Bournemouth Skeptics in the Pub invite a guest speaker every month to come and discuss something interesting with us. The talks can be about science, reason and critical thinking, conspiracy, the paranormal, cults and so on. Listen, have a drink and ask some questions of our speaker.

We meet on the second Tuesday of each month at The Brunswick Pub, 199 Malmesbury Park Rd, Charminster, BH8 8PX (5 minutes by car or 15 minutes on foot from Bournemouth Station).

Matthew Tompkins

When?
Tuesday, October 8 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road
Charminster
Bournemouth
Dorset
BH8 8PX

Who?
Matthew Tompkins

What's the talk about?

Is seeing believing? Is believing seeing? How can we hope to conduct experiments on things that only exist within our minds, and, on a related note, can scientists ever be trusted to study deception without being deceived themselves? What can scientists learn about the mind from the illusions developed and practiced by professional magicians? Join magician and experimental psychologist Dr. Matthew L. Tompkins, author of The Spectacle of Illusion, for a fascinating talk exploring the psychology of magic.

Everyone's heard, and most of us have told, a story about an uncanny or supernatural seeming experience. Accounts of wondrous and impossible phenomena can be found around the world throughout recorded history. These extraordinary events often seem to be facilitated by extra-ordinary individuals: sorcerers, spiritual mediums, psychic sensitives. Such phenomena have even been reported under 'test conditions', witnessed by scientists—men professionally trained in the practice of empirical observation. To date, such events have not led conventional scientists to embrace the reality of supernatural phenomena- but they have arguably led to scientific breakthroughs how we understand the psychology of illusion.

This talk will feature a mixture of storytelling and magical scientific demonstrations to explore how scientists, past and present, have approached the study of illusion. Matt will discuss how magic played a weird but fundamental role in the in the establishment of psychology as a scientific discipline, and how he and other contemporary researchers have been using magic tricks to create new experiments in order to investigate human memory, perception, and reasoning.

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American magician-turned-psychologist Dr. Matthew L. Tompkins completed his DPhil in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. Previously, he had obtained a BA in Psychology at the State University of New York at Geneseo and an MSc in Psychological Research from Oxford. He is currently a Visiting Academic at The Queen’s College, Oxford and also works as a freelance writer.

His research, which has been featured across various international media outlets, including the Washington Post and BBC Future, focuses on the cognitive psychology of illusions. Matt was working as professional magician before he began his academic career, and his experiences performing continue to influence his work. He is the first member of The Magic Circle to have been admitted on the basis of a peer-reviewed scientific publication. His new book, The Spectacle of Illusion, explores the historical and contemporary relationships between scientists, magicians, and fraudulent mystics. matt-tompkins.com/soi

When your mind is in my mind

When?
Tuesday, November 12 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road
Charminster
Bournemouth
Dorset
BH8 8PX

Who?
Xun He

What's the talk about?

Human beings are evolutionarily shaped social animals. We often play and work together either independently or aiming at common goals. Have you ever wondered that, when we are engaged in group activities, whether we perform everyday tasks in the same way as we do them alone?

Recent findings in psychology showed that one person’s cognition and behaviour (such as attention, memory, perception, and action) can be shaped by another person who performs similar tasks in the same environment. But the answer to the question is more complicated than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

This talk will introduce these findings and to explain the theories behind. You will see psychological experiments in action and be engaged with some tests and discussions.

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Dr Xun He is a senior lecturer working at Department of Psychology, Bournemouth University. As an experimental psychologist and a social neuroscientist, he studies the behaviour and neural underpinnings of social attention and social perception. The main research question he asks is how human attention and perception performance is shaped by social interactions.

What, why, and how do we respond?

When?
Tuesday, December 10 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road
Charminster
Bournemouth
Dorset
BH8 8PX

Who?
Stephan Lewandowsky

What's the talk about?

Imagine a world that considers knowledge to be "elitist''. Imagine a world in which it is not medical knowledge but a free-for-all opinion market on Twitter that determines whether a newly emergent strain of avian flu is really contagious to humans.

This dystopian future is still just that---a possible future. However, there are signs that public discourse is evolving in this direction: Terms such as ``post-truth'' and ``fake news'', largely unknown until 2016, have exploded into media and public discourse.

Professor Stephan Lewandowsky will explore the implications of the growing abundance of misinformation in the public sphere, how it influences people and how to counter it. He argues that for counter-measures to be effective, they must be informed by the larger political, technological, and societal context.

The post-truth world arguably emerged as a result of societal mega-trends, such as a decline in social capital, growing economic inequality, increased polarization, declining trust in science, and an increasingly fractionated media landscape. Considered against the background of those over-arching trends, misinformation in the post-truth era can no longer be considered solely an isolated failure of individual cognition that can be corrected with appropriate communication tools.

Stephan suggests that responses to the post-truth era must therefore be multi-pronged, including technological solutions that incorporate psychological principles, an interdisciplinary approach that we describe as "technocognition.'' Technocognition uses findings from cognitive science to inform the design of information architectures that encourage the dissemination of high-quality information and that discourage the spread of misinformation.

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Professor Stephan Lewandowsky is a cognitive scientist at the University of Bristol. He was an Australian Professorial Fellow from 2007 to 2012, and was awarded a Discovery Outstanding Researcher Award from the Australian Research Council in 2011. He is an award-winning teacher and was Associate Editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition from 2006-2008.

He is currently serving as Digital Content Editor for the Psychonomic Society and blogs routinely on cognitive research at https://featuredcontent.psychonomic.org/. His personal blog is at http://www.shapingtomorrowsworld.org/.