12th December – Michael Marshall: Circular Reasoning: The Rise of Flat Earth Belief

In 2013, when Michael Marshall first interviewed the Vice President of the Flat Earth society for his show Be Reasonable, people could scarcely believe that anyone could genuinely think the Earth was flat. Five years later, Flat Earth belief has gone mainstream, spawning thousands of hours of YouTube videos, gaining widespread international media coverage, and attracting countless followers. How did we get here?

In this talk, Marshall will talk through his experiences of the Flat Earth movement, take a look at the leaders and some of their reasoning, and report back from the weekend he spent at the UK’s first ever Flat Earth convention.

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, going undercover to expose psychics and quack medics, and co-founding the popular QED conference. He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Statesman.

28th November – Dr Keith Khan-Harris – Denialism. What’s the Alternative?

Dr Keith Khan-HarrisOne of the most challenging and frustrating questions for scientists is how to combat denialism: Holocaust denial, global warming denial, anti-vaxxers, 911 conspiracism, creationism and more. Debunking denialist claims is essential – yet also rarely effective.We are now living in a world where even the most apparently basic truths are routinely contested.

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In this talk, Keith Kahn-Harris, author of Denial: The Unspeakable Truth, argues that to really understand denialism, we have to face up to what he calls ‘the deniers alternative’. Denialism emerges when this alternative is so ‘unspeakable’ that denialism becomes a preferable option. In thinking about how to combat denialism, we also have to consider whether a world without it might not be a truth-filled utopia, but something even worse.


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

31st October – Deborah Hyde – When the Spirit Moves You: a History of Poltergeists

Not content with mere visual manifestation, poltergeists are presences which interact with their environments. Making noises, hurling objects and causing levitation is sometimes just the start! This talk will go into the history of these manifestations to find a selection of clergymen, religious revolutionaries and malcontent teenagers.

About Deborah

Deborah Hyde wants to know why people believe in weird stuff. She attributes her fascination with the supernatural to having spent her childhood with mad aunties. She approaches the subject using the perspectives of psychology and history.

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Here is more about her on Wikipedia.

During the day, she’s a film/TV industry coordinator/production manager who has worked in makeup effects and scenery. She also gets on the wrong side of the camera from time to time.

Deborah is the editor of The Skeptic Magazine, the UK’s only regular magazine to take a critical-thinking and evidence-based approach to pseudo-science and the paranormal. The magazine was previously edited by Professor Chris French of Goldsmiths, who stepped down after ten years to take a well-earned break in 2011.

Deborah was Co-Convenor of Westminster Skeptics and Speaker Liaison of Soho Skeptics. Soho Skeptics was an alliance of Little Atoms, The Pod Delusion, Skeptic Magazine, Skeptics in the Pub and independent writers and film-makers.

In February 2018, she was very honoured to have been elected a fellow of The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

PS Deborah has one sane auntie too.

Talks are (usually) on the last Thursday of every month, starting at 7:30, at The Discovery Centre in Winchester.  A ticket is a £5 donation on the door towards speaker expenses, and which doubles as raffle ticket for a prize.

26th September – Alex J. Oconnor – The Good Delusion

Alex J. O’Connor is a philosophical commentator and debater with over 230,000 subscribers to his videos on YouTube. A self-proclaimed atheist, Alex argues against theological apology, as well as discussing a range of philosophical topics such as the existence of free will, the nature of morality, and freedom of speech. Alex is currently reading philosophy and theology at Oxford University.

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Alex J. O’Connor offers a means to ground ethics in a way that allows us to determine what people should and shouldn’t do as a matter of fact, whilst dispensing with terms like ‘good’ and ‘bad.’ The concept of good may be delusory, but ethics does not have to be.

Talks are (usually) on the last Thursday of every month, starting at 7:30, at The Discovery Centre in Winchester.  A ticket is a £5 donation on the door towards speaker expenses, and which doubles as raffle ticket for a prize.

29th August – Pixie Turner – Why Diets Don’t Work – and Other Myths About Food and Health

Our obsession with being healthy and living forever has driven us to push our bodies to the absolute limits, but still every year we’re being told how unhealthy we are as a population. Despite a wealth of information at our fingertips, there are still so many things we get wrong about food and health.

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Pixie explains the reasons why diets and over exercising don’t work; the problems with eating for aesthetic goals; the science behind orthorexia, food anxieties and emotional eating, and other unhealthy habits formed by misinformation.

