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The role of anomalies in science.

Michael Brooks

When?
Tuesday, July 20 2010 at 7:30PM

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Where?

131a High Street
Oxford
OX1 4DH

Who?
Michael Brooks

What's the talk about?

Why should we pay attention to unexpected scientific results? Michael Brooks, a New Scientist consultant and author of 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, explores the role of anomalies in science.

Prof. Chris French

When?
Tuesday, June 8 2010 at 7:30PM

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Where?

131a High Street
Oxford
OX1 4DH

Who?
Prof. Chris French

What's the talk about?

Ever since records began, in every known society, a substantial proportion of the population has reported unusual experiences many of which we would today label as "paranormal". Opinion polls show that the majority of the general public accepts that paranormal phenomena do occur. Such widespread experience of and belief in the paranormal can only mean one of two things. Either the paranormal is real, in which case this should be accepted by the wider scientific community which currently rejects such claims. Or else belief in and experience of ostensibly paranormal phenomena can be fully explained in terms of psychological factors. This presentation will provide an introduction to the sub-discipline of anomalistic psychology, which may be defined as the study of extraordinary phenomena of behaviour and experience, in an attempt to provide non-paranormal explanations in terms of known psychological and physical factors. This approach will be illustrated with examples relating to a range of ostensibly paranormal phenomena.

Chris French is a Professor of Psychology and Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths. He has published over 100 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics within psychology. His main current area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims. He is the editor of The Skeptic and writes a regular column for the Guardian's online science pages.

Cultural & Physiological aspects of the religious and superstitious experience

Deborah Hyde

When?
Tuesday, May 4 2010 at 7:30PM

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Where?

131a High Street
Oxford
OX1 4DH

Who?
Deborah Hyde

What's the talk about?

  • When do the dead chew in their graves?
  • Why do vampires strike in autumn?
  • Why do ghosts live in electric clocks?

We are delighted to be hosting Deborah Hyde who has been writing about the folklore of the macabre for eighteen years. Her book, ‘Unnatural Predators’ will be published this year. She blogs on belief in the supernatural as ‘Jourdemayne’, but often suffers from mission creep. Her daytime, grown-up job is a makeup effects coordinator in the film industry – more vampires and zombies, then.

 

Allen Green (Jack of Kent)

When?
Tuesday, April 13 2010 at 7:30PM

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Where?

131a High Street
Oxford
OX1 4DH

Who?
Allen Green (Jack of Kent)

What's the talk about?

Allen Green is the writer of the Jack of Kent and Bad Law blogs.  He is also convenor of Westminster Skeptics.  He read Modern History at Oxford University in the early 1990s.

In Association with Oxford Think Week

Dr Evan Harris MP

When?
Sunday, February 28 2010 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?
Dr Evan Harris MP

What's the talk about?

Evan will be covering MMR and HPV vaccination, Bishops in the Lords, homeopathy, blasphemy, religious discrimination and anything else not suitable for discussion in polite company.

This event is part of the new Oxford 'Think Week'.

Think Week, a series of high profile (free!) events organised jointly by the Oxford Atheist Society, Oxford Secular Society, Oxford Humanists, Oxford Sea of Faith and Oxford Skeptics in the Pub. The aim of the week will be to expose the type of discussion and debate that the various non-theistic societies in Oxford offer to a wider audience and hence raise the profile of the issues involved. We won't be covering base questions like "Does God exist?" but instead be providing events in a similar vein to those our various societies provide during the rest of the year. The events will be intended to make people think about things they probably haven't thought about before. 

http://www.thinkweek.co.uk/

In Association with Oxford Think Week

Iszi Lawrence

When?
Friday, February 26 2010 at 9:30PM

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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?
Iszi Lawrence

What's the talk about?

Stand-up comedian Iszi Lawrence will be performing a set discussing "the experiences of an awkward atheist". The set will draw on material from her first hour show, the Time Out-recommended "Matter of Tact".

Iszi Lawrence, as seen in the Perrier Award winning The Passion of the Hodgson, is an 'upbeat' comedian 'with nicely improvised material' which sits well within her intelligent, witty and darkly satirical set. Her first hour show 'Matter of Tact' was Time Out recommended and London Lite's Comedy Pick. Radio credits include appearances on BBC Radio 1's The Milkrun, BBC radio Oxford's Breakfast show and BBC 7 as a BBC New Comedy Award semi-finalist, 2005. She has also written and performed for Resonance FM's The Ten Minute Sketch Show. Along with Simon Dunn, Iszi produces the weekly podcast, Sundays Supplement

http://www.thinkweek.co.uk/

In Association with Oxford Think Week

Panel

When?
Monday, February 22 2010 at 8:00PM

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Where?

http://www.lincoln.ox.ac.uk/index.php?page=oakeshott+room

Who?
Panel

What's the talk about?

Featuring Richy Thompson (Oxford Atheist Society), TBC (Oxford Secular Society), John White (Oxford Humanists), Andy Lewis (Oxford Skeptics in the Pub) and Ken Smith (Sea of Faith Network), to start off Think Week, a member from each of the societies involved with organising the week will define what their respective term means to them. Refreshments will be provided following the event.

http://www.thinkweek.co.uk/

Special Event

When?
Sunday, February 21 2010 at 4:00PM

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Where?

Who?
Professor David Nutt

What's the talk about?

