<< Following year  Previous year >>

Dr Michael Brooks

When?
Wednesday, September 24 2014 at 8:00PM

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

Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
Dr Michael Brooks

What's the talk about?

The atom. The Big Bang. DNA. Natural selection. All ideas that have revolutionised science – and that were dismissed out of hand when they first appeared. The surprises haven’t stopped: there's a whole new wave of unexpected insights that are shaping the future of scientific discovery. There are the cosmological observations that might rewrite our history of the universe, novel biological ideas behind our will to live, the possibility that humans are quantum beings, that women and men need entirely different medicines, that the cosmos is a computer (with us as the programmers), that time is an illusion and that merging humans with other species is a good idea. In this talk, Michael Brooks will explore all these ideas and more - which may all turn out to be wrong. That's the problem with science: you're always working at the edge of uncertainty and you never know when someone's going to push you off...

Michael Brooks is a consultant at New Scientist and writes a weekly science column for the New Statesman. He is the author of At The Edge of Uncertainty, The Secret Anarchy of Science and the bestselling non-fiction title 13 Things That Don't Make Sense. He has a PhD in quantum physics, was the first person in the UK to be tasered and has been known to dabble in politics, standing in the 2010 general election for the now-deregistered Science Party

His writing has also appeared in The Guardian, The Independent, The Observer, The Times Higher Education, The Philadelphia Inquirer and many other newspapers and magazines. He has lectured at various places, including New York University, The American Museum of Natural History and Cambridge University.

Michael's website is http://www.michaelbrooks.org/

The future of non-religious communities

Paul Edkins

When?
Wednesday, June 18 2014 at 8:00PM

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

Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
Paul Edkins

What's the talk about?

In the wake of the so-called 'new atheist' movement two things have happened - ideas from these communities have become more acceptable in the mainstream, but there has been a backlash against the community for appearing negative or boring. Many people who basically agree with the ideas of these communities refrain from joining. Alternative groups like the Sunday Assembly are starting up across the world because they provide a fun, non-religious community who celebrate the best of life. What does this mean for the skeptical community?

Paul Edkins will be sharing his experiences from running summer camps with skeptical, young free-thinkers and the feedback received from parents and children. He will also share advice from experts in raising free-thinking children. Finally, there will be a discussion on the future of the non-religious/ skeptical/ humanist/ atheist/ free-thinking/ secular communities.

For the past two years Paul has co-organised Camp Quest UK's summer camps, which provide a community for skeptical young people to explore the big questions in life. Camp Quest runs workshops in science and philosophy, and provides a range of outdoor and creative activities. Camp Quest envisions a world in which children grow up exploring, thinking for themselves, connecting with their communities, and acting to make the most of life for themselves and others.

Will Moy

When?
Wednesday, May 21 2014 at 8:00PM

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

Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
Will Moy

What's the talk about?

In October 2011 The Sun reported that 40% of all knife crime is carried out by under-18s. The reporting of this figure led to questions in Parliament and a change in policy on the sentencing of juveniles. It was later revealed that the figure was not for all knife crime, or even a well-researched figure, but an estimate by a Police Borough Commander for a single London borough, with the true figure being closer to 19%. Nothing to be too surprised about perhaps. But could we find a way to ensure that those in power use accurate facts and figures when making decisions? Will Moy will speak about the impact of inaccuracy as seen by Full Fact and others, the challenges of halting misinformation in its tracks, and whether we're seeing a change in the way facts are used in public debate.

Will Moy runs Full Fact, the UK's only independent factchecking organisation. Since setting up in 2010, Full Fact has secured corrections from every major national newspaper — from The Sun to The Financial Times — as well as politicians from all parties. Last year Full Fact received an award for transparency from the Political Studies Association, pioneered live-factchecking on BBC Question Time and LBC radio, and successfully campaigned for the political establishment to recognise the importance of communication in official statistics.

Before Full Fact, Will worked for the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety and then as a researcher in the UK House of Lords for the non-party affiliated peer Lord Low of Dalston. Part of the impetus for Full Fact came from his experience there of how laws can be shaped by unsubstantiated claims.

Garrick Hileman

When?
Wednesday, April 16 2014 at 8:00PM

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

Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
Garrick Hileman

What's the talk about?

