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A Look At How We Tick

Ronald Green

When?
Wednesday, November 14 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Ronald Green

What's the talk about?

Ronald Green will take a skeptical look into what we have been told about time, while delving into the philosophical and scientific ramifications and the centrality of our place within it all. Challenging what is naturally taken for granted, he will forge a link between philosophy and science, blowing away the cobwebs that obscure both.

With time as the core of existence, Ronald's contention that 'now' does not exist opens up questions as to the reality of the past, the potential reality of the future, and leads us to central issues of Reality, Truth, Knowledge, Objectivity, the Self and Consciousness. In brief, a journey that goes to the heart of what it means to be human.

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Ronald Green is the author of "Time To Tell: a look at how we tick" (iff Books, 2018) and "Nothing Matters: a book about nothing" (iff Books, 2011). Philosopher, linguist, author and university lecturer, with 13 ESL books published, Ronald has lectured and given workshops in Europe, North and South America and the Middle East on philosophy, linguistics, ESL and the use of Internet in education. His short stories have been published widely.

David Warden

When?
Wednesday, October 10 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
David Warden

What's the talk about?

The usual response to scepticism about whether Jesus actually existed is condescension and dismissal. It’s claimed that ‘no reputable scholars’ doubt his existence and that Jesus scepticism is a fringe topic for nutters.

All of this changed in 2014 when historian Richard Carrier published ‘On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt’ – a serious work of scholarship which concludes that, whilst the historical existence of Jesus remains a possibility, the probability of this being true is vanishingly small.

David will take us through the main arguments and let you make your own mind up.

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David Warden has a degree in theology from the University of Kent. He is chairman of Dorset Humanists and an Honorary Member of Humanists UK. 

Liam Brierley

When?
Wednesday, September 12 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Liam Brierley

What's the talk about?

We're constantly threatened by outbreaks of new viral diseases, such as SARS and Ebola. This show, first performed at the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, is an interactive pandemic scenario that explores whether humanity is really at risk of extinction from the next viral outbreak. The room is quarantined because of the discovery of a new virus and we'll need the audience's help as we race to understand where this virus might have come from, whether it could go global, and how we could fight to stay one step ahead.

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Liam Brierley is a statistician and epidemiologist with reseach interests in predicting outbreaks of infectious diseases and teaching methodologies in statistics. Liam is also a media advisor for the Royal Statistical Society, and has spoken to national radio and magazines about how crunching numbers can save lives. He is currently a lecturer in statistics at Coventry University.

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.

We Do Things Differently

@optimistontour 

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?

***EVENT CANCELLED DUE TO VENUE AVAILABILITY***

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_

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.

Rebecca Fox

When?
Wednesday, May 9 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Rebecca Fox

What's the talk about?

Most of us weren't born reasonable. We were born into a superstitious culture with only our ramshackle primate brains to try and figure out what’s going on. Reason, an appreciation for evidence and critical thinking skills are virtues that most of us had to fight for and that we have to work hard to keep up in difficult situations.

Rebecca is no exception, she grew up believing many strange things and has had to train herself to think critically. Instead of being embarrassed by our former beliefs Rebecca thinks it is important to have compassion for and interest in what we used to believe and why we believed it. Instead of feeling shame for having been wrong, we should be proud that we had the courage to overturn beliefs that proved to be wrong.

In this talk Rebecca will discuss who she was before, and after she ‘became reasonable’ and overturn the myth that there is such a thing as ‘perfectly reasonable’ we are all, after all, a work in progress.

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Rebecca is passionate about skeptical education because she has found the tools of skepticism to be profoundly empowering. Learning to think clearly has made her safer, more confident and happier. Drawing on her experience as a skeptical educator and comic book artist she will present some ideas that will help you improve your critical thinking skills and the way you think about how you think.

Our Mental Health Confusion

Tashi Maibach

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

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Tashi Maibach

What's the talk about?

Mental Health has become a term widely used to describe a defect in an individual’s ability to deal with everyday thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours.

But what does Mental Health actually mean, and is there a difference between an issue, disability, illness, disorder or a disturbance?

Or has the language we have been using to describe our collective human experiences of stress, anxiety, and depression, prevented us from being able to approach a topic still very much taboo, and stigmatized in today’s society?

Tashi will delve into our mental health confusion with the help of the most current research and statistics to explore why and how we may all be responsible for the way we address, approach and heal not only our own, but more importantly our collective psychological health and well being.

