31st August – Pseudoscience in veterinary practice – Dr Danny Chambers, Veterinary Surgeon

A Quack Quack here and a Quack Quack there

You may be surprised to hear that the anti-vaccination movement is not restricted to human medicine – animal owners are increasingly turning their back on conventional medicine and seeking out unproven alternatives such as homeopathy, chiropractic or feeding raw meat- often at the detriment of their animal’s health. You might be even more surprised to learn about the myriad other forms of pseudoscience animals are subjected to, including the common practice of ‘horse psychics’. Danny Chambers will discuss the use of pseudoscience encountered in veterinary practice, and the implications this has on both animal and human health and wellbeing.

Dr Danny Chambers

Danny grew up on a farm in Devon, graduated from Liverpool Vet School, and has written about and campaigned against the use of pseudoscience in veterinary practice.

Danny has campaigned for years for the need for more scientists in politics to tackle global issues such as climate change, the risk of pandemics and the growing challenge of antimicrobial resistance. To this end, he is standing to be the next Liberal Democrat MP for Winchester.

He enjoys mountain biking (badly) and playing the guitar (badly).

Danny occasionally writes for New Scientist magazine.

Usual Info

Talks are on the last Wednesday of every month,  at 7:00 for 7:30, at The Arc in Winchester. Admission is £5 which also gives you an entry in the book raffle. We take cash and cards (cards preferred).

The event is in two parts – the talk and then a Q&A after the interval. We encourage you to support The Arc by indulging in the available drinks and snacks before and during the event.

There is a small car park adjacent to The Arc, or use the nearby Tower car park. You are also welcome to join us for the traditional post-talk curry.

27th July – James Williams – Alfred Russel Wallace *Replaced by Why We Can’t Trust our Senses*

James Williams, Lecturer in Education, University of Sussex will talk about Alfred Wallace who famously sent Charles Darwin an outline of the theory of evolution by natural selection before Darwin had completed his major treatise on the subject. This prompted the publication of Origin of Species.

Did Darwin really steal the idea from Wallace? Was Wallace even aware of Darwin’s work on species and how does history see the two men? In this talk, James will examine the facts surrounding Wallace’s work on evolution and some of the more interesting episodes in Wallace’s life that saw him oppose Darwin in an infamous case of spiritualist fraud that ended in the Old Bailey.

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913) was a man of many talents – an explorer, collector, naturalist, geographer, anthropologist and political commentator. Most famously, he had the revolutionary idea of evolution by natural selection entirely independently of Charles Darwin.

Brief Bio

James is a senior lecturer in science education at the University of Sussex. His PhD looked at the development and inclusion of the Nature of Science in the UK National Curriculum for science from 1988 – 2010. He is an elected member (FGS) of The Geological Society of London, a member of the Association for Science Education (ASE), where he chairs the Publications Specialist Group. He is also a member of the Society of Authors and a member of the Editorial Board – School Science Review. He has appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live Investigates

He has written extensively for The Conversation, for Tes (formerly known as the Times Educational Supplement) and for local newspapers. He has research expertise in Creationism and Evolution in Education, History and Philosophy of Science, Initial Teacher Education, Science Education, Teaching ‘the nature of science’ & ‘the scientific method’, as well as Teaching and Learning.

Usual Info

Talks are on the last Wednesday of every month,  at 7:00 for 7:30, at The Arc (formerly The Discovery Centre) in Winchester. Admission is £5 which also gives you an entry in the book raffle. We take cash and cards (cards preferred).

The event is in two parts – the talk and then a Q&A after the interval. We encourage you to support The Arc by indulging in the available drinks and snacks before and during the event.

There is a small car park adjacent to The Arc, or use the nearby Tower car park. You are also welcome to join us for the traditional post-talk curry.

29th June – A Human History of Emotion – Richard Firth-Godbehere

We like to think of humans as rational creatures, who have relied on calculation and intellect to survive. But many of the most important moments in our history had little to do with cold, hard facts and a lot to do with feelings.

