With Michael Gove and the coalition approving new Steiner Schools to open under the Free School Programme, it is timely to look closely at the origins and beliefs of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the occult movement of Anthroposophy.
Steiner was a mystic who believed he had direct clairvoyant access to cosmic knowledge. As such he developed an esoteric belief system based on karma, reincarnation, astrology, homeopathy and gnomes. His visions gave insights into architecture, art, dance, agriculture, medicine, education, science and diet. His racial hierarchy of spiritual developmental resonated in Germany in the early 20th Century turning a personal belief into a worldwide movement. Today we find hundreds of anthroposophically inspired organisations in the UK alone: everything from Steiner Schools, Biodynamic farms to banks, pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies, charities and cheese makers.
Andy Lewis is perhaps better known as his super alter ego, le Canard Noir and creator of the skeptical exocet that is www.quackometer.net
Andy has been trying to lift the veil on the inner secrets of the movement and will discuss how it has a direct impact on public life.
IMPORTANT NOTE: this event is on a Tuesday rather than our regular Thursday. We wouldn't want to create relationship difficulties by having a talk on Valentines Day
The LHC at CERN is one of the the biggest scientific experiments ever built, and in July 2012 after months of public interest, the discovery of a new particle looking very much like the Higgs boson - responsible for the mass of all fundamental particles - was announced.Professor Jon Butterworth will explain something about the discovery and what it means for physics, and will also discuss how CERN and the scientists coped with the huge popular interest.What are some of the possible implications for "science in public"?
Jon Butterworth is a physics professor at University College London. He is a member of the High Energy Physics group on the Atlas experiment at Cern's Large Hadron Collider
Observer columnist Nick Cohen talks about his tour de force polemic, You Can't Read This Book (fortunately you can but more importantly you should). Here's a snapshot:
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of Communism, and the advent of the Web which allowed for even the smallest voice to be heard, everywhere you turned you were told that we were living in an age of unparalleled freedom.You Can't Read This Book argues that this view is dangerously naive. From the revolution in Iran that wasn't, to the Great Firewall of China and the imposition of super-injunctions from the filthy rich protecting their privacy, the traditional opponents of freedom of speech - religious fanaticism, plutocratic power and dictatorial states - are thriving, and in many respects finding the world a more comfortable place in the early 21st century than they did in the late 20th.
This is not an account of interesting but trivial disputes about freedom of speech: the rights and wrongs of shouting 'fire' in a crowded theatre, of playing heavy metal at 3 am in a built-up area or articulating extremist ideas in a school or university. Rather, this is a story that starts with the cataclysmic reaction of the Left and Right to the publication and denunciation of the Satanic Verses in 1988 that saw them jump into bed with radical extremists. It ends at the juncture where even in the transgressive, liberated West, where so much blood had been spilt for Freedom, where rebellion is the conformist style and playing the dissenter the smart career move in the arts and media, you can write a book and end up destroyed or dead.
How can children brought up in religious families reconcile the different 'truths' they are told about the world? And to what extent should we discuss these issues in schools: what exactly should science teachers say when asked about the 'truth' of science by religious students? In this talk, Alom Shaha will describe his personal experiences growing up in a Bangladeshi Muslim community in London, what role his science education played in his journey towards atheism and how, as a Physics teacher, he responds to the apparent conflict between science and religion in the classroom.
Alom Shaha is a science teacher, writer and film-maker and author of "The Young Atheist's Handbook". Details of his work and blog at www.alomshaha.com
After philosophy was dismissed by physicist Brian Cox, Dr. Clio Bellenis decided that she had to speak out in favour of this oft-misunderstood subject. Addressing philosophical concepts such as personal identity and free will, Dr. Bellenis will talk some modern philosophical thought and the transferable arguments between the two disciplines. She hopes to establish that philosophy can be of huge worth to scientists, skeptics and in developing critical thinking.
Dr. Bellenis is a child and adolescent psychiatrist with an MA in Philosophy. She is also an atheist,a skeptic and a feminist.
Skeptics and philosophers throughout history have never been afraid to ask the big questions. But what about the biggest questions of all - about infinity, higher dimensions and logic itself? These are questions mathematicians have been working on - but not without venturing into philosophy and even skepticism. In this talk, Katie will discuss some icons of mathematics who are also (or should be) icons of skepticism and the history of philosophy.
Katie Steckles is a mathematician who works in public engagement, giving talks about maths and performing at science festivals. She's also well totally an atheist and that.
Since early man with his rattles and whistles first read the entrails of a rabid mule, people have thought it possible to see into the future. You can predict certain things based on trends, but an all seeing third eye with aspirations of being the new Nostradamus is not a reality. However, it is almost impossible to walk through a busy town centre without seeing adverts for tarot readers and psychics who can tell you what’s in your future- using my own prediction ability I see a loss of about £10 in the future of anyone deciding to engage with a bit of pub tarot.
So join us as we attempt to unravel the mysteries of predicting the future, from phrenology to crystal gazing- feeling your bumps and playing with balls if you will- this show will use humour and audience participation to investigate prophecy. Is there anything to it or is it all just bunk? (hint: it’s probably the latter. Not that I’m psychic or anything).
Confessions of a Former Health Food Shop Worker: Three and a half years behind the counter in a health food shop can be a learning experience in more ways than one. From vitamins and minerals to the latest celebrity-endorsed wonder supplement, no main street or shopping centre is complete without a purveyor of alternative therapies. Likewise, there are very few people who don’t associate vitamin C or echinacea with the treatment of colds or flu. If these ideas are so pervasive, one question is why? What is it about the sellers of these therapies that make them seem so valid or trustworthy?
Well, take it from a former believer: the answer is definitely not black and white.
This talk is open to the public, and is free to attend, with a suggested voluntary donation of the price of a drink!
Come along and join us for the next Skeptics in the Pub in April.
Stand-up comedian Iszi Lawrence will be discussing "The Experiences of an Awkward Atheist - How superstition, belief and reason are intermingled in comedy and everyday life"
Iszi Lawrence is the resident compere of the Lil Fat Comedy Club Whitney, has had sell out shows at the Camden, Brighton, Oxfringe and Edinburgh Fringe. Her debut four star show "Matter of Tact" was Time Out Recommended and London Lite Comedy Pick. She also appeared on BBC Radio 1, BBC7 as well as on local radio. Iszi is co-host of the Sundays Supplement podcast, and comperes Oxford Skeptics in the Pub.
Doors 7:30pm for a 8pm start.
Voluntary contribution- suggested donation of the price of a drink!
http://photos1.meetupstatic.com/photos/event/1/d/6/b/event_48067531.jpegA brief introduction into skeptical and secular history
Liz is one of the Pod Delusion's ( http://poddelusion.co.uk/ ) foreign correspondents in that she originally comes from Ontario, Canada. She is also Deputy Editor of the Pod Delusion.
Liz's love of European history and castles brought her over to the UK in 2006 and the beer, skepticism and doing an MA has made her stay. If you've ever heard Liz talking about History, you'll be familiar with her enthusiasm and extensive knowledge, which she'll be treating us to with a lesson in skeptical history.
Her talk will be a brief introduction into skeptical and secular history, the problems with history portrayed in the popular culture and how to spot it. So giving a tool kit to people who might not be historians but can be skeptical about historical claims.
Liz has a BA (hons) in History from the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario and a MA in history from Birkbeck College, University of London in London.
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