Previous year >>

Leah Fitzsimmons

When?
Tuesday, June 6 2017 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Leah Fitzsimmons

What's the talk about?

Every day, we hear claims about what is good for our health, bad for the environment, how to improve education, cut crime, and treat disease. Some are based on reliable evidence and scientific rigour. Many are not.  These claims can’t be regulated; every time one is debunked another pops up – like a game of whack-a-mole. So how can we make companies, politicians, commentators and official bodies accountable for the claims they make? If they want us to vote for them, believe them, or buy their products, then we should ask them for evidence, as consumers, patients, voters and citizens.

Sense About Science’s Ask for Evidence campaign has seen people ask a retail chain for the evidence behind its MRSA resistant pyjamas; ask a juice bar for the evidence behind wheatgrass detox claims; ask the health department about rules for Viagra prescriptions; ask for the studies behind treatments for Crohn’s disease, and hundreds more. As a result, claims are being withdrawn and bodies held to account.

This is geeks, working with the public, to park their tanks on the lawn of those who seek to influence us. And it’s starting to work. Come and hear what the campaign is going to do next and how you can get involved.

Leah is a virologist at Birmingham University, trying to work out how virus infected cells cheat death and how blocking these interactions might be used to kill cancer cells. As one of Sense About Science’s Ask for Evidence Ambassadors, she is passionate that science should be for everyone and that Ask for Evidence can help make this happen.

Victoria Stiles

When?
Tuesday, May 9 2017 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Victoria Stiles

What's the talk about?

We’ve reached a situation which shouldn’t have been possible. It is now almost inevitable that the Nazis will appear as a cautionary example in any political discussion and yet this year has seen the rise to prominence of groups which openly share many of their beliefs and even borrow their symbols. It appears that knowing about the past is not the same as learning from history, but is it reasonable to expect history to teach us anything at all?

Victoria Stiles is a freelance researcher and consultant in the field of Modern European History and specialises in the portrayal of imperial history and national stereotypes within Nazi Germany. This year she was called a historian by the LAD Bible, which has more than justified the time she spent getting a PhD. In this talk she will explain some of the ways in which historians use and assess evidence, how they draw parallels between events in different times and places, and how they arrive at an account of the past which they are willing to call “a history”. She is very keen to hear the audience’s thoughts on what they want history and historians to do for them.

Is there anything from our past which can shed light on our current situation? This talk won’t provide all the answers but maybe together we can formulate some better questions.

Timandra Harkness

When?
Tuesday, April 4 2017 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Timandra Harkness

What's the talk about?

Big Data knows where you’ve been and who your friends are. It knows what you like and what makes you angry. It can predict what you’ll buy, where you’ll be the victim of crime and when you’ll have a heart attack. Big Data knows you better than you know yourself, or so it claims.
But how well do you know big data?

From science to smart cities, business to politics, self-quantification to the Internet of Things, people are talking about big data as a force for change Privacy, democracy, even our ideas of who we are, could be transformed. You don’t need to be a Silicon Valley tech prodigy to understand what’s going on.

Timandra Harkness writes comedy, not computer code. The only programs she makes are on the radio. If she can understand what’s going on, so can you. Some of the ideas underlying Big Data are based on the kind of mathematics anybody can grasp: different measures that are correlated in predictable patterns; the relationship between the average of a population and what that tells
you about an individual; how we study networks and connections to learn something new about the big picture. Others, though harder to grasp in theory, are familiar in practice: apps on our  phones that locate us on a map, or count our steps; internet search engines that predict what we’d like to buy; websites that translate other languages into  English.

But big data isn’t just neat mathematics or clever technology. It has implications for all of us.

Timandra asks the big questions about where it’s taking us: is it too big for its boots, or does it think too small? Are you a data point or a human being? She aims to leave you armed and ready to decide what you think about one of the decade’s big ideas: big data.

Paul Duncan McGarrity

When?
Tuesday, March 7 2017 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Paul Duncan McGarrity

What's the talk about?

An archaeologist and comedian (same person, Paul Duncan McGarrity) sits in a room and answers your questions on any subject as honestly as possible. Could be rude, probably crude. Be prepared to talk candidly with the protection of context.

'Like a very tall, funny, excited child' (Scotsman)

Alice Sheppard

When?
Tuesday, February 7 2017 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Alice Sheppard

What's the talk about?

Almost everybody wants to know about space, but while the news is full of it, a lot of the basic science isn't available to those who don't know where to look. This has left the door open for some unpleasant elitism in astronomy and a flood of myths that cloud our perception of the skies. Some of these are harmless fun, some are linked with poor understanding of science, some are potentially harmful and some are just frankly extremely sad.

