Welcome!

Skeptics in the Pub (SitP) exists to provide an opportunity for people who are interested in science, skepticism, rationalism, critical thinking to socialise and discuss matters of interest. Each month we invite someone to come and speak to us, and if there's someone you'd like to hear, let us know!

Follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Brum_Skeptics

See also:

Birmingham Skeptics Own Web Page

SitP Birmingham page on Facebook

Birmingham Skeptics Podcast

Birmingham Skeptical DVD Store

 Other sites of note for the questioning Midlander

 Cafe Scientifique

Calendar of events at the WMAM site

Birmingham Salon

Lichfield Humanists

Birmingham Humanists

 

 

 

When?
Wednesday, May 27 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?

What's the talk about?

It's our fantastic open mic night and what a panolpy of subjects we lay before you. If you want a peek at what some of our speakers look like head on over to our blog.

We don't charge admission but we do ask for a £2 donation to cover expenses. However any profit from this evening will be donated to Medicin Sans Frontieres.

See you there!

Why Internet Dating Doesn’t Work – Dr Martin Graff 

Romantic relationships play a huge part in our physical, social and emotional well-being.  Successful relationships promote better health and even aid in faster recovery from illnesses.   Not surprisingly, most of us seek to find a romantic relationship.  However, should we resort to online dating to find this?  Drawing on psychological research, this talk focuses on seven reasons why we shouldn’t.  Some of the principal considerations are that we make bad decisions in online dating and people are certainly not what they seem to be meaning that such a matching system is not a good predictor for the sustainability of relationships in a face-to-face context. 

Dr Martin Graff is Reader and Head of Research in Psychology at the University of South Wales.  He is an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Chartered Psychologist.  Over the years he has carried out research in the areas of cognitive processes in web-based learning, individual differences in website navigation, online interaction and the formation and dissolution of romantic relationships online and offline.  He has also carried out research in the areas of online persuasion, and online disinhibition, and has supervised several doctoral degrees in this area.

 

From Richard Dawkins to Freud’s Death Instinct 

Dawkins says we are exquisitely refined organisms whose evolutionary function is to transmit copies of our genes. In this context, the evolutionary persistence of depression seems to make no sense. Apart from its psychological effects, it is heavily implicated in many life-threatening behaviours and illnesses. In "Family stigma, sexual selection and the evolutionary origins of severe depression's physiological consequences" (JSECP, 2010,4(2): 94-114) I build on Hamilton's suggestion that a badly impaired embryo might be "programmed" to self-eliminate if its condition would impede the aggregated reproductive prospects of its kin. 

Stockbreeders know that family merit is the best guide to successful breeding, a reality unlikely to have been missed by natural selection. If so, individuals perceived as performing relatively badly in respect of close kin might well impose (by way of impaired family reputation) a reproductive penalty on their kin group well in excess of their own potential gene throughput. Here too, deeply unpleasant though the idea is, self-elimination would make sound evolutionary sense. With WHO identifying depression as the illness that, globally, causes most disability, I believe this an idea that should be full explored as a key guide to treatment. 

Mike Waller has had an interesting and varied academic and professional career studying government, management and psychology. A fully paid up Dawkinsite he became interested in the problem of depression.

 

Skeptical about Drug Laws – Phil Walsh 

There are a plethora of instances where science is absent when it comes to so called medicines and treatments for a variety of ailments – from homeopathy to bogus cancer treatments which can actually cause harm.....but what about when science is absent from the laws which govern the progress of medicine? This is worthy of equal scrutiny and in this short presentation I hope to give a brief review of the problems encountered when trying to perform research with certain compounds and highlight some which show great potential for therapeutic use but are hindered by the issues described. 

Phil Walsh is 31 years old and holds an honours degree in pharmaceutical chemistry and a master’s degree in clinical biochemistry. He has been working in research and development within the immunodiagnostics industry for the past 9 years. His other interests are based in neuroscience, psychology and an unhealthy penchant for podcasts.

 

The Great Porn Phallusies - Rachel 

Rachel is a regular consumer and occasional creator of pornography; she became excited when she realised that the field of pornography was an apparently untapped well of pseudoscience and logical fallacies. Tonight she intends to celebrate naughtiness, challenge assumptions, and look at the facts behind what 'everybody knows' about porn. 

Rachel says that there will be no explicit images in this talk although there may be some page 3 type content. It will also include some frank discussions of porn, sex, sexual assault, drugs, addiction, and use of adult language.  

 

Skeptical Activism – Why? How to get involved. 

From naive atheism at age 8, Richard became aware of the skeptical community and movement around 2005 via discovering the James Randi Educational Foundation site and forum, as well as the now defunct UK Skeptics forum. He was then inspired to get involved in campaigning, initially targeting 'psychics such as Gary Mannion the 'psychic' healer. This included getting BBC Children in Need to withdraw support from an event he was attending, and being interviewed for a BBC documentary on Mannion. He subsequently carried out an email campaign to theatres hosting 'psychic' shows making sure that many who did not already started to incorporate disclaimers on publicity material. 

In 2008, alerted by a JREF Million Dollar Challenge, Richard started a UK campaign against the sellers of fake bomb detectors, which contributed to media coverage of the issue, and played a minute part in the perpetrators finally being brought to Justice some 5 years later, and seeing 3 of 5 jailed, and one receiving a suspended sentence. 

