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Jo Kenrick

When?
Wednesday, February 5 2020 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Jo Kenrick

What's the talk about?

What if there was a dirty bomb hidden somewhere in the UK and you had a few short hours to get a suspect to tell you where it was and how to disable it, what lengths would you go to?

Revelations in the media about the UK government’s role in cooperating with the CIA's rendition and torture programme have re-opened the debate on what is and is not acceptable when innocent lives are at stake. The President of the United States has declared that torture ‘absolutely works’ but the CIA’s own reports state that torture techniques “do not produce intelligence” and “will probably result in false answers”. This talk reviews both the science and expert testimony from intelligence operatives to reveal what techniques do and don’t work in eliciting information in high-pressure situations and explains why what we think will work is actually utterly ineffective.

Jo is a PhD researcher in the Forensic Psychology Unit at Goldsmiths and a Lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London. As a forensically applied cognitive psychologist, she is particularly interested in increasing awareness and understanding of the science behind evidence-based, non-coercive techniques in eliciting information.

She holds an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, a B.Sc. (Psychology) from Birkbeck College and a B.A. from Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand). Her PhD research is concentrated on the abilities of highly skilled liars, though her recent focus in teaching and public engagement has been why torture and coercive methods do not work, and what ethical, science-based alternatives are available. To this end she has contributed research reviews to the High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG) ‘What Works’ programme to improve the training and practice of interrogations by law enforcement. She was a House of Lords Roundtable discussant on "The development of guidelines on investigative interviewing and associated safeguards" chaired by Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws, QC.

In an attempt to get away from being known as 'the torture lady' Jo has also made television appearances as a deception expert for the programme 'Comedians Giving Lectures' on the Dave comedy channel and used her dubious fiction-writing skills to help create the award-winning immersive science-theatre event 'Top of the Cops: Murder on the Dancefloor' at Goldsmiths. Twitter @Kenrickforensic

NB: Not our usual first Wednesday of the month slot

Dr Brian Klaas

When?
Wednesday, January 8 2020 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Dr Brian Klaas

What's the talk about?

There are more elections than ever before in human history and yet the world is becoming less democratic. How can that be? A huge number of people suspect that their elections are being manipulated in some way or another, whether it's a vote in a fragile country in sub-Saharan Africa or Southeast Asia, or, say, a contentious referendum in the UK or a presidential election in the US. How much of that is true, and how much of it is just our propensity to be suspicious of powerful people in politics? In this talk, Dr. Klaas will walk us through the tricks of the trade – how the amateurs do it and how the pros get away with it, in this stranger than fiction talk that covers elections from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe

Dr. Brian Klaas is an assistant professor in global politics at University College London, a weekly columnist for The Washington Post, and the creator and host of the Power Corrupts podcast. He is an expert on US politics, authoritarianism, elections, democracy, and political violence. He has conducted field research interviewing election rigging henchmen, despots, presidents, prime ministers, rebels, coup plotters, and torture victims in southeast Asia, the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and Eastern Europe. He obtained his B.A. from Carleton College and his MPhil and DPhil from Oxford.

Dr Dan Jolley

When?
Wednesday, December 4 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Dr Dan Jolley

What's the talk about?

Conspiracy theories are associated with almost every significant social and political event, including the theory that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, that the U.K Government murdered Diana, Princess of Wales, or that the pharmaceutical industry deliberately concealed the fact that the MMR vaccine causes Autism. Belief in these types of conspiracy theories is blooming in the 21st century; millions of people subscribe to them.

A basic understanding of logic, rationality, and probability tell us, however, that most of these conspiracy claims are probably false. So why then do so many people believe them? What makes them so attractive and compelling to people? And, anyway, what’s the problem, aren’t they just harmless fun?

In this talk, Dr Daniel Jolley will take you through the psychology of conspiracy theories. You will learn why people subscribe to conspiracy theories and discuss some of the misconceptions (including whether all conspiracy believers are paranoid!). He will also uncover some of the potentially damaging consequences of conspiracy theories; maybe they are not just harmless after all, before discussing ongoing research into tools to combat the negative harm of conspiracism!

