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Dr Fiona MacCallum

When?
Wednesday, February 10 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Dr Fiona MacCallum

What's the talk about?

 What does the modern family look like? Technology has led to the creation of families that were not previously possible; a woman can become pregnant with, and give birth to, a child who is not genetically related to her. Parents don’t have to be in a female-male couple but can be with a same-sex partner or going it alone. Many assumptions are made about the best situation for children but what is actually known about the psychological effects of being raised in a “non-traditional” family? I’ll discuss research which investigates different family types and asks questions such as does it matter if a child has two mums or two dads? What do parents tell their children about how they were conceived? And when it comes to family relationships, is “blood” really thicker than water? 


Fiona MacCallum is a developmental psychologist with a particular interest in parent-child relationships and their influence on children’s social and emotional wellbeing. She began to research the psychology of new family forms in 1996, and has specialised in the study of non-genetic families. Fiona is an Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Warwick.

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.

Sense About Science

When?
Wednesday, January 13 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Sense About Science

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.


The 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.

 

 

Deborah Hyde

When?
Wednesday, December 9 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Deborah Hyde

What's the talk about?

Krampus, a demon-like creature from Alpine folklore, punishes naughty children at Christmas - in contrast with Jolly St Nicholas who brings presents. Krampusnacht, usually celebrated on December 5th, involves dressing up as the Krampus and roaming the streets frightening children with chains and bells. The Krampus phenomenon has been re-kindled; growing in popularity in the US and increasingly appearing in the UK.

We'll look at where Christmas really comes from. See if you get candies.... or coal and a thrashing.

Deborah Hyde is editor of the Skeptic Magazine (skeptic.org.uk) and writes about belief in the malign macarbre at www.jourdemayne.com

 

This is a free event, although donations to help fund Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub events are appreciated. We suggest £2, or whatever you can afford. Seats are limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Mind Reader. Cult Leader. Dave

David Alnwick

When?
Wednesday, November 18 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
David Alnwick

What's the talk about?

Please Note - Once again this is not our usual second Wednesdayl Normal service will be resumed in December.

David Alnwick takes his critically acclaied magic show on tour, gathering new followers in order to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming the leader of his own cult. Employing practical, real world examples of 'social manipulation', Dave will entertain, excite and inspire. Come and worship at the feet of your new lord and commander. 

"F***ing Ninja Ginger Wizard" - ThreeWeeks

"COMPLETELY F***ING AWESOME" - The Skinny

"Impossible tricks, indestructible wit, he is charming, fluid and insanely quick!" - #SRCZ

After the performance there will be a 30 minute talk on the ideas and techniques employed within the show including some mention on the wider psychology in play. This will be followed with a 20 minute question and answer session.

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.

Suw Charman-Anderson

When?
Wednesday, October 7 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Suw Charman-Anderson

What's the talk about?

Please Note - This is not our usual second Wednesday!

 

In 2009, Suw Charman-Anderson founded of Ada Lovelace Day, an international celebration of the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. With grassroots events held around the world and thousands of people writing and talking about the women who have inspired them, the day seeks to raise women's profiles and highlight unsung heroines.

Suw will talk about why there's a need for such a day, and also about Ada Lovelace herself. Lauded as the first ever computer programmer, Ada was a gifted mathematician, yet today she faces challenges from many voices as to the veracity of her contributions to computer science. So who was Ada? And what do we know about her work on Charles Babbage's Analytical Engine?

Suw is a social technologist and, as one of the UK's social media pioneers, has worked with clients worldwide. A freelance journalist, she has written about social media and technology for The Guardian, CIO Magazine and others.

Learn more about Ada Lovelace Day, 13 October 2015, at www.findingada.com or follow the team on Twitter at @findingada. Suw's blog is at www.chocolateandvodka.com and you can follow her on Twitter as @suw.

 

This is a free event, although donations to help fund Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub events are appreciated. We suggest £2, or whatever you can afford. Seats are limited and offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Michael Lachmann

When?
Wednesday, September 9 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Michael Lachmann

What's the talk about?

When Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon in 1969 - the Americans entered history as the winners of the Space Race. This isn't their story.

Micky Lachmann is going to talk about their competitors the Soviets, and how they managed to beat the Americans to almost every milestone in Space.

It's a story we don't know very well - the Soviets operated under a shroud of almost total secrecy. But some of the early cosmonauts are still alive and have incredible and often terrifying stories to tell. So this is also an account of going to Russia and trying to find these amazing - and mostly bad tempered - men and women.

Micky studied Natural Sciences and then dropped out of a PhD in tropical fish behaviour to work in science journalism. Over 15 years at the BBC he has worked on - among other things - Walking with Beasts, many Horizon's and is partly responsible for bringing Brian Cox to our screens - for which he is very sorry.

 

When?
Tuesday, August 25 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Temple Court,
115, Corporation St,
Birmingham,
West Midlands,
B4 6PH

Who?

What's the talk about?

Wow, we haven't had a social since March, time to put that right. There may well be some people out of Birmingham at this time, sunning themselves on beaches and all that. For those of us left behind what could be better than a convivial drink and chat with interesting people at one of Birmingham's not so premier but definitely spacious and cheaper drinking establishments.

Socials are a good chance to chat about skeptical or any other topics or to tell us what you think about the talks we have had. If you don't have anyone to come with and you're a bit wary let us know and we can arrange to meet you outside if you like, birminghamskeptics(at)gmail.com works.

You'll find us looking skeptical towards the back of the pub near the disabled access door.

Cheers and see you there!

 

 You can also let us know you're coming via the Facebook event:

https://www.facebook.com/events/877744075649719/

 

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.

Jonathan Ferguson

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

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Where?

48 John Bright Street
Birmingham
B1 1BN

Who?
Jonathan Ferguson

What's the talk about?

This is the second of our supernatural themed talks in association with the Shock and Gore festival at the Electric Cinema.

 

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’.

"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

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.

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