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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. 

Why Do Humans Often Act Against Their Own Best Interests?

James Erskine

When?
Wednesday, May 10 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
James Erskine

What's the talk about?

One common human experience is to formulate an intention to behave in a certain way, for example to only have one drink in the pub, to return the dry cleaning on time or not to talk to the attractive colleague at work.

However it is equally the case that on many of these occasions we not only fail to complete our intention but often do something resembling the complete opposite of the intention. This talk will examine some explanations for why this might be so common and potential ways to regain a degree of measured control.

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Dr James Erskine grew up in many places and has a broad perspective on most issues. His background is in healthcare and university settings. He trained as a psychologist and holds a BSc in psychology, MSc in statistics and research methods, PhD in psychology and a second clinical doctorate in counseling psychology. He has studied and worked in various universities (Hertfordshire, Cambridge, Harvard, Regents, St George’s) and hospitals / GP surgeries (St George’s, Shenley, Harperbury, Kneesworth House, Orford Lodge), as an educator, researcher and clinician. 

In the distant past he worked at other jobs (mail room sorter, hospital porter, kitchen assistant, cleaner, prison officer, writer, personal assistant).

He has published scientific journal articles in the fields of psychology and healthcare. Furthermore he has published poetry in several anthologies. He was married, is now divorced and lives with his daughter in London. He currently runs a therapy centre in London and Hertfordshire providing treatment excellence to private clients and companies.

http://www.londonhertstherapy.com/

http://www.drjameserskine.co.uk/

Maia Elliott

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

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Maia Elliott

What's the talk about?

We have tens-of-thousands of genes in our DNA, but not all of them are activated at the same time. Our genes can be switched "on" and "off" in response to our environment via an evolutionary mechanism called epigenetics. In the absence of life-threatening environmental pressures, lifestyle and environment are major drivers of epigenetic changes that can impact our health.

This talk will reveal how our daily choices can induce short-term and long-term (epi)genetic changes, discuss some of the epigenetic changes that have been linked to common diseases, and highlight the current scientific evidence of transgenerational epigenetics; how our environment not only affects our own gene activity, but those of future generations too!

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Maia Elliott is a science communicator and is currently working on her PhD in Nutrigenomics at the University of Surrey.

Ed Atkinson

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

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Where?

199 Malmesbury Park Road,
Charminster
Bournemouth
BH8 8PX

Who?
Ed Atkinson

What's the talk about?

Burning carbon must be driven from our cheap-energy economy on a global scale - and soon - to stop a looming disaster.

But is there a workable way to drive out Carbon? If nations, corporations or individuals ‘do the right thing’ and burn less carbon won’t that just make coal, oil and gas cheaper for everyone else? Just how cheap does installing new solar need to be to make it cheaper than turning on the valves in the Saudi oil fields? It is easy to lose hope that change is possible, especially in Trump-World.

The USA is the key to change and a group originating in the US 'Citizens Climate Lobby’ (CCL) is doing well there (notably with Republicans). They advocate a policy of a Carbon Fee which is all used to make a Dividend to the populace, thus making for a policy that is effective and politically attractive (most people are made better off).  There really is hope.

In this talk a local representative from CCL, Ed Atkinson, will outline the policy options and their merits. He’ll include Cap & Trade, subsidising renewables and efficiency measures, divestment, Carbon Taxes and its variant the CCL policy of Carbon Fee and Dividend. 

Ed will be delighted to get awkward questions leading to discussion in the SitP group.

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Ed Atkinson was a Senior Scientist at the former government research lab 'HR Wallingford' where he worked on water resources issues in Africa and Asia. 

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.