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Sarah Kendrew

When?
Wednesday, October 1 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Sarah Kendrew

What's the talk about?

The James Webb Space Telescope, a collaboration between space agencies in the US, Europe and Canada, will succeed the Hubble Space Telescope as the foremost space telescope in 2018. Its unprecedented size, sensitivity and suite of instruments will revolutionise our view on the Universe, from showing us how the very first galaxies formed to revealing the atmospheres of planets outside our own solar system, where life may be forming. Sarah Kendrew will give an overview of the mission and the exciting science it will do after launch. She'll talk about where the mission is right now, from her personal involvement in one of JWST's 4 instruments, MIRI.

Sarah Kendrew is an astronomer at the University of Oxford. She works on optical and infrared instrumentation for the observatories of the future, and researches how stars form in the Milky Way Galaxy. Website: http://skendrew.github.io/ Twitter: @sarahkendrew

Dr Chris Peters

When?
Tuesday, September 2 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Dr Chris Peters

What's the talk about?

This isn’t just a simple talk; it’s a call to arms.

Every day, we hear claims about what is good for our health, bad for the environment, how to improve education, cut crime, and treat disease. Some are based on reliable evidence and scientific rigour. Many are not. These claims can't be regulated; every time one is debunked another pops up – like a game of whack-a-mole. So how can we make companies, politicians, commentators and official bodies accountable for the claims they make? If they want us to vote for them, believe them, or buy their products, then we should ask them for evidence, as consumers, patients, voters and citizens.

The Ask for Evidence campaign has seen people ask a retail chain for the evidence behind its MRSA resistant pyjamas; ask a juice bar for the evidence behind wheatgrass detox claims; ask the health department about rules for Viagra prescriptions; ask for the studies behind treatments for Crohn's disease, and hundreds more. As a result, claims are being withdrawn and bodies held to account.

This is geeks, working with the public, to park their tanks on the lawn of those who seek to influence us. And it's starting to work. Come and hear what the campaign is going to do next and how you can get involved.

The Ask for Evidence campaign can be found here.

Simon Clare

When?
Wednesday, July 2 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Simon Clare

What's the talk about?

The Alpha Course runs in 162 countries and has been attended, according to their website, by 25 Million people. Over a 9 week period, students are guided through Christian theology ostensibly to “Explore the meaning of Life”.

Simon Clare, an unabashed atheist, signed up to his local course in Brighton, wondering if his faithlessness would be challenged. Spoiler: He wasn’t converted but he was surprised at what he learnt about faith.

The new Archbishop Of Canterbury, Justin Welby, found his faith at the home of the Alpha Course and his election suggests that the Alpha model of spreading the word is now at the heart of Christianity's struggle for survival. As well as giving an overview of the course from biblical history to singing in tongues, Simon will discuss what atheists can learn from the Alpha Course.

Simon Clare runs Horsham Skeptics in the Pub and is a founder member of the South East Skeptics Society.

Professor Jon Butterworth

When?
Tuesday, June 3 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Professor Jon Butterworth

What's the talk about?

Please note that we're on Tuesday 3rd June this month. 

The discovery of the Higgs boson made headlines around the world. Two scientists, Peter Higgs and François Englert, whose theories predicted its existence, shared a Nobel Prize. The discovery was the culmination of the largest experiment ever run, the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. But what really is a Higgs boson and what does it do? How was it found? And what will the LHC do next? Jon Butterworth, a leading member of the ATLAS experiment, will talk about all this and more.

Jon Butterworth is also Head of the Department of Physics & Astronomy at UCL, and writes for the Guardian at http://www.theguardian.com/science/life-and-physics

Michael Marshall

When?
Thursday, May 8 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

Please note date change: this event will now take place on Thursday 8th May.

It’s easy to think of pseudoscience existing in a glass case at a museum – something to be examined and critiqued from a safe distance, but not something to touch and to play with. Using examples taken from his own personal experiences in skepticism, Michael Marshall will show what happens when you begin to crack the surface of the pseudosciences that surround us – revealing the surprising, sometimes-shocking and often-comic adventures that lie beneath.

Michael Marshall is the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and Project Director of the Good Thinking Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work with the MSS has seen him organising international homeopathy protests and co-founding the popular QED conference. He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Scientist.

Lloyd Chapman

When?
Wednesday, April 2 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Lloyd Chapman

What's the talk about?

Most debate about whether aid works is focused on typical cases of aid, such as improving sanitation or access to clean water. The effectiveness of these cases is very hard to measure accurately. Even the best cases are hard to evaluate. However, there are extreme cases, such as the eradication of an infectious disease like smallpox, which are both more important and far easier to measure. In this talk, Lloyd Chapman will examine those spectacular successes, and the dramatic impact they have for the overall success of foreign aid. Because the long tail of the very most effective projects have such impact, just evaluating those can give us a (substantial) lower bound on the effectiveness of aid.

Lloyd is a maths PhD student, interested in using his quantitative skills to research the most cost-effective ways to reduce poverty and suffering and communicating the information to other people to encourage them to think about what they can do to help.

Lee Traynor

When?
Wednesday, March 19 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Lee Traynor

What's the talk about?

Science aids our understanding of the world by discovering concepts which can be used productively in human thought, and education is the means of transmitting these concepts to the next generation. But exactly what should be taught and why is subject to disagreement based on students' learning habits, teachers' preferences, parents' desires, and society's needs. The teaching of biology in general and of evolution in particular is no exception.

