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Mike Warren

When?
Wednesday, April 9 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ

Who?
Mike Warren

What's the talk about?

Mike Warren was a teacher for 39 years and taught Biology at Ashington High School, Northumberland for 35 of those years. He was Assistant Headteacher responsible for Evaluation and Monitoring before retiring in 2009.

He takes a critical and skeptical look at the vexed question of falling standards in education and attempts to challenge the claims upon which that assertion is based.

Stevyn Colgan

When?
Wednesday, March 12 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ

Who?
Stevyn Colgan

What's the talk about?

Skepticism and critical thinking isn’t just about UFOs, bad pharma and Creationism. It’s about the everyday things too.

After leaving school Stevyn gained places at both art and catering colleges, but turned them down and instead accepted a drunken £50 bet with his homicide detective father that he could survive six months as a police officer. He consequently joined the Metropolitan Police Service in London and ended up staying for 30 years.

During his service he found himself frequently challenging the traditional or ‘accepted’ ways of doing things; critical thinking and his own natural skepticism led him to explore different way of doing things, often in innovative and unusual ways. These included using wizards to tackle street gambling, lollipops to stop anti‐social behaviour and dog shows to prevent homicides. Ultimately, he was asked by Scotland Yard and the Home Office to be part of an experimental unit to explore some of these new ideas, many of which have now found their way into everyday policing across the UK.

The Skeptical Bobby is all about grass‐roots skepticism and why we should be critical thinkers in every aspect of our lives.

‘Superb talk at QEDCon by Stevyn Colgan. Intelligent and humane.’ – Professor Richard Dawkins

‘Stevyn Colgan was fantastic! Beautiful and inspiring talk’ ‐ The British Humanist Association

The demand for fair political representation - from the French Revolution to the Treason Trials of 1794.

John Issitt

When?
Wednesday, February 19 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ

Who?
John Issitt

What's the talk about?

*PLEASE NOTE * This event has been moved to 19th February

From July 1794 London’s radicals and dissenters once again pressed for fair representation. The hero of Agents of Reason is Jeremiah Joyce who liaised between the reform societies and distributed radical political literature. He operated largely around Red Lion square, Fleet Street and St Paul’s Churchyard. He was working class, a Unitarian and a political radical. He also worked for the Earl of Stanhope and taught William Pitt’s nieces and nephews. By 1794 the system of spies and prosecutions for sedition and treason had stamped out the radical voice and Jeremiah ended up in Newgate.

Agents of Reason is based on the limited remaining archive and accounts a critical moment in the lineage of ‘the left’. John Issitt’s fictionalized account brings to life the personal compromises of a worker for freedom and justice who was used and abused both by circumstances and by his more genteel masters keen not to get their own political hands dirty. In this talk John Issitt will describe his own compromises in negotiating the orthodox register of academic history and the literary license of historical fiction.

Bio

Until September 2013 John Issitt was Provost of Langwith College in the University of York. Whilst retaining ‘survival’ teaching hours, he is now a writer and political commentator. Agents of Reason is his second book. He is currently working on Tom and Edmund which spans the 250 years from the childhood experiences of Tom Paine and Edmund Burke to their legacies in the modern world. He uses archival resources but fictionalizes and crosses literary genres to dig deep into the human issues at stake.

Vicky Forster

When?
Wednesday, January 8 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ

Who?
Vicky Forster

What's the talk about?

Debunking the conspiracies Millions of pounds is poured into cancer research and drug development every year and although cure rates for many forms of cancer have improved dramatically in the last fifty years, some remain exceptionally hard to treat. An increasing number of passionate cancer conspiracy theorists claiming that ‘the cure’ has already been found and is being suppressed and that unproven alternative therapies are better than conventional therapies, are threatening the health of cancer patients and the reputation of cancer charities, doctors and researchers.

This talk will aim to address misunderstandings about the basic biology of cancer, look for any evidence behind the most popular touted ‘alternative cancer therapies’ and hopes to stimulate discussion as to why there are a growing number of people who believe in these largely-unfounded conspiracies.

Dr. Vicky Forster is a cancer research scientist at Newcastle University, and a survivor of childhood cancer. She is also passionate blogger for a large cancer charity and tweets a lot about her own work and demanding evidence for alternative cancer treatments and therapies.

Jenny Read

When?
Wednesday, December 11 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ

Who?
Jenny Read

What's the talk about?

The eye is sometimes described as the organ of sight, but the real work of vision takes place in the brain. Around 50% of the human cerebral cortex is involved in vision. Our impression of effortlessly perceiving the world as it really is in fact reflects complex computations performed by billions of neurons. The world's most powerful computers cannot see the world as efficiently as a human toddler. Yet our brains don't always get it right - and the type of mistakes we make guide scientists in understanding how vision usually works so effectively. In this talk, I will discuss what visual illusions are, how they help us understand our brains and show several intriguing examples of how our powerful visual system can occasionally be fooled.

Sam Hogarth

When?
Wednesday, November 13 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ

Who?
Sam Hogarth

What's the talk about?

The term 'cyberwar' has been floating around for years in the news, alongside drastic stories that sound more like "movie plots". A proper definition is still unclear - is it restricted to nation states or can lone hackers play a part? Is cyberwar even real thing, or just used by politicians to scare the population and demand greater budgets? This talk will attempt to put a foot in these murky waters.

Simon Singh

When?
Wednesday, October 23 2013 at 8:00PM

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Where?

67 Westgate Rd,
City Centre,
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1SG

Who?
Simon Singh

What's the talk about?