This will challenge our misconceptions about what is healthy, and get to the heart of it using evidence-based science.


Pixie is a nutritionist (ANutr), food blogger, and science communicator. She graduated with a First Class degree in Biochemistry, and went on to complete a Masters in Nutrition with Distinction. She is the brains behind the ‘Pixie Nutrition‘ social media accounts, which aim to infiltrate the wellness movement and debunk nutrition misinformation online. In addition, she has been featured as a nutrition expert on BBC and Channel 5. Her first book, ‘The Wellness Rebel’ was published early 2018, with her second book released March 2019.

25th July – Paul D McGarrity – A Practical Guide to Attacking Castles

A Practical Guide to attacking castles

From the age of sieges and chivalry comes a show about medieval love, adrenaline junkies and an insane quest for glory. Join comedian and archaeologist Paul Duncan McGarrity as he explains how modern life could be so much better if we all take a moment and learn how to attack a castle.

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From the host of the Ask an Archaeologist podcast and live show comes another hour of hysterical historical fun. ‘A more pleasant way to pass an hour could scarcely be found’

Paul D McGarrity

Paul Duncan McGarrity, the UK’s foremost Stand up comedian archaeologist, as seen on BBC4’s The Big Dig, is taking his critically acclaimed sell out Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Ask an Archaeologist’ on the road as ‘Paul Duncan McGarrity vs The Minor-tour’.

The ‘Ask an Archaeologist’ show does exactly what it says in the title. An Archaeologist (Paul) sits in a room with an audience and answers their questions. Most audiences tend to ask about life in the field, but other questions have been about Brexit, time travel and knitting patterns.

Woven around these queries Paul dishes the dirt on what it’s really like down in the trenches. Topics covered include the dating techniques of Vikings, the awkward truth behind the death of Richard III and Shakespeare’s laddish side.

To complement this unique approach to both history and comedy the ‘Minor-tour’ will be stopping off in on some rather unusual venues, although this won’t be too much of a departure for Paul as he has already performed shows in the grounds of a 14th century abbey and in an inflatable tent right next door to Hadrian’s wall.


27th June – Cerys Bradley – A Unifying Theory of Gay

For decades, science has been fascinated by the LGBTQ+ community. What makes gay people gay? How does sexuality affect one’s behaviour, appearance, or ability to raise children? These are the questions that science has asked and the answers have had an impact not only within the scientific world, but also on public policy and the rights of LGBTQ+ citizens. Given the highly politicised nature of the topic, it is perhaps not surprising to discover biases and prejudices hidden in the construction, conduction, and conclusions of these studies but are they still valuable contributions to science?

PhD student (and lesbian) Cerys Bradley will discuss the scientific research into the LGBTQ+ community as well as its societal implications, and ask “just because science can ask a question, should it?”.

11th June – Ariane Sherine – Talk yourself better

(This talk was originally scheduled for January 2019, and cancelled due to bad weather. Now recheduled for June 11th)

Comedy writer and journalist Ariane Sherine created and organised the Atheist Bus Campaign, persuading Richard Dawkins and the British Humanist Association to support her – and buses with variations on the slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” ran in 13 countries across the globe.

As a result, Ariane received an Inbox full of hate mail from Christians, which eventually led to a major nervous breakdown and suicidal ideation. She ended her journalistic career, and didn’t write again for over three years.

In this talk, she will tell the full story of how therapy and medication saved her life, prompting her to write her new book, Talk Yourself Better: A Confused Person’s Guide to Therapy, Counselling and Self-Help.

Ariane will also be signing copies of Talk Yourself Better after the talk.

What people have said about Talk Yourself Better

“Brilliant – makes the baffling comprehensible.” JEREMY VINE

“What an excellent, long-overdue idea! A super-accessible guide, through the bewildering marketplace of modern therapy, to ease our noble search for help.” DERREN BROWN

“How do we cope with this brutal world? In this witty, revealing book Ariane Sherine runs through the ways. An excellent, funny and thought-provoking read for all who seek answers.” ARTHUR SMITH

“What makes Ariane Sherine’s Talk Yourself Better stand out from the crowd is its accessibility and humour; to be able to discuss difficult things with a lightness of touch and a comedy that does not trivialise is a rare skill indeed. This, combined with the honest – and often deeply moving – stories of clients and practitioners alike, makes this the ideal introduction to for anyone considering therapy for the first time.” BRIAN BILSTON

About Ariane

Ariane Sherine is the comedy writer and journalist who created the Atheist Bus Campaign, as well as the best-selling celebrity book The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas. She has written for BBC1’s My Family, Channel 4’s Countdown and BBC2’s Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, as well as for The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Observer, New Statesman and The Spectator.