Therefore, Lee Traynor has looked into whether Creationism/Intelligent Design might contribute to the teaching of biology at year 7-12 level, and how scientific concepts can be harnessed to encourage students to think in the way that biologists do about how evolution happens and how new species arise.

This also casts light on the skeptic's dilemma: Are we just trying to debunk the woo, convince the misguided and win them over? Or educate a new generation from the get-go? If we choose the latter, how are we going to go about it?

Lee Traynor was born in Melbourne, Australia and studied biochemistry at University College, Oxford as an undergraduate. He is currently a senior lecturer in Technical English at the Leibniz University of Hannover in Germany and is completing a Ph.D. in biology education.

He has occasionally written for The Skeptic (UK) and Skeptic Magazine, and his latest article - an interview with James R. Flynn on IQ - is in press (Skeptic 19.1, 36-45).

Megan Whewell

When?
Wednesday, March 5 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Megan Whewell

What's the talk about?

Did Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin really land on the Moon in 1969? Yes!

There have been many conspiracy theories proposed over the years since 1969 that insist Neil and Buzz didn't land on the Moon's surface. Buzz’s famous response to a conspiracy theorist was to punch them, but Megan Whewell will take you through some of the more popular theories and explain how you can respond using less violence and more science.

Megan Whewell is currently studying for an Astrophysics PhD at University College London. She previously worked at the National Space Centre in Leicester, and as part of her job presented public talks during school holidays. Over one holiday those talks asked the question "Did the moon landings really happen?". She considers these talks a wholehearted success because she got, on average, one ‘conversion’ a day from conspiracy theorist to believing in the Apollo programme.

Part of Oxford Think Week

Natalie Haynes

When?
Wednesday, February 26 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

9 - 13 George Street
Oxford
OX1 2AU

We use the upstairs function room.

To find it, go up the spiral staircase - then look for the door immediately opposite you. Go through, up another flight of stairs and you will find us. There is a bar up here and it will be open, so no need to spill your pint on the spiral stairs. If you want to eat in the function room then you have to order your food downstairs and then carry it up yourself.

Step-free access is available.

Who?
Natalie Haynes

What's the talk about?

Greek Myth provides the material for tragedy, epic and comedy in the ancient world. In turn, Greek tragedy has shaped drama and fiction ever since - from opera to soap opera, and from murder mysteries to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Our high culture and pop culture owe a great deal to Homer, Euripides and the rest. Come and find out how soap writers pilfer their stories from Aeschylus, and how Greek heroes have shaped our fictional world.

Think Week is an annual week of high profile free public events organised by local non-theistic societies in Oxford, running in late February. Our events cover philosophy, poltics, science and public performance. Find out more at www.thinkweek.co.uk.

Robin Ince

When?
Thursday, February 6 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

9 - 13 George Street
Oxford
OX1 2AU

We use the upstairs function room.

To find it, go up the spiral staircase - then look for the door immediately opposite you. Go through, up another flight of stairs and you will find us. There is a bar up here and it will be open, so no need to spill your pint on the spiral stairs. If you want to eat in the function room then you have to order your food downstairs and then carry it up yourself.

Step-free access is available.

Who?
Robin Ince

What's the talk about?

Robin Ince is a tirelessy touring comedian whose act often delves into science and philosophy and all that. He is the host of Radio 4's "Infinite Monkey Cage" and its stage show, and is responsible for the much-loved "9 Lessons and Carols for Godless People.

Robin will be talking about his mind, the minds of others and their various shortcomings. He'll also be discussing the worst of the online complaints and abuse that he has received about science and explaining how he has come to accept his inner idiot.

Inside The Weird World Of Scientology

John Sweeney

When?
Wednesday, January 8 2014 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
John Sweeney

What's the talk about?

Tom Cruise and John Travolta say the Church of Scientology is a force for good. Others disagree. Award-winning journalist John Sweeney investigated the Church for more than half a decade. During that time he was intimidated, spied on and followed and the results were spectacular: Sweeney lost his temper with the Church’s spokesman on camera and his infamous ‘exploding tomato’ clip was seen by millions around the world.

John Sweeney tells the story of his experiences for the first time and paints a devastating picture of this strange organisation, from former Scientologists who tell heartbreaking stories of families torn apart and lives ruined to its current followers who say it is the solution to many of mankind’s problems.

Stevyn Colgan

When?
Wednesday, December 4 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Stevyn Colgan

What's the talk about?

Skepticism and critical thinking isn't just about UFOs, bad pharma and creationism. It's about the everyday things too. 

After leaving school Stevyn gained places at both art and catering colleges, but turned them down and instead accepted a drunken £50 bet with his homicide detective father that he could survive six months as a police officer. He consequently joined the Metropolitan Police Service in London and ended up staying for 30 years.

During his service he found himself frequently challenging the traditional or 'accepted' ways of doing things; critical thinking and his own natural skepticism led him to explore different ways of doing things, often in innovative and unusual ways. These included using wizards to tackle street gambling, lollipops to stop anti-social behaviour and dog shows to prevent homicides. Ultimately, he was asked by Scotland Yard and the Home Office to be part of an experimental unit to explore some of these new ideas, many of which have now found their way into everyday policing in the UK.

The Skeptical Bobby is all about grass-roots skepticism and why we should be critical thinkers in every aspect of our lives.

'Superb talk at QEDcon by Stevyn Colgan. Intelligent and humane.' - Professor Richard Dawkins

'Stevyn Colgan was fantastic! Beautiful and inspiring talk' - The British Humanist Association