How to Hunt Russian Spies from the Comfort of Your Own Home – Eliot Higgins

Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins explains how Bellingcat investigators uncovered the real identities of the Skripal suspects, linked their team to another European assassination attempt, uncovered Russia’s secret Novichok programme, exposed the FSB team that poisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and uncovered a Russian domestic nerve agent assassination programme targeting multiple individuals, all from the comfort of their own homes.

Eliot Higgins is the founder of Bellingcat, a multi-award winning collective of online open-source investigators.

When and Where?

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm UK time on Thursday 8th April.

A collaborative enterprise as part of Skeptics In The Pub – Online.

 

 

Dr Keith Kahn-Harris – The End of Denialism?

CoviDr Keith Khan-Harrisd denialism is currently a global threat, but denialism has been around for years: Holocaust denial, Climate change denial, anti-vaxxers, 911 conspiracism, Creationism (in the sense of denying evolution) and more. Recently though Covid denialism and denial of Trump’s election loss have become mainstream.

Debunking denialist claims is essential – yet also rarely effective. In this talk, Dr Keith Kahn-Harris will argue that we are now seeing both the triumph of denialism and its end. He argues that denialism emerges when one’s deepest desires are ‘unspeakable’. Increasingly though, we are seeing denialism superseded by the open acknowledgement of desire. So in thinking about denialism, we also have to consider whether a world without it might not be a truth-filled utopia, but something even worse.

About Keith

Dr Keith Kahn-Harris is a sociologist and writer. Denial: The Unspeakable Truth was his fifth book. His badly-designed website can be found at kahn-harris.org and he tweets irregularly as @KeithKahnHarris.

When and Where?

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm UK time on Thursday 11th March.

A collaborative enterprise as part of Skeptics In The Pub – Online.

 

Dr Jacques Launay – Born to dance?

What’s the point in making music? Is there a point?

Although music surrounds us for a large proportion of our time it doesn’t seem to serve an obvious purpose, and this talk will explore that problem.

Darwin suggested music could be involved in sexual selection, used to flaunt genetic fitness to potential partners, but there are also several alternative explanations, ranging from Pinker’s null hypothesis (it’s auditory cheesecake) to the Mozart Effect (music makes you clever).

Spoiler alert – those theories are probably both wrong!

This talk will primarily explore the role of music in social bonding, and whether music is best understood as the alternative to language.

About Jacques

Dr Jacques Launay is an expert in music and social bonding, and has worked on this from a range of perspectives, including the origins of music making, the health benefits of singing in choirs, and the neuroscience of moving to sounds.

When and Where?

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm UK time on Thursday 11th February.

A collaborative enterprise as part of Skeptics In The Pub – Online.

Rosie Campbell – Too dangerous to publish?

Navigating the high-stakes nature of AI research

As AI becomes increasingly advanced, it promises many benefits but also comes with risks. How can we mitigate these risks while preserving scientific inquiry and openness? Who is responsible for anticipating the impacts of AI research, and how can they do so effectively? What changes, if any, need to be made to the peer review process? In this talk, we’ll explore these tensions and how they are playing out right now in the AI community. AI is not the first high-stakes, ‘dual-use’ field to face these questions. Taking inspiration from fields like cybersecurity and biosecurity, we’ll look at possible approaches to responsible publication, their strengths and limitations, and how they might be used in practice for AI.

Rosie Campbell

Rosie Campbell leads the Safety-Critical AI program at the Partnership on AI, a multistakeholder nonprofit shaping the future of responsible AI. Her main focus is on responsible publication and deployment practices for increasingly advanced AI. Previously, she was Assistant Director of the Center for Human-Compatible AI at UC Berkeley, a Research Engineer at BBC R&D, and cofounder of Manchester Futurists. Her academic background spans physics, philosophy, and computer science. Rosie is also a productivity nerd and enjoys thinking about how to optimize systems, and how to use reason and evidence to improve the world.

When and Where?

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm UK time on Thursday 14th January, 2021.

A collaborative enterprise as part of Skeptics In The Pub – Online.

 

Dr Jo Marchant – The Human Cosmos

The Human Cosmos

For most of human history, we have led not just an earthly existence but a cosmic one. Celestial cycles drove every aspect of our daily lives. Our innate relationship with the stars shaped who we are – our religious beliefs, power structures, scientific advances and even our biology. But over the last few centuries we have separated ourselves from the universe that surrounds us. And that disconnect comes at a cost.

In her latest book, The Human Cosmos, Dr Jo Marchant takes us on a tour through the history of humanity’s relationship with the heavens. We travel to the Hall of the Bulls in Lascaux and witness the winter solstice at a 5,000-year-old tomb at Newgrange. We visit Medieval monks grappling with the nature of time and Tahitian sailors navigating by the stars. We discover how light reveals the chemical composition of the sun, and we are with Einstein as he works out that space and time are one and the same. A four-billion-year-old meteor inspires a search for extraterrestrial life. And we discover why stargazing can be really, really good for us.

