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Professor Chris Rhodes

When?
Wednesday, October 19 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Professor Chris Rhodes

What's the talk about?

Across the world, 30 billion barrels of crude oil are produced each year, not only for fuel but to make products ranging from plastics to pharmaceuticals. Nearly all our food production also depends on oil.

However, global existing production of crude oil is in decline by 5% per year, meaning that a compensating equivalent of a new Saudi Arabia must be brought on-stream every 3—4 years. Most of this “new oil” is expected to come from more challenging, unconventional sources, which include fracking shale, deepwater drilling, heavy oil, and tar sands. Within 10 years, it may not be possible to sustain the global supply of oil at present levels. Hence, if we continue as we are, Western civilisation will collapse. Our salvation requires a re-adaptation of how we live, from the global to the local; to a world of small communities far less dependent on transportation. Technology will not save us, unless we cut our energy use and particularly our demand for oil.

Professor Chris Rhodes is Director of Fresh-lands Environmental Actions and is based in Reading. He has written numerous scientific articles and recently published his first novel, University Shambles, a black comedy on the disintegration of the British university system.
 

Why would a former drugs cop want to legalise all drugs?

Neil Woods

When?
Wednesday, September 21 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Neil Woods

What's the talk about?

Ever wanted to know what it’s really like being an undercover drugs detective? Our culture seems to be obsessed with police, drugs, and the underworld - with films and television programmes like The Wire, Trainspotting, Breaking Bad, is the reality any different from fiction?

Neil Woods was a police officer for 23 years, 14 of which were spent undercover. When your day job is spent buying heroin and chasing the most hardened gangsters, can you ever truly switch off from such a life?

With a career spent on the streets, dealing with those who suffer with addiction, what drives a former drugs cop to change his stance and join an organisation comprised of police, MI5, military, and civilians, all of whom campaign to fully reform our drug laws; Neil Woods is Chairman of LEAP UK – Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

His memoir, Good Cop, Bad War, is released mid-August 2016 - it has also been serialised in the Mail on Sunday. Neil is a regular media contributor, featuring on Vice, BBC, Channel 5, he has become a powerful voice in the pursuit of evidence-based drug policy.

An Introduction to Discovering Japan Beyond the Clichés

Rob Dyer

When?
Wednesday, August 17 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Rob Dyer

What's the talk about?

Have you ever considered going to Japan for a holiday? Perhaps... perhaps not.

Even for those who have, there can appear to be many barriers, some so challenging that they simply never make the trip. But could it be that we have been fed such a narrow view of the country that we're simply unaware of what lies beyond the clichés we see in the popular media?

Did you know that Japan is made of up of more than 6,800 islands?

Islands like the northern most island of Hokkaido, where you can join ice breaker ships exploring the remote ice floes beneath Siberia. The largest island Honshu, where bears, monkeys and boar still roam wild in the Japanese Alps. Or the sub-tropical southern island of Okinawa, with its crystal clear seas and pure white sand beaches – perfect for diving and sun worshipping.

This talk will look at the question “What is the real Japan?”, challenge some myths and common misconceptions, and offer some surprising insights that will open your mind to the wealth of possibilities for travelling throughout this geographically diverse, culturally rich and ancient country.

Japanese tea will be available for all attendees.

Rob Dyer is a writer, publisher and specialist in business development, strategy and intellectual property.  He founded publishing company dsomedia in 1988.

He has been exploring Japan for nearly twenty years, and shares his passion and adventures via his website www.therealjapan.com.

Who can predict the future, and how?

Michael Story

When?
Wednesday, July 20 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Michael Story

What's the talk about?

Since 2011, a team of 200 civilians has been predicting the future more accurately than US intelligence agencies. Formed five years ago under the auspices of IARPA (the US Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, informally known as 'DARPA for spies'), the Good Judgement Project's 'Superforecaster' teams have been forecasting the specifics of North Korean missile programmes, the movement of Russian troops and the longevity of Robert Mugabe, achieving a 50% lower error rate than the previous state of the art.

