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Heather Pentler

When?
Wednesday, June 12 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Heather Pentler

What's the talk about?

UNFORTUNATELY DUE TO THE SPEAKER'S TRAIN NOT RUNNING WE HAVE HAD TO CANCEL THIS EVENT. WE WILL ATTEMPT TO RESCHEDULE LATER IN THE YEAR.

The world is a scary and chaotic place at the moment. This talk is your chance to take a rational look at the current threats to human civilisation. How much will global warming change our lives? Is it worth surviving a nuclear war? How are Authoritarian leaders changing our civilisation and democracy? Is it possible to be a prepper without being a conspiracy theorist?

Heather has been an active skeptic for the last 7 years and has previously spoken about her experiences exposing dodgy alternative medical practices. Heather has been a member of the committee for Edinburgh Skeptics for the last 3 years. Heather's day job is a support worker, working with autistic adults for a charity.

Birmingham skeptics talks are free to attend, but we suggest a donation of £3 to help cover speakers expenses.

Sean Slater

When?
Wednesday, May 8 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Sean Slater

What's the talk about?

 We nearly all now carry around in our pockets something which just 15 years ago would have seemed utterly miraculous. From this little slab of light, and for a few £ a month we can touch a glass sheet and interact with most of the world’s population. We can share opinions, memories, hopes, fears, dreams and experiences as they happen and from almost anywhere on the planet, we have access to the sum of the world’s information just about whenever and wherever we want. Social media would likely not exist as it does without the smartphone. It’s probable that the huge changes in the political landscapes over the past 5 years would not have happened without it.


But do you even know how it works? Is having a microwave transmitter right next to your brain or in your pocket a bad thing? Can your mobile actually be killing you? How did the industry grow so quickly and what is the future for radio communications; is 5G the ‘killer’ technology many are making it out to be?

Sean Slater is the Vice-Chair of Edinburgh Skeptics Society and has worked in the mobile phone industry for over 25 years; seeing it grow from an expensive businessman’s toy to the ubiquitous consumer necessity it is now.

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

and other myths about food and health

Pixie Turner

When?
Wednesday, April 10 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Who?
Pixie Turner

What's the talk about?

 Despite a wealth of information at our fingertips there are still so many things we get wrong about our health, and with a new diet book out every other day it’s no wonder people are confused. 

What should we be eating? When? How often? Just how important is food when it comes to our overall health?

Humans have always been a bit weird around food. We’re told eating certain foods are the key to living longer, some foods are ‘sinful’ or ‘bad’, that ‘you are what you eat’, and that we must seek to obtain health at all costs. All this means we follow crazy diets that make things worse rather than better, and have a population where most of us dislike our bodies.

Pixie will unpack why diet and nutrition misinformation is so problematic, on social media, in mass media, and on a public health level, and why we could all benefit from taking a moment to assess our personal relationship with food. Expect some mythbusting, diet rants, and lots of fully-referenced evidence-based science. 

Pixie is a nutritionist (ANutr), food blogger, and science communicator. She graduated with a First Class degree in Biochemistry, and went on to complete a Masters in Nutrition with Distinction. 

She is the brains behind the 'Pixie Nutrition' social media accounts, which aim to infiltrate the wellness movement and debunk nutrition misinformation online. 

In addition, she has been featured as a nutrition expert on BBC and Channel 5, and in publications such as Red magazine, Evening Standard, Grazia, the Telegraph and more. 

Her first book, ‘The Wellness Rebel’ was published early 2018, with her second book, ‘The No Need to Diet Book’ released March 2019.

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

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)