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Dave Alnwick

When?
Wednesday, December 6 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Dave Alnwick

What's the talk about?

 NOTE: This event is the first Wednesday of December, not the usual second!

After a sell-out run at Edinburgh Fringe and fresh off the back of hosting QED 2017, Skeptic regular Dave Alnwick tours his new show 'Literally the Best Magician'.

Is Dave Literally the Best Magician?  He certainly thinks so and intends to spend an hour proving it.  Working through every genre of Magic, Dave hopes to 'one up' the classics of conjuring. 

Ok, enough of this third person charade.  I'm doing a Magic show.  It'll be really good, you should totally come.  In the past I've focused on mentalism (y'know that Derren Brown mind reading business) but I thought I'd step away from that and have a go at old school stuff.  It's not easy making tricks with rope, tissues and post-it notes interesting but I'm pretty sure I've smashed it.

“He is the kind of performer who could probably make reading the dictionary into an entertaining show” – WorldMagicReview.com

I'll even do a talk after the show about Magic.  I'll teach you a trick.  We'll do a Q&A.  Maybe have a drink.  It'll be dope. 

See you there.

Philip Moriarty

When?
Wednesday, November 8 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Philip Moriarty

What's the talk about?

There is no doubt that quantum physics embodies mind-blowing concepts that force us the question the very nature of reality. And if there’s a contender for our current best “theory of everything” then quantum mechanics wins hands down.

But, far too often, the word “quantum” signals the worst type of vacuous pseudoscientific gobbledegook. It’s exploited by those who are entirely clueless about the underlying physics — or, worse, should know better — to evoke a misplaced mysticism about the ‘holistic’ nature of the universe. Moreover, when consciousness and quantum collide, the nonsense factor goes through the roof…

Philip Moriarty will aim to tease out the science from the mysticism and show that while quantum physics certainly has its weird and wacky aspects, it’s at heart a theory of waves. That means we can very often easily interpret what’s happening at the quantum level in terms of the everyday world around us – he’ll take a look at what coffee cups, drums, and a SlinkyTM can tell us about the broader nature of the universe (and Deepak Chopra’s place in it).

Philip Moriarty is a professor of physics at the University of Nottingham.

Adam Rutherford

When?
Wednesday, October 11 2017 at 7:30PM

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Who?
Adam Rutherford

What's the talk about?

A sprawling saga of the history of humankind is packed inside our cells, written in 3 billion letters of DNA, and in the last few years we’ve learnt how to read it. Our genomes are packed with culture, war, disease, migration, murder, kings and queens, race, and a whole lot of quite deviant sex.

Geneticist, writer and broadcaster Adam Rutherford wields the latest addition to the historian’s toolbox, to unscramble the myths and the story of us, and what DNA can – and can’t – tell us about the epic human journey.

How mind-body techniques change gene expression

Ivana Buric

When?
Wednesday, September 13 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Ivana Buric

What's the talk about?

Ivana Buric will talk about her work investigating the gene suppression changes induced by meditation and related practices. These appear to suppress expression of genes and genetic pathways which would otherwise promote the inflammatory response - in the modern world where stress is very often long-term and psychological, a resulting inflammatory response becoming chronic can have health repercussions. Thus, these practices may have a part to play in keeping us healthy, however it remains unclear how they compare against other physical activities such as sports.

Dr Alice Howarth

When?
Wednesday, August 9 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Dr Alice Howarth

What's the talk about?

One in two of us will suffer with cancer in our lifetime and almost all of us have some experience of the disease. But do we really know what cancer is and how we can work towards a cure? Is a cure even possible? And how can we arm ourselves with the right information to help us prevent and treat cancer?

Alice is a researcher who has worked in the Institute of Translational Medicine at the University of Liverpool with both non-profit and for-profit organisations. In this talk she will discuss what cancer is, how it works and just how we are working towards understanding and curing the disease. She will talk about the complexities of research and some of the big success stories that relate directly to some of the many types of cancer. Only when we understand the difficulties we face can we discern between bogus cancer treatment claims and genuine scientific advancement in this field.

Alice is a cancer researcher who has experience of working in laboratories across the Institute of Translational Medicine at the University of Liverpool. As well as her work qualifying her for a doctorate degree in this field, Alice is a prominent member of the scientific skepticism community in the UK. She co-organises events and activism with the Merseyside Skeptics Society and acts as a co-host for the popular podcast, Skeptics with a K. Alice has engaged in science communication at a number of levels; she has written for publications such as The Guardian, served as a judge for the North West heat of the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Competition and hosted panels on science topics, including cancer research, at conferences such as the QED conference.

Twitter – @AliceEmmaLouise

www.merseysideskeptics.org.uk/category/podcast/skeptics-with-a-k/

Iszi Lawrence

When?
Wednesday, May 10 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Iszi Lawrence

What's the talk about?

 Skeptic, comedian and voice of the Skeptics Guide To The Universe, Iszi Lawrence is out to delight and inform with her new show The Z List Dead List. The Z List Dead List is a live comedy show about obscure people from History. As a skeptic, Iszi has found a few people from the past that will peak your interest.

