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Chris French

When?
Wednesday, February 8 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Chris French

What's the talk about?

Opinion polls repeatedly show relatively high levels of belief in ghosts even in modern Western societies. Furthermore, a sizeable minority of the population claim to have personally encountered a ghost.

This talk will consider a number of factors that may lead people to claim that they have experienced a ghost even though they may not in fact have done so.

Topics covered will include hoaxes, sincere misinterpretation of natural phenomena, hallucinatory experiences and pareidolia (seeing things that are not there), inattentional blindness (not seeing things that are there), the fallibility of eyewitness testimony, the possible role of complex electromagnetic fields and infrasound, photographic evidence, electronic voice phenomenon (EVP), and the role of the media.

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Professor Chris French is a British psychologist specialising in the psychology of paranormal beliefs and experiences, cognition and emotion. He is the head of the Goldsmiths, University of London's anomalistic psychology research unit and appears regularly in the media as an expert on testing paranormal claims.

Updates from the front line

Gregory Ashton

When?
Wednesday, January 11 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Gregory Ashton

What's the talk about?

Late in 1915 Einstein presented the final form of his theory of gravity: General Relativity. This description of nature has so far stood the test of countless rigorous tests and has led to many new insights from exotic black-holes to the shape of the universe itself.


However, advances in technology and our understanding of astrophysics led to the establishment of an international collaboration LIGO/Virgo which built a gravitational wave detector and announced the first detection in February 2016 (https://www.ligo.caltech.edu/detection). This event, the final seconds of a merger between two black holes, marks a new era of gravitational wave astronomy.

In this talk Greg will discuss the historical significance of Einstein's General Relativity, the relevance of gravitational waves and their potential, and describe the current status of the LIGO/Virgo detectors.

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Greg Ashton is a postdoctoral researcher at the Albert Einstein Institute for gravitational wave physics in Hannover, Germany having recently finished his PhD at the University of Southampton. He specialises in the physics of neutron stars and the data analysis of detecting continuous gravitational waves.

How do our genes work?

Kat Arney

When?
Wednesday, December 14 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Kat Arney

What's the talk about?

The language of genes has become common in the media. We know they make your eyes blue, your hair curly or your nose straight. We're told that genes control the risk of cancer, heart disease, alcoholism or Alzheimer's. The cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted from billions of pounds to a few hundred, and gene-based advances in medicine hold huge promise.

There are 2.2 metres of DNA inside every one of your cells, encoding roughly 20,000 genes. These are the 'recipes' that tell our cells how to make the building blocks of life, along with all the control switches ensuring they're turned on and off at the right time and in the right place. But rather than a static string of genetic code, this is a dynamic, writhing biological library. With the help of cats with thumbs, fish with hips and wobbly worms, Kat will unpack some of the mysteries in our DNA and explain the latest thinking about how our genes work.

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Dr Kat Arney is a science communicator and award-winning blogger for Cancer Research UK, as well as a freelance science writer and broadcaster whose work has featured on BBC Radio 4, the Naked Scientists and more. She recently published her first book, Herding Hemingway's Cats, about how our genes work.

Jonathan M.S Pearce

When?
Wednesday, November 9 2016 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?

This century has seen the emergence of Islam as a religion closely connected to violence and terrorism. With regrettable regularity the latest religiously inspired terror attack fills the news broadcasts around the world, whether they be the work of ISIS, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda or other such group. However these events are also vociferously condemned by peaceful Islamic groups as being distinctly against the teachings of the Quran. Islam is a religion of peace and unity for many Muslims across the world.

To investigate whether violence is a part of Islam, and to what extent, Jonathan will examine in turn; the Quran, the history of the prophet of Muhammad, and modern day interpretations given by Muslims. However regardless of his conclusion Jonathan will consider what role political expediency plays in accepting the narrative that fundamentalists are acting outside of the religion. It may be more desirable to accept a more moderate interpretation of Islam, even if it is less accurate.

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Jonathan is a philosopher and author of several books of philosophy and theology. He is a founding member of both Tippling Philosophers and the Skeptic Ink Network, and regularly blogs on the Patheos website.

James Brown

When?
Wednesday, October 12 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
James Brown

What's the talk about?

Hypnosis is a subject that divides opinion. The Marmite of the entertainment industry if you like. The problem is that hypnosis has been shrouded in mystery for years and the reasons why it works, or at least appear to, are as numerous as they are contradictory.

In this demonstration/talk James Brown will show you what is really going on when someone is hypnotised and along the way ‘kill some of the gods’. Sleep, trance, relaxation are all synonymous with hypnosis but during the course of the evening James will prove that they are not needed at all… Hypnosis really isn’t how it appears…

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James has a background originally within the field of psychiatric nursing which grew over time into a love of the mind. Just after leaving university James became interested in the link between his understanding of psychology and the conjuring’s of the magician. This led to an eventual career change and a life pursuing magic, con artistry, persuasion and hypnosis. 20 years on, his work life is divided between lecturing, performing and consulting for media projects and his training company POWA Academy. Somewhere in all this he also wrote a book.

The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories

Karen Douglas

When?
Wednesday, September 14 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Karen Douglas

What's the talk about?

Was 9/11 an inside job? Is climate change a hoax? Was Princess Diana murdered? Millions of people appear to think so, disbelieving official explanations for significant events in favour of alternative accounts that are often called ‘conspiracy theories’.

In recent years, psychologists have begun to investigate what makes conspiracy theories appealing to so many people. In this talk, Karen will broadly overview what psychologists have found out so far, and will discuss some of her own findings on the causes and consequences of believing in conspiracy theories.

