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Dr Anil Awesti

When?
Wednesday, February 15 2017 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?

 Following the UK's vote to leave the European Union, Theresa May has stated that "Brexit means Brexit" and the government “will invoke Article 50 no later than the end of March 2017" in order to start the formal process of leaving.  However, many questions remain unanswered.  Who voted for Brexit and why?  What will the Brexit process look like?  Will the EU give the UK a good deal?  Will the UK end up with 'hard Brexit' or 'soft Brexit'?  This talk by Dr Anil Awesti examines the social, economic and political reasons for the 'Leave' vote, the politics of the Brexit process and the potential options for the UK's future relationship with the EU.  In discussing these issues, we will relate to the broader question of the UK's role in contemporary international relations.

Dr 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.

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Henry Drysdale

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

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Where?

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

Who?
Henry Drysdale

What's the talk about?

  For 6 weeks in late 2015, the COMPare team monitored every clinical trial published in the top 5 medical journals for “outcome switching”: when trialists report something different from what they originally said they would report. Of 67 trials assessed, 58 (87%) were found to contain discrepancies between prespecified and reported outcomes.

Outcome switching is already known to be extremely common, even in top medical journals. But COMPare went one step further: they wrote a letter to the journal for all 58 trials found to contain discrepancies; to correct the record on the individual trials, and to test the “self-correcting” properties of science.

The responses to these letters from journal editors and trial authors were unprecedented, and shed light on the reasons why this problem persists. The aim of COMPare was to fix outcome switching, through correction letters and open discussion. They never expected the levels of misunderstanding and bias at the heart of the issue.

Based at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, COMPare is made up of three senior researchers, 5 graduate-entry medical students, and a programmer. The project was born when one medical student came to the department in search of a project. The idea of monitoring the outcomes in clinical trials was made possible by 4 more medical students, who were recruited to make the vast amount of analysis possible. All assessments are reviewed by senior colleagues, and decisions made at weekly team meetings. There is no specific funding for COMPare: all the students work for free, driven by the desire and opportunity to fix a broken system.

Joe Sousek and Klina Jordan

When?
Wednesday, October 19 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

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

Who?
Joe Sousek and Klina Jordan

What's the talk about?

The present parliament is the least representative of the British people of any since women won the vote. Less than a quarter of the electorate voted for the party that now has a majority government, while almost a quarter of voters backed three parties that now share 1.5% of Parliamentary seats. This has not only led to less representative government but - as we will argue - worse government, in which consensus and compromise is substituted for bouts of divisive minority rule.

It doesn't have to be this way. The vast majority of developed democracies around the world use a form of Proportional Representation - meaning that everyone has a vote of equal value, that elected representatives fairly reflect the people, and that majority governments must have majority support.

Make Votes Matter is the democratically-organised, activist-led, cross-party campaign for Proportional Representation in the House of Commons by 2021. Join two of their facilitators - Joe Sousek and Klina Jordan - on 19th October to hear how our primitive electoral system is creating an ever-deeper divide between the government and the governed, what the alternatives are, and what ordinary people across the country are doing to win real democracy.

Robin Tudge

When?
Wednesday, September 21 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

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

Who?
Robin Tudge

What's the talk about?

Tours of North Korea are often dismissed as conveyor-belt propaganda shows of the best of the best - a Potemkin charade in a country best known for nukes and famine. North Korea tour leader Robin Tudge challenges this view with an illustrated talk on what you can really see.

Robin Tudge is a writer and has been visiting North Korea since 2001, including running in the April 2016 Pyongyang marathon.

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

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Where?

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

Who?
Stephen Makin

What's the talk about?

Stephen Makin grew up in the Maraharishi European Sidhaland, a community where members believe that they can flying to bring world peace. They practice Transcendental Meditation twice daily.. After a childhood involving the adults forming the Natural Law Party, Yagyas that can predict (and alter) the future, and alternative medicine, he found the only possible teenage rebellion was to run away to medical school.
He is now a clinical lecturer at the University of Glasgow combing treating elderly patients with teaching medical students.

The talk will cover the background of the Transcendental meditation movement which claims that meditation can lead to lower blood pressure, less stress, reduced heart disease, and world peace. As well as the experience of changing your belief and leaving cults in general.

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.