This talk will cover who makes these forecasts, how they are doing it, and some techniques shown to make nearly anyone more accurate when predicting the future.
 
Michael Story is a policy researcher and Superforecaster with the Good Judgement Project.  Find out more at michaelwstory.com/

Ash Pryce

When?
Wednesday, June 15 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! Gather ye round the travelling caravan, as Snake Oil Salesman Ash Pryce demonstrates the miraculous curative abilities of psychic surgery, taught to your humble trickster by a wise man in the Philippines (or a magicians' tool book, whichever sounds more wondrous). See with amazement the telekinetic forces at work as you learn how to move objects with your mind, psychically manipulate your finest silverware and read the minds of your peers.  Or maybe, it’s all just a trick??

Whereas the sister show How to Talk to the Dead looked specifically at spirit communication in the past, How to be a Psychic Conman will look at the more incredible, magical side of psychic claims that persist today. The types of demonstrations that blur the line between the honest deception of magic, and the dishonesty of those hoping to make a quick buck out of your deep rooted beliefs.

The show will involve demonstrations and explanations of telekinesis tricks, metal bending, psychic surgery and remote viewing as well as look at government funded research into psychic phenomena, and the shoddy protocols that allowed “psychics” to beat the legendary Zener card experiments in the 1930s.

And if that wasn’t enough, interspersed throughout the show will be numerous on stage demonstrations of mentalism to add an extra layer of entertainment to the proceedings.

Warning to those on the front row… there will be blood!

There's more about Ash at ashpryce.co.uk/

Alan Henness and Liam Shaw

When?
Wednesday, May 18 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Alan Henness and Liam Shaw

What's the talk about?

It is one thing to be aware that in the public domain there may be much misleading evidence presented but another to do something about it.  Two organisations that are working hard to identify and correct such problems are the Nightingale Collaboration and Sense About Science.

Tonight two speakers - Alan Henness, of the Nightingale Collaboration, and Liam Shaw, representing Sense About Science - talk about their work, what they have achieved, why they are needed more than ever and their future plans. They will compare notes on their biggest challenges, on areas of bad thinking that have become less prevalent and those that have become more commonplace in the last few years.

Alan Henness is Director of the Nightingale Collaboration, set up by Simon Singh to challenge misleading healthcare claims. A serial complainer, he has been active for more than a decade in challenging advertising claims made by chiropractors, homeopaths, acupuncturists etc and getting the relevant regulators to do what they are supposed to do: protect the public from misleading claims.

Liam Shaw is part of the 'Sense About Science' Voice of Young Science network a thriving community of early career researchers, engineers, scientists and medics who stand up for science by giving talks, writing articles and blogs and engaging with the public.

For more about the two organisations visit http://www.nightingale-collaboration.org and http://www.senseaboutscience.org

How Do Our Genes Work?

Dr Kat Arney

When?
Wednesday, April 20 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Dr Kat Arney

What's the talk about?

The language of genes has become common in the media. We know they make your eyes blue, your hair curly or your nose straight. We're told that genes control the risk of cancer, heart disease, alcoholism or Alzheimer's. The cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted from billions of pounds to a few hundred, and gene-based advances in medicine hold huge promise.

There are 2.2 metres of DNA inside every one of your cells, encoding roughly 20,000 genes. These are the 'recipes' that tell our cells how to make the building blocks of life, along with all the control switches ensuring they're turned on and off at the right time and in the right place. But rather than a static string of genetic code, this is a dynamic, writhing biological library. With the help of cats with thumbs, fish with hips and wobbly worms, Kat will unpack some of the mysteries in our DNA and explain the latest thinking about how our genes work.

Dr Kat Arney is a science communicator and award-winning blogger for Cancer Research UK, as well as a freelance science writer and broadcaster whose work has featured on BBC Radio 4, the Naked Scientists and more. She has just published her first book, Herding Hemingway's Cats, about how our genes work.

Rob Bailey

When?
Wednesday, March 16 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Rob Bailey

What's the talk about?

