Skeptics in the Pub is about getting people to come together, whatever their background, to have a relaxed and enjoyable evening, hopefully leaving with a little extra knowledge! We'll hear talks given by experts in their fields and explore a wide range of topics finishing with all the weird, wonderful and somewhat revealing questions that pop into our heads.

Come on, we'd all rather be in a pub than a lecture theatre, right?


Join Us

When?

Usually, the last Tuesday of every month.

Where?

The Blue Moon, Norfolk Street, Cambridge, CB1 2LF.

What Time?

Talks start around 7:00pm, finishes around 9:00-9:15pm.

Do I Have To Be A Member?

Nope. Any member of the public is free to come along. Just turn up.

How Much?

The vast majority of events are free, but we do ask for donations towards speaker expenses if you can spare any. 

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Facebook Discussion Group [click here]

Twitter [click here]


Skeptic or Cynic?

So what is it with the skepticism? No, we're not negative or cynical people, quite the opposite! We're just asking questions to build a better understanding of the world. What better way to do that then ask the experts themselves? 

If you want to more, you can read our more in-depth explaination here.

Whatever you believe, whether you consider yourself a skeptic, or think that skeptics are close-minded invididuals, you are more than welcome to come and join the discussion and fuel the debate! 

Upcoming Events 

Value Alignment and AI Override

Stuart Armstrong

When?
Tuesday, May 30 2017 at 7:00PM

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Where?

2 Norfolk Street
Cambridge
CB1 2LF

Who?
Stuart Armstrong

What's the talk about?

People are talking about the risks of AI, and the importance of AI alignment. But what does this mean in practice? And what can be done about it?This talk attempts to inject some formal rigour into both those questions. If there's time, we'll also look at why answers in the area are so fraught and varied, and why expertise is of limited use.

Stuart Armstrong's research at the Future of Humanity Institute centres on formal decision theory, general existential risk, the risks and possibilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI), assessing expertise and predictions, and anthropic (self-locating) probability.

He has been working on several methods of analysing the likelihood of certain outcomes and in making decisions under the resulting uncertainty, as well as specific measures for reducing AI risk. His collaboration with DeepMind on Interruptibility has been mentioned in over 100 media articles.

His Oxford D.Phil was in parabolic geometry, calculating the holonomy of projective and conformal Cartan geometries. He later transitioned into computational biochemistry, designing several new ways to rapidly compare putative bioactive molecules for virtual screening of medicinal compounds.

Using Maths And A Little Psychology

Rumit Somaiya

When?
Tuesday, June 27 2017 at 7:00PM

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Where?

2 Norfolk Street
Cambridge
CB1 2LF

Who?
Rumit Somaiya

What's the talk about?

Rumit Somaiya has spent the past 25 years touring casinos throughout the world with his team. Their aim is simply to overcome the 'House Advantage' using all cerebral methods available, in order to amass fortunes. Historically 'Blackjack', 'Pontoon' and '21' have been the games of choice. The most well known method is 'card counting' which is surprisingly easy to learn but many other legal methods of 'casino advantage play' will be discussed.

Simon Singh

When?
Thursday, July 20 2017 at 7:00PM

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(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

2 Norfolk Street
Cambridge
CB1 2LF

Who?
Simon Singh

What's the talk about?

Bestselling author Simon Singh discusses his career as a science writer. He will cover “Fermat’s Last Theorem” (the first book about mathematics to become a No.1 bestseller in the UK), The Code Book (a history of cryptography) and The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets (an examination of the mind-blowing mathematics hidden in the world’s most successful TV show).

Simon's books include:

Fermat's Last Theorem (1997) – the theorem's initial conjecture and eventual proof

The Code Book (1999) – a history of cryptography – ISBN 978-1-85702-879-9

Big Bang (2004) – discusses models for the origin of the universe – ISBN 0-00-719382-3

Trick or Treatment?: Alternative Medicine on Trial (2008) (with Edzard Ernst) – examines various types of alternative medicine, finds lack of evidence – ISBN 0-593-06129-2

The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets (2013) – highlights mathematical references in The Simpsons – ISBN 1-620-40277-7

In 1983, he was part of the UA2 experiment in CERN. In 1990 Singh joined the BBC's Science and Features Department, where he was a producer and director working on programmes such as Tomorrow's World and Horizon. Singh was introduced to Richard Wiseman through their collaboration on Tomorrow's World. At Wiseman's suggestion, Singh directed a segment about politicians lying in different mediums, and getting the public's opinion on if the person was lying or not.

