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Brian Eggo

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

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Where?

2 Norfolk Street
Cambridge
CB1 2LF

Who?
Brian Eggo

What's the talk about?

Every December a string of ‘psychics’ across the world use their clairvoyant powers to make predictions for the coming year, with varying degrees of success. In this talk Brian Eggo from Glasgow Skeptics will take a look at things a little closer to home. What type of predictions have Scottish psychics made in the past? What did they think was in store for us in recent years? Will they be willing to go on the record? He will also make a bold attempt to recreate the recreation of ‘The Hurkos Experiment’ – prepare to be underwhelmed!


Brian is the main organiser and primary mouthpiece of Glasgow Skeptics. As such, he has an unhealthy interest in the equally amusing and frustrating realms of woo & pseudoscience. This has caused him to spend way too much of his own money on the type of things he encourages other people not to spend their money on. He occasionally dabbles in skeptical activism when prompted, and has been known to make some awful puns on podcasts. His day job is in Training & Development, which explains a lot. Find out more on the Glasgow Skeptics website or by following him on twitter @brianeggo A video of Brian can be viewed here on the Facebook page.

Viren Swami

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

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Viren Swami

What's the talk about?

Can science explain how we form relationships? This talk looks at how factors such as geography, appearance, personality, and similarity affect who we fall for and why.

When it comes to relationships, there’s no shortage of advice from self-help ‘experts’, pick-up artists, and glossy magazines. But modern-day myths of attraction often have no basis in fact or – worse – are rooted in little more than misogyny. In this talk, Prof Viren Swami, one of the world’s leading experts in the psychology of romantic attraction, debunks these myths and draws on cutting-edge research to provide a ground-breaking and evidence-based account of relationship formation. He'll present a very simple idea: that there are no ‘laws of attraction’, no foolproof methods or strategies for getting someone to date you. But this isn’t to say that there’s nothing to be gained from studying attraction. Based on science rather than self-help clichés, Prof Swami looks at how factors such as geography, appearance, personality, and similarity affect who we fall for and why.

Viren Swami is Professor of Social Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University, where his research is focused on body image and human appearance and, separately, the psychology of conspiracy theories. He is the author of over two hundred academic papers and three books, including Attraction Explained and The Psychology of Physical Attraction.

Emily St.Denny

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

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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. 

Sarah Beck

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

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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.

Dr Kat Arney

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

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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.

Iszi Lawrence

When?
Tuesday, August 30 2016 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Iszi Lawrence

What's the talk about?

Skeptic, comedian and voice of the Skeptics Guide To The Universe, Iszi Lawrence is back with another edition of The Z List Dead List but a fresh new cast of Z List people from History with a skeptical and scientific pedigree. The Z List Dead List is a live comedy show about obscure people from History.

As a skeptic, Iszi has found a few people from the past that will peak your interest. Expect woo, violence, sex and death. And a competition. The show is also a podcast with guest interviews from Jon Ronson, Griff Rhys Jones, Natalie Haynes, Neil Denny, Richard Herring etc. You can find it on iTunes here: itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-z-list-dead-list/id915778702?mt=2 or go to the website www.zlistdeadlist.com

Robin Taylor

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

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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.

Please contact us if you would like to do a short presentation.

Various (it could be you!!)

When?
Tuesday, June 28 2016 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Various (it could be you!!)

What's the talk about?

June's event will be an open mic night. We would love for you to share details of your area of interest with us for up to 20 minutes. Presentation style is up to the speaker, including interactive styles. All topics for your presentation are welcome.

Please contact us via the 'Contact Us' page, and we will get back to you shortly.

Robin Tudge

When?
Tuesday, May 31 2016 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Robin Tudge

What's the talk about?

Robin Tudge is a writer based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who has lived and worked in Chicago, Moscow, Hanoi, Beijing and Pyongyang. He has visited North Korea several times since 2001 and led tours there in 2013 and 2015 for the leading tour company, Koryo Tours. 

Robin will present an illustrated talk on travelling to that impoverished, surprising country, to show what can really be seen beyond the Potemkin illusion.

Andrew Dart

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

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Andrew Dart

What's the talk about?

Your brain 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 just a few 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.

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

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Various

What's the talk about?

Tamasin Cave

When?
Tuesday, February 23 2016 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Tamasin Cave

What's the talk about?

Tamasin Cave will talk about the UK's £2bn lobbying industry and the tactics they use to bend government to their will: how lobbyists' build relationships with government; their manipulation of the media; the way that they use academics, scientists, think tanks, front groups and others to spread their messages; and their attacks on opposition groups. She will talk about how the private healthcare industry has lobbied to open up the NHS to more private operators - and how schools are going the same way; how energy companies have hired a small army of lobbyists to persuade government and local communities to support fracking; how the 'revolving door' works to support the arms industry; and more. 

Tamasin is a writer, campaigner and commentator. Her new book, A Quiet Word: Lobbying, Crony Capitalism and Broken Politics in Britain, co-authored by Andy Rowell, shines a light into one of the darkest and least-understood corners of our political culture: the UK's £2 billion commercial lobbying industry. She is a director of Spinwatch, which investigates corporate PR and lobbying, as well as government spin. Since 2007, she has also led the campaign for transparency regulations for lobbyists.