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Dr Harry Cliff

When?
Thursday, April 15 2021 at 7:00PM

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Who?
Dr Harry Cliff

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Join via: twitch.tv/sitp from 6:45 pm

In the 1980 smash-hit science documentary series Cosmos, Carl Sagan quipped that “if you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe”. Particle physicist Harry Cliff is mad that Sagan never followed up on the idea and so has spent the last two years attempting to write the ultimate apple pie recipe. Tracing the ingredients of an apple pie from today right back to the B of the Big Bang, Harry takes us on a tour of our current understanding of the basic building blocks of our universe and their cosmic origins. As we approach the birth of the universe, we discover that our most successful theories of particle physics tell us that the matter in our apple pie should never have existed in the first place. All attempts by physicists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider to resolve this conundrum have so far come up empty handed, but could we finally be on the cusp of a deeper understanding of the origin of matter? And how far back can we ultimately go in understanding the very first moments of our universe? Harry will (attempt to) explain.

Harry is a particle physicist at the University of Cambridge working on the LHCb experiment, a huge particle detector buried 100 metres underground at CERN near Geneva. He is a member of an international team of around 1400 physicists, engineers and computer scientists who are using LHCb to study the basic building blocks of our universe, in search of answers to some of the biggest questions in modern physics.

​He also spends a big chunk of his time trying to share his love of physics with the public. He’s just finished his first popular science book, How To Make An Apple Pie From Scratch, which will be published in August 2021. From 2012 to 2018 he held a joint post between Cambridge and the Science Museum in London, where he curated two major exhibitions: Collider (2013) and The Sun (2018). He particularly enjoys talking about science in person and has given a large number of public talks, including at TED and the Royal Institution, alongside appearances on television, radio and podcasts.

Eliot Higgins

When?
Thursday, April 8 2021 at 7:00PM

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Who?
Eliot Higgins

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Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins explains how Bellingcat investigators uncovered the real identities of the Skripal suspects, linked their team to another European assassination attempt, uncovered Russia’s secret Novichok programme, exposed the FSB team that poisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and uncovered a Russian domestic nerve agent assassination programme targeting multiple individuals, all from the comfort of their own homes.

Eliot Higgins is the founder of Bellingcat, a multi-award winning collective of online open-source investigators.

Andy Wilson and Guests

When?
Thursday, April 1 2021 at 7:00PM

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Who?
Andy Wilson and Guests

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Join via: twitch.tv/sitp from 6:45 pm GMT

Join host Andy Wilson for another live-streamed episode of the skeptical-themed panel show InKredulous. InKredulous, a production of the Merseyside Skeptics Society, is the long-running comedy podcast where skeptics from across the world are put through their critical-thinking paces and challenged to entertain as well as inform. InKredulous has been a firm fan favourite at every QED conference since 2010, and we are putting on another one for Skeptics in the Pub Online.

Behind the scenes at the British Board of Film Classification

Jim Cliff

When?
Thursday, March 25 2021 at 7:00PM

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Jim Cliff

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For over a hundred years, a small, secretive group of people in Soho have decided what you can see in UK cinemas and, more recently, on video and DVD. Who are they, how do they make their decisions, and why was Monty Python’s Life of Brian banned in Torquay until 2008? Jim Cliff explains the origins and methods of the Board, and offers insights into his time as an examiner, the shift from censorship to classification, and how a cut he requested in ‘Lilo & Stitch’ led to an offshoot of the Pizzagate conspiracy theory almost 20 years later.

Jim Cliff was a BBFC Examiner from 2001 to 2009, during which time he classified over 7000 films, videos and video games. He is now a freelance video producer and host of the Fallacious Trump podcast.

Deborah Hyde

When?
Thursday, March 18 2021 at 7:00PM

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Who?
Deborah Hyde

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In 1875, a flame-eyed creature picked at the lead in a window pane to let himself in to a remote farmhouse in Cumberland. Thus started a campaign of menace against a young woman: a campaign which only stopped when her brothers tracked the creature down to its resting place in a local crypt. The Beast of Croglin Grange has entered our folklore as one of England’s very few homegrown vampires. So let’s take a look at the story see if we can work out what really happened.

