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Politics, and the witch as an anti-social outsider in Western Europe and England

Deborah Hyde

When?
Thursday, February 25 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
Winchester
SO23 8SB

Who?
Deborah Hyde

What's the talk about?

Witchcraft became big news in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Torrents of learned discussion turned to action, and the corpses piled high. But where did the infrastructure - social and legal - for such a mass persecution arise? Had the political power of constraining beliefs already been tested and employed? Deborah will discuss totalitarianism, paranoia and yearnings for empire in the making of a very bloody delusion.

Deborah Hyde is editor-in-chief of The Skeptic magazine (skeptic.org.uk). She writes and appears on broadcast media discussing religion and superstition.


www.jourdemayne.com
@jourdemayne

Prof. James Crossley

When?
Thursday, January 28 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
Winchester
SO23 8SB

Who?
Prof. James Crossley

What's the talk about?

This presentation will look at the roles of, and assumptions about, the Bible and religion in English politics.

We will look at the impact of Thatcher’s construction of an economically liberal Bible and how it provided the template for mainstream English politicians since. We will then look at how Blair provided a socially economic qualification to Thatcher’s Bible and reapplied her Cold War interpretations to the War on Terror while effectively shifting socialist interpretations of the Bible outside parliamentary discourse.

We will move on to the legacy and intensification of these interpretations of the Bible and religion in David Cameron’s pronouncements and the surprising return of socialist understandings with the emergence of Jeremy Corbyn.

Throughout this presentation, there will be discussion of why there is an apparent need for biblical and ‘higher’ authority in political discourse in a country where there is no obvious ‘religious vote’.

Stevyn Colgan

When?
Thursday, December 10 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
Winchester
SO23 8SB

Who?
Stevyn Colgan

What's the talk about?

Given the bewildering variety of life on Earth, all stemming from one self-replicating molecule, can we really predict what life on other worlds is like? Maybe not. But we can imagine what it isn’t like.

Stevyn Colgan has been involved with aliens for three decades. He’s held Jabba the Hutt’s face, helped sculpt creatures for Bruce Willis to shoot at, and had a script accepted for Doctor Who in the 1980s. In this entertaining talk, you’ll hear about feuding gangs of scientists, film directors with less imagination than children, and the perils of concrete poo. You’ll also come to realise that if we really are intelligently designed, we're an illogical and inefficient system.

Stevyn Colgan is an author, artist, songwriter, speaker and oddly-spelled Cornishman. He is one of the ‘Elves’ that research and write the popular BBC TV series QI and co-writes its sister show, The Museum of Curiosity, for BBC Radio 4. He has given hundreds of talks across the UK and USA and is a regular at festivals and events such as Skeptics in the Pub, QEDCon, Cornbury, Hay, Cheltenham, Latitude and the Edinburgh Fringe. He is a contributor to the bestselling QI books and annuals and is the author of ‘Joined-Up Thinking, Constable Colgan’s Connectoscope’, ‘Henhwedhlow: The Clotted Cream of Cornish Folk Tales’, ‘The Third Condiment’, ‘Why Did The Policeman Cross The Road?’ and co-wrote ‘Saving Bletchley Park’ with Dr Sue Black.

From the first galaxies to the origins of life

Sarah Kendrew

When?
Thursday, November 26 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
Winchester
SO23 8SB

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

Kevin Friery

When?
Thursday, October 29 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
Winchester
SO23 8SB

Who?
Kevin Friery

What's the talk about?

Kevin Friery is a skeptical Psychotherapist. With a background in Psychology and Counselling he has been closely involved with the world of psychological therapies since a time when they hadn't discovered the "C" in CBT.

One of his claims to fame (Try and stop him talking about it!) is that he has appeared several times on BBC 1's The Big Questions offering the voice of skepticism and reason in the face of some very vocal True Believers.

A Bit of Slap and Tickle takes a close and skeptical look at some of the "treatments" for common mental health conditions, and looks at the people who profess themselves to be "practitioners". It looks at the meaning of effectivness and explores our relationship with placebos and comes up with some uncomfortable conclusions.

 

Prof. Jim Dunwell

When?
Thursday, September 24 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
Winchester
SO23 8SB

Who?
Prof. Jim Dunwell

What's the talk about?

Jim Dunwell is Professor of Plant Biotechnology at the University of Reading where his research projects include plant genetics and physiology. Previously he spent 10 years in industry developing methods for the production of transgenic (GM) plants. He has a longstanding interest in the regulation of GM crops and is a member of the Defra Advisory Committee for Releases to the Environment (ACRE), the group that advises the UK government on the growing of GM crops in the field.

In this talk Professor Dunwell will discuss the 30 year history of transgenic (GM) plants and their present position in global agriculture. This will include details of the various types of crops being grown now, and what types of crops are in the development phase. He will also consider how such crops are tested for their possible impact on human and environmental safety, how they are regulated prior to commercial cultivation, and the contrasting attitudes to GM crops in various parts of the world.

Ask For Evidence

Chris Peters

When?
Thursday, August 27 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
Winchester
SO23 8SB

Who?
Chris Peters

What's the talk about?

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.

Prof. Edzard Ernst

When?
Thursday, July 30 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
Winchester
SO23 8SB

Who?
Prof. Edzard Ernst

What's the talk about?

