Interesting talks in a pub since September 2011.

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Andrew Endersby

When?
Wednesday, July 20 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Unit 5,
Fargo Village,
Far Gosford Street,
Coventry,
CV1 5ED

Who?
Andrew Endersby

What's the talk about?

For over 25 years various departments of the US government and military funded research into teaching people an ESP technique called Remote Viewing. These ‘psychic spies’ were asked to report on hostages, enemy bases and drug deals.
 
In the years since 1995, when the project was closed, many claims of success have been made from predicting rings around Jupiter to finding kidnapped hostages. But how many of these claims are true?
 
Using original declassified documents it’s possible to check these claims. So what did really happen? How strict were the methods used and how accurate were the reports? We also discover about the day-to-day workings of the project, the role of Scientology in its early days, and how it finally came to be closed down.

Dr Anil Awesti

When?
Wednesday, June 15 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Unit 5,
Fargo Village,
Far Gosford Street,
Coventry,
CV1 5ED

Who?
Dr Anil Awesti

What's the talk about?

Given the upcoming referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union, there is increased interest in understanding the EU, Britain’s role within it and the issues surrounding the referendum.  What is the EU?  Why does it exist?  What does it do?  What doesn’t it do?  Would Britain be better off out or in?  Do David Cameron’s negotiated reforms make any difference?  This talk by Dr Anil Awesti examines the social, political, legal and economic arguments for and against Britain’s continuing membership of the EU.  In discussing these issues, we will relate to the broader question of whether the concept of sovereignty maintains its relevance in an era of globalisation.

Anil Awesti lectures in European Politics at the University of Warwick.  He has researched and published in the fields of EU governance, the history of the EU and Britain and the EU.

Gina Rippon

When?
Wednesday, May 18 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Unit 5,
Fargo Village,
Far Gosford Street,
Coventry,
CV1 5ED

Who?
Gina Rippon

What's the talk about?

There is a long history of debate about biological sex differences and their part in determining gender roles, with the ‘biology is destiny’ mantra being used to legitimise imbalances in these roles. The tradition is continuing, with new brain imaging techniques being hailed as sources of evidence of the ‘essential’ differences between men and women, and the concept of ‘hardwiring’ sneaking into popular parlance as a brain-based explanation for all kinds of gender gaps.

But the field is littered with many problems. Some are the product of ill-informed popular science writing ( neurotrash)  based on the misunderstanding or misrepresentation of what brain imaging can tell us. Some, unfortunately involve poor science, with scientists using outdated and disproved stereotypes to design and interpret their research (neurosexism).

These problems obscure or ignore the ‘neuronews’, the breakthroughs in our understanding of how plastic and permeable our brains are, and how the concept of ‘hard-wiring’ should be condemned to the dustbin of neurohistory.

This talk aims to offer ways of rooting out the neurotrash, stamping out the neurosexism and making way for neuronews.

Gina Rippon is Professor of Cognitive NeuroImaging in the Aston Brain Centre at Aston University. She has a background in psychology and physiology and uses brain imaging techniques such as Magnetoencephalography (MEG), functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate the relationship between patterns of brain activation and human sensory, cognitive and affective processes. Most recently her work has been in the field of developmental disorders such as autism.  She has served as President of the British Psychophysiology Society (now the British Association of Cognitive Neuroscience).

She also writes and speaks on the use of neuroimaging techniques In the study of sex/gender differences, recently featured in the BBC  Horizon programme “Is your Brain Male or Female?”.  She is additionally involved in activities around the public communication of science, particularly in challenging the misuse of neuroscience to support gender stereotypes, and in work to correct the under-representation of women in STEM subjects. She has recently been appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the British Science Association.

Polyp

When?
Wednesday, April 20 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Unit 5,
Fargo Village,
Far Gosford Street,
Coventry,
CV1 5ED

Who?
Polyp

What's the talk about?

An illustrated exploration of controversial cartoons, and their link to human rights, free speech and censorship, by long time Manchester pen scratcher ‘Polyp’.

From Roman times through to the Charlie Hebdo revenge attack, cartoonists have always been the focus of outrage and anger. What is it about this often trivialized art form that evokes such powerful reactions?