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. 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 as in Terry Gilliam’s Brother’s Grimm.

Deborah edited The Skeptic Magazine, until she handed over the reins to Merseyside Skeptics in 2020. She was also the co-convenor of Westminster Skeptics and Speaker Liaison of Soho Skeptics. 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.

Dr Keith Kahn-Harris

When?
Thursday, March 11 2021 at 7:00PM

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Who?
Dr Keith Kahn-Harris

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For years scientists and scholars have been warning us of the danger of 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. It might seem that 2020 saw an unprecedented upsurge in denialism, with denials of the seriousness of the Covid-19 pandemic and denials of Trump’s election loss, becoming mainstream in some quarters. Yet in this talk, Keith Kahn-Harris, author of Denial: The Unspeakable Truth, will argue that we are now seeing both the triumph of denialism and its end. Dr Kahn-Harris argues that denialism emerges when one’s deepest desires are ‘unspeakable’. Increasingly though, we are seeing denialism superseded by the open acknowledgement of desire. So in thinking about 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 was his fifth book. His badly-designed website can be found at kahn-harris.org and he tweets irregularly as @KeithKahnHarris.

Professor Maryanne Fisher

When?
Thursday, March 4 2021 at 7:00PM

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Who?
Professor Maryanne Fisher

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Evolutionary perspectives of mothering create a dilemma. One side suggests that women invest so heavily in their children that there may be an ‘instinct’ that drives their maternal behavior. The other side supports viewing women as strategists who constantly must maximize opportunities to find quality mates and have healthy children, even at the cost of current children. Mothers behave in ways that clearly discount the notion of a maternal instinct, including their harmful (even deadly) behaviors toward their children, and the amount of practice needed to nurse an infant. In contrast, maternal love is more accurate, and shows variation among mothers according to many situational factors, such as whether she has resources and social networks to support herself and children. However, despite advances in our understanding of parenting, the overwhelming majority of students continue to believe in a maternal instinct. Mothers, via a “maternal instinct” are presumed to automatically know how to meet their infants’ needs, be able to protect their infant at any cost, and be able to show others how to provide care effectively. The continued belief of a maternal instinct is harmful; it devalues parents and undervalues requests for help. We discuss these ramifications and emphasize the need to explore variation in maternal love, rather than thinking there is a default “maternal instinct.”

Dr. Maryanne Fisher is an evolutionary psychologist at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada, and an Affiliate Faculty member at the Kinsey Institute. She has studied mating and dating for years, and especially the competition between women for access to those they desire. After more than two decades of research, writing a few books, and many, many late nights analysing data, she has arrived at the conclusion that women are very strategic. More recently, she has been studying mothering, which she gains insight into while chasing her toddlers.

Dr Emma Chapman

When?
Thursday, February 25 2021 at 7:00PM

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Who?
Dr Emma Chapman

What's the talk about?

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Astronomers have successfully observed a great deal of the Universe’s history, from recording the afterglow of the Big Bang to imaging thousands of galaxies, and even to visualising an actual black hole. There’s a lot for astronomers to be smug about. But when it comes to understanding how the Universe began and grew up we are literally in the dark ages. In effect, we are missing the first one billion years from the timeline of the Universe.

This brief but far-reaching period in the Universe’s history, known to astrophysicists as the ‘Epoch of Reionisation’, represents the start of the cosmos as we experience it today. The time when the very first stars burst into life, when darkness gave way to light. After hundreds of millions of years of dark, uneventful expansion, one by the one these stars suddenly came into being. This was the point at which the chaos of the Big Bang first began to yield to the order of galaxies, black holes and stars, kick-starting the pathway to planets, to comets, to moons, and to life itself.

Incorporating the very latest research into this branch of astrophysics, this talk sheds light on this time of darkness, telling the story of these first stars, hundreds of times the size of the Sun and a million times brighter, lonely giants that lived fast and died young in powerful explosions that seeded the Universe with the heavy elements that we are made of. Emma Chapman tells us how these stars formed, why they were so unusual, and what they can teach us about the Universe today. She also offers a first-hand look at the immense telescopes about to come on line to peer into the past, searching for the echoes and footprints of these stars, to take this period in the Universe’s history from the realm of theoretical physics towards the wonder of observational astronomy.

