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Dr Chris French

When?
Tuesday, April 3 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

54 Canal Street,
Nottingham.
NG1 7EH.

Who?
Dr Chris French

What's the talk about?

One of the greatest strengths of the human species from an evolutionary
perspective is our ability to perceive meaningful patterns and cause and
effect relationships in our surroundings. Our cognitive systems have
evolved to allow us to make relatively quick decisions that are right most
of the time as opposed to slower, more reflective, decisions that are
right slightly more often. In terms of the evolutionary cost-benefit
analysis, our cognitive systems are optimised for biological survival not
for apprehending “Truth”.  One consequence of our evolutionary history is
that we are prone to a number of cognitive biases that may well underlie
our predisposition towards supernatural and paranormal beliefs. Because we
are poor at recognising randomness and often see meaning and significance
where there is none, it is not surprising that such beliefs are so
prevalent and persistent.

or is there room for kindness in the struggle for existence?

Mary Langridge

When?
Monday, March 12 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

54 Canal Street,
Nottingham.
NG1 7EH.

Who?
Mary Langridge

What's the talk about?

Explaining social behaviours such as cooperation and altruism is one of the greatest challenges facing the biological and social sciences. Darwin's theory of natural selection provides an excellent framework within which to examine theories across the disciplines. This talk will lead you through the basic theories in this area and how people make decisions, explaining how benefits to our relatives, our reputation and our self-concept lead us to perform bizarrely altruistic acts; from giving money to charity, to donating blood or laying down our life for others - acts which appear to be detrimental to our own reproductive success. Homo Economicus is dead.

Mary Langridge is an Associate Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam university, co-found of Psychology in the Pub Sheffield and a PhD student at the University of Nottingham. Her research aims to unify theories across economics, biology and psychology in order to understand cooperation, costly punishment and how our moral and religious values influence our moral decisions.

When?
Wednesday, February 15 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

54 Canal Street,
Nottingham.
NG1 7EH.

Who?
Anyone

What's the talk about?

How would like an excuse to go on a Wednesday night and have a drink and a gossip with like minded people. Then look no further that SITP Nottingham Social evening.  A chance to sit back have a beer or two and talk about the lastest happenings in the skeptical world.

Mark Lynas

When?
Thursday, January 12 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

54 Canal Street,
Nottingham.
NG1 7EH.

Who?
Mark Lynas

What's the talk about?

Building on recent scientific discoveries, Mark Lynas explains that there are nine 'planetary' boundaries that humanity must not cross if Earth is to continue to support life and our civilisation. Climate change is one, but others - like ocean acidification, nitrogen use and biodiversity loss - are less well known, though equally crucial.

But this is no depressing lamentation of eco-doom. Instead Lynas presents a radical manifesto that calls for the increased use of controversial but environmentally friendly-technologies, such as genetic engineering and nuclear power, as part of a global effort to protect and nurture the biosphere. Ripping up years of 'green' orthodoxy, he reveals how the prescriptions of the current environmental movement are likely to hinder as much as help our vitally-needed effort to use science and technology to play God and save the planet.

Mark Lynas is the author of The God Species: How the Planet Can Survive the Age of Humans, published by Fourth Estate in July 2011. He has previous written two major books on climate change – High Tide: News from a warming world (2004) and Six Degrees: Our future on a hotter planet (2007).

 

High Tide was long listed for the Samuel Johnson Award for Non-Fiction, and short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award. Six Degrees was long-listed for the Orwell Prize in 2008, and won the prestigious Royal Society Prize for Science Books in the same year. Six Degrees became a TV hit for National Geographic, whose Six Degrees Could Change the World – voiced by Alec Baldwin – has been watched by tens of millions around the globe on the National Geographic Channel. The book has now been translated into 22 languages around the world.

In November 2009 he was appointed advisor on climate change to the President of the Maldives, His Excellency Mohammed Nasheed, and is involved in the Maldives’ effort to be the first carbon neutral country on Earth by 2020. He is a frequent speaker around the world on climate change science and policy, focusing in particular on how carbon neutral targets can break the international logjam on climate mitigation, and how emissions reduction should be seen as an opportunity not a sacrifice. He is also a Visiting Research Associate at Oxford University’s School of Geography and the Environment.

 

Peter Dunkley

When?
Tuesday, December 6 2011 at 7:30PM

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Where?

