Skeptics in the Pub is about getting people to come together and to have a relaxed and enjoyable evening while listening to talks given in a friendly manner on a wide range of topics, the idea being that we all prefer to be in a pub than a lecture theatre.

So what is it with the skepticism? It doesn't mean we disbelieve everything, just our viewpoints are based on evidence and hence the desire for talks in pubs to gain a greater understanding of the world. We also like to believe, whatever you believe, that you would feel welcome at such talks with your own views and to relax and listen to others.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or in Google calendar.

 Upcoming events

Robin Taylor

When?
Tuesday, July 26 2016 at 7:00PM

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

Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Robin Taylor

What's the talk about?

Ash Pryce has cancelled, due to ill health. His replacement will be the Robin Taylor, who was orginally scheduled for the event in March 2016.

Robin Taylor will talk about witchcraft and the active imagination. He is Vice-President of the Pagan Federation, and practices Wicca with occasional excursions into Heathenry and Druidry.

There are still those who practice witchcraft in the modern world, either as solitary individuals or in groups known as covens. Wicca, a tradition founded last century in which I practice in a group context, has aspects of witchcraft, ritual magic, and initiatory mystery religion.

Wiccan groups maintain cohesion by orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy: everyone takes part in the same ritual and engages with the mythology of that ritual, but none can prescribe an interpretation to another, and there is no actual requirement to believe anything, which fits in very well with a sceptical viewpoint in a largely post-religious world. Witches see active yet fluid ritual engagement with mythology as a way of cultivating and merging reason, imagination and action. 

Common themes in the practice of witchcraft are being careful what you wish for and looking at the consequence of intentions and actions, and deftly steering the web of the world with a light touch while being responsive to its structure. This overlaps with the habits of mind required to move to a more sustainable society.

This justification would not have worked in the past, when there was wide belief in the direct efficacy of magic both for good and ill, and in the actual existence of supernatural entities. The talk will cover what is known of witchcraft from the period of the Greek magical papyri and before, the survival of the magical tradition in the middle ages under Christianity and Islam, the persecution of witches in the time of Matthew Hopkins and the English Civil War, and the more open adoption of the title of witch in the last century.

Dr Kat Arney

When?
Tuesday, September 27 2016 at 7:00PM

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

Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Dr Kat Arney

What's the talk about?

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.

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 and explain the latest thinking about how our genes work.

Sarah Beck

When?
Tuesday, October 25 2016 at 7:00PM

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

Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Sarah Beck

What's the talk about?

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.

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 Beck 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.

Emily St.Denny

When?
Tuesday, November 29 2016 at 7:00PM

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

Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Emily St.Denny

What's the talk about?

Emily St.Denny is a PhD student at Nottingham Trent University and a research assistant on the ESRC funded Scottish Center on Constitutional Change. Her doctoral research focuses on why contemporary French prostitution policy has changed the way it has in the last fifty years. She is fascinated by how moral and ‘common sense’ claims often come to be used to inform societies on the ‘only’ way or the ‘right’ way to politically address intricate human experiences, especially in the realm of sexuality and the body.

This talk is about how the ideas that citizens and politicians have about prostitution influences government policy. Contemporary prostitution policy in France, England, Wales and Sweden are used as a lens through which to investigate the strategies, challenges and incongruities behind policy making on a social issue that people feel strongly about. More broadly, the processes through which governments collect, evaluate and interpret ‘evidence’ on complex social phenomena to inform policy making are unpicked to reveal how disconnected ‘evidence-based policy’ can sometimes be from science.