Simon Singh, author of Fermat's Last Theorem and Big Bang, talks about his latest book, which explores mathematical themes hidden in The Simpsons. Everyone knows that The Simpsons is the most successful show in television history, but very few people realise that its team of mathematically gifted writers have used the show to explore everything from calculus to geometry, from pi to game theory, and from infinitesimals to infinity. Singh will also discuss how writers of Futurama have similarly made it their missions to smuggle deep mathematical ideas into the series.

This ticketed event will be held at the Black Swan, starting at 8pm. Tickets have now sold out.

Charles Veitch

When?
Wednesday, October 9 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ

Who?
Charles Veitch

What's the talk about?

Charles Veitch is a 33 yr old absurdist film-maker. He grew up internationally in an expat family in the oil-business. He was schooled in Edinburgh and has a MA (hons) Philosphy from the University of Edinburgh. Having worked as a financial adviser for many years in the City, he now lives with his fiancee and baby in Salford.

Following his sudden redundancy from financial services in the City as a wealth manager, he began to question the meta-narratives of money, power and control. He subsequently launched himself head first into the emotionally charged world of conspiracism, looking for explanations as to who controls money, and therefore the world. Having gained notoriety and infamy from his anarchic videos on YouTube, and many appearances on BBC News, ITV, Russia Today, CNN, and Channel 4, he was selected by the BBC to go on a 10 day Conspiracy 9/11 Roadtrip through New York, Washington DC and Philadelphia, where he met experts from the FBI, CIA, and the designers of the Twin Towers.  Luckily for Charles, hearing reasoned and evidenced logical explanations from people supposedly involved in the "inside job of 9/11", he very publicly changed his mind, amidst death-threats, hacked  websites and a massive online cyber bullying campaign headed by Alex Jones, David Icke and their conspiracy theory followers.

 

In association with Medical Sciences Section, British Science Association, MRC

Part of the British Science Festival

When?
Tuesday, September 10 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ

Who?
Part of the British Science Festival

What's the talk about?

As part of the British Science Festival happening right here in Newcastle we present to you our very own Skeptics in the Pub Pub Quiz.

Join us and as we test your general knowledge with a slice of science - you don't need to be Stephen Hawking to win.

The modern face of physiognomy

Kathryn Ford

When?
Wednesday, August 14 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ

Who?
Kathryn Ford

What's the talk about?

The notion that one can judge a person’s character on the basis of their facial appearance is an idea that dates back to the ancient Greeks and for a short period, the practice of physiognomy was considered scientific. Despite the fact that this ancient practice has long been discredited, the idea that one can “read” a person’s character simply by looking at their face still persists within folk psychology. In fact, this belief and our natural tendency to judge people on the basis of facial appearance has a surprisingly pervasive effect on all of our lives.

In this talk Kathryn Ford will look at the modern face of physiognomy trying to answer questions such as; why do we judge people as soon as we see them? How accurate are these judgements? And does facial appearance affect how people are treated within the criminal justice system?

Warning: This talk will involve some discussion of rape.

Kathryn Ford received a BSc in Neuroscience and Psychology from Keele University in 2011 and an MSc in Evolutionary Psychology from Brunel University in 2012.

Will Storr

When?
Wednesday, July 10 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Castle Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ

Who?
Will Storr

What's the talk about?

For years, journalist Will Storr has been writing about people with strange beliefs: demon hunters, UFO spotters, homeopaths and a couple who swore they've met the Yeti in some woods outside Ipswich. One afternoon, he was sitting at a Creationist lecture in the far north of Australia when he asked himself a question that he couldn't even begin to answer. Why don't facts work? The people that he had met, in his ten years of reporting, were often not stupid. Many were demonstrably intelligent. So why didn't superior information fail to replace the inferior? Why did logic fail?

The answer was to lead him on a journey which is recounted in his new book: The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science (Picador, 2013). Along with a spectacular cast of characters - including climate sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton and controversial historian David Irving - and some of the planet's most celebrated experts in brains and thinking, Storr finds his answer in what he calls 'The Hero Maker': the collection of neural illusions by which we understand the world to be a narrative struggle which we are at the centre of. We populate this narrative with heroes and with villains, and we flatter ourselves that we the most important character in it. We are not agents of reason, but storytellers.

Citizen Science for Skeptics

Alice Sheppard

When?
Wednesday, June 12 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Old George Yard, Cloth Market, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1EZ

Who?
Alice Sheppard

What's the talk about?

***Please note change of venue to The Old George***

Astronomy has been the subject of wonder and speculation for as long as historical records exist. As with all science, people got some things right – and, even with the best methods available, other things wrong.

Since 2007, Alice Sheppard has run the Galaxy Zoo Forum, the discussion area for an online astronomy project with 300,000 members worldwide. Galaxy Zoo has so far produced 21 papers, whose authors and acknowledged contributors include several ordinary citizens. Some of its findings were a direct result of questions or collections of objects created by the users, who became “Citizen scientists”.

Alice takes us through some of the best and worst of astronomical history, and what ancient and modern mistakes are made today. We will hear the questions people have come to Galaxy Zoo with, the ways in which biases were found and dealt with by the scientists and participants, the beautiful and inspiring projects created by untrained people and the scientific thinking they learnt for themselves to apply.

We also take a look at citizen science in general, how Galaxy Zoo taught large numbers of people to understand and use science, and explore what this might mean for skepticism.

Alice co-founded Cardiff and Hackney Skeptics in the Pub and Galactic Orchids, a fundraising astronomy talk series. In her past life she was thrown out of a teaching career for being too interested in science and not interested enough in exams. She’s currently in London doing an MSc in Astrophysics – all Galaxy Zoo’s fault, obviously.

In the meantime, you can classify a few galaxies for yourself at www.galaxyzoo.org.