Here are the speakers you have missed:

 

<< Following year  Previous year >>

Dean Burnett

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

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

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.

Copies of The Idiot Brain will be on sale at this event at the discounted price of £8

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/230943247239860/

How and why the infrastructure of science is broken

When?
Wednesday, July 13 2016 at 8:00PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?

What's the talk about?

For 6 weeks in late 2015, the COMPare team monitored every clinical trial published in the top 5 medical journals for “outcome switching”: when trialists report something different from what they originally said they would report. Of 67 trials assessed, 58 (87%) were found to contain discrepancies between prespecified and reported outcomes.

Outcome switching is already known to be extremely common, even in top medical journals. But COMPare went one step further: they wrote a letter to the journal for all 58 trials found to contain discrepancies; to correct the record on the individual trials, and to test the “self-correcting” properties of science.

The responses to these letters from journal editors and trial authors were unprecedented, and shed light on the reasons why this problem persists. The aim of COMPare was to fix outcome switching, through correction letters and open discussion. They never expected the levels of misunderstanding and bias at the heart of the issue.

Based at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, COMPare is made up of three senior researchers, 5 graduate-entry medical students, and a programmer. The project was born when one medical student came to the department in search of a project. The idea of monitoring the outcomes in clinical trials was made possible by 4 more medical students, who were recruited to make the vast amount of analysis possible. All assessments are reviewed by senior colleagues, and decisions made at weekly team meetings. There is no specific funding for COMPare: all the students work for free, driven by the desire and opportunity to fix a broken system.

Visit the COMPare website (COMPare-trials.org) for more details about their team, methods, results and blog.

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/1053341694688316/

Emma McClure

When?
Wednesday, June 1 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Emma McClure

What's the talk about?

We've all seen it: A renegade detective pores over the scene of a grizzly murder. They find an overlooked clue; a hair, a footprint, a shell casing. Detailed forensic analysis matches the clue to the bad guy, and the bad guy goes to jail. This is how modern day forensics are portrayed in shows such as 'CSI' and 'Silent Witness'; forensic evidence is seen as conclusive when it comes to catching suspects and deciding if someone is guilty in a criminal trial. But, at a time when shows like Serial and Making a Murderer have brough miscarriages of justice to international prominence, Emma McClure will explain how the traces left behind at a crime scene can sometimes lie.

The science in areas such as DNA collection has progressed enormously in recent decades allowing for breakthroughs in many old and cold cases. However, we have also seen many high profile exonerations of those previously convicted of the most serious of crimes on seemingly 'conclusive' forensic evidence. This has lead to increasing scrutiny of the way it is analysed, interpreted and presented in the courtroom.

In this talk, prison lawyer Emma McClure examines the issues with forensic techniques, highlighting the amusing, confusing and sometimes tragic consequences of failing to take a skeptical approach to evidence in the field of forensic science.

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/797735430370840/

Tristram Wyatt

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

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

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.

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/1676475802600768/

Daisy Christodoulou

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

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

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.

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/757649587712973/

Dr Kat Arney

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

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

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

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/439609942910229/

Sunetra Gupta

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

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Sunetra Gupta

What's the talk about?

Why do we have vaccines against some diseases but not against others? To understand this, it’s useful to think of an infectious agent as being in possession of their very own wardrobe, from which they are obliged to select an outfit in order to be competent at infecting and surviving within us. What these garments represent are the fragments of the pathogen that our immune systems recognise and some pathogens like the influenza virus have a diverse wardrobe while other like measles have a very limited wardrobe. This is why the current vaccine we have for influenza appears to require updating every few years as the virus adopts new disguises to re-infiltrate its host population, whereas a single measles vaccine can protect you for life. But just how diverse is the wardrobe of the influenza virus? Are we really running an endless race to catch up with its wardrobe changes? How can we find ways to outwit it and other pathogens like the HIV virus and the malaria parasite which have extensive wardrobes at their disposal?

Sunetra Gupta is Professor of Theoretical Epidemiology at University of Oxford and also the author of five novels, an essayist and a translator. She is a graduate of Princeton University and has a PhD from the University of London. In 2009 she was named as the winner of the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award, and used these funds to create a website on women scientists for children: http://www.shooting-stars-women-scientists.com

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/948689491877812/

Martin Poulter

When?
Wednesday, January 13 2016 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Martin Poulter

What's the talk about?

Scientology has been described in the States as “ruthless, litigious and lucrative” and in this country as “corrupt, sinister and dangerous”, yet it boasts global success and has made hundreds of millions of dollars. Thanks to the Internet, it now faces an unprecedented global opposition. The scary secrets of Scientology and its recruitment methods will be exposed in this talk. It will be useful for anyone wanting to set up their own lucrative cult.