54 Canal Street,
Nottingham.
NG1 7EH.

Who?
Peter Dunkley

What's the talk about?

There can be few aspects of Christmas that would escape the wrath of a committed skeptic. Are we celebrating the birth of Christ or the convenient, political, alignment with pre-Christian festivals? Does the 'season of goodwill', by definition, suggest ill-will for the rest of the year? Not to mention the orgy of consumerism, the waste, the pressure to have a perfect Christmas that leads to debt, family arguments and even divorce (not suicide, though, the figures suggest that increased seasonal suicide rates are an urban myth).
In this talk Peter Dunkley explores how Christmas has escalated over the years into the most important trading time of the year for many businesses (including his pub and restaurant..), but arguing that the current position is completely irrational and is as bad for the economy as it is for the poor schmucks that are paying for it and for for the environment that gets one hell of a kicking every year.

The discovery and loss of a cure for scurvy

Andrew Holding

When?
Monday, November 14 2011 at 8:00PM

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Where?

54 Canal Street,
Nottingham.
NG1 7EH.

Who?
Andrew Holding

What's the talk about?

Of all the slang names for the British, none is more iconic than 'Limey'. While the the term provokes majestic images of the Golden Age of Sail, scurvy cost countless sailors and seamen their lives. It was once not unheard of for nine out of every ten members of a ship's crew to have succumbed to scurvy by the time it returned to port. The results of James Lind's work on the HMS Salisbury in 1747, which led to a cure, without doubt saved innumerable lives. Yet in Cherry-Garrard's account of Robert Falcon Scott's 1911 expedition to the South Pole, he writes: "There was little scurvy in Nelson’s days; but the reason is not clear, since, according to modern research, lime-juice only helps to prevent it." So why did Lind's results get forgotten?

Dr Andrew N Holding is a post-doctoral research fellow working at the Medical Research Council's Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. He founded 'Skeptics in the Pub' in Cambridge, which he continues to organise in his spare time. In addition he runs, ThinkOutreach which organises several science engagement activities including radio shows, lectures and will soon bring BrightClub in Cambridge.

Finally he has been a repeat guest on the The Naked Scientists Q&A radio show as Dr Andy answering the public's questions on science and has spoken at several outreach events both around Cambridge and worldwide. Has has also written for The Guardian's comment is free section and BlueSci magazine.

Samantha Stein

When?
Tuesday, October 11 2011 at 7:30PM

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Where?

54 Canal Street,
Nottingham.
NG1 7EH.

Who?
Samantha Stein

What's the talk about?

Samantha Stein is the founder and Director of Camp Quest UK, which
runs secular summer camp programmes for children aged 9-16. Camp Quest
has been long established in the US since 1996, and after volunteering
at the Michigan camp in 2007, she decided to set up a similar camp
over here. The first camp premièred in 2009, to much media fanfare,
despite the fact that a couple of miles down the road from the tiny
secular summer camp, there was a Christian jamboree with thousands of
children taking part.

Samantha will be talking about the educational philosophy which makes
the camps unique. She is currently writing a book about the story of
how Camp Quest UK came to be.

 

Her website is: Her website is: http://www.samanthastein.co.uk/

Mark Stevenson

When?
Tuesday, September 6 2011 at 7:00PM

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Where?

54 Canal Street,
Nottingham.
NG1 7EH.

Who?
Mark Stevenson

What's the talk about?

Mark Stevenson’s early career saw him mixing two jobs; one as an expert in prime number cryptography, the other fronting a pop band, enjoying brief notoriety in Japan, France and much to his surprise, Chile. The videos still embarrass him.

After a brief stint trying to do what his parents would call 'a proper job' he quit - having decided that communication and learning were what really interested him. He now combines two other careers - one as a successful writer/ comedian (writing for TV, radio and print) and another as a director of the cultural learning agency Flow Associates and the science communication agency ReAgency, roles which see him regularly called upon to help organisations of all sizes think about their futures. A new mobile project, engendering conversations and stimulating learning and direct action within an audience of 300 million users, The Age of Smart, is coming in mid 2011. Mark is a fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

When unexpectedly confronted with his own mortality, Mark Stevenson - a writer, deep-thinker, and stand-up comedian - began to ponder what the future holds for our species. Stevenson set out simply, asking, “What’s next?” and then traveled the globe in pursuit of the answers. His voyage of discovery took him to Oxford to meet Transhumanists (they intend to live forever), to Boston where he confronted a robot with mood swings, to an underwater cabinet meeting in the Indian Ocean, and Australia to question the Outback’s smartest farmer. He clambered around space planes in the Mojave desert, got to grips with the potential of nanotechnology, delved deep into the possibilities of biotech, saw an energy renaissance on a printer, a revolution in communications, had his genome profiled, glimpsed the next stage of human evolution … and tried to make sense of what’s in store.