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Tashi Maibach is from Switzerland, and grew up in Bhutan and Nepal. After her first degree, in Psychology at a London University, she completed a Masters Degree in Psychotherapy and Counselling Psychology at Regents University in London.

Since then, she has worked in an array of different settings including the NHS, private practices, charities, and in a residential rehabilitation facility. She is the founder of Let’s Talk Therapy an organization dedicated towards helping individuals gain access to personal therapy and training. Along with running her own practice, she has also recently started working for Dorset Mind, as a Workplace Mental Health and Well Being Trainer.

The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories

Michael Wood

When?
Wednesday, March 14 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Michael Wood

What's the talk about?

Conspiracy theories are everywhere – and, arguably, always have been. What influences us to believe or reject them? Why do some events give rise to more conspiracy theories than others? What does the prevalence of conspiracy theories say about us as a society? And how is The Simpsons like an ancient Babylonian sheep’s liver? This whirlwind tour through conspiracy theory psychology will focus particularly on how suspicion, paranoia, and ambiguity help us to make sense of an uncertain world.

Dr Mike Wood is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Winchester, where he teaches social psychology, political psychology, and research methods, and conducts research on conspiracy theories and the future of methodology and statistical practice in empirical psychology. He has been interviewed on NPR, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, and Slate, and blogs irregularly at ConspiracyPsychology.com.

What does it mean to be human?

Jonathan M.S. Pearce

When?
Wednesday, February 14 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Jonathan M.S. Pearce

What's the talk about?

What does it mean to be human? What is personhood? These are questions that have interested philosophers for a long time. But it is also important for morality and politics. How does it affect abortion or animal rights? When did we start being human? And what does it mean for the future?

Jonathan MS Pearce will explore these questions and others from a philosophical angle, and suggest the possible implications of answers that have been proposed.

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Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, blogger, author and public speaker. He has a wide range of topics that interest him, most specifically ones that concern the existence of God. It’s something of an obsession…

As an author, Pearce writes about these subjects that fascinate him hugely. His books include “Free Will?”, “The Little Book of Unholy Questions”, “The Nativity: A Critical Examination”, “The Problem with ‘God’”; “13 Reasons to Doubt” and “Not Seeing God: Atheism in the 21st Century”. He has also reached out into the world of fiction with his apocalyptic and philosophical series “Survival of the Fittest”.   

He talks on a number of topics and loves a good Q&A session to see what the audience comes up with…

Catch him on his Patheos blog at “A Tippling Philosopher”.

Are We Nearly There Yet?

Alice Howarth

When?
Wednesday, January 10 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
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?

In this talk, Alice Howarth 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.

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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. 

How to be a Mathematical Charlatan

Barney Maunder-Taylor

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

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Barney Maunder-Taylor

What's the talk about?

The rise of the pocket calculator in the 1970’s led very quickly to the demise of a once ubiquitous mathematical skill: that of the Human Calculator. As a result of this, easy tricks that speed up mental calculations are now little known, allowing amateur mathemagicians to “bluff it” very easily with a few simple techniques.

Concurrently, the curtain has come down on the cheerful “wink at the camera” magicians of the 1980’s, some of whom now seem twee by today’s cultural standards. Instead, the last two decades have seen the rise of a new brand of psychological magician, with the likes of David Blaine, Derren Brown, and others presenting their tricks as feats of Mentalism rather then as conjuring tricks to be enjoyed for what they are. 

While genuine “human calculators” are still treading the boards, these changing times have created an ideally fertile breeding ground for performers who wish to pass themselves off as a genius, together with a public eager to enjoy tricks which are presented as feats of extreme mental agility. From a sceptical viewpoint, how can we tell the difference between real and fake human calculators?

In this entertaining talk Barney Maunder-Taylor will lift the lid on some of the mathematical gimmicks and shortcuts popular with magicians, entertainers and genuine mathemagicians, including a step-by-step guide to convincing someone you are a mathematical savant. The evening will demonstrate some simple maths behind the performing of apparently superhuman feats of mathematical dexterity and mind-reading, but all with minimal effort. Whether you wish to share these secrets with others or keep them to yourself and pose as a mathematical charlatan is up to you.

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Barney Maunder-Taylor MA (Oxon) is a freelance mathematical enrichment speaker, the “Guild of Jesters” Jester of Bournemouth, and a former Champion of Countdown (season 62).

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