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And other legends of the Bomber War...

Frederick Taylor

When?
Wednesday, November 15 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

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

Who?
Frederick Taylor

What's the talk about?

 On that fatal night in November 1940, the people of Coventry were subjected by the German Luftwaffe to the most deadly and sustained bombing attack yet suffered by any British civilians. Such was the trauma inflicted on the lightly defended city - both industrial power-house and historic treasure-house - that  over the years rumours began to spread that the government had received prior information about the attack through its code-breaking team but had "sacrificed" Coventry in order to protect its sources.

 

Frederick Taylor's recent reappraisal, COVENTRY, THURSDAY 14 NOVEMBER 1940, was described by distinguished historian and Hitler biographer Sir Ian Kershaw as "easily the most authoritative study... a gripping account". His bestselling book about the destruction of the German city of Dresden also weighed up the legends as well as the facts when considering another notorious bombing raid. 

 

In his talk, Frederick will compare what were probably the two most notorious bombing raids of World War Two and bring his close knowledge of both these attacks, as well as of the wider war, to give his audience food for new thought. Aerial bombing was brutal. It aroused feelings of anger and helplessness in those it affected. Confusion, bewilderment and, especially because of wartime news censorship, a lack of reliable information caused many legends to arise in both British and German cities. These were a strange and fascinating, even unique, feature of the bomber war. 

Have you ever been convinced of something beyond all doubt?

(Film screening)

When?
Wednesday, October 18 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Unit 7, Fargo Village
Coventry
CV1 5ED

Who?
(Film screening)

What's the talk about?

Coventry Skeptics in the Pub presents its first film screening, at Backhaus Bake & Brew in Fargo.

Many people have a strong sense that their views are right and couldn't possibly be wring. So how do we come to hold strong convictions and why is it hard to consider we could be mistaken?

Through the eyes of a group of people convinced that they knew the date for the end of the world, Right Between Your Ears explores how people believe, how we turn beliefs into certainties, and mistake them for the truth.

A stock trader with a young family, a philosophy student about to graduate, and a retail manager who became so convinced she quit her job of 18 years. Crossing the boundaries between belief, pychology and neuroscience, the film reveals how we can become convinced we're right, even when we're wrong.

A fresh perspective on a woman's right to choose

Ann Furedi

When?
Wednesday, September 20 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

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

Who?
Ann Furedi

What's the talk about?

Ann Furedi sets out the ethical arguments for a woman's right to choose. Drawing on the traditions of sociological thinking and moral philosophy, she maintains that there is a strong moral case for recognising autonomy in personal decision-making about reproductive intentions, and that to prevent a woman from making her own choice is to undermine the essence of her humanity. She asserts that true respect for human life and individual conscience demand that we respect a woman's right to decide.

Ann is Chief Executive of British Pregnancy Advisory Service, a not-for-profit provider of abortion services in the UK. She is a leading pro-choice advocate and has written extensively on issues relating to pregnancy and birth control.

Russ Mayne

When?
Wednesday, July 19 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

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

Who?
Russ Mayne

What's the talk about?

Do women talk more than men? Does swearing show a lack of intelligence? Do Eskimos really have hundred words for snow? These questions and more will be the subject of this talk. Language is one of the most complex and fascinating things in the world and yet many people's knowledge of language is based on myths, lies and half-truths. This talk will examine some of these myths and misconceptions, but it will also look at why linguistics and language is such a blind spot for many skeptics. How did this situation arise and is there anything that can be done about it? 


Russ Mayne teaches English at the University of Leicester. He has also worked in universities in Taiwan and Japan. He writes about pseudoscience in language teaching and language myths on the 'Evidence Based EFL' blog

Can meditation change you?

Dr Miguel Farias

When?
Wednesday, June 21 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

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

Who?
Dr Miguel Farias

What's the talk about?

Two years after the publication of his ground-breaking book on the good and dark side of meditation, Dr Farias talks about the lessons learned since then. He will also talk about the new book he is working on, the Oxford Handbook of Meditation, with contributions by world experts from a wide range of disciplines, including history, anthropology, sociology to psychophysiology and psychotherapy.

For more information visit https://miguelfarias.co.uk

Tom Louden

When?
Wednesday, April 19 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

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

Who?
Tom Louden

What's the talk about?

For thousands of years humans have imagined the presence of worlds other than our own, but only in 1995 was the first planet around another star detected, proving that our solar system is not unique. Since then, the number of these "Exoplanets" detected numbers in the thousands, and they display an astonishing range of characteristics that are often stranger than science fiction. I will discuss the current state of the art observations of the atmospheres of these distant worlds, and how exoplanet science is moving towards answering the ultimate question - could any of these worlds be a home to alien life?

Tom Louden is a postdoc working at Warwick University's Astronomy and Astrophysics Group.

Andy Masson

When?
Wednesday, March 15 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

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

Who?
Andy Masson

What's the talk about?

Since 2001, the UK Government has used VED (Car Tax) as a means to encourage take-up of more fuel efficient vehicles - with great success. How will recent changes due to be implemented on the 1st April (VED Reform) affect the continued success of that policy?

Having initially studied Engineering and Computer Science, Andy has spent the last 15 years in the automotive industry, the majority in Product Management, where he specialised in vehicle tax and company car taxation. He currently lives in Coventry and works for a local car manuacturer.

Dr Anil Awesti

When?
Wednesday, February 15 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

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.

Promises and pitfalls

Thomas Nichols

When?
Wednesday, January 18 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

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

Who?
Thomas Nichols

What's the talk about?

Can we peer into the human brain, and see what a person is thinking?

Modern techniques using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) can in fact show incredible detail of the brain's anatomy and, with some less detail, how hard each part of the brain is working at any instant. I will sketch how these techniques work and how functional MRI (fMRI) can be used to track brain activity. I will discuss some of the many limitations of fMRI, and how results from fMRI studies are often misinterpreted. While there are many reasons to be sceptical of fMRI findings, including challenges around control of false alalms when seaching the brain for changes, I will also talk about a few successes that have been obtained in "brain reading" that show, in some very limited cases, yes, you can tell what's going on in there.

Henry Drysdale

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

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Where?

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?

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?

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.