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A Skeptical Look At Bestiality

James Williams

When?
Wednesday, March 13 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
James Williams

What's the talk about?

 In 2005 a man named Kenneth Pinyan was anonymously dropped off at a Hospital in Washington, where he was later found dead in the emergency room. The man had died from a perforated colon from receiving anal sex from a full grown horse. In the following investigation the police were lead to a rural Enumclaw-area farm, which was known on the internet as a destination for people who wanted to have sex with livestock. There, they seized hundreds of hours of videotapes of men engaging in bestiality and the incident became known as the Enumclaw horse sex case. The case became infamous and lead to a rapid passing of a bill which made bestiality punishable by up to five years in prison...

But what is bestiality? What drove these men to commit the sexual acts they did? Why do people engage in it? How is it defined? And why is it so reviled?

Storyteller and skeptic James Williams will be taking a thorough and entertaining look at the murky world of bestiality; disentangling fact from fiction and discussing its bizarre history, zoology, humanity and philosophy. Humans, deer, monkeys, seals, dolphins, pigs, cattle, dogs and more. A world of Minotaurs, Gods disguised as swans and terrifying sounding grizzly–polar bear hybrids. What separates us from the animals? What makes us human? 

James Williams is a storyteller, science communicator and skeptic based in Bristol who specialises in critically discussing dark and taboo topics with humour and irreverence. An enthusiastic humanist and scientific skeptic, he cares deeply about science, education, critical thinking and social justice. His series of talks on taboos have appeared in venues across the country and covers other taboo topics such as cannibalism and necrophilia...

Tom Marshall

When?
Wednesday, February 13 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Tom Marshall

What's the talk about?

 Complementary and alternative medicine is caricatured as unscientific and contrasted with the scientific rigor of mainstream medicine. 

But this is misleading. 

 

Ineffective treatments and procedures abound in mainstream medicine. There are treatments in widespread use that we know to be ineffective. There are effective treatments given to the wrong patients. There are treatments where harms and costs clearly outweigh any benefit. There are treatments where we really don’t know if they are effective or not. 

 

This talk will show the clues to overtreatment provided by looking at variations in clinical practice and will provide a number examples. It will also illustrate why the problem is so intractable.

 

Tom Marshall grew up in the midst of Northern Ireland’s tribal conflict before escaping to medical school in University of Edinburgh. 

He emerged to his surprise with a medical degree despite paying more attention to Fredrick Copleston’s history of philosophy than anatomy textbooks and a high attrition rate among his immediate circle.

Since then he has had a chequered career including brief periods working in remote locations such as the Northern Transvaal, Gibraltar and Norfolk and living in a squat in Camberwell. He also studied health economics, trained as a GP and then as a public health physician before becoming a full time academic at University of Birmingham. 

He has long believed that behind the façade of science medicine remains full of useless, unproven and harmful treatments.

He is currently Professor of Public Health and Primary Care at the University of Birmingham where his research includes analysis of electronic health records to see how health care is actually delivered and he has an ongoing interest in over treatment.

This is a free event, but we suggest a donation of £3 to cover speakers expenses.

Marlon Solomon

When?
Wednesday, January 9 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Marlon Solomon

What's the talk about?

"Compelling, shocking, essential" - Al Murray

Marlon's a Jew. This didn't bother him much until he discovered that some people he knew didn't believe 

the Holocaust happened. From 9/11 to shape-shifting lizards and Holocaust denial, this is a darkly comic tale of one man's journey through the conspiracy underworld. 

Marlon explores why conspiracy theories are more popular than ever and how fake news gives fresh currency to ancient slander. A comic tale which is no laughing matter.

This is a free event, but we suggest a donation of £3 to cover speakers expenses.

When?
Wednesday, December 12 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

37 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham B2 5SN

Who?

What's the talk about?

Hi All,

Fancy a pint and some skeptical conversation? Want to tell us what you've liked and disliked at skeptics over the past year? Do you have a secret gem of a speaker you'd like to speak next year? Please come and tell us.

We also be giving away a copy of Stephen Hawking's "Brief Answers to Big Questions".

