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 Wednesday 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).

Norman Fenton

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

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Norman Fenton

What's the talk about?

Every day in the news we are bombarded with statistics about risk: whether it is the health risks or benefits of consuming certain types of food and drink, the risk of climate ‘events’ from different types of human activity or the risks associated with different modes of transport, the narratives are often contradictory and difficult to understand.

In fact, Norman would argue that most of the statistics about risk that you read about are either misleading or completely flawed. This is due to basic misunderstandings of probability.

This talk will highlight how such misunderstandings often lead to flawed decision-making in many critical areas such as medicine, the law and transport safety planning. He will highlight how a simple mathematical formula (Bayes’ Theorem) can help avoid most of these errors when coupled with causal models of risk.

Bayesian reasoning and analysis offers us a remarkable insight into why the world behaves the way it does and how we can prepare ourselves for future events. This presentation is informed by many years of work in risk assessment which ranges from helping the aviation authorities to avoid mid-air collisions through to interpreting forensic evidence in murder trials, and even beating the bookies at football betting.

Speaker

Norman Fenton is Professor of Risk Information Management at Queen Mary London University and is also a Director of Agena, a company that specialises in risk management for critical systems. Norman, who is a mathematician by training, works on quantitative risk assessment. This typically involves analysing and predicting the probabilities of unknown events using Bayesian statistical methods including especially causal, probabilistic models (Bayesian networks). This type of reasoning enables improved assessment by taking account of both statistical data and also expert judgment.

In April 2014 Norman was awarded one of the prestigious European Research Council Advanced Grants (BAYES-KNOWLEDGE) to focus on these issues. Norman's experience in risk assessment covers a wide range of application domains such as legal reasoning (he has been an expert witness in major criminal and civil cases), medical analytics, vehicle reliability, embedded software, transport systems, financial services, and football prediction.

Norman has a special interest in raising public awareness of the importance of probability theory and Bayesian reasoning in everyday life (including how to present such reasoning in simple lay terms) and he maintains a website dedicated to this and also a blog focusing on probability and the law. In March 2015 Norman presented the award-winning BBC documentary Climate Change by Numbers.

Why is 3 so much bigger than 2?

Ben Barber

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

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Ben Barber

What's the talk about?

Maths is about patterns—spotting patterns, then working out whether they carry on forever.  Sometimes you spot patterns in the patterns—similar things happen in different settings—and then you have to ask "why?".

There are lots of places where changing a 2 to a 3 makes all the difference, turning a problem we can solve into one so complicated we may never be able to understand it.  Two player games can be played perfectly by a computer (in theory) but three player games cannot.  It's easy to tell whether exams can be scheduled across two time slots so that no students have any clashes, but very hard to tell whether three time slots are enough. 

In this presentation, Ben Barber will explain some examples of this phenomenon, then speculate wildly about what is going on.

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Ben Barber is a mathematician at the University of Bristol, where he counts the things that don't need to be counted.  He likes to tell stories, and most other things you can do on a stage.

babarber.uk

@bbarber_

Stories from the Frontline of the Future

Mark Stevenson

When?
Wednesday, August 8 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Mark Stevenson

What's the talk about?

Our systems are failing. Old models – for education, healthcare, government, food production and energy supply – are creaking under the weight of modern challenges. As the world’s population heads towards 10 billion, it is clear we need new approaches. 

Futurologist Mark Stevenson sets out to find them, uncovering an enthralling picture of what can be done to address the world’s most pressing dilemmas, a journey that offers a much needed dose of down-to-earth optimism. It is a window on (and a roadmap to) a different and better future.

Mark will be fitting as much as possible into his talk - this is a 100 mile-an-hour tour into the future, but fear not, there will be a time for questions and answers in the second half and for unpacking some of his ideas more fully!

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Mark Stevenson is a writer, entrepreneur, broadcaster, reluctant futurologist and founder of The League of Pragmatic Optimists. He has written for Radio 4, the Times, Sunday Times, Wall Street Journal, Telegraph, Guardian and New Statesman, and is the author of the critically acclaimed An Optimist’s Tour of the Future.

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