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Karen Douglas is a Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Kent. She studies the psychology of conspiracy theories and the social consequences of conspiracism.

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Free entry. All welcome.

David Warden

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

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
David Warden

What's the talk about?

In this talk, David Warden will dispel some common myths and misunderstandings about Humanism, and briefly explain the history of Humanism and its roots in classical Greek philosophy.

He will also challenge those who ‘prefer not to be labelled’ as Humanists, even though they sign up to humanist values, to consider whether this kind of neutrality is a luxury we can no longer afford. Powerful forces against reason, democracy, and liberalism are being propagated in the world, aggressively funded with hundreds of billions of dollars.

Are we content to stand on the sidelines and let the forces of unreason make steady advances in the world, even when this ‘battle for the mind’ is targeted at young children? Stephen Fry has said “It’s essential to nail one’s colours to the mast as a humanist.”

We’ll explore why Stephen Fry, Shappi Khorsandi, Jim Al-Khalili and many other scientists, philosophers, writers, journalists, and popular entertainers are saying this today.

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David Warden is Chair of Dorset Humanists and he is currently studying person-centred therapeutic counselling. He has degrees in theology and management and was a business trainer for many years. Dorset Humanists is a Partner of the British Humanist Association.

 

...to prevent modern medicine meltdown?

John Broughall

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

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
John Broughall

What's the talk about?

Multi-drug antibiotic resistance has been recognised as a global threat to health yet the solutions to this issue are not obvious, the current commercially driven pharmaceutical process does not appear fit for purpose. The charity that John is representing tonight, Antibiotic Research UK, is proposing a new approach to overcome this impasse, he will discuss their plans and the science behind their proposal.

John Broughall will discuss the issue of why the antibiotic development pipeline has dried up: what are the problems and why the pharmaceutical industry is not investing in research and development to produce new compounds.

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John is a PhD microbiologist who has spent most of his career in the diagnostics industry including the development of rapid and automated methods for use in microbiology laboratories. Latterly he has worked in the medical departments of two major pharmaceutical companies focusing on both antibiotics and also new oncology compounds. He now runs his own consultancy business but is also a volunteer for Antibiotic Research UK.

Ash Pryce

When?
Wednesday, June 8 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! Gather ye round the travelling 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 (or a magician's tool book, whichever sounds more wondrous). See with amazement the telekinetic forces at work as you learn how to move objects with your mind, psychically manipulate your finest silverware and read the minds of your peers.  Or maybe, it’s all just a trick?


Whereas the sister show 'How to Talk to the Dead' looked specifically at spirit communication in the past, 'How to be a Psychic Conman' will look at the more incredible, magical side of psychic 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.

The show will involve demonstrations and explanations of telekinesis tricks, metal bending, psychic surgery and remote viewing as well as look at government funded research into psychic phenomena, and the shoddy protocols that allowed “psychics” to beat the legendary Zener card experiments in the 1930s.

And if that wasn’t enough, interspersed throughout the show will be numerous on stage demonstrations of mentalism to add an extra layer of entertainment to the proceedings.  

Warning to those on the front row… there will be blood!

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Ash Pryce is a mentalist and paranormal entertainer based in Scotland.  After years of working for the worlds most haunted location (according to the ghost tour that owned it) he created the worlds first skeptical Ghost Tour which still runs during the Edinburgh Festival.  He is the founder of Edinburgh Skeptics Society as well as co-host of The Spooktator podcast, investigating paranormal news from a rational viewpoint

Follow him on Twitter @psychicconman or visit www.ashpryce.co.uk

The Reality Behind the Myths

Darren Naish

When?
Wednesday, May 11 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Darren Naish

What's the talk about?

For as long as people have been exploring the sea, there have been tales of terrifying marine monsters that do not properly match any creatures known to science.

Debates about their actual existence or what they might really be have continued for decades, if not centuries. Known also as cryptids, they have spawned a body of research known as cryptozoology.

This entertaining talk will look at the evidence of these mysterious monsters, explore what they might really be (if they exist at all) and why they have been represented as they have.

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Darren Naish is a science writer, technical editor and palaeozoologist (affiliated with the University of Southampton, UK).

darrennaish.wordpress.com

@TetZoo

 

 

Sense About Science

Claire Marriott

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

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Claire Marriott

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.

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.

Come and hear what the campaign is going to do next and how you can get involved.

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Dr Claire Marriott is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Brighton and has been involved in diabetes research for over 11 years. She has always had a passion for promoting science with the public and has been a part of the Voice of Young Science network since 2009. She has contributed to a number of VOYS publications and been an active campaigner for the Ask for Evidence movement since it began.

Sense about Science

How we get science coverage wrong

David Robert Grimes

When?
Wednesday, March 9 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
David Robert Grimes

What's the talk about?

Science and medicine have transformed our lives immeasurably, and never in history have they been more central to our lives and well-being. Yet despite this, there is often a glaring disconnect between the findings of actual science and media reporting of such topics, and consequently there is often a needless chasm between public perception and the evidence on many contentious topics. This can lead to needlessly adversarial and counter-productive discourse of everything from vaccination to climate-change.

In this talk, physicist and science journalist Dr. David Robert Grimes discusses the frequent problems in reporting science from misunderstandings to bad statistics to false balance, and discusses the factors that influence this and how such problems can be remedied.

Dr. David Robert Grimes (@drg1985) is a physicist and writes regular opinion and analysis pieces on scientific issues for the Irish Times and the Guardian science. He keeps a blog on these topics at www.davidrobertgrimes.com