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Colm Mulcahy

When?
Thursday, February 26 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

12 – 14 Queensbridge Road
Nottingham.
NG2 1NB.

Who?
Colm Mulcahy

What's the talk about?

Martin Gardner (1914-2010) (www.martingardner.org) was The Best Friend Mathematics Ever Had, and for many is best known for his "Mathematical Games" column in Scientific American, which ran from the 1950s to the 1980s, introducing hundreds of thousands of readers to elegant ideas which still inspire "Aha!" moments today.

Martin's first loves, however, were magic, rationality and philosophy, and his favourite targets were pseudoscience and bogus science and medicine. He was first and foremost a debunker, and his book "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science" from 1952 set the stage modern science-based skepticism. Martin later played a major role in the founding of CSICOP and "Skeptical Inquirer" magazine.

His death five years ago ended a remarkable publishing career spanning 80 years, and over 100 books. October marked his centennial, and this is a good time to survey some of what he achieved and the legacy he leaves behind.

Twitter users may enjoy following @WWMGT (What Would Martin Gardner Tweet) and MGardner100th.

Dubliner Colm Mulcahy is Professor of Mathematics at Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He's blogged for MAA.org, Aperiodical, Huffington Post and Scientific American.

He was fortunate to know Martin Gardner for the last decade of his life, and chairs the Martin Gardner Centennial Committee. His website is cardcolm.org and he tweets at @CardColm. He recently published the 380-page full-colour book "Mathematical Card Magic" (CRC Press) of original principles and effects.

 

Martin Poulter

When?
Tuesday, February 3 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Martin Poulter

What's the talk about?

Scientology has been described in the States as “ruthless, litigious and lucrative” and in this country as “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”, yet it boasts global success and has made hundreds of millions of dollars.
Thanks to the Internet, it now faces an unprecedented global opposition. The scary secrets of Scientology and its recruitment methods will be exposed in this talk. It will be useful for anyone wanting to set up their own lucrative cult.


Martin Poulter first encountered skepticism while a teenager. He has a Philosophy and Psychology degree from Oxford University and a PhD in Philosophy of Science from the University of Bristol. He has been a Scientology-watcher since 1995, when he was threatened with legal action over material he posted online. He is an ordained minister in the Church of the SubGenius, which offers eternal spiritual salvation or triple your money back.

Alan Henness

When?
Tuesday, January 6 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Alan Henness

What's the talk about?

Over the last three 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 have 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 Standard 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.

Dr Lewis Dartnell

When?
Tuesday, December 2 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Dr Lewis Dartnell

What's the talk about?

Maybe it was an asteroid impact, a nuclear war, or a viral pandemic. Whatever the cause, the world as we know it is over and humanity must start again. What would you need to know to not only survive in the immediate aftermath, but avert another Dark Ages and accelerate the rebooting of civilisation from scratch? The Knowledge is a grand thought experiment on the behind-the-scenes fundamentals of how our world works, and what drove the progression of civilisation over the centuries.

Dr Lewis Dartnell is a research fellow at the University of Leicester, working in the field of astrobiology and the search for life beyond Earth. He has written three books: Life in the Universe: A Beginner's Guide, My Tourist Guide to the Solar System and The Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch.

The Modern Face of Physiognomy

Kathryn Ford

When?
Tuesday, November 4 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

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 effect 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.

Emily St.Denny

When?
Tuesday, October 14 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Emily St.Denny

What's the talk about?

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.

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.

Hazel Gibson

When?
Tuesday, September 2 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Hazel Gibson

What's the talk about?

A talk about what people think about fracking, from three perspectives - the scientist, the activist and the local person with fracking happening on their back door.

Hazel will be looking at what fracking is - as a method for extracting gas from shale, why some people don't like fracking and what the people who live where fracking is happening are actually worried about. 

Hazel is a PhD student at Plymouth, studying what people know about geology. She previously worked at the Natural History Museum in London as the Identification Officer for Earth Sciences and as a Science Educator. I have worked as an actual geologist too; as an Engineering Geologist in Australia. She currently tweets, blog and generally harangue passers-by about how awesome geology is. Can occasionally be seen making dinosaur footprints...