Join Richard Firth-Godbehere explores a fascinating and wide-ranging tour of the central and often under-appreciated role emotions have played in human societies around the world and throughout history.

In this talk, Richard focuses on desire and disgust as he draws on psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, art, and history. He vividly illustrates how our understanding and experience of emotions has changed over time, and how our beliefs about feelings profoundly shaped us and the world we inhabit.

Brief Bio

Richard Firth-Godbehere, PhD, is one of the world’s leading experts on disgust and emotions. He is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Centre for the History of the Emotions, Queen Mary University of London. He received a first-class degree from the University of London, during which time he won two awards for academic excellence, alongside a Masters (MPhil) from the University of Cambridge and a PhD From Queen Mary, University of London, where he was a Wellcome Trust Scholar. His award-winning interdisciplinary research walks the line between history, psychology, linguistics, philosophy and futurism. He examines how understandings of emotions change over time and space, and how these changes can influence the wider world.

Already translated into nearly a dozen languages, Richard’s latest book, A Human History of Emotion: How the Way We Feel Built the World We Know, is available from all good bookstores.

Usual Info

Talks are on the last Wednesday of every month,  at 7:00 for 7:30, at The Arc (formerly The Discovery Centre) in Winchester. Admission is £5 which also gives you an entry in the book raffle. We take cash and cards (cards preferred).

The event is in two parts – the talk and then a Q&A after the interval. We encourage you to support The Arc by indulging in the available drinks and snacks before and during the event.

There is a small car park adjacent to The Arc, or use the nearby Tower car park. You are also welcome to join us for the traditional post-talk curry.

 

25th May – Medieval Weather Forecasting: Science, not Magic – Anne Lawrence-Mathers

The basis for modern weather forecasting

It is a truth universally acknowledged – at least among non-medievalists – that classical scientific knowledge died with the Roman Empire and had to be disinterred once the Middle Ages were over. This talk will demonstrate that this belief is mistaken, using the example of medieval weather forecasting. Ancient astronomers had no satisfactory answer to the important question of how seasonal weather can vary so much from one year to another and from place to place. Medieval European meteorologists had complex and data-driven answers, based on the work of astronomers and astrologers in the Arab Empire. The models used could produce forecasts for any chosen date and location – but appear magical to modern critics because of their use of astrology.

This talk will look at the methods used in making these forecasts, with practical examples. It will go further and argue that these laid the basis for modern weather forecasting.

Brief Bio

Anne Lawrence-Mathers is a Professor of Medieval History at the University of Reading and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. She is a specialist in the history of magic and its relationship with science, and is the author of The True History of Merlin the Magician and Medieval Meteorology as well as co-author of Magic in Medieval Society. She has written for Weather, Physics Today and Pour la Science, and is currently writing a book on medieval magical texts as well as co-editing the Arc Companion to Magic, Science and the Medieval Construction of the Natural.

For those who don’t know this

Talks are on the last Wednesday of every month,  at 7:00 for 7:30, at The Arc (formerly The Discovery Centre) in Winchester. Admission is £5 which also gives you an entry in the book raffle. We take cash and cards. The event is in two parts – the talk and then a Q&A after the interval. We encourage you to support The Arc by indulging in the available drinks and snacks before and during the event. There is a small car park adjacent to The Arc, or use the nearby Tower car park. You are also welcome to join us for the traditional post-talk curry.

27th Apr – Wayfinding: The Art and Science of How we Find and Lose Our Way – Michael Bond

So, are men are better than women at navigation?

This talk discusses how humans acquired wayfinding and navigation skills over our evolutionary past, the methods that early humans used to stay orientated in unfamiliar surroundings, the brain mechanisms behind our spatial and navigation skills and how they are related to memory and other cognitive functions, and why there are such stark individual differences in wayfinding skills (including the oft-debated question of whether men are better than women).

Michael Bond

Michael Bond, who won the 2015 British Psychological Society Prize for The Power of Others, is a freelance science writer and editor. A consultant with New Scientist, he specializes in psychology and social behaviour, and how people interact with their environments.