She lives in London with her seven-year-old daughter, Lily.

30th May – Dr Christopher Fuller – See It, Shoot it: The Secret History of the CIA’s Lethal Drone Program

This eye-opening talk will uncover the formally classified history of the most important instrument of U.S. counterterrorism today: the armed drone.

Drawing upon research conducted for the completion of his recent book, See It/Shoot It, published by Yale University Press, Dr Christopher Fuller will reveal that, contrary to popular belief, the CIA’s covert drone program is not a product of 9/11. Rather, it is the result of U.S. counterterrorism practices extending back to an influential group of policy makers within the Reagan administration.

Dr Christopher J. Fuller is a lecturer in modern U.S. history at the University of Southampton. His research and teaching focuses upon American foreign policy, in particular the origins and conduct of the War on Terror; an exploration of the United States as a post-territorial empire; and the role played by the Internet in both enhancing and undermining American national security. He is a joint U.S./UK citizen, and for the first time in a long time, feels stuck between a rock and a hard place.

He tweets as @DrChrisFuller

April 25th – Prof Danny Dorling – Time for the truth: We ‘left’ the EU because of Hampshire.

We ask for a £5 donation (at the door) that doubles as a raffle ticket to win a book prize to cover speaker expenses and the cost of the venue.

In Hampshire 546,267 people voted to leave the EU in June 2016, some 54.0% of all those who voted in the county. Hampshire was never singled out as a hotbed of leave voters and yet the people of this county, along with just a few of the other English Home Counties, were crucial to securing the referendum result. So why was this not commented upon at the time, or later – and what might it mean for how little we understand ourselves?

We can define an ‘Anti-Hampshire’ which has almost exactly the same electorate as Hampshire but is made of five northern and one Welsh district often labelled as hot-beds of leavers. In Anti-Hampshire only 494,816 voted to leave, 53.7% of all those who voted. Anti-Hampshire consists of Blackpool, Derby, Great Yarmouth, Leeds, Merthyr Tydfil and Sheffield (the fifth largest city in Britain).

Its time for a few home truths about the geography of who we are, how we got here, and where we are most probably going.

The table below is numbers voting leave and the % of all who voted in “Anti-Hampshire”

Derby 69,04357%
Great Yarmouth 35,84472%
Leeds 192,47450%
Merthyr Tydfil 16,29156%
Sheffield 136,01851%

Don’t worry – the talk still works even if Theresa May cancels article 50 (she can do it without anyone’s permission) – or even if we get a peoples’ vote and that is for Remain.

Personally I think her plan is to cancel it at the point that we begin to get a great deal of panic. Panic is rising.

I have a book coming out in January with my friend Sally where we claim that the effect of Brexit will still be enormous even if we don’t leave:

I ought to admit to a vested interest of a new book! But I don’t need to try and sell any copies on the night!

Brief Bio

Danny Dorling is the Halford Mackinder Professor in Geography at the University of Oxford. He was previously a professor of Geography at the University of Sheffield, and before then a professor at the University of Leeds. He earlier worked at academic posts in Newcastle, Bristol, and New Zealand. He went to university in Newcastle upon Tyne, and to school in Oxford. He was born in 1968.

Much of Danny’s work is available open access (see www.dannydorling.org). With a group of colleagues he helped create the website www.worldmapper.org which shows who has most and least in the world. His work concerns issues of housing, health, employment, education, wealth and poverty. His most recent book, with Sally Tomlinson, was published on January 15th 2019: ‘Rule Britannia: Brexit and the end of Empire’ concerning what the 2016 EU referendum and 2019 ‘exit’ told us about the British.

[It was ‘completely spot on’ / ‘shown to be rubbish given subsequent events (delete as appropriate J )]

He is a patron of the charity Roadpeace, an Honorary Patron of Heeley City Farm, Sheffield, and a Senior Associate member of the Royal Society of Medicine. He is now working on ‘Slowdown’ during 2019. His next book, about slowing down…