9th December – Francesca Stavrokopoulou – God: an Anatomy

Three thousand years ago, in the Southwest Asian lands we now call Israel and Palestine, a group of people worshipped a complex pantheon of deities, led by a father god called El. El had seventy children, who were gods in their own right. One of them was a minor storm deity, known as Yahweh. Yahweh had a body, a wife, offspring and colleagues. He fought monsters and mortals. He gorged on food and wine, wrote books, and took walks and naps. But he would become something far larger and far more abstract: the God of the great monotheistic religions.

But as Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou reveals, God’s cultural DNA stretches back centuries before the Bible was written, and persists in the tics and twitches of our own society, whether we are believers or not. The Bible has shaped our ideas about God and religion, but also our cultural preferences about human existence and experience; our concept of life and death; our attitude to sex and gender; our habits of eating and drinking; our understanding of history. Examining God’s body, from his head to his hands, feet and genitals, she shows how the Western idea of God developed. She explores the places and artefacts that shaped our view of this singular God and the ancient religions and societies of the biblical world. And in doing so she analyses not only the origins of our oldest monotheistic religions, but also the origins of Western culture.

Brief Bio

Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou studied theology at Oxford and is currently Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion at the University of Exeter. The author of a number of academic works, she also presented the BBC 2 documentary series The Bible’s Buried Secrets. She regularly appears on BBC1’s The BigQuestions and Sunday Morning Live, and has appeared on several Radio 4 shows, including Woman’s Hour, The Infinite Monkey Cage and The Museum of Curiosity.

She writes for the Guardian, the Mail on Sunday, and the Times Literary Supplement, and has appeared at numerous public events, including the Cheltenham Science Festival, the World Humanist Congress,and Conway Hall’s annual London Thinks festival. Her contribution (on the same subject as the book) to Dan Snow’s History Hits podcast is one of its most popular episodes.

When and Where

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm GMT on the 9th December.

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


Skeptics of the Round Table – live – in the Pub!

There is no meeting in December.

The next one will be Wednesday 12th January 2022.

Join us at the Bishop On The Bridge. At 7:00 pm GMT.

We will have a table booked. Be there if you can – you will be most welcome!

11th November – The woos and woes of Wikipedia – Annika Harrison

An opportunity for skeptical activism or a conspiratory club?

Wikipedia is known as an international encyclopaedia. But is it also a worldwide network with secret members, seeking to influence humankind? Or is it a web forum, where one can publish their opinion? How does Wikipedia work? And how can you make a difference?

Even among skeptics, Wikipedia is still looked at with scrutiny. Is it reliable? Are there mechanisms and processes to make Wikipedia more valid and protected?

This Skeptics in the Pub Online presentation will answer all these questions and more.

Annika Harrison

Annika Harrison is a member of GWUP, the German skeptics organisation. She is also a proud member of the European Skeptics Podcast (ESP) and writes interviews and reports for the online section of the Skeptical Inquirer. She joined Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia in 2017 and most enjoys recording audio introductions to further the richness of pages concerning Skepticism.

Professionally, she is a teacher of English and history at a comprehensive school close to Cologne, Germany.

Annika is married and a mother of one.

When and Where

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm GMT on the 11th November.

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


Skeptics of the Round Table – live – in the Pub!

Wednesday 10th November – Skeptics of the Round Table is in an actual pub!

Join us at the Bishop On The Bridge. At 7:00 pm GMT.

We have a table booked. Be there if you can – you will be most welcome!

14th October – Michael Brooks – The Art of More

The Art of More: How Mathematics Created Civilisation

We have a problem with mathematics. Half of the UK’s adults live with nothing more than the mathematical skills they learned at primary school, and many people experience a tangible fear when facing anything to do with numbers. The root of the problem lies in the fact that no one is ever taught what maths actually is.

In this talk, Michael Brooks lays out the essence of mathematics, explains why it muddles our brains and explores the reasons humans have persevered with it when other species rarely bother counting beyond 3.

Animals tend to refer to this uncharted territory as just “more”, but it is here that human uniqueness is found. Once we understand how mathematics – the art of more — connects ancient Babylon to modern banking, world heritage architecture to the worldwide web, and the I-Ching to the iPhone, we can begin to see mathematics as more than just a maze of numbers: we see it as the pinnacle of human achievement.

Dr Michael Brooks

Michael Brooks is a science writer with a PhD in quantum physics, and the author of several books, including the bestselling 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense and The Quantum Astrologer’s Handbook, a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year.

When and Where

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm UK time on the 14th October.

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


Skeptics of the Round Table – live – in the Pub!

Wednesday 13th October – Skeptics of the Round Table is once again in an actual pub!

Join us at the Bishop On The Bridge. At 7:00 pm UK time.

We have a table booked. Be there if you can – you will be most welcome!

The Century of Deception – and Skeptics of the Round Table returns to the Pub!

Ian Keable – The Century Of Deception

The 1700s was a period when the people of England seemed to be especially gullible. They believed a woman could give birth to rabbits; a man could climb inside a two pint bottle and sing inside it; and where a blond-haired European could write a book claiming that he was born in Taiwan.

These hoaxes weren’t just written about extensively in newspapers and journals but also brilliantly and amusingly depicted by satirical artists such as William Hogarth and James Gillray.

Based on his recently published book, The Century of Deception: The Birth of the Hoax in Eighteenth-Century England, Ian Keable demonstrates how 18th century hoaxes are memorable not only for their imaginative nature but also because of the differing motives of the tricksters.

Ian Keable

Ian obtained a first-class degree from the University of Oxford in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, qualified as a chartered accountant and then became a professional magician. A member of The Magic Circle with gold star, he has won several awards for his unique brand of comedy magic.