We are meeting upstairs in The Wellington at 1930 on the 12th of December for a few drinks and skeptical chat.  We'd love to see you there. 

We're already planing next years line up, have a great holiday season, hope to see you there!

Birmingham Skeptics

Anthony Warner

When?
Wednesday, November 14 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Anthony Warner

What's the talk about?

 Anthony Warner somehow managed to complete a Biochemistry Degree at Manchester University before deeply disappointing his parents by deciding that the heat of the professional kitchen was the career for him. After ten years in restaurants, hotels and events-catering he became a development chef in the food manufacturing industry and has spent the last 11 years working on some of the UK’s best-known brands and products.


In 2016, driven by frustration at the clearly unscientific messages being spewed out by a new breed of healthy eating celebrities, he started the Angry Chef blog, intended to appeal to a few similarly frustrated food industry professionals. Despite frequent attempts to alienate his readers, the blog has grown in popularity, forcing a middle-aged man to reluctantly engage with social media. Terrified at the prospect of being described as a ‘food-blogger’, Anthony has tried in vain to keep Angry Chef anonymous, but has sadly failed to do so as newspapers and magazines continue to approach him in the hope he might say something controversial about Jamie Oliver.

He now writes regularly for New Scientist, The Pool and the Sunday Times, and his first book, The Angry Chef - Bad Science and the Truth about Healthy Eating was published by Oneworld in July. He has appeared on Inside Science, The Food Programme and was once asked if he would be happy to eat his own dog on The Moral Maze.

This is a free event, but a donation of £3 is suggested to help us pay for our speaker's expenses.

Dr Claire Garabedian

When?
Wednesday, October 10 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Dr Claire Garabedian

What's the talk about?

 Dr Claire Garabedian is an Associate Researcher within the Association for Dementia Studies, University of Worcester, a professional cellist, and a Certified Music Practitioner (trained in playing music for people with various health conditions including dementia and end of life care). Her PhD (University of Stirling 2015) focused on the impacts of individualised live and recorded music for care home residents with dementia nearing the end of life, and their carer. Based on her practitioner and research experience, Claire will discuss creative approaches to helping people with dementia to live well.

This is a free event, but a donation of £3 is suggested to help us pay for our speaker's expenses.

Michael Marshall

When?
Wednesday, September 12 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

 In 2013, when Michael Marshall first interviewed the Vice President of the Flat Earth society for his show Be Reasonable, people could scarcely believe that anyone would genuinely think the Earth was flat. 

Five years later, Flat Earth belief has gone mainstream, spawning thousands of hours of YouTube videos, gaining widespread international media coverage, and attracting countless followers.

How did we get here? 

In this talk, Marshall will take us through his experiences of the Flat Earth movement, have a look at the leaders and some of their reasoning, and report back from the weekend he spent at the UK's first ever Flat Earth convention. 

Michael Marshall is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. 

His work has seen him organising international homeopathy protests, going undercover to expose psychics and quack medics, and co-founding the popular QED conference. 

He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Statesman.

This is a free event, but a donation of £3 is suggested to help us cover our speakers expenses.

The Non-Believing Religious Studies Teacher

Kevin Precious

When?
Monday, July 30 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Kevin Precious

What's the talk about?

 Having previously performed at Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub in 2016, Kevin Precious was very well received and we're delighted that he returns once more, honing his efforts in preparation for an Edinburgh Festival run. His Humanist perspective is welcome and his stories of teaching RE as a non-believer are right on target for a Skeptical audience.

Expect jokes and stories about teaching Religious Studies, being a Humanist, the God-Shaped Hole, little bits - here and there - relating to the Philosophy of Religion, and - ultimately - a suggestion that a secular approach to teaching the subject is the way forward.

Kevin has had something of a long and varied career, making his first tentative foray into the world of entertainment as a teenage bass playing dirt bag in the working men's clubs in his native city of Hull. Venturing South, he continued his musical adventures in the Big Smoke, playing in all manner of different outfits, the culmination of which saw him perform at the legendary Ronnie Scott's on a couple of occasions.