We’ll be including a look at the story of the medium’s conflict with religion and socially accepted moral consensus, and in the discussion afterwards we’ll pull at the complex knot of what it means to be offensive. Is there a simple way to untie it?

Polyp is a full time professional cartoonist and active member of the skeptics movement. His latest project is 'thINK'- a kickstarter funded collection of cartoons ridiculing superstition, irrationality and pseudoscience.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/678551473/think-a-book-of-incendiary-cartoon-skepticism

Take a look and consider funding his 'take no prisoners' project... it's already been over 60% funded before half time.

Rebecca Reilly-Cooper

When?
Wednesday, March 16 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Unit 5,
Fargo Village,
Far Gosford Street,
Coventry,
CV1 5ED

Who?
Rebecca Reilly-Cooper

What's the talk about?

The idea of Gender Identity is currently enjoying a significant amount of social, political and cultural momentum. An active and highly vocal political movement has emerged around the ideas that at least some, and possibly all, individuals possess something called a “Gender Identity”, that this is often the site of political marginalization and oppression, and that an individual’s professed Gender Identity must be respected and protected. In some cases, this is being converted into legislative changes, with laws protecting individuals from discrimination or harassment on the basis of their Gender Identity being enacted in many jurisdictions.

Especially now that this discourse is being translated into concrete policy and legislative changes, one might hope that this concept - the concept of Gender Identity - would be clearly defined and able to be easily understood. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The terminology and the ideas surrounding the notion of Gender Identity are vague, confusing and ever shifting, so that as soon as one has caught up and learned the appropriate terms and the concepts to which they refer, the rules are likely to change. Furthermore, the political discourse of Gender Identity, and the ideas and concepts that embody the political movement surrounding the notion, are riddled with inconsistencies and conceptual incoherence, which render the political debate surrounding gender politics increasingly impenetrable. In this talk, I will examine the philosophical coherence and scientific plausibility of the notion of Gender Identity, as well as the social and cultural implications of its associated identity politics.

 

Quassim Cassam

When?
Wednesday, February 17 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Quassim Cassam

What's the talk about?

What's so great about self-knowledge? What does it matter whether you know who you really are? Is self-knowledge the key to happiness or to being true to yourself? We live in a culture in which the importance of self-knowledge is taken for granted but rarely explained. This talk by Quassim Cassam will explore the nature of self-knowledge and debunk some superficially attractive accounts of its value. Knowing yourself is important but a fresh approach to understanding its value is needed. The difficulty we face is that the most genuinely valuable types of self-knowledge are also the most challenging to acquire and the hardest to live with.

Quassim Cassam is the author of several books, including Self-Knowledge for Humans (2014). He is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Warwick and has also taught at Oxford, Cambridge and UCL. He writes about what he calls 'substantial' self-knowledge, including knowledge of our emotions, values and character, and focuses on the effect of our cognitive imperfections on our ability to gain self-knowledge. More recently he has written about intellectual vices and the difficulty of knowing our own vices. 

http://www.self-knowledgeforhumans.com/
 
Self-Knowledge for Humans by Quassim Cassam http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199657575.do
 
Berkeley's Puzzle: What Does Experience Teach Us? by John Campbell and Quassim Cassam http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780198716259.do

 

Why children are great pretenders, poor problem solvers, and sometimes less clever than crows.

Sarah Beck

When?
Wednesday, January 20 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Sarah Beck

What's the talk about?

Young children are excellent imaginers, coming up with all kinds of creative and weird worlds. But what is the imagination really for? Adults use their imaginations to solve problems, but children sometimes struggle with this. In this talk, Sarah will explore how children start to use their imaginations for creative problem solving: using examples of children’s thinking about ‘how things might have been different’ and comparing children’s tool-making to that of clever non-human animals.

Sarah Beck is Reader in Cognitive Development at the University of Birmingham. She researches children's thinking about possibility and time and questions whether adults' thinking in these areas is as sophisticated as we might like to think. She teaches an undergraduate course that compares the cognitive abilities of human children with non-human animals.

Who can predict the future, and how?

Michael Story

When?
Wednesday, December 16 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Michael Story

What's the talk about?

