Interesting talks in a pub since September 2011.

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When?
Wednesday, October 1 2014 at 7:00PM

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Who?

What's the talk about?

Do you want to become more involved in Coventry Skeptics in the Pub? We are now running a monthly open board meeting and social event which everyone is welcome to attend.


The first meeting is tomorrow, Wednesday October 1st, downstairs at Drapers (formerly Browns). The open board meeting, where we discuss speakers and strategies, will begin and 7pm. The social event, where we discuss anything, will begin at 8pm. Subsequent meetings will take place on the 1st Wednesday of every month at the same times.

Coventry Skeptics has been running for 3 years now. We feel the time has come to broaden our horizons, and bring in more people with new ideas and fresh perspectives. Those with experience in design, publicity and promotion are particularly welcome.

Hope to see you on Wednesday!

Ongoing adventures in the world of pseudoscience

Michael Marshall

When?
Wednesday, September 17 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

 It’s easy to think of pseudoscience existing in a glass case at a museum – something to be examined and critiqued from a safe distance, but not something to touch and to play with. Using examples taken from his own personal experiences in skepticism, Michael Marshall will show what happens when you begin to crack the surface of the pseudosciences that surround us – revealing the surprising, sometimes-shocking and often-comic adventures that lie beneath.

Michael Marshall is the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and Project Director of the Good Thinking Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work with the MSS has seen him organising international homeopathy protests and co-founding the popular QED conference. He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Statesman.

Russell Blackford

When?
Wednesday, August 20 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Russell Blackford

What's the talk about?

 Russell Blackford, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Evolution and Technology, will discuss the possibility of new technologies that could radically change the nature of human beings or bring new kinds of intelligence into the world. In his recent book Humanity Enhanced: Genetic Choice and the Challenge for Liberal Democracies (MIT Press, 2014), he offers a cautious defence of emerging technologies such as reproductive cloning, arguing that our liberal democracies can accommodate them, and that we have tended to panic in enacting sweeping bans. His newest book, Intelligence Unbound: The Future of Uploaded and Machine Minds (co-edited with Damien Broderick; Wiley-Blackwell, 2014), contains chapters by a varied range of authors considering the even more radical prospect of machine intelligence. Dr Blackford will argue that all these possibilities should be scrutinised carefully from multiple points of view - in terms of technical feasibility as well as political and moral acceptability. Still, he suggests, many of the arguments against them advanced to date seem to exhibit irrational fear or revulsion rather than rational weighing of possibilities and consequences.

Jonny Scaramanga

When?
Wednesday, July 16 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Jonny Scaramanga

What's the talk about?

Jonny Scaramanga attended a fundamentalist Christian school in the '90s where he learned that the Loch Ness Monster disproved evolution, God disapproved of the NHS, and homosexuals were an abomination. He talks about what students learn in these schools today, how they learn it, and how skeptics can respond​


Jonny is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Education, where he is researching student experiences in Britain's 50 Accelerated Christian Education schools. He has written for the Guardian, the Times Education Supplement, New Humanist, and New Statesman. His broadcast appearances include Newsnight, the Jeremy Vine Show, Radio 4, BBC2, BBC local radio, and Channel 4's 4Thought TV. His blog, Leaving Fundamentalism, won the 2014 Ockham Award for Best Blog. You can follow @JonnyScaramanga on Twitter.

Ronald Green

When?
Wednesday, June 18 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Ronald Green

What's the talk about?

Why should nothing matter? If anything matters, why should nothing matter? And yet it does, for there isn’t anything, it seems, that nothing does not touch, or anything that does not touch nothing. History, philosophy, religion, science, art, literature, music – all look towards nothing at some point, stimulating questions that would otherwise not be asked.

Who, for example, could have believed that nothing held back progress for 600 years in the Middle Ages, all because of mistaken translation, or that nothing is a way to tackle (and answer) the perennial question “what is art?”? Ronald Green uses nothing in a genuine attempt to look at the world in a different way, to give new angles to old problems and so to stimulate new thoughts.

What is this nothing, that we can’t actually see, touch or feel? Is it absolute? Is it relative to everything else? If we are able to think about it, write and read about it, is it something, and if so wouldn’t it then not be nothing?

This is precisely the mystery of nothing – that the more we think about it, the more there is to it.

Disarmingly invisible, the point of nothing – to paraphrase Bertrand Russell on philosophy – is to start with something so simple as to seem not worth examining, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.

Ronald Green is the author of “Nothing Matters – a book about nothing” (iff-Books). Philosopher, linguist, university lecturer and ESL teacher, with 13 ESL books published, Ronald has lectured and given workshops in Europe, North and South America and the Middle East on linguistics, ESL and the use of the Internet in education. His short stories have been published in Nuvein magazine, Tryst, Aesthetica, the Sink and Unholy Biscuit. He has completed a philosophical novel and co-authored a psychological thriller with strong philosophical underpinnings. For the past five years he has been thinking seriously about nothing, culminating in his recently-published book.

Lifer on the Loose

Ben Gunn - Prisoner Ben

When?
Wednesday, May 21 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Ben Gunn - Prisoner Ben

What's the talk about?

What’s prison for and what does it do, punishment, protection or preparation for life on the loose? Having spent almost all of his adult life behind bars, Ben uses his experience and intellect to bring us unique insights into the workings of the penal system.