Emma Chapman is a Royal Society research fellow and fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, based at Imperial College London. She is among the world’s leading researchers in search of the first stars to exist in our Universe, 13 billion years ago, and she is involved in both the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) in the Netherlands and the forthcoming Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in Australia, a telescope that will eventually consist of a million antennas pointing skywards in the desert.

Emma has been the recipient of multiple commendations and prizes, the most recent of which was both the 2018 Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship and STFC Ernest Rutherford Fellowship, two of the most prestigious science fellowships in the UK. She won the Institute of Physics Jocelyn Bell Burnell Prize in 2014, and was runner-up for the UK L’Oreal Women in Science award in 2017. In 2018 she was also the recipient of the Royal Society Athena Medal.

Emma is a respected public commentator on astrophysical matters, contributing to the Guardian, appearing on BBC radio and regularly speaking at public events. Among others, she has spoken at Cheltenham Science Festival, the European Open Science Forum and at New Scientist Live.

How it goes wrong, how it’s treated, and the many misunderstandings in between

Dr Dean Burnett

When?
Thursday, February 18 2021 at 7:00PM

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Who?
Dr Dean Burnett

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Mental health awareness is a very big concern in 2021, particularly with the impact of the pandemic and lockdown. But while being aware that mental health can and does go wrong is important, very little attention is paid to how and why this happens. In his new book, Psycho Logical, neuroscientist, author, and former Psychiatry lecturer Dr Dean Burnett explores all that and more, using the latest science to explain what happens in the brain when mental health goes awry, how these problems and treated and why they work (or often don’t), and why the whole issue is so slippery and uncertain, and why stigma still endures despite everything. Dean will also be answering questions and challenging misconceptions about mental health flagged up by the SITP community, making this talk very unique.

Dr Dean Burnett is a neuroscientist, lecturer, author, blogger, podcaster, pundit, science communicator, comedian and numerous other things, depending on who’s asking and what they need.

Previously employed as a psychiatry tutor and lecturer at the Cardiff University Centre for Medical Education, Dean is currently an honorary research associate at Cardiff Psychology School, as well as a Visiting Industry Fellow at Birmingham City University.

However, Dean is currently a full-time author, previously known for his satirical science column ‘Brain Flapping‘ at the Guardian, which ran from 2012 to 2018. This led to his internationally acclaimed bestselling debut book ‘The Idiot Brain‘, which has resulted in several further books and even more interesting brain stuff.

Dr Jacques Launay

When?
Thursday, February 11 2021 at 7:00PM

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Who?
Dr Jacques Launay

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What’s the point in making music? Is there a point? Although music surrounds us for a large proportion of our time it doesn’t seem to serve an obvious purpose, and this talk will explore that problem. Darwin suggested music could be involved in sexual selection, used to flaunt genetic fitness to potential partners, but there are also several alternative explanations, ranging from Pinker’s null hypothesis (it’s auditory cheesecake) to the Mozart Effect (music makes you clever). Spoiler alert – those theories are probably both wrong! This talk will primarily explore the role of music in social bonding, and whether music is best understood as the alternative to language.

Dr Jacques Launay is an expert in music and social bonding, and has worked on this from a range of perspectives, including the origins of music making, the health benefits of singing in choirs, and the neuroscience of moving to sounds.

David Frank and Virginia Ng

When?
Thursday, February 4 2021 at 7:00PM

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Who?
David Frank and Virginia Ng

What's the talk about?

Find the talk online at twitch.tv/SitP - no need to book or register

The societal and scientific consensus says only irrational people fear things like WiFi, artificial sweeteners, and fluoridated water, but there have been legitimately dangerous products sold as safe in the past. ​Flammable, toxic, radioactive and generally bad for you, we’ll look at products throughout history that killed, injured and poisoned, and the marketing campaigns that went along with them. ​Plus, we’ll explore some formerly dangerous things that turned out to be fine, and things we know are bad for us that we consume anyway. ​Come along. It’ll be good for your health.

