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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.

Catherine Ball

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

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Catherine Ball

What's the talk about?

Catherine Ball is a minister in the United Reformed Church. She trained at Westminster College in Cambridge and over the past fifteen years she has served in three pastorates in the Cambridge area.  Catherine has always questioned a black and white view of the world because she sees in reality there are so many greys (she hasn’t decided whether there are 50, or perhaps more, shades!). She tries to relate her faith to life in contemporary Britain, acknowledging that we live in a late modern, late Capitalist, high tech and scientific Western society.

Mainline traditional churches in Britain have been declining in membership and in attendance over the past hundred years – and the age profile of member is 60 and over. In 40 years’ time almost all current church members will have died. Does this mean that the Christian church in Britain will no longer exist? Or might it exist in a different, less formal, less hierarchical and institutional form? She will reflect on some of the challenges to the Christian faith: the Enlightenment, scientific discovery, world wars, and the growth of secularization in our society. She will look at some ways that churches today are trying to respond to these challenges, and how the Christian faith might still provide meaning and purpose to people’s lives.

Revd Dr Catherine Ball is minister of The Free Church, St Ives, Cambs. & Fenstanton United Reformed Church.

Iszi Lawrence

When?
Tuesday, November 24 2015 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 out to delight and inform with her new show The Z List Dead List. 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

John Lambie

When?
Tuesday, October 27 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
John Lambie

What's the talk about?

 There often seems to be a conflict between open-mindedness and critical thinking. If we are too open-minded does that mean we are not critical enough? For example, should we be open-minded about the view that alien lizards control the White House? Some people think not, but John will argue that there is a way to remain open and critical at the same time – the way of “critical open-mindedness”. This involves evaluating and considering other points of view but only ever giving provisional assent to the most credible view. This style of thinking is exemplified in some early modern thinkers: Galileo in science; Erasmus in religion; and the Levellers in politics. However, surprisingly it is not well served today and even scientific practice has become more closed-minded and less critical in the last 15 years.

This talk will outline how to solve the “open-mindedness paradox”, i.e. how to be open and critical at the same time, and will look at historical and modern examples of open and closed-minded thinking, with a view on how to develop a more progressive style of thought: in other words, how to question everything without losing your footing.

Dr John Lambie is Reader in Psychology at Anglia Ruskin University.

Dr. David Robert Grimes

When?
Tuesday, September 29 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Dr. David Robert Grimes

What's the talk about?

Science and medicine have transformed our lives immeasurably, and never in history have they been more central to our lives and well-being. Yet despite this, there is often a glaring disconnect between the findings of actual science and media reporting of such topics, and consequently there is often a needless chasm between public perception and the evidence on many contentious topics. This can lead to needlessly adversarial and counter-productive discourse of everything from vaccination to climate-change. In this talk, physicist and science journalist Dr. David Robert Grimes discusses the frequent problems in reporting science from misunderstandings to bad statistics to false balance, and discusses the factors that influence this and how such problems can be remedied.

Dr. David Robert Grimes (@drg1985) is a physicist and writes regular opinion and analysis pieces on scientific issues for the Irish Times and the Guardian science, and is a regular panelist on science issues on radio and television. He is joint-recipient of the 2014 Maddox Prize for Standing up for Science.

Myles Power

When?
Tuesday, August 25 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Myles Power

What's the talk about?

In the early days of the AIDS epidemic many bizarre and dangerous ideas were advanced regarding the origin of the disease and its cause. Since the discovery of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) these conspiracy theories, which once filled the void left by the lack of information, have all but vanished. Over the past three decades HIV has been the subject of intense scientific research which has resulted in effective treatments, rapid HIV tests, and promising cures. Yet unbelievably there are a small number of people who are sceptical of the “official story”. Although these people are small in numbers they are extremely well funded and can pose a very real threat to public health. Many have chosen to spend their money on spreading their harmful theories, defend people who have irresponsibly infected their partners, and funded the documentary House of Numbers.

The documentary encourages people to come off their medication, tells them that HIV tests don’t work, and that anti-viral drugs such as AZT are the real cause of AIDS. To do this the makers of the documentary make liberal use of out-of-context quotations from scientists interviewed for the film, deceitful editing techniques, and flat out lies. I have dedicated a large amount of time to exposing some of the more insidious claims in the documentary. In response there have been multiple Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation claims filed against me in an attempt to silence my criticism. They also published my personal information as well as my employ contact details and promoted people to contact them.

