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...

Dr Surja Datta

When?
Wednesday, July 4 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Dr Surja Datta

What's the talk about?

Indian philosophy is full of interesting ideas on materialism and atheism. This might come as a surprise to many. In the popular Western imagination, India is a land that is full of mystical gurus and religious fervour; a spiritual hotbed- a place where you ‘find yourself’, whatever that may mean. So, the news that the idea of ‘falsificationism’ was anticipated by Indian materialists (known as Charvakas) 1700 years before Karl Popper came up with argument, may lead to cognitive dissonance. Indian materialists denounced the authority of the Vedas, ridiculed the idea of reincarnation, and rejected mind-body dualism. In fact, there is very little in Indian materialism that is not backed up by modern science.

The talk will focus on the main tenets of Indian materialism originating from the atheist branch of Indian philosophy, alternately called Charvaka, Lokāyata, and Bṛhaspatya. It will also suggest reasons for their obscurity in India and elsewhere.

Dr Surja Datta is a senior lecturer at Oxford Brookes University. His latest book "A History of the Indian University System: Emerging from the Shadows of the Past" is published by Palgrave Macmillan. His current book project is provisionally titled "The Creative Society: Calcutta 1815- 1955”. Surja became interested in Indian materialism while researching for his current book.

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Amy Dickman

When?
Wednesday, September 5 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Amy Dickman

What's the talk about?

Amy is the Kaplan Senior Research Fellow in Felid Conservation at Oxford University, and has 20 years experience working on large carnivores in Africa, specialising in human-carnivore conflict. She has an MSc from Oxford University and a PhD from University College London, and has published over 60 scientific papers and book chapters on large carnivore ecology and conservation. She is a member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group, the Human-Wildlife Conflict Collaboration, the African Lion Working Group, the IUCN Human-Wildlife Conflict Task Force, and is a National Geographic Explorer. She has received multiple awards for her work, including the Rabinowitz-Kaplan Prize for the Next Generation in Wild Cat Conservation, the St Louis Zoo Conservation Award and the Cincinnati Zoo Wildlife Conservation Award.

Amy established the Ruaha Carnivore Project (www.ruahacarnivoreproject.com), based in southern Tanzania, in 2009, and still directs it today. The Ruaha landscape is one of the most important areas in the world for lions, leopards and cheetahs, but has been largely ignored by researchers, making it hard to develop conservation and management plans. In addition, it has the highest rate of lion killing documented in East Africa, as lions and other carnivores impose high costs on poverty-stricken local people. Amy and her Tanzanian team are researching the ecology of these vital populations, and working to reduce the pressing threat of human-carnivore conflict in this critical area. The project focuses upon reducing carnivore attacks, providing local communities with real benefits from carnivore presence, focusing particularly on improving local schools, clinics and access to veterinary medicine. It has been an extremely challenging endeavour, given the remote location and the initial hostility of the Barabaig, who are the secretive and little-known tribe responsible for most lion-killing. However, the team has made huge progress: since 2011 in the core study area, carnivore attacks on stocks have been reduced by over 60%, people are recognising real benefits from wildlife presence for the first time, and most importantly, lion killings have been reduced by over 80%. The aim now is to continue and expand this work both around Ruaha and beyond, to generate long-term benefits both for carnivores and local communities.

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