Alice Sheppard, a long-time space addict and ambassador of citizen science, will take you on a tour of some of our most-misunderstood destinations in the Solar System and beyond, and in ourselves as people and potential astronomers. By the end of the evening, you should feel much more equipped to understand what's beyond our planet, and to get this fascinating area of science moving forward.

Alice Sheppard co-founded Cardiff and Hackney Skeptics in the Pub, ran the Galaxy Zoo forum for five years and has given several SITP talks about astronomy and citizen science. She has a postgraduate diploma in Astrophysics and wrote the chapter on Cecilia Payne for the first Ada Lovelace Day book. She now writes the Citizen Science column at the Society for Popular Astronomy magazine.

On Facebook? Join the Nottingham Skeptics Facebook group for interesting discussions and event invites.

Meirion Jones

When?
Tuesday, January 10 2017 at 7:00PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Meirion Jones

What's the talk about?

NOTE: early start time of 7 pm.

He’s jailed for 10 years now but how did a British conman sell bogus bomb detectors to Iraq for $85 million? A lack of skepticism cost the lives of an estimated 2,000 people in Baghdad. Meirion Jones tells, with the help of video clips and secret recordings, how Jim McCormick and his chums worked the scam around the world and how whistleblowers and a Newsnight team exposed the scandal. This is about multi-million-dollar bribes in Baghdad, and UK PLC turning a blind eye to boost exports, but this is also about the lethal consequences of not basing policy on evidence. Meirion will demonstrate two real bogus bomb detectors as sold by the hoaxers for up to $40,000 each and show you how to make one that works every bit as well for less than a pound.

Meirion Jones is a BBC producer who is in the unusual position of winning the 2013 Scoop of the Year award for a programme which was never broadcast - his exposure of Jimmy Savile as a paedophile. He also won the Daniel Pearl International Award for Investigative Journalism in 2010 for his reports on toxic waste dumping by Trafigura in Africa. He has exposed everything from the fixing of the 2000 US election, to how Britain helped Israel get the atom bomb, from corrupt politicians to the affair of Mark Stone and the undercover cops, as well as homeopaths and healers.

On Facebook? Join the Nottingham Skeptics Facebook group for interesting discussions and event invites.

Stevyn Colgan

When?
Monday, December 5 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Stevyn Colgan

What's the talk about?

Stevyn Colgan has been involved with aliens for three decades. He’s held Jabba the Hutt’s face, helped sculpt creatures for Bruce Willis to shoot at, and had a script accepted for Doctor Who in the 1980s. In this entertaining talk, you’ll hear about feuding gangs of scientists, film directors with less imagination than children, and the perils of concrete poo.

Stevyn Colgan is an author, artist, songwriter, speaker and oddly-spelled Cornishman. He is one of the ‘Elves’ that research and write the popular BBC TV series ‘QI’ and co-writes its sister show, ‘The Museum of Curiosity’, for BBC Radio 4.

On Facebook? Join the Nottingham Skeptics Facebook group for interesting discussions and event invites.

David Alnwick

When?
Tuesday, November 1 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
David Alnwick

What's the talk about?

Off the back of last year's sell out tour, The Cult of Dave, and his TV special, Dave Alnwick: Trickster, Dave is back with his new hour long show: MIND WIZARD.

Expect misdirection, mind reading and manipulation. Will you be converted?

After each show there will be a Q&A where Dave will highlight some of the techniques used in the show.

"They were burning people for this 300 years ago" - Phill Jupitus

On Facebook? Join the Nottingham Skeptics Facebook group for interesting discussions and event invites.

Jon Scaife

When?
Tuesday, October 4 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Jon Scaife

What's the talk about?

We weigh other people up. It’s adaptively useful to assess how others might interact with us. Could they be threats? Allies? Very quickly and usually unconsciously we judge someone’s age, gender, height, strength, social status, sexual potential, mood and wealth. Although it takes longer we also make judgments about personality and about intellectual and other capabilities. There are many ways of expressing assessments of capabilities: she’s bright, he’s thick, he’s got bags of potential, she’s a sandwich short of a picnic, he’s in a low ability group, she’s very intelligent, she’ll never be a gymnast, he’s got amazing talent.