The Times said of him, "one of Britain's best known prisoners...he constantly questions authority and exposes the futility of the system". Ben was finally released from prison after 32 years in August 2012 after pleading guilty to the murder of a friend when he was 14 years old. He renounced violence and fought for the recognition of the inherent dignity of all human beings. As a result he served far longer than the recommended 10 years, leading Education Secretary Michael Gove to argue that he had “…been punished excessively for a crime committed as a child".

One of the more intellectual of prisoner-campaigners, Ben chose to educate himself from a schoolboy level to having both undergraduate and post graduate degrees. He is currently one of very few prisoners in Britain ever to attempt a Doctorate. Ben's speciality is non-violent action and the Human Needs Theory. Now on Life Licence he is forging a career as a CJ policy consultant, writer and - as ever - campaigner.

Simon Singh

When?
Monday, April 14 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Simon Singh

What's the talk about?

<p>You may have watched hundreds of episodes of The Simpsons (and its sister show, Futurama) without ever realizing that cleverly embedded in many plots are subtle references to mathematics, ranging from well-known equations to cutting-edge theorems and conjectures. That they exist, Simon Singh reveals, underscores the brilliance of the shows&rsquo; writers, many of whom have advanced degrees in mathematics in addition to their unparalleled senses of humour.

http://www.simonsingh.net

Kenan Malik

When?
Wednesday, March 19 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Kenan Malik

What's the talk about?

Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster, a presenter of BBC Radio 4's Analysis, a panelist on The Moral Maze. His last book From Fatwa to Jihad was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize. Coming soon are two new books, Multiculturalism and its Discontents, out this autumn, and The Quest for a Moral Compass, to be published in 2014.

http://kenanmalik.wordpress.com/a-little-introduction/

Martin Taylor

When?
Wednesday, February 19 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Martin Taylor

What's the talk about?

Recently psychologists have dramatically revised their ideas about how hypnosis works, and the modern theory is that of social compliance. Broadly, this means that there is no altered state when you are hypnotised – no trance, no sleep, and nothing mysterious at all. Hypnosis simply works because the subjects believe it will. Martin Taylor a stage hypnotist for over fifteen years and lectures on hypnotism without hypnosis and the psychology of suggestion.

The science of false memories

Dr Kimberley Wade

When?
Wednesday, January 15 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Dr Kimberley Wade

What's the talk about?

Suggestive techniques can lead people to remember wholly false childhood events such as being lost in a shopping mall or being hospitalized overnight. Although most false memory research has relied on some form of verbal suggestion to influence what people recall, recent research shows that photographs—both genuine and doctored—can create havoc in memory too. I will discuss the extent to which images and videos can influence memory for significant, recent experiences, and show that people might even confess to, or testify about, events that never happened if they are confronted with fabricated evidence. I will also discuss new research on people with highly superior autobiographical memories. These people demonstrate incredibly detailed and robust memories, but are they immune to memory errors?  Probably not.

 

Dr Kim Wade is an Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Warwick. She is a cognitive psychologist specialising in autobiographical memory and memory distortions, best known for her research demonstrating the power of doctored images to produce false memories.  Kim is especially interested in the mechanisms that drive the development of false memories, and in refining the theories that explain false memory phenomena. Her research is published in many high-impact journals, and appears frequently in the media, in undergraduate texts, and in books for the educated layperson.

When?
Wednesday, December 18 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?

What's the talk about?

Yes folks, it’s the first ever Coventry Skeptics in the Pub Quiz. It’ll be a bit geeky, it’ll be fun and it’s free to enter with a range of prizes that reflect the cost of entrance. More important though is your chance to prove that you are at the top of the intellectual skeptical tree complete with gloating rights over friends and lesser beings of your acquaintance.

We’re setting the maximum team size to six people but if there’s only one or two of you don’t worry there’ll be chance to mix and find extra team mates before the quiz starts. If you want to come along but it’s your first time or you feel nervous about approaching other people let us know and we’ll help sort something out. Just email us at coventrysitp (at) gmail (dot) com.

 

How Not to Get Sucked into an Intellectual Black Hole

Stephen Law

When?
Wednesday, November 20 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

24 Albany Road, Coventry, CV5 6JU

Who?
Stephen Law

What's the talk about?

Wacky belief systems abound. Members of the Heavens Gate suicide cult believed they were taking a ride to heaven on board a UFO. Muslim suicide bombers expect to be greeted after death by 72 virgins. And many fundamentalist Christians insist the entire universe is just 6,000 years old. Of course its not only cults and religions that promote bizarre beliefs significant numbers of people believe that aliens built the pyramids. How do such preposterous views succeed in entrenching themselves in the minds of sane, intelligent, educated people and turn them into the willing slaves of claptrap?

Stephen Law is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London. He has written several well-known introductions to philosophy, including the prize-winning The Philosophy Gym, and edits the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK: Philosophy For Everyone. Stephen is Provost (or Head) of the new Centre For Inquiry in the U.K. and puts on regular events. He was also commissioned by Oxford University Press to write their Very Short Introduction to Humanism.

His latest book is Believing Bullshit: How Not To Get Sucked Into An Intellectual Black Hole.

http://stephenlaw.blogspot.co.uk/