He started attending Birmingham SitP in 2012

 

            

The psychology, art and science of detecting lies and deceit

Dr Mike Drayton

When?
Wednesday, June 10 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Dr Mike Drayton

What's the talk about?

 This talk uses the latest research from the behavioural and psychological sciences to explore the question: is it possible to spot lies?  Mike Drayton uses video clips, examples from literature and audience participation to inform inspire and entertain.

Dr Mike Drayton is an organisational development consultant, a clinical psychologist and expert in negotiation.  He has a Doctorate in Psychology from the University of Birmingham and a BSc in Social Psychology from LSE.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.  Mike lectures regularly at at the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick.

"Part magic show, part comedy, part rational enquiry"

Ash Pryce

When?
Wednesday, July 8 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

July brings us a horror theme as Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub teams up with the Electric Cinema to bring you talks of a Supernatural and Skeptical nature to celebrate their Shock and Gore Festival.

Kicking us off is our old friend and true Skeptical Entertainer and Educator Ash Pryce:

Hydesville. New York. 1848. The young Fox sisters begin communicating with the spirit of a murdered beggar and spiritualism is born. This interactive look at a history of talking to the dead will feature an array of magical treats including levitating tables, ectoplasm manifestation and spirit communication. Part magic show, part comedy, part rational inquiry this fun show has regularly packed venues at the Edinburgh fringe.

  • Ouija Boards
  • Spirit Slates
  • Spirit Communication
  • Stopped Pulses
  • Spewing ectoplasm
  • And more... 

 "Ash Pryce is a naturally funny guy and won't allow his audience to be bored" "Very entertaining" - edfringereview 

"Go see" - Edinburgh Skeptics 

Ash Pryce is a performer and director based in Scotland.  He has written and staged several skeptically themed shows looking at myths & legends, ghosts, psychics and mediumship as well as producing full plays ranging from Faustus to more contemporary original shows in Edinburgh.  He is the founder of Edinburgh Skeptics, the newly started History in the Pub Edinburgh, and runs what is believed to be the worlds first skeptical ghost tour every Fringe.  He lives just outside of Edinburgh with his three Degus, one of which holds a grudge against him. 

Please note. This is a skeptically themed show and not intended as an actual demonstration of mediumship or psychic abilities.

We don’t charge admission but we do suggest a £2 donation to help us to cover expenses

Jonathon Ferguson

When?
Wednesday, July 22 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Jonathon Ferguson

What's the talk about?

Many people, even to this day, have sought the ability to defend themselves from creatures and entities that most of us now regard as imaginary. A recurring theme is that of the revenant, a person returned from the dead; what we think of today as a vampire or perhaps zombie. We think we know how to dispatch these creatures; horror movies, video games and books show us stakes, silver bullets, garlic, crossbows, mirrors, sunlight and more. But how many of these are genuinely represented in folklore, history, and archaeology? How did people really ‘kill’ these dead troublemakers? What physical evidence of these weapons is left to us, and what’s the real story behind ‘vampire killing kits’?

 

Jonathan Ferguson is Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries in Leeds. The Royal Armouries holds in trust for the public one of the finest collections of arms and armour in the world, from exquisite pieces of the gunmaker's art, to the most functional military weapons, and from the medieval period to the present day. Jonathan's research interests include the use, effect, and depiction of arms in popular culture. He has made several television and radio appearances, including NBC's Today programme and National Geographic’s ‘How Sherlock Changed the World’. He also pursues a sceptical interest in the paranormal in his spare time, an interest that probably stems from the gift of a Ladybird version of 'Dracula' at a young age. He is especially enthusiastic when the two things overlap, as they do in the mysterious case of the 'vampire killing kits', about which he has made the definitive critical study, published in Fortean Times in 2012, acquiring an example that same year for the Royal Armouries collection. This was recently displayed as part of the British Library’s exhibition ‘Terror and Wonder: the Gothic Imagination’.

Claudio Tennie

When?
Wednesday, August 12 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Claudio Tennie

What's the talk about?

Imagine a different world where you are a chimpanzee male taking a train from Birmingham to London. The minute you arrive you see some local chimpanzees. What would happen next? They would attack and kill you. Luckily we do not live in such a world and are thus usually spared such a fate. This is just normal to us and so we fail to realise what a big deal it actually is not to have to avoid strangers (at fear of death!). Roughly speaking the defult position of humans is to cooperate.
 
But how different are these close relatives of ours? Across groups chimpanzees are motivated by competitive forces but there is the possibility that they are cooperative - maybe even to a similar degree as us humans - when it comes to their own group.
 
During the evening we will explore the behaviour of these fascinating apes and discuss the evolutionary functions of competition and cooperation and how they may apply to us.
 
Claudio Tennie is a Birmingham Fellow (research-focused lecturer) in the School of Psychology at the University of Birmingham. Originally trained as an ethologist he started to become a comparative psychologist around 2001, when he began to be supervised by two of the leaders of this field (Michael Tomasello and Josep Call). Claudio's research includes studies on human children and non-human great apes. Ultimately, he aims to detect the evolutionary roots of human culture and cooperation. In the world of science, there are some who believe everything at first sight, and then there are others. Claudio is of the latter type.

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