Dr Daniel Jolley is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University. He is a Chartered Psychologist of the British Psychological Society, where he is a member of the Executive Committee of the Social Psychology Section. Jolley’s main area of research is the psychology of conspiracy theories. He is particularly interested in using experimental methods to examine the social consequences of exposure to conspiracy theories and has co-authored articles in outlets such as PLoSONE, the British Journal of Psychology and Political Psychology. He blogs at conspiracypsychology.com and tweets @DrDanielJolley

Anthony Warner

When?
Wednesday, November 6 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Who?
Anthony Warner

What's the talk about?

We are getting fat and sick in increasing numbers and it’s placing a devastating burden on our healthcare systems. Scientists in every field are desperate to explain this epidemic and stave off a modern health disaster. But what’s to blame? Carbs, fat or sugar? Gut microbes or genes? Laziness or poverty? In this talk, Anthony Warner will scrutinise the explanations of experts in every field, laying out the best evidence available. But most of all, he will rail against quack theories preying on the desperate and consider whether we are blaming our own bodies for other people's ignorance and cruelty. What remains is the unvarnished truth about one of the great preoccupations of our age.

Deborah Hyde

When?
Wednesday, October 2 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Deborah Hyde

What's the talk about?

The legal approach to witchcraft in England changed considerably over the course of 700 years, reflecting the philosophy, power struggles and politics of each era. At first deprecated as an ignorant superstition, belief in the power of witchcraft eventually became established - even among the most educated.

Dr Alice Howarth

When?
Wednesday, September 4 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Dr Alice Howarth

What's the talk about?

One in two of us will suffer with cancer in our lifetime and almost all of us have some experience of the disease. But do we really know what cancer is and how we can work towards a cure? Is a cure even possible? And how can we arm ourselves with the right information to help us prevent and treat cancer?

Alice is a researcher who works in the Institute of Translational Medicine at the University of Liverpool and has worked with both non-profit and for-profit organisations. In this talk she will discuss what cancer is, how it works and just how we are working towards understanding and curing the disease. She will talk about the complexities of research and some of the big success stories that relate directly to some of the many types of cancer. Only when we understand the difficulties we face can we discern between bogus cancer treatment claims and genuine scientific advancement in this field.

(NB: Not our usual first Wednesday of the month slot)

Prof Joe Uscinski

When?
Wednesday, July 24 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Who?
Prof Joe Uscinski

What's the talk about?

NB : Not our usual day

Particularly since 2016, conspiracy theories became a mainstay of American political debate. Not only did conspiracy theories affect major political decisions (i.e., the election of Trump), but conspiracy theories have become the currency of mainstream political debate. Why has this happened, and what are the measurable effects? What are the dangers of this turn toward dark and disturbing narratives? Professor Uscinski will bring to bear a wealth of polling data from the US to explain how, when, and why conspiracy theories will affect political debate and decision-making. The surprising findings address the following questions: Who believes in conspiracy theories and why? Why are some conspiracy theories more popular than others? What are the dangers of conspiracy theories? Are conspiracy theorists prone to violence? How did conspiracy theories affect the 2016 and 2018 elections? What can conspiracy theories in the United States tell us about conspiracy theories in the United Kingdom?

Joseph Uscinski is associate professor of political science at University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL. He is co-author of American Conspiracy Theories (Oxford, 2014) and editor of Conspiracy Theories and the People Who Believe Them (Oxford, 2018).

Dr Steven Le Comber

When?
Wednesday, July 3 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Dr Steven Le Comber

What's the talk about?