The Former Chair, Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and Dr Evan Harris MP (Oxford West & Abingdon) and Lib Dem Science Spokesman

Two times and locations:

Cosener’s House, Abbey Close, Abingdon
(a short walk from Abingdon High Street)
at 4pm, Sunday 21st February
with Edmund J Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College

 
St Giles Church Hall, Woodstock Rd,
(opposite Somerville College)
at 6pm, Sunday 21st February
Chaired by Lord Krebs Principal, Jesus College and former Chairman, Food Standards Agency
 
All welcome                                                                      Free Entry
 
Prof Nutt the drugs adviser dismissed by the Home Secretary Alan Johnson for publicly criticising Government policy on the classification of ecstasy and cannabis is speaking at a public meeting in Abingdon this week.
 
Prof Nutt, will tell the full story about how he came to be sacked, why he thinks the Government has got its drugs policy wrong, and what the future is for academic freedom of scientists.

What makes a successful Alternative Medicine?

Andy Lewis

When?
Tuesday, February 2 2010 at 7:30PM

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Where?

131a High Street
Oxford
OX1 4DH

Who?
Andy Lewis

What's the talk about?

The late eighteenth century was a very creative time for inventing new forms of quackery and many became quite wealthy on the back on their invention. Of these creations, it is perhaps only homeopathy that has survived virtually unchanged into the 21st century. The majority of alternative medicines available today have been invented and developed within living memory, despite claims of their origins in antiquity. What makes an alternative medicine successful? Why should homeopathy survive when the very popular tractors of Perkins have long since been forgotten? Could you have predicted this in 1800? Today, we have a new industry of quack devices protecting us from mobile phones. Should you invest in such enterprises? In this talk, Andy will look at the factors that make pseudo-medicines thrive and why consumers and practitioners latch onto them. Importantly, we shall explore the implications of these views for regulation and protecting the public from delusional or fraudulent claims. Andy Lewis developed the web site quackometer.net that explores the pseudo-medical claims of alternative medicine web sites and their impact on society. Despite his detractors claims, he does not own a yacht in the South of France paid for by Big Pharma. He has yet to secure a single penny from such sources for his work.

Oxford mass 'overdose'

When?
Saturday, January 30 2010 at 9:45AM

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Where?

Who?

What's the talk about?

Attention all active skeptics! On Saturday 30th January at 9.45 AM there's going to be a meeting at the Radcliffe Camera, just outside St Mary's Church, from where we will go on to take an overdose of Boots Homeopathic Remedies at a nearby site.

This protest comes after a Boots representative, Paul Bennett, attracted ridicule from the national press after admitting to a parliamentary select committee last November that Boots sells homeopathic remedies to the public even though they have no evidence the ‘treatments’ work. It is our intention that such a protest, which will be taking place in 12 hubs in major cities throughout the UK, will demonstrate to people that homeopathy does not work beyond the placebo effect, and that consumers are wasting their money and risking their health. Please, visit http://www.1023.org.uk and add your name to the letter soon.

If you would like to take part in 'overdosing' then please email rosie.olliver@city-centre.net. Otherwise, please come along and support, help hand out leaflets and have fun.

 

 

 

The Sceptic's Guide to Life

Richard Wilson

When?
Tuesday, January 12 2010 at 7:30PM

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Where?

131a High Street
Oxford
OX1 4DH

Who?
Richard Wilson

What's the talk about?

Sceptics are people who are prepared to ask difficult questions, and point out uncomfortable truths. In societies where freedom of speech is denied, such habits can be seen as subversive, and even dangerous. One of the most famous sceptics in history, the philosopher Socrates, was sentenced to death for “corrupting the young” by encouraging Athenians to question accepted wisdom. Even in democratic states, sceptical thinkers can face difficulties. Journalists who expose quackery and corruption may find themselves on the receiving end of crippling libel suits, while scientific advisers are sacked for questioning government policy.

Societies that exclude scepticism become incapable of acknowledging and correcting their mistakes. At the extreme, the consequences can be fatal. In Soviet Russia and Maoist China, millions starved through the imposition of pseudo-scientific agricultural policies that few could question freely. In the modern era, the application of archaic media laws can allow corporate negligence and malpractice to go undiscovered.

Yet while today’s sceptics still face many challenges, modern technology also creates new opportunities for defending and extending the freedoms on which scepticism relies. In “Don’t Get Fooled Again”, Richard Wilson highlights the relationship between scepticism and freedom of speech, and talks about the tools that modern-day sceptics can use to help preserve it.

and The Atheist Bus Campaign

Ariane Sherine

When?
Tuesday, December 1 2009 at 7:00PM

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Where?

131a High Street
Oxford
OX1 4DH

Who?
Ariane Sherine

What's the talk about?

Ariane Sherine, journalist and comedy writer, talks about creating the Atheist Bus Campaign and “The Atheist’s Guide To Christmas” the new book featuring 42 atheist comedians, celebrities, scientists, writers, philosophers and skeptics.

Ariane Sherine is a television comedy writer, journalist and the creator of the Atheist Bus Campaign. She writes regularly for The Guardian, and has also contributed to The Observer, The Independent, The Sunday Times, New Statesman and the NME, as well as writing for television shows including My Family (BBC1) and Countdown (Channel 4).

Ariane won a Special Award from the National Secular Society for the Atheist Bus Campaign, and was a nominee for Secularist of the Year 2009. She was asked to give the first humanist equivalent of Thought For The Day, which was broadcast on Radio 4 in January 2009. She was born in 1980 and lives in London.