Singh directed his BAFTA award-winning documentary about the world's most notorious mathematical problem entitled "Fermat's Last Theorem" in 1996. The film was memorable for its opening shot of a middle-aged mathematician, Andrew Wiles, holding back tears as he recalled the moment when he finally realised how to resolve the fundamental error in his proof of Fermat's Last Theorem. The documentary was originally transmitted in October 1997 as an edition of the BBC Horizon series. It was also aired in America as part of the NOVA series. The Proof, as it was re-titled, was nominated for an Emmy Award.

On 19 April 2008, The Guardian published Singh's column "Beware the Spinal Trap", an article that was critical of the practice of chiropractic and which resulted in Singh being sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA). The article developed the theme of the book that Singh and Edzard Ernst had published, Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial, and made various statements about the lack of usefulness of chiropractic "for such problems as ear infections and infant colic". A "furious backlash" to the lawsuit resulted in the filing of formal complaints of false advertising against more than 500 individual chiropractors within one 24-hour period, with one national chiropractic organisation ordering its members to take down their websites. Simon won the case and this resulted in a change of libel law in this country.

How Neurononsense Joined Psychobabble To Keep Women In Their Place

Gina Rippon

When?
Tuesday, July 25 2017 at 7:00PM

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(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

2 Norfolk Street
Cambridge
CB1 2LF

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.

A Few More Ways In Which Your Brain Will Trick You If You Let It

Andrew Dart

When?
Tuesday, August 22 2017 at 7:00PM

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(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

2 Norfolk Street
Cambridge
CB1 2LF

Who?
Andrew Dart

What's the talk about?

Back by popular demand for the next installment, following our busiest talk of 2016!

Your brain still hates you. This is the only conclusion I can come to given how many tricks it will play on you if you let it. This talk will cover more of the many, many ways in which our brains try to deceive us on an almost constant basis. Drawing on the extensive psychological literature on these topics and presenting a number of worrying, and often humorous, real world examples of what happens when people fall for these tricks, this talk will look at how our brains will not only show us things that aren't there but also remember things that never happened.

Andrew Dart has a master’s degree in Research Psychology and spent four years studying how pre-existing religious and paranormal beliefs literally affect the way we see the world around us. He is the author of a beginner's guide to skepticism and a science book for children and is currently working on a novel. He works as a support technician for a software company where he spends as much of his day combating bad logic as he does technical issues. When not doing this he can often be found wandering the byways of Cambridgeshire, reading books, watching philosophy videos on YouTube, and writing pointless computer programs.

Kevin Precious

When?
Tuesday, September 26 2017 at 7:00PM

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(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

2 Norfolk Street
Cambridge
CB1 2LF

Who?
Kevin Precious

What's the talk about?

In between the various comedic activites, Kevin Precious attends his local humanist group - he's an agnostic, folks - where he loves a good old debate about the big questions in life. 

Expect jokes and stories then, about his time as an RE teacher, being a humanist, the God-Shaped Hole, and the philosophy of religion... and you can ask him a few questions of your own afterwards, if you wish.

Kevin Precious is a former RE teacher turned stand-up comedian and promoter. Besides having played many of the top clubs in the land, he also promotes shows in arts centres and theatres under the Barnstormers Comedy banner. He has previously toured the country with a stand-up show entitled 'Not Appropriate', dedicated to the business of teaching.

Hayley Stevens

When?
Tuesday, October 31 2017 at 7:00PM

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Where?

Who?
Hayley Stevens

What's the talk about?

A Skeptic’s Guide to Ghost Hunting offers an entertaining, funny and at times scary introduction to the world of modern paranormal research. Audiences have laughed, gasped and even cried... 

Lifting the lid on sham ghost-hunting claims, showcasing the latest not-so-amazing paranormal evidence, and exposing the tricks of the trade, Hayley Stevens will show how not all is what it seems when it comes to things that go bump in the night. 

Described as ' ... the Scully end of the Mulder-Scully X-Files spectrum' by The Times, Hayley Stevens has been investigating ghosts and monsters cases for over a decade, ever since she was a teenager. She has entertained audiences all across Europe with her talks on the paranormal and her writing can be found in Skeptical Inquirer, The Skeptic, Paranormal Magazine and on her award-winning blog, 'Hayley is a Ghost'.

'Knows what [she] is talking about,' Dr Steven Novella.

Paul Duncan McGarrity

When?
Tuesday, November 28 2017 at 7:00PM

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Where?

2 Norfolk Street
Cambridge
CB1 2LF

Who?
Paul Duncan McGarrity

What's the talk about?

An archaeologist and comedian (same person, Paul Duncan McGarrity) sits in a room and answers your questions on any subject as honestly as possible. Could be rude, probably crude. Be prepared to talk candidly with the protection of context.

'Like a very tall, funny, excited child' (Scotsman)