 'A SCIENTIST IN WONDERLAND' is the story of my life as a doctor and a scientist. Despite a youthful ambition to become a jazz musician, I eventually studied medicine and became first a clinician and then a medical research scientist, taking up professorships in Germany, Austria and finally in England. My reverence for the pursuit of truth through the application of the scientific method, coupled with a growing interest in the history of medicine during the Nazi era, did not always endear me to my peers. In 1993, when I was I was appointed to the world's first chair in complementary medicine, this was an area that had rarely been studied systematically, and was almost entirely dominated by evangelic promoters of quackery - among them, famously, HRH Prince Charles. Many of  these enthusiasts exhibited an overtly hostile, anti-scientific attitude towards the objective study of their therapies. Clashes were inevitable, but the sheer ferocity with which advocates of alternative medicine would pursue their aims came as a profound surprise. My memoir provides a personal insight into the cutthroat politics of academic life and offers a sobering reflection on the damage already done by pseudoscience.

Prof. Edzard Ernst, MD, PhD, FMEdSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCP(Edin.)
EMERITUS PROFESSOR
UNIVERSITY OF EXETER

Why I am not a believer

Elliot George

When?
Thursday, June 25 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
Winchester
SO23 8SB

Who?
Elliot George

What's the talk about?

Elliot's presentation takes us through the reasons not to believe in gods and provides ammunition for debating believers with a little humour to lighten the mood...

Elliot George, the 'docile Dawkins', is the author of Godbuster - Exorcises all known gods. He is a retired Science teacher who can't stop spreading the message of Scientific Realism and, recently, he accepted the challenge of an Evangelical Pastor to debate the validity of belief in the Pastor's own church. The video of this event will be on youtube soon... Elliot also provides free teaching resources on the TES website for the non-belief section of the National Curriculum Religious Education syllabus. These resources attempt to redress the imbalance between the availability of faith material and the dearth of atheist material in secondary schools. They include several powerpoint presentations and the website http://doubtersclub.webplus.net. They have been viewed and downloaded thousands of times and have attracted some criticism from believers - one called him a Nazi!

The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology

Johnjoe McFadden

When?
Thursday, May 28 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
Winchester
SO23 8SB

Who?
Johnjoe McFadden

What's the talk about?

Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how does it work? Even in this age of cloning and synthetic biology, the remarkable truth remains: nobody has ever made anything living entirely out of dead material. Life remains the only way to make life. Are we missing a vital ingredient in its creation?

Like Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, which provided a new perspective on how evolution works, Life on the Edge alters our understanding of life's dynamics. Bringing together first-hand experience of science at the cutting edge with unparalleled gifts of exposition and explanation, Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe Macfadden reveal the hitherto missing ingredient to be quantum mechanics and the strange phenomena that lie at the heart of this most mysterious of sciences. Drawing on recent ground-breaking experiments around the world, they show how photosynthesis relies on subatomic particles existing in many places at once, while inside enzymes, those workhorses of life that make every molecule within our cells, particles vanish from one point in space and instantly materialize in another.

Johnjoe McFadden was born in Donegal, Ireland but brought up in the UK. He obtained his PhD at Imperial College London and went on to work on human genetic diseases and then infectious diseases, at the University of Surrey in Guildford, UK. For more than a decade, Professor McFadden has specialised in examining the genetics of microbes such as the agents of tuberculosis and meningitis. He has published more than 100 articles in scientific journals on subjects as wide-ranging as bacterial genetics, tuberculosis, idiopathic diseases and computer modelling of evolution and has edited a book on the genetics of mycobacteria. He has lectured extensively in the UK, Europe, the USA and Japan and his work has been featured in radio, television and national newspaper articles. His present post is Professor of Molecular Genetics at the University of Surrey. 

Martin Graff

When?
Thursday, April 23 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
Winchester
SO23 8SB

Who?
Martin Graff

What's the talk about?

  • Can you really find love on the Internet? 
  • How do people portray themselves online? 
  • Can you have a virtual affair? 

This talk examines these issues and will draw on current empirical studies on online relationships.  It will also cover some of the major research work on the online disinhibition effect, showing that we disclose more personal information, more quickly in online environments. 

In addition, the session will also give some factual advice on how to construct dating site profiles, and the way to approach an online liaison with a potential dating partner.  Finally, the  session will also draw on some of the speaker’s research on online infidelity, discussing whether it is possible to have a virtual affair.

Dr Martin Graff is Reader and Head of Research in Psychology at the University of South Wales.  He is an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Chartered Psychologist. 

Over the years he has carried out research in the areas of cognitive processes in web-based learning, individual differences in website navigation, online interaction and the formation and dissolution of romantic relationships online and offline.  He has also carried out research in the areas of online persuasion, and online disinhibition, and has supervised several doctoral degrees in this area.

He was formerly a member of the British Psychological Society Undergraduate Education Committee, which oversees the running of Psychology degree programmes at British Universities.  In 2013 has was invited as a visiting research professor to State University of New York, Cortland, USA.  Dr Graff has written over 50 scientific articles, published widely in the field of Internet behaviour, and presented his work at numerous International Conferences.  He also writes a blog in Psychology Today.

Iszi Lawrence

When?
Thursday, March 26 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
Winchester
SO23 8SB

Who?
Iszi Lawrence

What's the talk about?

Not everyone can be a Caesar, an Einstein, an Elizabeth I... not everyone can change history. From the very skeptical to the downright bizarre, find out about the creative minds, the bloody murders, the amazing discoveries that, until now, have been left to get dusty in the forgotten pages of unfashionable history books.

Expect sex, death, swearing, giggles, horror and mispronunciation.