Skeptics in the Pub, Oxford

Thinking and drinking. That is the unlikely goal of our meeting. Each month we invite a speaker to give a talk and invite critical debate. We encourage sceptical thought and we enjoy challenging discussions. We also welcome humour and we intend to have a good time.

The meetings are open to all, no matter what your prior beliefs. We ask that you come along with a willingness to be challenged in your beliefs and we provide an opportuity for you to challenge others - and to enjoy a drink or two.

Unless stated otherwise, our talks take place on the first Wednesday of every month at St Aldates Tavern and kick off at 7.30PM - please arrive in plenty of time if you want a seat, as we tend to get busy, and let us know in advance if you have difficulty standing so that we can reserve a place for you.

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Our next topic is...

Deborah Hyde

When?
Wednesday, May 2 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Deborah Hyde

What's the talk about?

Witchcraft became big news in the 16th and 17th centuries. Torrents of learned discussion turned to action, and the corpses piled high.

But where did the legal infrastructure for such a mass persecution arise? Had this power already been tested and used? Deborah will discuss totalitarianism, paranoia and yearnings for empire in the making of a very bloody delusion.

Deborah Hyde is editor of The Skeptic (skeptic.org.uk). She writes and broadcasts about why people believe in the malign macabre (DeborahHyde.com)

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Dr Freya Harrison

When?
Wednesday, June 6 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Dr Freya Harrison

What's the talk about?

People with the genetic condition cystic fibrosis contract chronic lung infections, which are highly resistant to antibiotics. Different species of bacteria come together to form slime-encased multicellular "biofilms" that clog the airways and protect the microbes within from attack by antibiotics, or by the host's immune system. It can be very hard to predict, from standard diagnostic lab tests, which antibiotics might be able to penetrate biofilm defences and kill bacteria. Further, pathogenic microbes can work together to cause damage to the lung tissues and to protect each other from antibiotics. To better understand how cystic fibrosis lung infection develops, we use lung tissue from pigs slaughtered for meat to build realistic lung biofilms in the lab. In this way, we hope that we can find the Achilles' heel of debilitating and often lethal lung infection - and help researchers work on many different aspects of lung infection microbiology without the need for experiments on live animals.

Dr Freya Harrison is a microbiologist working in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick. She researches how bacterial pathogens interact and evolve during chronic infections, especially in the long-lived lung infections that affect people with the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis. She is also a founder member of the interdisciplinary AncientBiotics consortium​, which seeks to identify, reconstruct and test infection remedies from medieval medical books in the hope of finding new agents to treat antibiotic-resistant infections.

Image: The bacterium P. aeruginosa forms sticky blue-green biofilm around tissue taken from pigs' airways. Credit: Dr Freya Harrison

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