He has been writing on psychology and human behaviour for more than fifteen years as a regular contributor to New Scientist, Nature, Prospect, the Observer, the Daily Telegraph, the Financial Times, and others. During the Arab Spring, he also served as lead researcher for the Royal Society report on science in Egypt.

Michael’s latest book  is Wayfinding – The art and science of how we find and lose our way.

The Talks

Talks are on the last Wednesday of every month,  at 7:00 for 7:30, at The Arc (formerly The Discovery Centre) in Winchester. Admission is £5 which also gives you an entry in the book raffle. We take cash and cards (not Amex). The event is in two parts – the talk and then a Q&A after the interval. We encourage you to support The Arc by indulging in the available drinks and snacks before and during the event. There is a small car park adjacent to The Arc, or use the nearby Tower car park. You are also welcome to join us for the traditional post-talk curry.

 

Skeptics in Spaaace!

On 28 May  this year we’ll be following in the footsteps of our Muppet friends and heading into Space – well at least we’ll be heading to the closest thing for us, The National Space Centre in Leicester. It’s a long time since we’ve had an outing like this, meeting up at an interesting place, and it’s always enjoyable!

The Space Centre is open from 10am; they recommend getting tickets in advance. Some people have had problems with the website and have had to email them, but they have been very helpful.

Some of us have also booked to stay at the Premier Inn Leicester (Forest East) on the night of the 27th May. It’s not too far and is one of the best value places to stay. We will be in the pub there from 7pm so we can meet up then.

It will be great to see people there. If you want to let us know you’re joining us, so that we can look out for you, please contact us via the contact page on our website.

Useful Links – Summary

https://spacecentre.co.uk/

https://www.premierinn.com/gb/en/hotels/england/leicestershire/leicester/leicester-forest-east.html

Wed 30th March 2022 – at the Arc (formerly called the Winchester Discovery Centre) – Demolishing Babel

At Last!

It’s been a Long Time.  Much longer than any of us guessed. Almost exactly 2 years.

But, at the new scheduled timeslot – the last Wednesday of every month at 7.00 for 7:30 pm – the talks start again!

The venue’s the same, but with a new name – now refurbished as The Arc.

Our first event of the new era features one of our most popular speakers, Dr Keith Kahn-Harris.

Dr Keith Kahn-Harris.

Dr Keith Kahn-Harris is a sociologist and writer, based in London. He is a senior lecturer at Leo Baeck College, an associate lecturer and honorary fellow at Birkbeck College, and the project director of the European Jewish Research Archive at the Institute for Jewish Policy Research. The author of seven books, editor of several collections and many articles and reviews, his career bridges academia and multiple other worlds.

He will be talking about demolishing the Babel myth.

The Babel Myth

The Babel myth suggests that when humans cannot understand each other, this will inevitably lead to conflict. Yet is this really true? In this talk, Dr Keith Kahn-Harris will suggest that not understanding languages can actually be a tool for peace-making. More than that, without the pressure to understand, we can properly appreciate the wonder and joy of language. In his book The Babel Message: A Love Letter to  Languagehe shows how a seemingly insignificant piece of paper – the multilingual warning message inside a Kinder Surprise Egg – can be the starting point for a linguistic adventure. In this talk he will take the adventure beyond the book and invite the audience to join him on it.

So you know

Talks are on the last Wednesday of every month, starting at 7:30, at The Arc (formerly The Discovery Centre) in Winchester. Admission is £5 which also gives you an entry in the book raffle. We take cash and cards (not Amex). The event is in two parts – the talk and then a Q&A after the interval. We encourage you to support The Arc by indulging in the available drinks and snacks before and during the event. There is a small car park adjacent to The Arc, or use the nearby Tower car park. You are also welcome to join us for the traditional post-talk curry.

We encourage you to follow the Hampshire Cultural Trust guidelines on Covid Safety. You can find them here.

10th Feb – Examining Moon Hoaxers’ Greatest Hits – Brian Eggo

Kato Mukasa’s talk on modern Humanism in Africa has unfortunately had to be deferred due to circumstance beyond our control. Watch this space for its reappearance a little later in the year!