The world has been transformed by the Internet. The publishing, broadcasting, music, and film industries have all had to adapt to provide digital products instantly, anywhere in the world, at low cost. Email has virtually replaced the letter in all but the most formal of contexts. Are we on the cusp of an even more profound change? Until recently, the only way to send money over the Internet was by using (and paying for) a credit card company, bank or payment processor network (e.g. PayPal) to do it for you. There was no digital equivalent to cash whereby you could send money as easily as sending an email. A third party was required to ensure that you didn't digitally copy your online money and send it multiple times. This requirement for a trusted third party is known as the double-spend problem. In 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto announced that he had solved the double-spend problem by replacing the third party with cryptography and peer-to-peer networking. He called this new technology "Bitcoin" and released the software as an open-source project. Initially people started 'mining' bitcoins for fun and they were worth literally nothing, but since then this experimental currency has grown to become something of a phenomenon. The 12 million bitcoins currently in existence are now worth several billion dollars. Bitcoin has spawned dozens of other cryptocurrencies following a similar model. Many critics deride it as a modern form of tulipomania, a Ponzi scheme and a vehicle for money laundering and drug-trafficking, that will soon be worth nothing again. Proponents hail it as a disruptive technology and the future of money, as revolutionary as the Internet itself. What is the real value of Bitcoin? Will it really change the world?

Garrick Hileman (@GarrickHileman on Twitter) is an Economic Historian at the London School of Economics, specialising in the study of black-market economies and alternative currencies. He is the founder of MacroDigest.com and a contributor to CoinDesk.com. His research has been covered on CNBC, NPR, the BBC, Al Jazeera and Sky News. He has 15+ years of private sector experience, including work with both startups and established companies such as Bank of America, IDG, and Allianz. Previously, he co-founded and led the investment team for a $300 million San Francisco-based tech incubator. Garrick also worked in both equity research and corporate finance at Montgomery Securities and executed over $1 billion in M&A and underwriting transactions for financial services and technology companies.

Jonny Scaramanga

When?
Wednesday, March 19 2014 at 8:00PM

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

Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
Jonny Scaramanga

What's the talk about?

Jonny Scaramanga is a musician who was raised as a Christian fundamentalist and attended a strict evangelical school in Bath in the 1990s. As a child, he made multiple appearances on BBC2's As Seen on TV and Video Nation discussing his faith. He has since realised that everything he was taught was wrong. He writes about his experiences at the Leaving Fundamentalism blog and is now reading for his PhD at the Institute of Education, where he is researching student experiences in Britain's Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) schools. He has written for The Guardian, The Times Education Supplement, New Humanist magazine and Liberal Conspiracy. His more recent broadcast appearances include BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4's 4Thought TV

There are over fifty Accelerated Christian Education schools in the UK and a number of home-schooled children are also taught from the ACE curriculum. In this talk, Jonny will give an insight into what life is like for a child inside a school where Young Earth Creationism is taught as fact and The Bible is seen as an infallible authority. 

 

How Accountancy Firms Destroy Societies

Prem Sikka

When?
Wednesday, February 19 2014 at 8:00PM

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

Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
Prem Sikka

What's the talk about?

Prem Sikka is Professor of Accounting at Essex Business School, University of Essex. His research on accountancy, auditing, corporate governance, money laundering, tax avoidance, insolvency and business affairs has been published in books, international scholarly journals, newspapers and magazines. He has also appeared on radio and television programmes to comment on accountancy and business matters. Prem has advised parliamentary committees and also provided written and oral evidence to various parliamentary committees. He is founder of the Association for Accountancy and Business Affairs, co-founder of Tax Justice Network (TJN) and Senior Adviser to TJN. He was voted 'Personality of the Year' by readers of Accountancy Age in 1995. He received a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from Amity Business School, India; presented by the India’s Minister for Labour in 2004; “Accounting Exemplar Award” from the American Accounting Association (AAA) in 2006, and “Lifetime Achievement Award” from PQ Magazine in 2009. In 2010, he was listed as one of 50 most influential people in the world of UK accountancy by Accountancy Age.

