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Alom Shaha

When?
Wednesday, October 3 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Alom Shaha

What's the talk about?

Doing hands-on activities with children is the best way to get them exploring the world around them and thinking like future scientists and engineers. However, many parents lack confidence in doing science with their children, compared with reading, writing or drawing – even sometimes when they are scientists or engineers themselves! Teacher and author of Mr Shaha's Recipes for Wonder, Alom Shaha, will talk about his own introduction to science and show how any parent can help their children to really learn from their curiosity about the world – so they can take the step from "wow!" to "how?".

Alom Shaha is a science teacher and dad who has spent most of his professional life trying to share his passion for science and education with the public. Alom was born in Bangladesh but grew up in London. He has produced, directed, and appeared in a number of television programmes for broadcasters such as the BBC, and has held fellowships from the National Endowment for Science, Technology, and the Arts (NESTA) and the Nuffield Foundation. Alom has represented his community as an elected politician, and has volunteered at a range of charitable organisations. He teaches at a comprehensive school and writes for a number of print and online publications. As well as Mr Shaha’s Recipes for Wonder, Alom is the author of The Young Atheist’s Handbook.

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Dean Burnett

When?
Wednesday, September 5 2018 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?

You barely go a week without some puff piece article offering the 'secret' of happiness, or 5 easy steps to make yourself happy. They usually mention dopamine or oxytocin, in vague, context-free ways. But how valid are these claims? Not very, if you ask neuroscientist Dean Burnett, who looked into all this for his book The Happy Brain. In it, Dean delves deep into the inner workings of our minds to explore some fundamental questions about happiness. For starters: what does it actually mean to be happy? Where does it come from? Is lasting happiness possible? Should it be?

In his research into these questions – and many more besides – Burnett unravels our complex internal lives to reveal the often surprising truth behind what makes us tick. From whether happiness really begins at home to what love, sex, friendship, wealth, laughter and success actually do to our brains.

Dr Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist, pundit, author, blogger and sometimes comedian. In his second book The Happy Brain, he looks at all the claims and theories around what makes us happy, and investigates whether they hold up to scientific scrutiny.

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/441287403024424/

We will be selling copies of Dean's latest book - The Happy Brain: The Science of Where Happiness Comes From, and Why - so please bring cash if you would like to pick one up and have Dean sign it.

Michael Story

When?
Wednesday, August 1 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Michael Story

What's the talk about?

Since 2011, a team of 150 civilians has been predicting the future more accurately than US intelligence agencies. Formed under the auspices of IARPA (the US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, informally known as 'DARPA for spies'), the Good Judgement Projects’s 'Superforecaster' teams have been forecasting the specifics of topics as varied as North Korean missile programmes, the movement of Russian troops and the career progression of Robert Mugabe, achieving a 50% lower error rate than the previous state of the art.

This talk will cover who makes these forecasts, how they are doing it, and some techniques shown to make nearly anyone more accurate when predicting the future.

Michael Story is a Director and Superforecaster with Good Judgement, Inc

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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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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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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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Alex Farrow

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

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Alex Farrow

What's the talk about?

Alex Farrow is a philosophy teacher and stand-up comedian who will be exploring what he learnt from teaching philosophy in a 6th form college to Muslim and Christian teenagers in East London

What place do philosophy and scepticism have in the school classroom?

What is the "British values agenda" and are British values under attack?

What is the role of the teacher in creating, challenging and shaping the ethical and social opinions of young people?

Alex has been invited to perform stand-up comedy about philosophy everywhere from Mervyn Stutter's pick of the Edinburgh Fringe, the National Museum of Scotland, music festivals, comedy clubs around the UK and the Oxford University Teaching Awards. He was also Farmington Fellow at Harris Manchester College, Oxford in 2015 researching Philosophy in Schools

He is the host of Jericho Comedy Oxford. Jericho Comedy raised £8,700 for the mental health charity Oxfordshire Mind last year for more information about them visit www.tighfive.org/jerichocomedy

“witty, positive and talented” – DailyInfo Oxford “An engaging and entertaining pairing of learning and good humour!” – **** The Latest, Brighton

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Neil Woods

When?
Wednesday, March 7 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Neil Woods

What's the talk about?

