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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).

Erik Mackie

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

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Erik Mackie

What's the talk about?

Our climate is changing. Driven by greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, global temperatures are increasing year on year. 2016 was the warmest year since records began in 1880, as were 2015 and 2014 before it. 

Sea level rise is a major and dramatic consequence of our warming climate. As global temperatures increase, our oceans are warming, causing the ocean water to expand. On top of that, melting glaciers and ice sheets are adding more water to the oceans. Global average sea level has already risen by about 20 cm over the past century, and will continue to rise for many centuries to come. This poses a significant risk to millions of people around the world living in low-lying coastal areas.

But by how much is global sea level projected to rise in the future? How does sea level change vary locally from the global average? Why will sea level rise be higher in southern England than in Scotland? And how does sea level rise increase the risk of flooding from storm surges?

In this talk, Erik Mackie will answer these and other questions, and explore the causes and impacts of past, current and future sea level rise. He will explain the science and discuss the implications of sea level rise with examples and case studies from the UK and worldwide. 

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Erik Mackie is a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Bristol and British Antarctic Survey. His research focuses on the circulation of the Southern Ocean, and its response to Climate Change. He also worked as a Postgraduate Fellow at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology in Westminster, where he wrote a parliamentary briefing note for MPs and Lords on sea level rise.

How to Think More Effectively

Phil James

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

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Phil James

What's the talk about?

Why do we believe that air travel is more dangerous than car travel, despite statistics proving the opposite is true? 

Why are judges more likely to deny parole before lunch? 

And why do we forget to eat when focused on an interesting project? 

In his best-selling book, ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’, Nobel Prize winning behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman explored the intuitive biases and irrationality in our decision making, and explained that we use two thinking systems which he calls ‘System 1’ and ‘System 2’. System 1 operates on the illusory principle: ‘what you see is all there is’ - it’s fast and automatic but conclusions come to you without any awareness of how you were arrived at them. System 2 takes effortful concentration, and we are aware of the mental processes it is using, but it is lazy and easily overridden by the quick convenience of System 1.

Kahneman also details a series of heuristics ("rules of thumb") we use in our thinking that can bias the accuracy of our decision making, and considers how understanding these mental shortcuts can help us recognise the situations in which mistakes are likely so we can try harder to avoid significant mistakes when the stakes are high. 

Phil James will present an entertaining exposition of Kahneman’s key psychological observations, with a special focus on how we can use our new-found knowledge of the cognitive biases, fallacies and illusions revealed in the book to improve the effectiveness of our thinking in our everyday lives.

Does a photo of eyes make you more honest?

Can smiling as you read this make you more confident this talk will be worth attending? 

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Phil James MSc MBPsS FRSA is a Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society and a retired PhD researcher at Bournemouth University.

Richard Aspinall

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

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Richard Aspinall

What's the talk about?

Immortality has held us fascinated throughout history and there are many examples of individuals searching for the elixir of life or the fountain of youth because they wished to live forever. There are even reports that some like the Comte de St Germain have succeeded...

More recently the goals have been modified or even shifted slightly with reports that rather than being immortal we will soon be able to live to be 1000 years old, that’s if we start treating the body like a machine and replacing those bits that wear out with time.

All of this seems plausible and the problems seem to be associated with the issues of overcrowding, supporting ourselves or how do we pay for the treatments. This skips over the first problem which is how we identify age related changes in the body and deal with them. None of us want to end up like Tithonus who was made immortal by Zeus, but forgot to ask for eternal youth and as he aged he withered and begged for death.

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Professor Richard Aspinall is a recognised expert in the area of age associated immune deficiencies and issues concerning vaccination in older people.

He is a member of the British Society for Immunology, the British Transplantation Society and the British Society for Research on Ageing. He has been a Member of MRC College of Experts, a member of the Board of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Postgraduate Medical School, Chairman of the British Society for Research on Ageing and a consultant for several major pharmaceutical companies.

Exploring the Brain's Electricity

Mark Dallas

When?
Wednesday, August 9 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Mark Dallas

What's the talk about?

Here we will explore the wonders of neuroscience and the power of our own bodies' electricity. From Frankenstein to neuroprosthetics, this presentation will delve into how we can record this electricity, what it means and how we can harness it for amazing things.

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Dr. Mark Dallas is a lecturer in Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience at the University of Reading. His research focuses on understanding Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Dr Dallas has published many research papers in prominent journals such as the Journal of Neuroscience and the British Journal of Pharmacology.

How one ex Jehovah's Witness fell into the 'trap of independent thinking'

Lydia Finch

When?
Wednesday, July 12 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Lydia Finch

What's the talk about?

Lydia Finch was born and raised a Jehovah's Witness (JW), but left the organisation at age 18 over twenty years ago.  Recently, she has directed her attention to the harmful practices of JWs and other cults, such as shunning, child abuse, and the forbidding of blood transfusions.

Ms. Finch wants to expose the workings of these cults - historically the purview of atheist, secular, and humanist organisations - and show why, although Jehovah's Witnesses are considered a small fringe religion, their policies should concern the wider community.

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Twitter: @FinchLydia

Rumit Somaiya

When?
Wednesday, June 14 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Rumit Somaiya

What's the talk about?

Rumit Somaiya has spent the past 25 years touring casinos throughout the world with his team. Their aim is simply to overcome the 'House Advantage' using all cerebral methods available, in order to amass fortunes. Historically 'Blackjack', 'Pontoon' and '21' have been the games of choice. The most well known method is 'card counting' which is surprisingly easy to learn but many other legal methods of 'casino advantage play' will be discussed.
 
Rumit will also discuss other forms of gambling including 'Sports Betting', 'Fixed odds betting' and the national lottery. Most people don't understand the maths of gambling, and sadly addiction is a major issue.