"Addiction is one of today's favourite manias. Like allergies, everyone's got to have one, and many present the evidence for their 'addictive personality' by announcing their greater-than-average capacity for biscuits. But what is addiction? Compulsion, behaviour, illness, all three, or none of the above? Do AA and other 12 step recovery programmes really work? And will a skeptic *ever* admit to needing a higher power? Come and discuss it with me."
Tania Glyde is the author of Cleaning Up, a memoir about how she took on British drinking culture and survived.
Doors 19:30 talk starts at 20:00
David Aaronovitch takes an absorbing, probing look at the conspiracy theories that operate on the sidelines of history and the reasons they continue to play such a seditious role. In this talk aimed at providing ammunition for those who have found themselves at the wrong end of a conversation about moon landings or the twin towers-Aaronovitch explores a handful the major conspiracy theories. In doing so, he examines why people b...elieve them, and makes an argument for a true skepticism: one based on a thorough knowledge of history and a strong dose of common sense.
David Aaronovitch is a writer, broadcaster and commentator on culture, international affairs, politics and the media. A former television researcher, producer and programme editor, he has previously written for The Independent, The Guardian and The Observer, winning numerous accolades, including Columnist of the Year 2003 and the 2001 Orwell prize for journalism. He has appeared on Have I Got News For You, presented a number of radio and television series and programmes on current affairs and historical topics. His first book, and account of a journey by kayak on the rivers and canals of England, Paddling to Jerusalem, was published in 2000 and won the Madoc Prize for travel writing. In 2009 he published Voodoo Histories, a book on conspiracy theories, which will be the subject of his talk.
David Aaronovitch's official website is www.davidaaronovitch.com.
Doors open at 19:30.
Talk will start at 20:00 at the latest.
This event will be pay-on-the-door, and will cost £2.
Get there early to ensure you get in!
When the Universe came to the people:
Citizen Science for Skeptics
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.
How to be a Psychic Conman
Ash Pryce, founder and President of the Edinburgh Skeptics Society, presents a fully interactive demonstration of various tricks that psychics have used over the years.
From the Fox Sisters through to Uri Geller, psychics have been claiming to be able to do things beyond our understanding, but Ash Pryce knows better. Nearly all of the major claims of psychics and mediums can easily be re-created and tonight Ash will be reproducing such famous feats as Uri Geller's Telekinesis, Philipino Psychic Surgery, the Remote Viewing experiments of America's "Stargate" program (The 70s CIA shenanigans and not the inter dimensional, Go-aould busting kind)and much more- including an attempt to beat the odds of the Randi Million.
A fun and entertaining evening that also takes a look at the history of psychic trickery and how it has become such a popular phenomenon. Warning to those on the front row - there will be blood...
Big Screen Science: Scientists' Backstage Role in the Production of Hollywood Films
Many sceptics look suspiciously at science in the movies and may ask themselves: Why don't these filmmakers ever talk to real scientists? You may be surprised to learn that filmmakers do, in fact, speak with scientists on a regular basis. Hollywood filmmakers routinely ask science consultants to examine scripts, participate in pre-production meetings, and serve as advisors on the set. There are even a number of recent initiatives by high profile scientific organizations, including the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, designed to facilitate scientists' involvement in entertainment productions. In this talk Dr. Kirby will elaborate on the role science consultants play in negotiating information transfer between the scientific community and the entertainment community as well as showing how filmmakers must negotiate scientific accuracy within the constraints of film production.
Dr. David A. Kirby
Senior Lecturer in Science Communication Studies
Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine
University of Manchester
God vs The Law: Religious Rights and Wrongs
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
Religious groups are becoming increasingly vocal and have sought to use this right to resist legal and social change they believe conflicts with their scriptural teachings. Litigation is inevitable. There are a huge number of areas where the courts have had to decide on religious claims, not of the big questions such as does God exist, but more down to earth matters such as the wearing of religious symbols at work or at school, corporal punishment, open air funeral pyres, the destruction of sacred cows (literally), civil partnerships and even drug use.
In his talk, Geoff will talk about a number of notable cases where religious practices have come into conflict with the law.
Geoff Whelan is a barrister practicing at Kenworthys Chambers, Manchester. He specialises in criminal law and has prosecuted and defended a number of high profile cases. He's used to dealing with rapists and murderers but has some trepidation about a room full of skeptics.
Clutching at Random Straws
Did aliens help prehistoric Britons found the ancient Woolworth's civilization? Matt the 'Stand-up Mathematician' will look at how seemingly incredible results can actually be meaningless random patterns.
Find out more about Matt at http://www.standupmat...
Karen Douglas received her PhD in social psychology from the Australian National University and has worked in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. She is currently a senior lecturer at the University of Kent. Karen's research examines the psychological factors underlying people's beliefs in conspiracy theories. She is also interested in language and communication, persuasion and attitude change, and justice beliefs. Karen's research has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the British Academy. She has published her work widely in social psychological journals and books.
10 Thomas St, Manchester M4 1DH, UK
Martin Robbins is a science writer and freelance journalist covering science, skepticism and politics at The Guardian, The Lay Scientist and beyond!
In this talk Martin will give us a more global view of homeopathy, crackpots abroad and Bad Science in the developing world. He will cover Homeopaths in Haiti and Africa, AIDS denialism, how alt med props up the Cuban healthcare system, anti-vaccination movements in Africa and Asia, dodgy bomb-detectors, and a plethora of other stories about quacks amok in the third world.
Jan Swammerdam, mystical materialist.
Jan Swammerdam (1637-1680) was a renowned microscopist, anatomist and experimenter who lived in the Dutch Republic, and is now largely forgotten. But he helped contribute to one of the most important breakthroughs in the history of science - understanding where life comes from. Not only did he show that "all animals come from an egg laid by a female of the same species", he was also part of a small group that made the amazing discovery that women have eggs. But Swammerdam was not a modern day life scientist transposed back to the time of Rembrandt and Vermeer. He was a product of his time, profoundly mystical and deeply religious - he even gave up science for a couple of years, in order to join a bizarre sect that believed that Adam and Eve were hermaphrodites. By looking at his life, work and opinions, we can see that the road to the full development of scientific, rational thinking was not straightforward, and involved people who simultaneously believed in completely contradictory things.
Matthew Cobb is an acclaimed science-communicator, scientist and writer who spent most of his adult life living in Paris, where he worked as a scientist and spent a great deal of time active in far-left politics. His day-job is studying the sense of smell in fruitfly maggots, and being in charge of Manchester University's Zoology degree. He also studies the history of science, and recently published a book ("Generation" in the US, "The Egg & Sperm Race" in the UK and Commonwealth). He also writes regularly on science and historical issues for the LA Times and the Times Literary Supplement.