appears on TV and in print media and is editor-in-chief of The Skeptic magazine.

As this is our pre-festive meeting, there will be treats. If you deserve them.

Myles Jackman

When?
Monday, November 2 2015 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

40-42 Chalk Farm Road
Camden
London NW1 8BG

Who?
Myles Jackman

What's the talk about?

“Obscenity Lawyer” Myles Jackman discusses the subjective morality and questionable evidence base for criminalising consensual adult sexual representations, including private one-to-one fantasy text chat ‘publication’ and  ‘extreme pornography’ possession offences.

 

WARNING – May contain stories about Horse Watersports.

Myles Jackman is the only lawyer in the UK who specialises in obscenity law and sexual freedoms. He is an award-winning lawyer and a leading expert in advising clients accused of sexual offences. He also provides a unique advisory service for clients in the arts and media; the adult industry; and offers pro bono advice for campaigns, organisations and activists particularly in the BDSM, LGBTQ, Sex-Work and Adult Industry communities. He was the defence solicitor in the landmark Michael Peacock and Simon Walsh obscenity trials. In the latter trial he was the first acting solicitor allowed to live tweet from a British trial. The same year, he was awarded the Junior Lawyer of the Year Excellence Award by the Law Society of England and Wales.

 

£3 to cover our expenses