Meet Neil Woods - a former Police Officer who worked undercover for 14 years as part of the war on drugs. From a samurai sword to the neck and being stripped naked at gun point Neil had many near death experiences as he infiltrated drug gangs across the U.K.

He will recount tales from his undercover days and use these to illustrate how police tactics lead to the monopolisation and increased violence of Organised Crime, as the vulnerable victims of the Drug War are trampled in the crossfire.

His memoir Good Cop, Bad War blows the whistle on the way drugs are really policed in this country and has been described as "The best book ever written about the British War on Drugs" by Johann Hari.

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Cerys Bradley

When?
Wednesday, February 7 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Cerys Bradley

What's the talk about?

For decades, science has been fascinated by the LGBTQ+ community. What makes gay people gay? How does sexuality affect one's behaviour, appearance, or ability to raise children? These are the questions that science has asked and the answers have had an impact not only within the scientific world, but also on public policy and the rights of LGBTQ+ citizens. Given the highly politicised nature of the topic, it is perhaps not surprising to discover biases and prejudices hidden in the construction, conduction, and conclusions of these studies but are they still valuable contributions to science?

PhD student (and lesbian) Cerys Bradley will discuss the scientific research into the LGBTQ+ community as well as its societal implications, and ask "just because science can ask a question, should it?".

Photo: Steve Cross

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7.30PM start at St. Aldates Tavern, and entry is free, although we do suggest a donation of around £3 to cover speaker expenses.

We tend to get busy, so arrive early to make sure you get a seat. If you have difficulty standing, send us a message and we'll make sure we reserve a chair for you.

Come along and say hello! All welcome.

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Dr Brenna Hassett

When?
Tuesday, January 9 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Dr Brenna Hassett

What's the talk about?

Dr Brenna Hassett is an archaeologist who specialises in the evidence of past lives locked into the bones of the people who lived them. She examines the 15,000 year evolution of humans into an urban species and the traces of the new diseases, dangers, and other terrible ways to die we have invented on our road to modern city life.

Copies of Brenna's new book, Built on Bones: 15,000 Years of Urban Life and Death, will be on sale and available for signing at this event.

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Carl Heneghan

When?
Wednesday, November 29 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Carl Heneghan

What's the talk about?

Carl Heneghan is Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford and has been analysing evidence used for approval of the riskiest medical devices – those implanted in the body.

Metal, hips, breast implants, mesh, sterilisation implants have created considerable harm and have been made available often with little, or no, evidence. How can this be? It’s because current regulation permits it.

Carl has worked undercover with the Telegraph and Dutch TV to test approval, with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show he highlighted failings in the Essure implant, he is an All Parliamentary Mesh group member calling for a ban on mesh and with the BMJ and Panorama he is working on the failing device regulation system.

If you are interested in how you can turn a tangerine net into a viable implantable mesh device product then this skeptics talk is for you.

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Kevin Precious

When?
Wednesday, November 1 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Kevin Precious

What's the talk about?

In between the various comedic activites, Kevin Precious attends his local humanist group - he's an agnostic, folks - where he loves a good old debate about the big questions in life.

Expect jokes and stories then, about his time as an RE teacher, being a humanist, the God-Shaped Hole, and the philosophy of religion... and you can ask him a few questions of your own afterwards, if you wish.

Kevin Precious is a former RE teacher turned stand-up comedian and promoter. Besides having played many of the top clubs in the land, he also promotes shows in arts centres and theatres under the Barnstormers Comedy banner. He has previously toured the country with a stand-up show entitled 'Not Appropriate', dedicated to the business of teaching.

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https://www.facebook.com/events/635587716640721/

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