A meticulous researcher, Stevenson sifts the genuine concerns about new technologies from fear-mongering - offering up a balanced take on everything from nanotech ‘grey goo’ to worries about population and resource crises, pandemics, climate change and new forms of terrorism. “I’m not saying the future will be better,” he says “but I do know there’s everything to play for.” http://anoptimiststourofthefuture.com/

 

David Clarke

When?
Tuesday, August 2 2011 at 7:30PM

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Where?

54 Canal Street,
Nottingham.
NG1 7EH.

Who?
David Clarke

What's the talk about?

In 1914, as German troops advanced through Belgium, they met at Mons with the British Expeditionary Force. Ill-prepared and vastly outnumbered, the British troops were forced to retreat, with little hope of saving the lives of those at the Front. It was in these circumstances that many of the wounded and dying soldiers, brought back from the Western Front, reported having been rescued by strange angelic forms in the sky that protected them from massacre.

Since then The Angels of Mons has remained one of the best-known legends of 20th century warfare, but the mystery remains. Did British soldiers really see angels, saints and bowmen leading them against the Germans? Or were the stories the result of hallucinations experienced by battle-wearing men, carefully planted propaganda or simply the misinterpretation of a short story in a London evening newspaper?

David Clarke is the course leader and senior lecturer in journalism at Sheffield Hallam University where he teaches media law and investigation skills.

 

Chris Worfolk

When?
Tuesday, July 12 2011 at 7:30PM

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Where?

54 Canal Street,
Nottingham.
NG1 7EH.

Who?
Chris Worfolk

What's the talk about?

In 1999 Ray Kurzweil published "The Singularity is Near" claiming that in 2045 artificial intelligence would surpass human intelligence and our society would enter into a period of exponential technological growth, changing the human race beyond all recognition.

This would be easy to dismiss as science fiction, but Kurzweil holds 17 doctorates and was described Bill Gates as "the best man I know for predicting the future of artificial intelligence."

The talk covers an introduction to the technological singularity and transhumanism, a look at Kurzweil and his predictions on the singularity, alternative theories and critics of the ideas.

Chris Worfolk graduated from the University of Leeds in 2008, having studied computer science, specialising in artificial intelligence. He is also founder of Leeds Skeptics and Leeds Atheist Society and co-founder of the Humanist Action Group and National Federation of Atheist, Humanist & Secular Student Societies.

Tony Shannon

When?
Tuesday, June 21 2011 at 7:30PM

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Where?

54 Canal Street,
Nottingham.
NG1 7EH.

Who?
Tony Shannon

What's the talk about?

Tony has worked in IT security in both the physical and virtual realms.  He brings a talk showing that you might not be a secure as you think you are.

Tony is currently finishing his course at Nottingham Trent University and and is a member of Nottingham Hackspace.

Michael Marshall

When?
Tuesday, March 15 2011 at 7:30PM

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Where?

54 Canal Street,
Nottingham.
NG1 7EH.

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

"You can't believe everything you read in the papers." Everyone knows this, but few people realise this truism extends far beyond the celebrity pages and gossip columns, and spills into 'real' news. Here, the near-invisible influence of PR companies is often pivotal in deciding what news gets told, and how it gets reported. By taking a brief look at the history of modern journalism, and using real examples taken from recent headlines, Michael Marshall will show why you really, really can't believe everything you read in the papers.

Bio
Michael Marshall is the co-founder and vice-president of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and appears on the Skeptics with a K and Strange Quarks podcasts. Besides organising national and international campaigns against homeopathy, he writes about the often-unsuspected role of PR in modern media. He was once called by Ben Goldacre 'a mighty nerd from Liverpool'. He was also once rather amusingly called a very rude word by self-proclaimed psychic Joe Power.

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