Expect woo, violence, sex and death. And a competition.

The show is also a podcast with guest interviews from Jon Ronson, Griff Rhys Jones, Natalie Haynes, Neil Denny, Richard Herring etc. You can find it on iTunes here: itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-z-list-dead-list/id915778702?mt=2 or go to the website www.zlistdeadlist.com

Timandra Harkness

When?
Wednesday, April 12 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

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.

We'll get some copies of Timandra's book in so that you have the opportunity to have a signed edition.

This is a free event, although donations to help fund Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub events are appreciated.  Seats are limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are unable to stand for the duration of the talk let us know beforehand and we will reserve one for you.

Victoria Stiles

When?
Wednesday, March 8 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

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 the 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 audiece'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.

This is a free event, although donations to help fund Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub events are appreciated.  Seats are limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are unable to stand for the duration of the talk let us know beforehand and we will reserve one for you.

Christopher Berry

When?
Wednesday, February 8 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Christopher Berry

What's the talk about?

Our best theory of gravity is Einstein's general relativity. This describes gravitation as the bending of space and time. The theory predicts the existence of black holes and gravitational waves. The first direct observation of gravitational waves was made in 2015 by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, this signal came from the merger of two black holes. Since then, LIGO has observed one, possibly two, other binary black hole mergers. Gravitational waves can reveal many details about objects like black holes which are otherwise invisible, and this new form of astronomy could greatly expand our understanding of the Universe. This talk will introduce gravitational-wave astronomy and discuss the discoveries made so far.

Christopher studied for his PhD at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, where he worked on what we could learn about gravity and black holes with a space-based gravitational wave detector. After finishing his PhD in 2013, he started work at the University of Birmingham, where he joined the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. Since then, he's been working on how to measure properties of the sources of gravitational wave signals as detected by ground-based detectors like LIGO. He was part of the group who analysed LIGO's first observations of gravitational waves in 2015.

 

This is a free event, although donations to help fund Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub events are appreciated.  Seats are limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are unable to stand for the duration of the talk let us know beforehand and we will reserve one for you.

David Alnwick

When?
Wednesday, November 9 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
David Alnwick

What's the talk about?

 Back again from the Edinburgh Fringe, Dave Alnwick brings his brand new show on a Sceptic tour of the UK. 

'Mind Wizard' is the journey of how Dave began performing magic and mind reading. 

As always the 50 minute performance will be followed by a 30 minute talk with a Q&A session.  The talk will discuss the wider psychology in play during the performance."

Henry Drysdale

When?
Wednesday, October 12 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Henry Drysdale

What's the talk about?

 Description

For 6 weeks in late 2015, the COMPare team monitored every clinical trial published in the top 5 medical journals for “outcome switching”: when trialists report something different from what they originally said they would report. Of 67 trials assessed, 58 (87%) were found to contain discrepancies between prespecified and reported outcomes.

 

Outcome switching is already known to be extremely common, even in top medical journals. But COMPare went one step further: they wrote a letter to the journal for all 58 trials found to contain discrepancies; to correct the record on the individual trials, and to test the “self-correcting” properties of science.

 

The responses to these letters from journal editors and trial authors were unprecedented, and shed light on the reasons why this problem persists. The aim of COMPare was to fix outcome switching, through correction letters and open discussion. They never expected the levels of misunderstanding and bias at the heart of the issue.

 

Bio

Based at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, COMPare is made up of three senior researchers, 5 graduate-entry medical students, and a programmer. The project was born when one medical student came to the department in search of a project. The idea of monitoring the outcomes in clinical trials was made possible by 4 more medical students, who were recruited to make the vast amount of analysis possible. All assessments are reviewed by senior colleagues, and decisions made at weekly team meetings. There is no specific funding for COMPare: all the students work for free, driven by the desire and opportunity to fix a broken system.

 

Let us know you are coming on the Facebook Event:

https://www.facebook.com/events/1338242676199608/


Visit the COMPare website (COMPare-trials.org) for more details about their team, methods, results and blog.

 

 

This is a free event, although donations to help fund Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub events are appreciated.  Seats are limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are unable to stand for the duration of the talk let us know beforehand and we will reserve one for you.

Kevin Precious

When?
Wednesday, September 14 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Kevin Precious

What's the talk about?

 Kevin Precious is a former RE teacher turned stand-up comedian and promoter.  Besides having played many of the top clubs in the land, he also promotes shows in arts centres and theatres under the Barnstormers Comedy banner. He has previously toured the country with a stand-up show entitled 'Not Appropriate', dedicated to the business of teaching


In between the various comedic activites, he attends his local humanist group - he's an agnostic, folks - where he loves a good old debate about the big questions in life.  Expect jokes and stories then, about his time as an RE teacher, being a humanist, the God-Shaped Hole, and the philosophy of religion... and you can ask him a few questions of your own afterwards, if you wish.

 

This is a free event, although donations to help fund Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub events are appreciated.  Seats are limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis. If you are unable to stand for the duration of the talk let us know beforehand and we will reserve one for you.