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Daisy Christodoulou

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

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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.

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Dr Kat Arney

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

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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

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Sunetra Gupta

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

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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

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Martin Poulter

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Michael Marshall

When?
Wednesday, July 22 2015 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?

Homeopathy is one of the most widely debunked forms of alternative medicine – yet homeopathic remedies adorn the shelves of respected pharmacies and are funded by taxpayers on the NHS. How big of a problem is this? Using information and personal experiences gathered during his last 6 years of campaigning against homeopathy, Michael Marshall will highlight how much money is spent on homeopathic remedies, how this gives undeserved credibility to homeopathy, how such remedies can lead to genuine harm and what you can do to help.

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

Professor Carl Heneghan

When?
Wednesday, July 8 2015 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?
Professor Carl Heneghan

What's the talk about?

The AllTrials campaign calls for all past and present clinical trials to be registered and their full methods and summary results to be reported - half of all trials go unpublished. The AllTrials petition has been signed by 84,879 people and 574 organisations. A co-founder of the popular initiative, Professor Carl Heneghan will talk about how the campaign is making progress by leaps and bounds, and issues raised in the five years spent obtaining the unpublished evidence for Tamiflu, as well as the implications for health care and general practice in the future.

Carl Heneghan is Director of the Centre of Evidence-Based Medicine, a General Practitioner and Senior Tutor of Kellogg College. He is a clinical epidemiologist so studies patients who see clinicians, especially those with common problems. His work focuses on improving the evidence-base to change practice. His research includes the treatment of communicable diseases in primary care, including recent work on Tamiflu.

Ash Pryce

When?
Wednesday, July 1 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

Hydesville. New York. 1848. The young Fox sisters begin communicating with the spirit of a murdered beggar and spiritualism is born. This interactive look at a history of talking to the dead will feature an array of magical treats including levitating tables, ectoplasm manifestation and spirit communication.

Part magic show, part comedy, part rational inquiry this fun show has regularly packed venues at the Edinburgh fringe.

Ouija Boards
Spirit Slates
Spirit Communication
Stopped Pulses
Spewing ectoplasm
And more…

Ash Pryce is a naturally funny guy and won’t allow his audience to be bored” “Very entertaining” – edfringereview

Go see” – Edinburgh Skeptics

Ash Pryce is a performer, director and occassional magician based in Scotland. He has written and staged several skeptically themed shows looking at myths & legends, ghosts, psychics and mediumship as well as producing full plays ranging from Faustus to more contemporary original shows in Edinburgh. He is the founder of Edinburgh Skeptics, the newly started History in the Pub Edinburgh, and runs what is believed to be the worlds first skeptical ghost tour every Fringe. He lives just outside of Edinburgh with his three Degus, one of which holds a grudge against him.

www.ashpryce.co.uk
Twitter: @PsychicConman
Facebook: ashleyjamespryce

Please note. This is a skeptically themed show and not intended as an actual demonstration of mediumship or psychic abilities

Dr Suzi Gage

When?
Wednesday, June 10 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

108 St Aldate's
City Centre
Oxford
OX1 1BU

Who?
Dr Suzi Gage

What's the talk about?

The media love to sensationalise the dangers of illicit drug use, whilst downplaying or even ignoring the harms from legal drugs. Suzi takes us on a trip through the current scientific understanding of the harms, and also potential benefits of recreational drugs, both illegal and legal.

Dr Suzi Gage is an Epidemiologist at the University of Bristol, investigating associations between substance use and mental health. When not staring at spreadsheets full of ones and zeros she writes the Sifting the Evidence blog on the Guardian website, and has a small obsession with synthesizers.