His talk will focus on the tax avoidance industry and what he calls 'The Pin-Stripe Mafia'. He argues that all over the world tax revenues are under relentless attack from a highly organised tax avoidance industry dominated by four accountancy firms: Deloitte & Touche, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG and Ernst & Young. He will explain how these firms dream-up tax avoidance schemes to enable their wealth clients and giant corporations to avoid taxes. Despite judges outlawing many of their avoidance schemes, successive governments have failed to investigate the firms, prosecute their partners or levy any fines on them. Instead, the partners of major accountancy firms are given peerages, knighthoods, public accolades and government consultancies, all funded by taxpayers.

Its causes, consequences and treatment

Jim Orford

When?
Wednesday, January 8 2014 at 8:00PM

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

Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
Jim Orford

What's the talk about?

 Jim Orford trained in clinical psychology and obtained his PhD at the Institute of Psychiatry in London before moving to a joint University/Health Service post in Exeter and subsequently to the University of Birmingham where he is now Emeritus Professor of Clinical and Community Psychology in the School of Psychology. He has researched and written extensively about alcohol, drug and gambling problems and particularly about their impact on the family. His best-known work is Excessive Appetites: A Psychological View of Addictions (Wiley, second edition, 2001). His recent published works include: An Unsafe Bet? The Dangerous Rise of Gambling and the Debate We Should Be Having (Wiley-Blackwell, 2011); Addiction Dilemmas: Family Experiences in Literature and Research and their Lessons for Practice (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012); and Power, Powerlessness and Addiction (Cambridge University Press, 2013). Jim and his wife Judith have recently moved to Brighton to be near their son and partner and their grandson.

Jim will give a talk entitled, 'The mystery of addiction: its causes, consequences and treatment'. In an attempt to understand something as baffling as addiction, his talk will range over diverse forms of addiction (to tobacco, heroin, gambling and the Internet, for example), and varied times and places (laudanum addiction in early 19th century England and alcohol addiction amongst indigenous Australian people, for example). Questions will be raised about the nature of addiction itself (for example, is it a bad habit, brain disease, or just a myth?), who is responsible for it (the person addicted, the suppliers, the structure of society, all of us?), how family members, friends and colleagues should react to it (try to control it, condone it, ignore it?), and what constitutes good treatment for it.

How religious therapists attempt to 'cure' homosexuality

Patrick Strudwick

When?
Wednesday, August 14 2013 at 8:00PM

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

Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
Patrick Strudwick

What's the talk about?

What happens when religious therapists try to 'cure' gay people? Four years ago, Patrick went undercover, putting himself through 'treatment' to find out. The results of his investigation led to protests and a campaign against such practises; they also led to the Daily Mail going after him, a professional tribunal and the British Medical Association making an historic ruling. This is the story of how fundamentalists lash out.

Patrick Strudwick is a multi-award-winning journalist and columnist. His work appears in The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Observer and Gay Times. He's been described as a "Nazi" by the Church of England Newspaper, a "monster" by the Christian Council of Britain and "extremely militant" by Christian Concern.

The DSM-5

Anne Cooke and John McGowan

When?
Wednesday, July 17 2013 at 8:00PM

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

Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
Anne Cooke and John McGowan

What's the talk about?

A new edition of the ‘dictionary’ of mental illnesses was published this year – the catchily named, DSM 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, fifth edition). Compared to its predecessors, it classifies many more types of behaviour as ‘mental disorders’. For example, binge eating is now a disease, and you may also be categorised as mentally ill if you spend too long in front of your computer, if you are shy, or if you feel just feel sad. Each edition of the DSM introduces us to new illnesses. The first edition, published in 1952, was 132 pages long. The 1987 edition was 569 pages and you might consider putting on hernia belt before picking up the new edition as it has 1000. Its publication has provoked fierce arguments. Advocates say how important it is that illnesses are identified and treated. Critics claim that that it will lead to millions of us being unnecessarily labelled as sick and put on drugs. Some even believe that many of the conditions are simply inventions dreamed up for the benefit of pharmaceutical giants. Whatever your position it’s clear that the publication of the DSM is an event that will affect all our lives. Anne and John will introduce the main issues, and ask the question, ‘Is life a disease?’

Anne Cooke is a clinical psychologist who has spent many years working in the NHS with people who are diagnosed as mentally ill. She works at Canterbury Christ Church University, training clinical psychologists for the NHS. She is currently editing a second edition of the British Psychological Society’s report ‘Understanding Psychosis’ and is interested in the way that we as a society think about and respond to emotional distress.