Martin Poulter first encountered skepticism while a teenager. He has a Philosophy and Psychology degree from Oxford University and a PhD in Philosophy of Science from the University of Bristol. He has been a Scientology-watcher since 1995, when he was threatened with legal action over material he posted online. He is an ordained minister in the Church of the SubGenius, which offers eternal spiritual salvation or triple your money back.

Join the Facebook event and invite your friends: https://www.facebook.com/events/1697348087146225/

Professor Gina Rippon

When?
Wednesday, November 25 2015 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Professor Gina Rippon

What's the talk about?

There is a long history of debate about biological sex differences and their part in determining gender roles, with the ‘biology is destiny’ mantra being used to legitimise imbalances in these roles. The tradition is continuing, with new brain imaging techniques being hailed as sources of evidence of the ‘essential’ differences between men and women, and the concept of ‘hardwiring’ sneaking into popular parlance as a brain-based explanation for all kinds of gender gaps.

But the field is littered with many problems. Some are the product of ill-informed popular science writing (neurotrash) based on the misunderstanding or misrepresentation of what brain imaging can tell us. Some, unfortunately involve poor science, with scientists using outdated and disproved stereotypes to design and interpret their research (neurosexism). These problems obscure or ignore the ‘neuronews’, the breakthroughs in our understanding of how plastic and permeable our brains are, and how the concept of ‘hard-wiring’ should be condemned to the dustbin of neurohistory.

This talk aims to offer ways of rooting out the neurotrash, stamping out the neurosexism and making way for neuronews.

Gina Rippon is Professor of Cognitive NeuroImaging in the Aston Brain Centre at Aston University. She has a background in psychology and physiology and uses brain imaging techniques such as Magnetoencephalography (MEG), functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) to investigate the relationship between patterns of brain activation and human sensory, cognitive and affective processes. Most recently her work has been in the field of developmental disorders such as autism. She has served as President of the British Psychophysiology Society (now the British Association of Cognitive Neuroscience).

She also writes and speaks on the use of neuroimaging techniques In the study of sex/gender differences, recently featured in the BBC Horizon programme “Is your Brain Male or Female?”. She is additionally involved in activities around the public communication of science, particularly in challenging the misuse of neuroscience to support gender stereotypes, and in work to correct the under-representation of women in STEM subjects. She has recently been appointed as an Honorary Fellow of the British Science Association.

Iszi Lawrence

When?
Wednesday, November 4 2015 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Iszi Lawrence

What's the talk about?

Skeptic, comedian and voice of the Skeptics Guide To The Universe, Iszi Lawrence is out to delight and inform with her new show The Z List Dead List. The Z List Dead List is a live comedy show about obscure people from History. As a skeptic, Iszi has found a few people from the past that will pique your interest.

Expect woo, violence, sex and death. And a competition.

The show is also a podcast with guest interviews from Jon Ronson, Griff Rhys Jones, Natalie Haynes, Neil Denny, Richard Herring etc. You can find it on iTunes or from www.zlistdeadlist.com

Alok Jha

When?
Wednesday, October 7 2015 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Alok Jha

What's the talk about?

Water may seem the most ordinary of substances – it pours from our taps and falls from the sky – but you would be surprised at what a profoundly strange substance it is. It bends the rules of chemistry and defies easy scientific understanding. Without this rebel behaviour, however, none of us would exist. Alok Jha will change the way you look at water – showing how it has shaped life on earth, and how this molecule connects you and everyone else to the birth (and death) of the universe.

Alok Jha is the science correspondent for ITV News. Before that, he did the same job at the Guardian for a decade. He has reported live from Antarctica and presented programmes for BBC TV and radio.

We will be selling copies of Alok's new book, The Water Book, at the event, so make sure you bring some extra cash!

Charlie Duncan Saffrey

When?
Wednesday, September 2 2015 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Charlie Duncan Saffrey

What's the talk about?

There's been a trend recently for some eminent scientists to write off philosophy as a discipline which fails to meet the criteria for scientific enquiry. This is a bit of a puzzle for some philosophers, who didn't actually realise that they were supposed to be doing scientific enquiry in the first place. And anyway, say the philosophers smugly, these scientists are working with some pretty questionable epistemological principles.

This is all quite sad, because science and philosophy are both brilliant and they'd both be even more brilliant if they could talk like grown-ups. But at some point, too many philosophers and scientists seem to have just stopped listening to each other. In response to this problem, this lecture is one of a pair (the other one being 'Why philosophers should listen to scientists') which are intended to get a better dialogue going between the two disciplines than has existed of late.

Charlie Duncan Saffrey is a philosopher, writer and stand-up comedian who has studied at the universities of Liverpool, Warwick and Sussex, and this year he is a visiting lecturer at the University of Westminster. He is the founder and host of 'Stand-up Philosophy', a live philosophy night which brings comedians, philosophers and experts together to answer philosophical problems. He lives in East London with some actors and a small collection of seashells.