It is time for us to rediscover the full potential of the universe we inhabit, its wonder, its effect on our health, and its potential for inspiration and revelation.

Dr Jo Marchant

Jo Marchant is an award-winning science journalist. She has a PhD in genetics and medical microbiology from St Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical College, London, and an MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College. She has worked as an editor at New Scientist and Nature, and her articles have appeared in the Guardian, Wired, Observer, New York Times and Washington Post. She is the author of Decoding the Heavens which was shortlisted for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books. She is also the author of Cure which was shortlisted for the Royal Society Prize for Science Books and longlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize.

When and where?

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm UK time on Thursday 10th December, 2020.

Online and coming up for your diary!

Some exciting events for the lockdown

Weekend Treat from Merseyside Skeptics:-

Weekend of 14-15 November Saturday and Sundy starting at 10:00 am-QED 2018…Again!

And at 7:00 pm UK time on Thursdays:-

19th Nov Pixie Turner – How Social Media Has Shaped The Way We Eat (Including Ockham awards during the break)

26th Nov Jennifer Wadsworth – Planetary Protection: Guardians of the Galaxy or lame science-party poopers? European Researcher’s night special

3rd Dec – Noah Lugeons – A Crisis of Faith: How Religion Ruined America’s Pandemic Response

10th Dec – Jo Marchant – The Human Cosmos

Skeptics in the Pub – Online

Skeptics in the Pub Online (on twitch.tv/sitp) continues apace with 27 thoughtful and engaging weekly events so far!

Here are some exciting ones planned:-

Next Thursday, the 15th October is Brooke Magnanti with How the sex trafficking panic leads to Qanon conspiracy theorists

And, the week after, the 22nd, we have Aaron Rabinowitz with Ethical realism in a universe without free will

Look out for lots more planned events!

Skeptics of the Round Table

Skeptics of the Round Table is starting up again but, of course, on-line!

Please join us via Zoom on the second Wednesday of every month from 7pm to 9pm. This link will be the same every month. The first one is next week, Wednesday 10th of June.

Here are the Zoom meeting details:-

Topic: Skeptics of the Round Table
Time: This is a recurring meeting for every 2nd Wednesday at 7:00 Pm UK Time
You can click on this link, or paste it into a browser:-
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87184874021?pwd=N1dmbmdLV3RINzlJY0s1UFVnb29sdz09
Meeting ID: 871 8487 4021
Password: sitp

We hope you are also joining us at Twitch.tv/sitp for the weekly skeptics talks. This week we had Professor Karen Masters joining us for a talk on Cosmology, which was excellent. In the light of current recent tragic events, we also chose to make this meeting a fundraiser for the UK Black Lives Matter and were absolutely thrilled to raise over £2,500. What a kind and generous lot you are!!
Hoping as many of you as possible for the new, online Round Table format!!

Skeptics in the Pub Online

Skeptics in the Pub Online is working well, and is  now firmly  Online.

We are collaborating with other SitP organizations in the UK and some beyond (it’s now a long list!) and the livestreaming of talks is now well underway.

We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve. It’s taken a few weeks of selecting the technology, collaboration across the groups, lots of working out what works well and what works less well, much discussion and much testing and re-testing to get to where we are now.

You can catch these online talks every Thursday at 7:00pm on Twitch. And some, depending on copyright and permissions,  will be available afterwards on YouTube.

We’ll keep the schedule up to date – they’re in the sidebar.

But here too, for reference is what is happening next.

4th June: Karen Masters – 30 Second Universe

11th June: Talking Nerdy, with Cara Santa Maria

18th June: Angela Saini – The Return of Race Science  (This last one, will not be available afterwards as a recording on Youtube – so if you are interested, don’t miss it live on the 18th!)

Stay well, keep safe and remain in contact.

Skeptics in the Pub Online – next planned events

Skeptics in the Pub Online is now, well, err, Online!

And other SitP organizations in the UK including Merseyside, Glasgow, Portsmouth and Bristol, are contributing. We’ll be hoping to livestream talks until the current situation changes. Every Thursday at 7:00pm is the plan.

The Twitch site here is where you can find it. You don’t need a Twitch account to watch – unless you want to contribute questions or participate in the on-line discussion.

The first event, on the 9th April, with Jim Al-Khalili, attracted over 600 viewers!

Although we plan to run these talks every week, please be aware that the programme is subject to changes ouside our direct control.

So, here are our next 2 planned events:

Kit Chapman – how to name your elements – Thursday 23rd April

Sian Williams – the age of antibiotic resistance – Thursday 30th April

Enjoy!