David Frank
David Frank is a marketer, a writer and a former radio show host. He is a former event organiser for Perth Skeptics in Australia, and Edinburgh Skeptics here in the UK. Pre-COVID he has toured talks across a dozen Skeptics in the Pub groups here in the UK, on such topics as “how to market yourself on online dating”, and “how big tobacco circumvents marketing restrictions” (the latter of which you can watch on his website). He has a Masters of Science in Marketing from Edinburgh Napier University, and is currently based in Seattle. David is free range, organic, with no added hormones or unnecessary antibiotics.

Virginia Ng
Virginia is a food microbiologist and is the Director of Regulations and Food Processing at the Seafood Products Association in Seattle. She has a Masters of Science in Biological Sciences from California State Polytechnic University – Pomona, where she studied toxin formation and sporulation patterns in various Clostridium botulinum strains. In her day job, among other things, she is a sensory expert using organoleptic analyses to keep good quality seafood on the shelves. She has previously given talks on food preservation. ​Virginia’s favorite vices include ice cream, the extra dose of cosmic radiation that comes with flying, and movie marathons.
 

Professor Phil Scraton

When?
Thursday, January 28 2021 at 7:00PM

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Who?
Professor Phil Scraton

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Since Michael Howard’s pronouncement that ‘Prison Works’ the prison population in the UK has doubled with the current Government planning to build several more multi-occupancy ‘Titan’ prisons to incarcerate thousands more men and women. This reflects an ill-founded commitment to what became a cross-party mantra. In what sense does ‘prison work’? Does the claim stand scrutiny? Or, as Jonathan Simon suggests, does locking away an ever-increasing number of women, men and children amount to ‘social warehousing’? Derived in three decades of activist work and academic research Phil Scraton will address the harms of imprisonment for those locked away, their families and their communities. He will critique the reformist ‘rehabilitation’ agenda and explore the potential for prison abolition. What would decarceration look like? What are alternatives and how would harms caused to individuals and communities by ‘criminal’ and ‘anti-social’ acts be addressed without the ‘punishment’ of incarceration?

Phil Scraton PhD, DLaws (Hon), DPhil (Hon) is Professor Emeritus, School of Law, Queen’s University Belfast. He has held visiting professorships at Amherst College, USA, the Universities of Auckland, Monash, New South Wales and Sydney. Widely published on critical theory, incarceration and children/young people his books include: In the Arms of the Law – Coroners’ Inquests and Deaths in Custody; Prisons Under Protest; ‘Childhood’ in ‘Crisis’?; Hillsborough The Truth; Power, Conflict and Criminalisation; The Incarceration of Women; Women’s Imprisonment and the Case for Abolition. He co-authored reports for the NI Commissioner for Children and Young People (Children’s Rights) and the NI Human Rights Commission (Women in Prison) and a member of the Liberty Advisory Committee on deaths in custody. He led the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s research and was principal author of its ground-breaking 2012 Report, Hillsborough. Seconded to the families’ legal teams throughout the 2014-2016 inquests, in 2016 he published a revised edition of Hillsborough: The Truth. Consultant on, and contributor to, the 2017 BAFTA winning documentary Hillsborough, he holds a Leverhulme Fellowship addressing the unique work of the Panel and the legal processes that followed. In 2018, with Rebecca Scott Bray at the University of Sydney, he initiated a community-based international research programme on coroners’ inquests into deaths in custody. He was a member of the JUSTICE Working Party into inquests and public inquiries: When Things Go Wrong: The Response of the Justice System (2020). Also in 2020 he edited ‘I Am Sir: You Are A Number’: The Report of the Independent Panel of Inquiry into the Circumstances of the H-Block and Armagh Prison Protests 1976-1981. He is lead investigator for the Irish Council of Civil Liberties’ research project Deaths in Contested Circumstances and Coroners’ Inquests. Having refused an OBE, he was awarded the Freedom of the City of Liverpool in recognition of his Hillsborough research.