Kevin set up a 'Pop Quiz' in a trendy boozer in Camden, which rapidly became laden with celebrities and culminated in him being asked to organise and compere the NME's first national pop quiz. It was these events that would later inspire a move into comedy.

Ash Pryce

When?
Monday, June 18 2018 at 8:00PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

 “A naturally funny guy and won’t allow his audience to be bored” - edfringereview.com

“I would highly recommend ... you won’t be disappointed!” -Durham University Psychology Society

“Hilarious throughout... Anyone who sees his show will be amazed” Lancaster Uni Humanists

“Has the entire audience laughing” - Bath Skeptics

“A Great showman” - NottinghamLive

 

Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! Gather ye round the traveling caravan, as Snake Oil Salesman Ash Pryce demonstrates the miraculous curative abilities of psychic surgery, taught to your humble trickster by a wise man in the Philippines. See with wonder of the telekinetic forces at work as you learn how to move objects with your mind, psychically predict the outcome of the historic Zener Cards and read the minds of your peers.

 

This show will take a look at the more magical side of psychic claims, whereas the sister show How to Talk to the Dead looked specifically at spirit communication in the past, this show will look at some of the more incredible claims that persist today. The types of demonstrations that blur the line between the honest deception of magic, and the dishonesty of those hoping to make a quick buck out of your deep rooted beliefs.

 

An interactive, skeptical, how to guide to a whole host of psychic scammery. Warning to those on the front row… there will be blood!

 

Part of a UK Tour 2018

Tickets £5.00 available on the door of from the link above (98p handling fee per ticket)

Generation Right

Stephen Farral

When?
Wednesday, June 13 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Stephen Farral

What's the talk about?

Generation Right explores the rise, immediate and long term effects of 'Thatcherite' social and economic policies on UK society. 

The film, which uses a mix of archive material and interviews with politicians and social policy experts, explores both the wider impacts of these policies as well as drilling down into the impacts on crime and the criminal justice system. 

Generation Right has won a number of awards at UK and International documentary film festivals and was directed by Michelle Coomber. 

The film showing is followed by a Q&A session with Professor Stephen Farrall who commissioned the film.

This is a free event but we suggest a donation of £3 to help cover speakers expenses.

What can be done?

Professor Laura Piddock

When?
Wednesday, May 9 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Professor Laura Piddock

What's the talk about?

Antibiotic (antibacterial drug) use has brought huge changes to the world, especially in expectations of survival of children into adulthood, and underpins all areas of modern medicine. For this reason, antibiotic resistance threatens our modern way of life and is ‘as big a threat to human health as climate change’.

Is this statement true? If so, what does it mean for the way we treat infections and will drugs be effective in future?

What can we do to help resolve the antimicrobial resistance crisis? Laura will discuss appropriate antibiotic use (do GPs overprescribe?), the level of resistance (is it the same in the UK as in other countries?) and the pathogens that we should really be concerned about.

Laura will also briefly discuss how bacteria become drug resistant, and what can be done to resolve the issue of resistance.

Laura Piddock is Professor of Microbiology at the University of Birmingham. However, she is currently seconded for 75% time to the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP https://www.gardp.org/) as their Head of Scientific Affairs. GARDP, a joint initiative of DNDi and the WHO, aims to develop and deliver new treatments for bacterial infections where drug resistance is present or emerging, or for which inadequate treatment exists.

Stevyn Colgan

When?
Wednesday, April 11 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Stevyn Colgan

What's the talk about?

 Given the bewildering variety of life on Earth – all stemming from one self-replicating molecule – can we really predict what life on other worlds is like? Maybe not. But we can imagine what it isn’t like.

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, the unlikelihood that any visiting aliens will be humanoid, film directors with less imagination than children, fractal nose worms and the perils of concrete poo.

You’ll also come to realise that if we really are intelligently designed, the designer needs their head examined.

‘I've found a new genius. Amazing speaker, fantastic stories’ – Ayd Instone, Eldamar Ltd

‘A brilliant talk. So much common sense’ – Simon Raymonde, Bella Union and ex-Cocteau Twins

(Stevyn would like to make it clear that he has never been abducted, nor had anything or anywhere probed.)