Jon will argue that ability and intelligence are fictions that have spread beyond the thinking and the practices of psychologists and teachers to permeate global culture. We are ability-labellers by default. Jon will argue that this matters, that it is unjustifiable at best and, at worst, could be regarded as abusive and even violent. But all is not lost! Drawing on the concept of ‘mindset’ from Carol Dweck and others there are ways forward.

The session should be particularly helpful to those with children and provocative to psychologists and teachers.

Dr Jon Scaife researches and teaches in the School of Education at Sheffield University. His main interests are in the nature of knowledge and in how people learn. He is invited to teach on these themes in many countries. He plays guitar and fiddle, enjoys puzzles and is an ever hopeful golfer.

On Facebook? Join the Nottingham Skeptics Facebook group for interesting discussions and event invites.

Why should we care if our friends are similar to us?

Katherine Woolf

When?
Tuesday, September 6 2016 at 7:00PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Katherine Woolf

What's the talk about?

Do you find yourself making friends with people like you? Katherine Woolf draws on her often controversial research to explore why this happens, and its impact on success and injustice. Discover how you can challenge the status quo to create a fairer, more integrated, more successful society.

Dr Katherine Woolf is a Senior Lecturer and academic psychologist working at UCL Medical School finding out what makes people – especially doctors – do really well or really badly. Her work focusses on how and why ethnicity and gender influence success, and how we can use this knowledge to improve fairness and equality. She has recently been discovering how our choice of friends can make a big difference to our success.

Bring a Pen!

Kath's talk features some audience participation. Please bring a pen!

Bonus Talk

From 9 pm, Dr Wang Qi and Dr Adam Smith will talk about the exciting feathered dinosaur exhibition that is coming to Nottingham in the summer of 2017. The exhibition at Wollaton Hall will include the largest feathered creature ever discovered and this will be the first time some of these fossil specimens have been displayed outside of China.

On Facebook? Join the Nottingham Skeptics Facebook group for interesting discussions and event invites.

The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer

Sydney Padua

When?
Tuesday, August 2 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Sydney Padua

What's the talk about?

[Five Leaves Bookshop will be selling Sydney's book at this event]

One hundred years before the first computers were built out of wires and transistors, the Victorian polymath Charles Babbage designed a gigantic steam-powered, punchcard-programmed, cogwheel computer, the Analytical Engine.  His friend Ada, Countess of Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron, completed some of the first programs for the machine, and theorised that one day it could be used for the manipulation of any kind of information. Unfortunately Ada died young and Babbage never built his Engine, leaving their story as one of the greatest what-ifs in the history of science.

Sydney Padua’s cult webcomic The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, now a bestselling graphic novel, combines extensive research with alternate-universe comic-book escapes, where the mechanical computer is finally completed and used to build runaway economic models, defeat spelling errors, and of course, fight crime. In this talk she will tell the story of these two fascinating and brilliant eccentrics, and discuss her process of primary-source research and creative transformation. She will also display her 3-d animations of how the Analytical Engine would have looked and operated, some of the first visualisations ever created of that extraordinary machine.

Sydney Padua is a cartoonist and visual effects artist whose animation appears in The Iron Giant, Clash of the Titans, and John Carter. Her work has been featured in Wired and The Economist and she has spoken at Microsoft, Google, the BBC, and the Computer History Museum.

On Facebook? Join the Nottingham Skeptics Facebook group for interesting discussions and event invites.

Tamasin Cave

When?
Tuesday, July 5 2016 at 7:00PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

48-52 Canal St
Nottingham
NG1 7EH

Who?
Tamasin Cave

What's the talk about?

NOTE: 7 pm start! 

Tamasin Cave will talk about the UK's £2bn lobbying industry and the tactics they use to bend government to their will: how lobbyists' build relationships with government; their manipulation of the media; the way that they use academics, scientists, think tanks, front groups and others to spread their messages; and their attacks on opposition groups. She will talk about how the private healthcare industry has lobbied to open up the NHS to more private operators - and how schools are going the same way; how energy companies have hired a small army of lobbyists to persuade government and local communities to support fracking; how the 'revolving door' works to support the arms industry; and more.

Tamasin is a writer, campaigner and commentator. Her new book, A Quiet Word: Lobbying, Crony Capitalism and Broken Politics in Britain, co-authored by Andy Rowell, shines a light into one of the darkest and least-understood corners of our political culture: the UK's £2 billion commercial lobbying industry. She is a director of Spinwatch, which investigates corporate PR and lobbying, as well as government spin. Since 2007, she has also led the campaign for transparency regulations for lobbyists

On Facebook? Join the Nottingham Skeptics Facebook group for interesting discussions and event invites.