<< Following year

(NB: Not our usual day!)

Gustav Kuhn

When?
Friday, May 2 2014 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Gustav Kuhn

What's the talk about?

PLEASE NOTE : This event happens on FRIDAY 2nd of May, breaking our normal '1st Wednesday of the Month' rule.

Magic is one of the oldest art forms, and for centuries magicians have created illusions of the impossible. Some have used these illusions as demonstrations of supernatural powers. However, advances in Psychology and Neuroscience offer new insights into why our minds are so easily deceived. I am a Magician and Psychologist with an interest in researching some of the mechanisms involved in magic. Instead of relying on supernatural powers, magicians have developed powerful psychological principle to distort our perception and thoughts. In this talk we will explore some of the principles used by magicians to distort your perception. For example, we will look at how magicians use misdirection to manipulate your attention and thereby prevent you from noticing things even though they might be right in front of your eyes. Alternatively, magicians may manipulate your expectations about the world and thus bias the way you perceive objects and can even make you see things that aren’t necessarily there. At first sight, our proneness to being fooled by conjuring trick could be interpreted as a weakness of the human mind. However, contrary to this popular belief, I will demonstrate that these “errors” reveal the complexity of visual perception and highlight the ingenuity of the human mind.

Dr. Gustav Kuhn worked as a professional magician and it was his interest in deception and illusions that sparked a curiosity about the human mind. Gustav is a senior lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London, and one of the leading researchers in the science of magic.

Megan Whewell

When?
Wednesday, April 2 2014 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Megan Whewell

What's the talk about?

Did Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin really land on the Moon in 1969? Yes!

There have been many conspiracy theories proposed over the years since 1969 that insist Neil and Buzz didn't land on the Moon's surface. Buzz’s famous response to a conspiracy theorist was to punch them, but Megan Whewell will take you through some of the more popular theories and explain how you can respond using less violence and more science.

Megan Whewell works at the National Space Centre in Leicester, and as part of her job she presents public talks during school holidays. Over one holiday those talks asked the question "Did the moon landings really happen?". She considers these talks a wholehearted success because she got, on average, one ‘conversion’ a day from conspiracy theorist to believing in the Apollo programme.

Neil Denny

When?
Wednesday, March 5 2014 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Neil Denny

What's the talk about?

Neil Denny is the producer and presenter of the Little Atoms Radio Show and podcast. Neil was the recipient of a Travelling Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, and in May 2012 he embarked upon a month long, 6614 mile road trip across America. The aim of the trip was to produce a series of podcasts which present a wide-ranging overview of science and skepticism from an American perspective.

Driving from San Francisco to Boston and calling in at Phoenix, Santa Fe, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York along the way, Neil recorded 39 interviews with scientists and science writers including Ann Druyan, Leonard Susskind, Kip Thorne, Priya Natarajan, Paul Davies, George Church, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Mary Roach, Edward Stone and Sara Seager. He recorded interviews at some major sites of scientific interest, including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, The Los Alamos National Laboratory, and The American Museum of Natural History.

He also spent a less scientific day visiting Kentucky’s Creation Museum.

Hear the podcasts from Neil’s trip at feeds.feedburner.com/littleatomsroadtrip, find out more about Little Atoms at: www.littleatoms.com, and follow Neil on Twitter @littleatoms.

Rob Brotherton

When?
Wednesday, February 5 2014 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Rob Brotherton

What's the talk about?

 

CHANGE OF SPEAKER: Rob Brotherton on the Psychology of Conspiracy Theories

 

I'm afraid that Charlie Veitch has had to cancel his planned presentation for Greenwich Skeptics in the Pub this coming Wednesday. Fortunately for all those of you with an interest in conspiracy theories, Rob Brotherton has kindly agreed to give us a repeat performance of his excellent talk on the psychology of belief in conspiracy theories (the one he gave as part of the APRU Invited Speaker Series on 28 Jan 2014).

 

Apologies for any inconvenience (and to those you who have already seen Rob's talk - but it's certainly good enough for a second viewing!).