John McGowan is also a Clinical Psychologist. Like Anne has followed many years in the NHS by moving to academia and training clinical psychologists. As well as conducting research into self-harm and suicide he is currently editing a new British Psychological Society Report on Depression. He has written for The Guardian, the Health Service Journal and (most significantly) is an occasional columnist for Viva Lewes.

Anne and John both blog regularly at Discursive of Tunbridge Wells. You can also follow them on Twitter (@CCCUAppPsy).

The crazy world of being a new parent

Beth Miller

When?
Wednesday, June 5 2013 at 8:00PM

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

Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
Beth Miller

What's the talk about?

Naturally sceptical in a ‘of course there aren’t UFOs you daftie, that’s just a plane’ kind of way, Beth Miller was taken aback when she became pregnant and started believing just about any old nonsense. Booze, peanuts, tuna, acupuncture, baby seats that take the baby’s head off… From medics to the woman selling cheese, everyone loves to tell you what you should be doing. And it gets even worse when the baby arrives. Booze, feed on demand, sleep routines, colic, hind-milk, formula, cranial massage. Who do you trust? What can you believe? And how do you hang onto your sceptical persona when you’ve had no sleep, and if doing so might endanger this tiny precious bundle?

Beth Miller is deputy editor of Viva Lewes, has a PhD in Psychology, and a degree in being told malarkey about babies.

David Spiegelhalter

When?
Wednesday, May 15 2013 at 8:00PM

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

Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
David Spiegelhalter

What's the talk about?

David Spiegelhalter is Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge. His background is in medical statistics, particularly the use of Bayesian methods in clinical trials, health technology assessment and drug safety. He led the statistical team in the Bristol Royal Infirmary Inquiry and also gave evidence to the Shipman Inquiry.

In his post he leads a small team (UnderstandingUncertainty.org) which attempts to improve the way in which the quantitative aspects of risk and uncertainty are discussed in society. He works closely with the Millennium Mathematics Project in trying to bring risk and uncertainty into education. He gives many presentations to schools and others, advises organisations and government agencies on risk communication, and is a regular columnist on current risk issues. He presented the BBC4 documentary ‘Tails you Win: the Science of Chance”, and in 2011 competed in Winter Wipeout.

He was elected FRS in 2005 and awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to medical statistics.

David will look at the portrayal of numbers in the news, with particular attention to risk stories of the ‘cats cause cancer’ variety, and the use of ghastly statistical graphics. After (with luck) getting some cheap laughs, he will consider whether things are getting better or worse, and make a few tentative suggestions for how we all might help.

Kathy Romer

When?
Wednesday, April 17 2013 at 8:00PM

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

Where?

White Hill
Lewes,
East Sussex
BN7 2DJ

Who?
Kathy Romer

What's the talk about?

Einstein called his postulation of the so-called Cosmological Constant his "biggest blunder''. So it might seem remarkable that billions of dollars are being spent on international astronomy projects designed to prove him wrong! These projects are attempting to measure a non zero Cosmological Constant to help explain why the Universe has started to accelerate in its expansion (after more than 10 billion years of slowing down). Dr Kathy Romer is involved in several of these projects. She will discuss the latest evidence for an accelerated expansion, emphasising the practical and human sides of the endeavour. She will also discuss whether these experiments might ultimately prove Einstein to be right about the Cosmological Constant (i.e. it doesn't actually exist), but show instead that he was wrong about something else: the universality of General Relativity.

Kathy got her PhD in Edinburgh in 1995. She then spent 9 years in the USA as a postdoc and junior faculty member. She returned to the UK in 2004 and has been at the University of Sussex, as part of the Sussex Astronomy Centre, ever since. She works in the field of Observational Cosmology, with a particular specialism in the area of X-ray clusters of galaxies. She makes regular use of many of the premier telescopes around the world, and in Space, and has recently taken on leadership of the X-ray efforts related to the international Dark Energy Survey project. In addition to her research, she teaches Astronomy and Physics at the undergraduate and postgraduate level and has many local, national, and international, administrative roles.

 

Please fill in the form below to send us a message