Since 2011, a team of 200 civilians has been predicting the future more accurately than US intelligence agencies. Formed five years ago under the auspices of IARPA (the US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, informally known as 'DARPA for spies'), the Good Judgement Project's 'Superforecaster' teams have been forecasting the specifics of North Korean missile programmes, the movement of Russian troops and the longevity of Robert Mugabe, achieving a 50% lower error rate than the previous state of the art.

This talk will cover who makes these forecasts, how they are doing it, and some techniques shown to make nearly anyone more accurate when predicting the future.

Michael Story is a policy researcher and Superforecaster with the Good Judgement Project.

Daisy Christodoulou

When?
Wednesday, November 18 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Daisy Christodoulou

What's the talk about?

How do we best teach children to have a sceptical and questioning attitude? Can pupils 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 authority? And what does scientific evidence have to tell us about this – how do we think and learn, and is it even possible to teach critical thinking and scepticism?

Ash Pryce

When?
Wednesday, October 21 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

Hydesville. New York. 1848. The young Fox sisters begin communicating with the spirit of a murdered beggar and spiritualism is born. This interactive look at a history of talking to the dead will feature an array of magical treats including levitating tables, ectoplasm manifestation and spirit communication. Part magic show, part comedy, part rational inquiry this fun show has regularly packed venues at the Edinburgh fringe.

  • Ouija Boards
  • Spirit Slates
  • Spirit Communication
  • Stopped Pulses
  • Spewing ectoplasm
  • And more... 

 "Ash Pryce is a naturally funny guy and won't allow his audience to be bored" "Very entertaining" - edfringereview 

"Go see" - Edinburgh Skeptics 

Ash Pryce is a performer and director based in Scotland.  He has written and staged several skeptically themed shows looking at myths & legends, ghosts, psychics and mediumship as well as producing full plays ranging from Faustus to more contemporary original shows in Edinburgh.  He is the founder of Edinburgh Skeptics, the newly started History in the Pub Edinburgh, and runs what is believed to be the worlds first skeptical ghost tour every Fringe.  He lives just outside of Edinburgh with his three Degus, one of which holds a grudge against him. 

Please note. This is a skeptically themed show and not intended as an actual demonstration of mediumship or psychic abilities.

Myles Power

When?
Wednesday, September 16 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Myles Power

What's the talk about?

In the early days of the AIDS epidemic many bizarre and dangerous ideas were advanced regarding the origin of the disease and its cause. Since the discovery of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) these conspiracy theories, which once filled the void left by the lack of information, have all but vanished. Over the past three decades HIV has been the subject of intense scientific research which has resulted in effective treatments, rapid HIV tests, and promising cures.

Yet unbelievably there are a small number of people who are sceptical of the “official story”. Although these people are small in numbers they are extremely well funded and can pose a very real threat to public health. Many have chosen to spend their money on spreading their harmful theories, defend people who have irresponsibly infected their partners, and funded the documentary House of Numbers.

The documentary encourages people to come off their medication, tells them that HIV tests don’t work, and that anti-viral drugs such as AZT are the real cause of AIDS. To do this the makers of the documentary make liberal use of out-of-context quotations from scientists interviewed for the film, deceitful editing techniques, and flat out lies. I have dedicated a large amount of time to exposing some of the more insidious claims in the documentary. In response there have been multiple Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation claims filed against me in an attempt to silence my criticism. They also published my personal information as well as my employ contact details and promoted people to contact them.

In my talk I discuss some examples of the dangerous assertions in the documentary and explain how they have led to the death and suffering of hundreds of thousands of people. I will also talk about the failure of the DMCA and how it can be exploited by the proponents of pseudoscience.

Jon Butterworth

When?
Wednesday, August 19 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Jon Butterworth

What's the talk about?

The discovery of the Higgs boson made headlines around the world. Two scientists, Peter Higgs and François Englert, whose theories predicted its existence, shared a Nobel Prize. The discovery was the culmination of the largest experiment ever run, the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. But what really is a Higgs boson and what does it do? How was it found? And what will the LHC do next? Jon Butterworth, a leading member of the ATLAS experiment, will talk about all this and more.

Jon Butterworth is also Head of the Department of Physics & Astronomy at UCL, and writes for the Guardian