Geographic profiling (GP) is a statistical technique originally developed in criminology to prioritise large lists of suspects – often in the tens or hundreds of thousands – in cases of serial murder. GP uses the spatial locations of crime sites to make inferences about the location of the offender’s ‘anchor point’ (usually a home, but sometimes a workplace). The success of GP in criminology has led recently to its application to biology, notably animal foraging (where it can be used to find animal nests or roosts using the locations of foraging sites as input), epidemiology (identifying disease sources from the addresses of infected individuals) and invasive species biology (using current locations to identify source populations). In a talk spanning mathematics, Jack the Ripper and great white sharks, Steve will explain how he used geographic profiling to investigate the identity of the artist Banksy and reanalysed a Gestapo case from the 1940s that formed the basis of a famous novel – and how GP can be used to control outbreaks of diseases such as malaria.

Steven Le Comber is a senior lecturer in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences at Queen Mary University of London. His work covers a wide range of subjects within evolutionary biology, including mathematical and computer models of molecular evolution and studies of spatial patterns in biology. Steve’s work on the mathematics of spatial patterns ranges from the fractal geometry of African mole-rat burrows to epidemiology.

Steve is passionate about science communication, and has given major talks at the Cheltenham Science Festival in the UK, at the Internet Festival in Pisa, Italy and at Ratio in Bulgaria. He has appeared on the BBC and his research has been covered around the world.

Dr Danny Chambers

When?
Wednesday, June 5 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Dr Danny Chambers

What's the talk about?

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 or chiropractic – 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.

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 for several years. He was described as the ‘veterinary Ben Goldacre’ at two different conferences recently.

Danny has a particular interest in the concept of ‘One Health’ – the recognition that human and animal health is interlinked, and as a result he has worked on veterinary projects that benefit both human and animal health in India, Iraq, Morocco and The Gambia.

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

Danny occasionally writes for New Scientist magazine.

Twitter – @DannyVet
Instagram – @danny_the_vet

Michael Marshall

When?
Wednesday, May 1 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

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.

 

 

Dr Julia Shaw

When?
Wednesday, April 3 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Dr Julia Shaw

What's the talk about?

What is it about “evil” that we find so compelling? From our obsession with serial killers to violence in pop culture, we seem inescapably drawn to the stories of monstrous acts and the people who commit them.

In her talk, Dr Julia Shaw uses a compelling mix of science, popular culture, and real-life examples to break down timely and important issues. How similar is your brain to a psychopath’s? How many people have murder fantasies? Can A.I. be evil? Do your sexual proclivities make you a bad person? Who becomes a terrorist?

This is a wide-ranging exploration into a fascinating, darkly compelling subject.

Ronald Green

When?
Wednesday, March 6 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Ronald Green

What's the talk about?

Time seems to flash by when we’re enjoying ourselves, and slows to a crawl when we’re bored. Why? Does time exist, or is it an illusion? How real are our memories? When is now? These are just some of the questions that we will ponder in our foray into what time is for us, and how we live and relate to it in our daily lives.

Rattling the comfort of instant satisfaction, of reality shows, celebrity worship and the self-glorification of the I-generation, we will go on a journey that goes to the core of what it means to be human - a journey replete with twists and turns and “aha!” moments. Challenging what is naturally taken for granted (“the willingness to be puzzled by things that look obvious,” as Chomsky put it), we will forge a link between philosophy and science, blowing away the cobwebs that obscure both.

How Things Really Are. Can we even refer to that? That is the question.

Ronald Green is the author of “Time To Tell: a look at how we tick” (iff Books, 2018) and "Nothing Matters: a book about nothing" (iff Books, 2011). Philosopher, linguist, university lecturer and ESL teacher, with 13 ESL books published, Ronald has lectured and given workshops in Europe, North and South America and the Middle East on linguistics, ESL and the use of the Internet in education. His short stories have been published in Nuvein magazine, Tryst, Aesthetica, the Sink and Unholy Biscuit. He has completed a philosophical novel and co-authored a psychological thriller with strong philosophical underpinnings. After thinking about nothing for five years, he spent the following five years thinking about everything, i.e. time, culminating in his recently-published book and his theory of time.