In his talk Myles discusses some examples of the dangerous assertions in the documentary and explain how they have led to the death and suffering of hundreds of thousands of people. He will also talk about the failure of the DMCA and how it can be exploited by the proponents of pseudoscience.

Michael Marshall

When?
Tuesday, July 28 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

Homeopathy is one of the most widely debunked form of alternative medicine – yet homeopathic remedies adorn the shelves of respected pharmacies and are funded by taxpayers on the NHS. How big of a problem is this? Using information and personal experiences gathered during his last 6 years of campaigning against homeopathy, Michael Marshall will highlight how much money is spent on homeopathic remedies, how this gives undeserved credibility to homeopathy, how such remedies can lead to genuine harm and what you can do to help.

Michael Marshall is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work 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.

Ash Pryce

When?
Tuesday, June 30 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

Hydesville. New York. 1848. The young Fox sisters begin communicating with the spirit of a murdered beggar and spiritualism is born.
This interactive look at a history of talking to the dead will feature an array of magical treats including levitating tables, ectoplasm manifestation and spirit communication.
Part magic show, part comedy, part rational inquiry this fun show has regularly packed venues at previous Fringes 
 
Ouija Boards
Spirit Slates
Spirit Communication
Stopped Pulses
Spewing ectoplasm
And more...
 
Please note. This is a skeptically themed show and not intended as an actual demonstration of mediumship or psychic abilities
 
"Ash Pryce is a naturally funny guy and won't allow his audience to be bored" "Very entertaining" - edfringereview
"Go see" - Edinburgh Skeptics
 
 
About Ash
Ash Pryce is a performer and director based in Scotland.  He has written and staged several skeptically themed shows looking at myths & legends, ghosts, psychics and mediumship as well as producing full plays ranging from Faustus to more contemporary original shows in Edinburgh.  He is the founder of Edinburgh Skeptics, the newly started History in the Pub Edinburgh, and runs what is believed to be the worlds first skeptical ghost tour every Fringe.  He lives just outside of Edinburgh with his three Degus, one of which holds a grudge against him.

Dr Jules Griffin

When?
Tuesday, May 26 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Dr Jules Griffin

What's the talk about?

Recent media stories would have us think sugar is bad and saturated fat is off the hook. Dr Jules Griffin from the MRC's Human Nutrition Research, will tell us about the science and talk about the problems of doing nutrition research and how this can produce the Daily Mail-type headlines where things are either good or bad for us. He'll also talk about how the recent debate on sugar and health was part-hijacked by journalists who had an axe to grind about scientists who have been co-funded by industry.

Dr Griffin was appointed Head of Lipid Profiling and Signalling in March 2011. This is a joint appointment with the University of Cambridge, where he is also a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry. He is also an Honorary Professor at Imperial College London and is a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge.

Science Denialism on Climate Change, GM Foods and Nuclear Power

Mark Lynas

When?
Tuesday, April 28 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Mark Lynas

What's the talk about?

 Mark Lynas is the author of several books on the environment, including High Tide, Six Degrees, and The God Species. His most recent publication, in July 2013, was the Kindle Single ebook Nuclear 2.0: Why a green future needs nuclear power. He is a frequent speaker around the world on climate change, biotechnology and nuclear power, and was climate change advisor to the President of the Maldives between 2009 and 2011. In October 2013 he was appointed a Visiting Fellow at Cornell University’s Office of International Programs at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He is also a member of the advisory board of the science advocacy group Sense About Science, and is vice-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies, which produces an annual top 10 list of the technologies with most potential to change the way we all live.

Alan Henness

When?
Tuesday, March 31 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Alan Henness

What's the talk about?

Over the last four years, the Nightingale Collaboration has given the Advertising Standards Authority possibly their most difficult challenge: curbing the misleading claims made on complementary and alternative therapy websites. But as a result, many practitioners have realised their responsibilities and taken down long lists of 'what homeopathy can help with...', 'how craniosacral therapy can cure your baby's colic', etc, etc. Some, however, continue to defy the regulator.

The Nightingale Collaboration has been using other regulators as well, eg the medicines regulator, the MHRA, to ensure manufacturers, sellers and advertisers of homeopathic and herbal medicines comply with the rules, regulations and laws they are supposed to, and Trading Standards to make complaints about claims for cancer treatments.

 Alan Henness, one of the directors of the Nightingale Collaboration, will talk about what they've been up to and their future plans.