The irrepressible and always witty and entertaining Brian Eggo has stepped up to the plate with this piece on the Moon Hoaxers…

Just over fifty years ago we landed on the moon … or did we???

Err… Yes, we did.

We really did. Honest.

Unfortunately we live in a time where a disturbingly large proportion of the population happily spread misinformation, distrust (real) experts, and fuel the flames of conspiracy despite overwhelming evidence.

If you delve into the unpleasant world of moon hoaxer groups you’ll see that the same set of claims crop up time after time. So, we’re going to take an express tour through their ‘top’ items – with your help!

Brian

Brian Eggo is most definitely NOT a rocket scientist. He is however the primary mouthpiece of Glasgow Skeptics, an occasional writer for The Skeptic, and he’s even got a degree in Engineering.

When and Where

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm GMT on the 10th February.

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

** Postponed ** 10th Feb – Modern Humanism in Africa – Kato Mukasa

 

We are delighted to have Humanist and Human Rights lawyer from Uganda to talk about Humanism.

For this talk, Kato will be drawing from two of his more recent books: The God Business and the Death of Reason in Africa (2021), and: Modern Humanism, and How to make it work for the People.

He will explore the history of religion in Africa, both traditional religions and those imported by colonists, and the effect that religion has had on the lives and the thinking of people in Uganda and further afield throughout Africa.

Kato will also talk about his view of practical Humanism, how it should not be restricted to conferences and lecture theatres, but be taken to the grassroots where it can be seen in action. Modern Humanism is more concerned with activism and there are several ways through which Humanism can be made more relevant

Bio

Kato Mukasa is a Ugandan lawyer; he is the Executive Director of Legal Relief Frontiers LTD, a non governmental organization which provides Legal Relief services to the poor in Uganda. Over the years in his practice as a lawyer he has handled human rights cases which involve supporting LGBTQ rights, abused children, rape victims and victims of land evictions among others. He has espoused these views on local media and has a number of published books, such as ‘Challenging the myths about homosexuality’.

Kato is also a Humanist in a country where only 0.2% of the population identify as non-religious. Having had a keen interest in religion in his early teens, he was eventually expelled from his Catholic high school for refusing to attend mass.

He is the chair of Uganda Humanist Association the oldest Humanist organization in Africa, and a former member of the board of directors of the International Humanist and Ethical Union.

In 2007 he co-founded the Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity and Accountability to promote critical thinking and human rights. Its monthly campus discussions are attended by people of faith and non-believers. It also sponsors students and assists young mothers in acquiring entrepreneurship skills, among other programs. He is the founding director of Pearl Vocational Training College and Pearl Mukasa Memorial High School, schools which provide education to the marginalized urban and rural poor, young mothers and needy students.
Sadly it is perhaps not surprising that views such as these, in a very traditional and religious country, have make him the target of attacks.

When and Where

Livestreaming on twitch.tv/sitp at 7:00 pm GMT on the 10th February.

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

9th December – Inside the White Rose: an anti-vaxx, Covid conspiracy theory ecosystem

Francesca Stavrakopoulou’s talk has unfortunately had to be deferred due to circumstances outside of hers and our control. But she will be back in the New Year -so look out for announcements!

So, instead, the ever engaging Michael Marshall will be talking on a considerably topical subject.

When 2020 brought with it a new strain of coronavirus, the world was plunged into confusion and uncertainty. While most people accepted the realities of the virus, little white stickers began to appear in public around the world claiming it was all a hoax. The graffiti was part of a co-ordinated grassroots campaign, urging members of the public to join their encrypted messaging channels…

So that’s what Michael Marshall, full-time skeptical investigator and activist, did.

Find out what months undercover in the messaging app Telegram showed Michael, and how the Covid crisis radicalised vaccine hesitant members of the public.

This week’s talk is a change to the originally-scheduled event, and will also feature the announcement of the 2021 Ockham Award and Rusty Razor.

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.