-------

Why do some people believe unproven and implausible conspiracy theories? What’s the harm if they do? And just what is a conspiracy theory, anyway? Rob Brotherton provides a psychological perspective on the peculiar phenomenon of conspiracy theorising. The talk will offer a definition of the tricky-to-define term ‘conspiracy theory’, discuss the consequences of widespread belief in conspiracies, and present psychological research which begins to reveal the allure of conspiracy theories. Of particular interest is research concerning the role of cognitive biases and heuristics – quirks in the way we all think – which suggests that our brains might be wired to detect conspiracies, even where none exist. It seems we’re all intuitive conspiracy theorists – some of us just hide it better than others.

 

Rob completed a PhD in the psychology of conspiracy theories at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he now works as a lecturer. His research primarily concerns the measurement and cognitive correlates of conspiracist ideation, and reasoning biases more generally. Rob is Assistant Editor of The Skeptic (www.skeptic.org.uk), and writes about the psychology of conspiracy theories at www.ConspiracyPsych.com. Or at least that’s what he would like you to believe.

Stevyn Colgan

When?
Wednesday, January 8 2014 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Stevyn Colgan

What's the talk about?

Stevyn is a former member of the Met Police Problem Solving Unit, which developed creative and innovative approaches to issues that did not respond to traditional policing methods. He is an expert on problem-oriented policing and has lectured extensively throughout the UK and US. Stevyn is also an artist, writer and a QI Elf!

For more details on Stevyn, check out http://www.stevyncolgan.com/

Simon Singh

When?
Wednesday, December 4 2013 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Simon Singh

What's the talk about?

PLEASE  NOTE : THIS EVENT IS NOW SOLD OUT. Entrance without a ticket will not be possible.

All of our other events are still ticket free

Everyone knows that The Simpsons is probably the most successful show in television history. Simon Singh will explain how a team of mathematically gifted writers have covered everything from calculus to geometry, from pi to game theory, and from infinitesimals to infinity in various episodes of The Simpsons.

Singh will also discuss how writers of Futurama have similarly made it their missions to smuggle deep mathematical ideas into the series.

Inside The Weird World Of Scientology

John Sweeney

When?
Wednesday, November 6 2013 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
John Sweeney

What's the talk about?

Tom Cruise and John Travolta say the Church of Scientology is a force for good. Others disagree. Award-winning journalist John Sweeney investigated the Church for more than half a decade. During that time he was intimidated, spied on and followed and the results were spectacular: Sweeney lost his temper with the Church’s spokesman on camera and his infamous ‘exploding tomato’ clip was seen by millions around the world.

John Sweeney tells the story of his experiences for the first time and paints a devastating picture of this strange organisation, from former Scientologists who tell heartbreaking stories of families torn apart and lives ruined to its current followers who say it is the solution to many of mankind’s problems.

Deborah Hyde

When?
Wednesday, October 2 2013 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Deborah Hyde

What's the talk about?

The Vampire has fascinated Western Europe from the early 1700s, but the tradition was a real part of Eastern European lives for a considerable time before that. In the last three centuries, the icon has been taken up by art of all kinds - literature, film and graphics - and it has had a lasting effect on fashion and culture. But what is the authentic story behind tales of the predatory, living dead and can we understand a little more about being human by studying these accounts? We will look at recent attempts to understand the folklore and try to work out how an Eastern European ritual made its way to late nineteenth century New England, USA.

Deborah Hyde writes, lectures internationally and appears on broadcast media to discuss superstition, religion and belief in the supernatural. She uses a range of approaches and disciplines from history to psychology to investigate the folklore of the malign and to discover why it is so persistent throughout all human communities and eras. She is currently writing a book 'Unnatural Predators'. She is also a film industry makeup effects production manager who gets on the wrong side of the camera from time to time.

Rob Brotherton

When?
Wednesday, September 4 2013 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Rob Brotherton

What's the talk about?

Over the last 15 years anti-vaccinationism has become a familiar and destructive force within the UK and overseas. In 1998 a small, dubious, and ultimately discredited study alleging a link between the MMR vaccine and autism ignited media debate and public anxiety. Vaccine uptake fell, and outbreaks of previously rare diseases ensued. The science is clear: no such link exists. Yet anti-vaccinationism persists, fuelled by conspiracy theories and personal fears.