Rob Bailey is a Chartered Psychologist, a member of the Magic Circle and a veteran of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, where, for 4 years he performed a one-man show as a ‘mind reader’. During that time, he felt increasing unease that although the show was meant to parody psychic powers and encourage critical thinking, he has risked replacing the audience’s beliefs in the paranormal with unwarranted beliefs in impossible psychological powers.

His new show is a response to that: Rob has stripped his routines back to include only genuine psychological principles. He will perform a few routines, followed by explanations (e.g. quirks of bias, memory and perception).

Exclusively for the Skeptics in the Pub audience, he will also discuss his thoughts about the pitfalls of attempting to promote critical thinking by using illusions.
 

Useful Tool or Robot Overlords?

Dr Allan Tucker

When?
Wednesday, February 17 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Dr Allan Tucker

What's the talk about?

Artificial Intelligence has been a staple of popular culture for generations from promises of a Leisure Age when robots would do all of our work while we lived in luxury to scare stories where robots turn against their masters.

Dr Tucker looks at some of the key figures in AI in the last century through to the state-of-the-art learning machines that are all around us today and asks whether we will ever really have intelligent machines that are comparable to humans.

Dr Allan Tucker is senior lecturer in computer science at Brunel University. His research focuses on designing algorithms that can learn models from data to predict the future and assist experts in making decisions. His biomedical work includes long term projects with Moorfields Eye Hospital exploring models of eye disease and he collaborates with Leiden University Medical Centre on models of gene regulation.

Using critical thinking to question yourself and others

Tannice Hemming

When?
Wednesday, January 20 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Tannice Hemming

What's the talk about?

Today's world is full of misinformation, myths and mystery - so how do you make sure you're not taken for a ride or (even worse) end up propagating false 'facts' yourself?

Tannice's talk will briefly cover why we buy into false beliefs, the context behind faith in the seemingly spurious claims of quack 'therapists', cures and snake oil salespeople and how we're all guilty of believing what we want to sometimes. Open your mind to the possibility your brain might fall out and then stitch it all back together with Tannice's quick guide to silliness, stupidity and scepticism.

Tannice was a Founding Member of the South East Skeptics Society as well as Host of Guildford Skeptics in the Pub for three and a half years. She takes over Tunbridge Wells Skeptics in the Pub, with her husband, Jacques Hemming.... this month!

Tannice has also spoken across the country on the subject of Autism including the 2012 Edinburgh Skeptics on the Fringe (and Tunbridge Wells in August 2012, where she met Jacques for the first time!) and featured on a panel at the popular science and skepticism event, QED.

She is currently an Assistant Editor for the Skeptic Magazine and her specialist interests involve vaccinations, psychology and learning disabilities.
 

When?
Wednesday, December 16 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?

What's the talk about?

Please note that this event has been cancelled as the speaker is unwell.

How Armstrong produced the greatest sporting fraud... until the next one?

Dr Mark Burnley

When?
Wednesday, November 18 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

84 Parrock Road
Gravesend
Kent
DA12 1QF

Who?
Dr Mark Burnley

What's the talk about?

Three great sporting events took place in 2012: Sir Bradley Wiggins won the Tour de France, Team GB won almost everything at the London Olympics, and Lance Armstrong lost almost everything in the wake of a complicated series of investigations into his performance-enhancing drug use. It was called “the greatest heist in the history of sport”.

This heist was made possible by a number of factors associated with drug efficacy, doping controls and sports politics. To explain these factors, Mark Burnley will describe the physiology, psychology, and sociology of drug use in sport as revealed by Armstrong's case, and suggest what the future may hold for sport in general.

Dr Mark Burnley is a Senior Lecturer in Exercise Physiology at University of Kent. A member of the Endurance Research Group at Kent, he has a keen interest in endurance performance and exercise testing and has published more than 30 research papers on these topics. He is a Physiology Section Editor for the European Journal of Sport Science and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Physiology and Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. Like all exercise physiologists, he is a keen sportsman with no significant talent.