He has also performed on television and has written and presented programmes for BBC Radio.

An accredited lecturer for The Arts Society, he gives talks on magic history, cartoons and eighteenth-century hoaxes.

Keable’s other publications include Stand-Up: A Professional Guide to Comedy Magic and Charles Dickens Magician: Conjuring in Life, Letters and Literature.

He lives in London.

When and Where?

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm UK time on 16th September.

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

Skeptics of the Round Table returns to the Pub!

Wednesday 8th September is a momentous day. It is on that day that the Skeptics of the Round Table returns to an actual pub.

Yes, after 18 months confined to Zoom, the Bishop On The Bridge is once again where we return to. At 7:00 pm BST.

We have a table booked. Be there if you can – you will be most welcome!

 

** Date to be announced ** Mike Rothschild – The Storm Is Upon Us.

How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything

As a journalist specializing in conspiracy theories, Mike Rothschild has been collecting stories about the deadly QAnon movement for years, and through interviews with QAnon converts, apostates, and victims, as well as psychologists, sociologists, and academics, he is uniquely equipped to explain the movement and its followers. In The Storm Is Upon Us, he takes readers from the background conspiracies and cults that fed the Q phenomenon, to its embrace by right-wing media and Donald Trump, through the rending of families as loved ones became addicted to Q’s increasingly violent rhetoric, to the storming of the Capitol, and on.

Mike Rothschild

Mike Rothschild is a journalist focused on the intersections between internet culture and politics as seen through the dark glass of conspiracy theories. He has specialized in an investigation of the QAnon conspiracy cult since its inception in 2018, and is one of the first journalists to reveal its connections to past conspiracy theories and scams. Rothschild’s expertise has led to his becoming a leading commentator on the subject for The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, CNN, MSNBC, the BBC, and elsewhere.

When and Where?  ** Postponed ’til later **

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm UK time on a date to be announced.

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

Skeptics in the Pub Online – now fortnightly

Dear SitPO viewers,

Back in April 2020 a bunch of Skeptics in the Pub organisers got together to create Skeptics in the Pub Online, and for the last 15 months we have been working hard to bring you interesting talks from a variety of experts.

So far, except for a short break over Christmas we have been able to put on weekly talks followed by a Zoom call in our virtual pub The Lock-Inn’s Razor.

Due in part to the summer sun, pubs re-opening, and the steady progress towards normality we have decided to to reduce the frequency of our talks to every other week, starting on the 22nd July (there is no talk scheduled for the 15th).

We will still be opening The Lock-Inn’s Razor every week. It’ll open after the talks and at 7pm on non-talk weeks. So it will be open on the 15th. And you can still talk to your Fellow Skeptics throughout the week on our Discord channel.

Thank you all for your support over the last 15 months and we hope you continue to attend talks and visit us in the Lock-Inn’s Razor.

Best wishes
The SitPO team

How the Evolutionary Psychologist Got His Hypothesis – Dr Lindsey Osterman

(And Other Just So Stories)

While evolution acceptance is generally high among the skeptically-minded, evolutionary psychology is far less widely accepted. Lindsey explores some of the good scientific work in this area, as well as common misconceptions about—and misuses of—the evolutionary framework as applied to human psychology.

Dr. Lindsey Osterman

Lindsey is an associate professor of psychology at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. She received her PhD in social and biological psychology in 2012 from the University of Oklahoma. She co-hosts two podcasts about science and skepticism: Serious Inquiries Only and What The FUP? Downloads From The Secret Ghost Library.

When and Where?

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

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

The End of Policing: an introduction to the concepts of police defunding and police abolition- Alex Vitale

This summer’s protests over the police killings of George Floyd and other African American citizens have refocused the nation’s attention on the problem of abusive policing and its connection to larger issues of racial justice. The protesters’ demands raise a question: Can the police be reformed?

Following the protests of police killings of Mike Brown in Ferguson we were told that policing would be reformed through a series of procedural justice interventions designed to make police more professional, less biased, and more accountable. There is little evidence, however that these reforms have had the desired consequences. Police continue to kill over 1,000 people a year in the US and heavily policed communities continue to experience widespread police misconduct.

Even when the police do perform in a lawful and unbiased way, they are often tasked with enforcing laws and managing social problems in ways that may actually make the problem worse. Uprooting homeless encampments, criminalizing children in school, and chasing drug dealers has done little to make communities safer and has contributed to the immiseration of those targeted.

Why don’t police reforms work? Can defunding the police be a viable alternative to police reform? What would it mean for high crime communities that have had to rely on police as the only resource for addressing crime and disorder? Does abolishing the police really mean getting rid of all police and how would that be achieved?

Alex Vitale will answer these questions based on 30 years of experience in both studying policing and advising community-based movements for police reform. He’ll discuss the historical role of police and their relationship to contemporary policing, and he’ll look at the current movement to defund the police and the specific policy proposals it supports, including initiatives to reduce gun violence, fix schools, and deal with substance abuse and mental health crises.

​Prof Alex S. Vitale

Prof Vitale is Professor of Sociology and Coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College and a Visiting Professor at London Southbank University. He has spent the last 30 years writing about policing and consults both police departments and human rights organizations internationally. Prof. Vitale is the author of City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New York Politics and The End of Policing. His academic writings on policing have appeared in Policing and Society, Police Practice and Research, Mobilization, and Contemporary Sociology. He is also a frequent essayist, whose writings have been published in The NY Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, The Nation, Vice News, Fortune, and USA Today. He has also appeared on CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, NPR, PBS, Democracy Now, and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

When and Where?

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm UK time on Thursday 6th May.

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

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.