The fact that these claims have survived despite continual empirical refutation is hardly surprising given the long history of anti-vaccinationism; anti-vaccination movements sprang to life alongside the very first smallpox vaccine and have dogged the medical profession ever since. This talk will present a brief history of anti-vaccinationism, from the 18th century to the present day.

Rob Brotherton is a doctoral candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he was awarded an ESRC scholarship to carry out a PhD examining the psychology of conspiracy theories. Rob is Assistant Editor of The Skeptic (www.skeptic.org.uk) and blogs at www.ConspiracyPsych.com.

Chris French

When?
Wednesday, August 7 2013 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Chris French

What's the talk about?

NB: Please note that the talk by Hayley Stevens that was originally scheduled for this evening has had to be cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control.

Ever since records began, in every known society, a substantial proportion of the population has reported unusual experiences many of which we would today label as “paranormal”. Opinion polls show that the majority of the general public accepts that paranormal phenomena do occur. Such widespread experience of and belief in the paranormal can only mean one of two things. Either the paranormal is real, in which case this should be accepted by the wider scientific community which currently rejects such claims; or else belief in and experience of ostensibly paranormal phenomena can be fully explained in terms of psychological factors. This presentation will provide an introduction to the sub-discipline of anomalistic psychology, which may be defined as the study of extraordinary phenomena of behaviour and experience, in an attempt to provide non-paranormal explanations in terms of known psychological and physical factors. This approach will be illustrated with examples relating to a range of ostensibly paranormal phenomena.

Professor Chris French is the Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, as well as being a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association and a member of the Scientific and Professional Advisory Board of the British False Memory Society. He has published over 100 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics within psychology. His main area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims, as well as writing for the Guardian and The Skeptic magazine which, for more than a decade, he also edited. His most recent books are Why Statues Weep: The Best of The Skeptic, co-edited with Wendy Grossman (2010, London: The Philosophy Press) and Anomalistic Psychology, co-authored with Nicola Holt, Christine Simmonds-Moore, and David Luke (2012, London: Palgrave). His next book (co-authored with Anna Stone) is Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience (to be published this November by Palgrave Macmillan). Follow him on Twitter: @chriscfrench

Michael Marshall

When?
Wednesday, July 3 2013 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

"You can't believe everything you read in the papers."

Everyone knows this, but few people realise this truism extends far beyond the celebrity pages and gossip columns, and spills into 'real' news. Here, the near-invisible influence of PR companies is often pivotal in deciding what news gets told, and how it gets reported. By taking a brief look at the history of modern journalism, and using real examples taken from recent headlines, Michael Marshall will show why you really, really can't believe everything you read in the papers.

Michael Marshall is the co-founder and vice-president of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and appears on the 'Skeptics with a K' and 'Be Reasonable' podcasts. Besides organising the national and international 10:23 Campaign against homeopathy, he writes about the often-unsuspected role of PR in modern media. Michael has written for The Times, The Guardian and The New Statesmen, and has lectured as part of the Sheffield Hallam University Journalism degree.

Ben Goldacre once called him 'a mighty nerd from Liverpool', and the self-proclaimed psychic Joe Power once called him something very rude and unprintable.

Will Storr

When?
Wednesday, June 5 2013 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Will Storr

What's the talk about?

For years, journalist Will Storr has been writing about people with strange beliefs: demon hunters, UFO spotters, homeopaths and a couple who swore they've met the Yeti in some woods outside Ipswich. One afternoon, he was sitting at a Creationist lecture in the far north of Australia when he asked himself a question that he couldn't even begin to answer. Why don't facts work? The people that he had met, in his ten years of reporting, were often not stupid. Many were demonstrably intelligent. So why didn't superior information fail to replace the inferior. Why did logic fail?

The answer was to lead him on a journey which is recounted in his new book: The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science (Picador, 2013). Along with a spectacular cast of characters - including climate skeptic Lord Christopher Monckton and controversial historian David Irving - and some of the planet's most celebrated experts in brains and thinking, Storr finds his answer in what he calls 'The Hero Maker' : the collection of neural illusions by which we understand the world to be a narrative struggle which are at the centre of. We populate this narrative with heroes and with villains, and we flatter ourselves that we are the most important character in it. We are not agents of reason, but storytellers.

Will Storr is an award winning journalist and a novelist. For more information, please see: www.willstorr.com