Skeptics in the Pub, Oxford

Thinking and drinking. That is the unlikely goal of our meeting. Each month we invite a speaker to talk about an area of belief and to 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.

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Our next topic is...

Dr Kat Arney

When?
Wednesday, March 2 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Dr 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.

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 is about to publish her first book, Herding Hemingway's Cats, about how our genes work. You can pre-order it here: http://bit.ly/HerdingHemingwaysCats

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Daisy Christodoulou

When?
Wednesday, April 6 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Daisy Christodoulou

What's the talk about?

How do we best teach children to have a sceptical and questioning attitude? Can pupils learn everything they need to know from first principles? Are there some things they just need to take on trust? If pupils do need to depend on authority, how can we also teach them to be sceptical of authority? And what does scientific evidence have to tell us about this – how do we think and learn, and is it even possible to teach critical thinking and scepticism?

Daisy Christodoulou is the Head of Assessment at Ark Schools. Before that, she trained as a secondary English teacher through the Teach First programme and taught in two London comprehensives. Her book, Seven Myths about Education, was published in March 2014. She has been part of government commissions on the future of teacher training and assessment.

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Tristram Wyatt

When?
Wednesday, May 4 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Tristram Wyatt

What's the talk about?

A corporation interested in patenting ‘human pheromones’ for profit created a long lasting myth that has roped in many scientists as well as the general public. Tristram Wyatt will describe what went wrong and what would be needed to establish that we do have pheromones (chemical signals within a species). One of the most promising leads is communication between mothers and babies, not sex. The talk will be for non-scientists and scientists alike.

Tristram is a founding fellow of Kellogg College and a senior researcher at the Department of Zoology, University of Oxford. The second edition of his single-author book Pheromones and Animal Behavior (Cambridge University Press) won the Royal Society of Biology’s prize for the Best Postgraduate Textbook in 2014. He is currently writing a Very Short Introduction to Animal Behaviour for OUP. His TEDx talk on human pheromones has had 1 million views.

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Dean Burnett

When?
Wednesday, August 3 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Dean Burnett

What's the talk about?

The hugely popular Guardian Brain Flapping science blogger, Dean Burnett, comes to Oxford to talk about his new book: The Idiot Brain.

It is a surprising, funny and mind-bending examination of how and why the brain sabotages our behaviour.

Dr Dean Burnett has spent nearly two decades studying the human brain, the most complex, mysterious object in the known universe. In the same way that flaws begin to show when you spend too much time with one person, over time Burnett has come to learn that the human brain can be quite unreliable. The Idiot Brain explores the many ways in which the brain does things inefficiently, illogically or just plain stupidly, and how these regularly end up influencing our everyday lives and the world around us.

From attention mechanisms to memory processing, the neuroscience of sleep and the psychology of superstition, The Idiot Brain highlights all manner of ways in which the brain is flawed or shoddy, how these impact on our lives in countless ways, and how it’s OK to laugh at all this regardless.

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