 

Michael Marshall

When?
Tuesday, August 5 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

It’s easy to think of pseudoscience existing in a glass case at a museum – something to be examined and critiqued from a safe distance, but not something to touch and to play with. Using examples taken from his own personal experiences in skepticism, Michael Marshall will show what happens when you begin to crack the surface of the pseudosciences that surround us – revealing the surprising, sometimes-shocking and often-comic adventures that lie beneath.

Michael Marshall is the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society, and regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work with the society has seen him organising international homeopathy protests and co-founding the popular QED conference. He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Scientist.

Dr Kimberley Wade

When?
Tuesday, July 1 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Dr Kimberley Wade

What's the talk about?

Suggestive techniques can lead people to remember wholly false childhood events such as being lost in a shopping mall or being hospitalised overnight. Although most false memory research has relied on some form of verbal suggestion to influence what people recall, recent research shows that photographs—both genuine and doctored—can create havoc in memory too. I will discuss the extent to which images and videos can influence memory for significant, recent experiences, and show that people might even confess to, or testify about, events that never happened if they are confronted with fabricated evidence. I will also discuss new research on people with highly superior autobiographical memories. These people demonstrate incredibly detailed and robust memories, but are they immune to memory errors?  Probably not.
 
Dr Kim Wade is an Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Warwick. She is a cognitive psychologist specialising in autobiographical memory and memory distortions, best known for her research demonstrating the power of doctored images to produce false memories.  Kim is especially interested in the mechanisms that drive the development of false memories, and in refining the theories that explain false memory phenomena. Her research is published in many high-impact journals, and appears frequently in the media, in undergraduate texts, and in books for the educated layperson.

Mark Lynas

When?
Tuesday, June 10 2014 at 7:00PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Mark Lynas

What's the talk about?

Adapted from his website:

Mark Lynas is the former climate change advisor to the President of the Maldives, visiting fellow at Cornell University's Office of International Programs at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, member of the advisory board of the science advocacy group Sense About Science, author and speaker on climate change, biotechnology and nuclear power.

John Martin

When?
Tuesday, May 6 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
John Martin

What's the talk about?

Dinosaurs have been the popular face of palaeontology for almost as long as the science has existed - over 150 years. They have 'big, fierce and extinct' appeal, but the main way dinosaurs have captured the public's imagination is that they have been, and still are, 'brought to life' in illustrations and other kinds of art. This is where science meets art meets popularisation.

Dinosaur 'reconstructions' have a special power, however - they don't only enthuse the public (and hopefully encourage children into careers in science); they also seem to influence the way palaeontologists themselves study, and publish supposedly rigorous scientific papers about, the fossils on which dinosaur science is based.

How are the reconstructions made? How 'correct' are they? Do they reveal as much about human nature as they do about life in the past? As someone who has spent half a lifetime studying, interpreting and drawing dinosaurs and other extinct animals, John brings the insights of an insider to these questions.

From 1974 John was curator of geology at Leicestershire Museums, then managing curator of New Walk Museum, Leicester. He specialised in vertebrate palaeontology, and in exhibitions, interpretation and design. In 2001 in moved into interpretation full-time, working for a firm designing and building museums and other heritage attractions all over the world. He's now 'retired', which means self-employed but relaxed - still doing interpretation and a bit of dinosaur work.

Hayley Stevens

When?
Tuesday, April 8 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Hayley Stevens

What's the talk about?

During her talk Hayley will explain everything a person could need to know about the modern day ghost hunting scene from the perspective of someone who used to believe and no longer does, but still continues to actively investigate and explain reported ghostly phenomena.

Hayley Stevens has addressed international audiences about researching the paranormal as a non-believer. She is one of Britain’s most vocal skeptical paranormal researchers and has been actively investigating ghosts and monsters since her teens when she used to believe that such things existed.

She is at the Scully end of the Mulder-Scully X-Files Spectrum” – The Times