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Professor Chris French

When?
Friday, October 7 2016 at 7:00PM

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Where?

63, Kingsway, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire ST4 1JB

Who?
Professor Chris French

What's the talk about?

This October, it will be 5 years since the inaugural meeting of Stoke Skeptics in the Pub. Our very first speaker was Professor Chris French, then editor of 'The Skeptic', and now head of the anomalistic psychology research unit at Goldsmiths, University of London - we are delighted to be able to welcome Professor French back, to help us celebrate our fifth anniversary.

PLEASE NOTE the change of date (FRIDAY 7th October)
ALSO the change of venue (THE WHITE STAR)

Opinion polls repeatedly show relatively high levels of belief in ghosts even in modern Western societies. Furthermore, a sizeable minority of the population claim to have personally encountered a ghost. This talk will consider a number of factors that may lead people to claim that they have experienced a ghost even though they may not in fact have done so. Topics covered will include hoaxes, sincere misinterpretation of natural phenomena, hallucinatory experiences and pareidolia (seeing things that are not there), inattentional blindness (not seeing things that are there), the fallibility of eyewitness testimony, the possible role of complex electromagnetic fields and infrasound, photographic evidence, electronic voice phenomenon (EVP), and the role of the media.

Chris French is a British psychologist specialising in the psychology of paranormal beliefs and experiences, cognition and emotion. He is the head of the Goldsmiths, University of London's anomalistic psychology research unit and appears regularly in the media as an expert on testing paranormal claims.

£5 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle, two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.
Eagle-eyed regulars will notice there is a slight increase in price for this event, this is because there is a charge for hire of this room and is unavoidable. We apologise for any invonvenience this may cause.

 

 

 

An unofficial history of the Soviet Space Programme

Michael Lachmann

When?
Wednesday, September 14 2016 at 7:00PM

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Where?

67 Etruria Old Road,
Etruria,
Stoke-On-Trent,
ST1 5PE.

Who?
Michael Lachmann

What's the talk about?

      PLEASE NOTE This will be the THIRD Wednesday of the month.

 

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle, two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

The psychology of conspiracy theories

Dr Mike Wood

When?
Wednesday, August 24 2016 at 7:00PM

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Where?

67 Etruria Old Road,
Etruria,
Stoke-On-Trent,
ST1 5PE.

Who?
Dr Mike Wood

What's the talk about?

 Conspiracy theories are everywhere – and, arguably, always have been. What influences us to believe or reject them? Why do some events give rise to more conspiracy theories than others? What does the prevalence of conspiracy theories say about us as a society? And how is The Simpsons like an ancient Babylonian sheep’s liver? This whirlwind tour through conspiracy theory psychology will focus particularly on how suspicion, paranoia, and ambiguity help us to make sense of an uncertain world.

Dr Mike Wood is a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Winchester, where he teaches social psychology, political psychology, and research methods, and conducts research on conspiracy theories and the future of methodology and statistical practice in empirical psychology. He has been interviewed on NPR, Newsweek, Der Spiegel, and Slate, and blogs irregularly at ConspiracyPsychology.

 

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle, two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

What you really see on a North Korea tour

Robin Tudge

When?
Wednesday, June 8 2016 at 7:00PM

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Where?

67 Etruria Old Road,
Etruria,
Stoke-On-Trent,
ST1 5PE.

Who?
Robin Tudge

What's the talk about?

    PLEASE NOTE This will be the SECOND Wednesday of the month.

Robin Tudge is a writer based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He has lived and worked in Chicago, Moscow, Hanoi, Beijing and Pyongyang.

 

Author of the No Nonsense Guide to Global Surveillance and the best-selling Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories, and contributor to the pioneering Bradt Guide to North Korea, he has visited North Korea several times since 2001 and has led tours there in 2013 and 2015 for leading tour company, Koryo Tours.

 

This talk will be an illustrated presentation on travelling to that impoverished, surprising country, and how much one can see beyond the Potemkin illusion.

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle, two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

Professor Philip Moriarty

When?
Wednesday, May 18 2016 at 7:00PM

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Where?

67 Etruria Old Road,
Etruria,
Stoke-On-Trent,
ST1 5PE.

Who?
Professor Philip Moriarty

What's the talk about?

   PLEASE NOTE This will be the THIRD Wednesday of the month.

 There is no doubt that quantum physics embodies mind-blowing concepts that force us to question the very nature of reality.  And if there’s a contender for our current best “theory of everything” then quantum mechanics wins hands down.

 

But, far too often, the word “quantum” signals the worst type of vacuous pseudoscientific gobbledegook. It’s exploited by those who are entirely clueless about the underlying physics -- or, worse, should know better -- to evoke a misplaced mysticism about the ‘holistic’ nature of the universe. Moreover, when consciousness and quantum collide, the nonsense factor goes through the roof…

 

Philip Moriarty will aim to tease out the science from the mysticism and show that while quantum physics certainly has its weird and wacky aspects, it’s at heart a theory of waves. That means we can very often easily interpret what’s happening at the quantum level in terms of the everyday world around us – he’ll take a look at what coffee cups, drums, and a SlinkyTM can tell us about the broader nature of the universe (and Deepak Chopra’s place in it).

 

Philip Moriarty is a professor of physics at the University of Nottingham. He tweets at @Moriarty2112 and blogs at www.muircheart.wordpress.com.

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle, two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

Jenny Josephs

When?
Wednesday, March 16 2016 at 7:00PM

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Where?

67 Etruria Old Road,
Etruria,
Stoke-On-Trent,
ST1 5PE.

Who?
Jenny Josephs

What's the talk about?

 PLEASE NOTE This will be the THIRD Wednesday of the month.

By 2050 the global population will reach 9 billion and this will put ever increasing pressure on food and environmental resources. Simply intensifying current farming practices is neither sustainable, nor sufficient to ensure food security. One UN backed solution is to focus on alternative sources of protein, such as insects for food and animal feed. About 2 billion of us already include insects in our diets, though it is still a growing trend in the west.

 

Insects are described as having a variety of different flavours, from mushroomy to pistachio or pork crackling. Their protein levels are comparable to beef and they also contain beneficial nutrients like iron and calcium. Their environmental impact is also minimal, requiring far less water and feed than cattle, and releasing fewer emissions.

 

During this talk, Jenny will explain how insects might replace some of the meat in our diets and also give some tips on how to cook them.

 

Jenny Josephs is the founder of The Bug Shack, a company aiming to promote edible insects as a sustainable source of protein. This year, Jenny has enjoyed feeding people bugs at events including the Winchester Science Festival, TEDx Southampton University, Bestival and CBBC Newsround.

 

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle, two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

Myles Power

When?
Wednesday, July 8 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

67 Etruria Old Road,
Etruria,
Stoke-On-Trent,
ST1 5PE.

Who?
Myles Power

What's the talk about?

  PLEASE NOTE This will be the second Wednesday of the month.

In the early days of the AIDS epidemic many bizarre and dangerous ideas were advanced regarding the origin of the disease and its cause. Since the discovery of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) these conspiracy theories, which once filled the void left by the lack of information, have all but vanished. Over the past three decades HIV has been the subject of intense scientific research which has resulted in effective treatments, rapid HIV tests, and promising cures. Yet unbelievably there are a small number of people who are sceptical of the “official story”. Although these people are small in numbers they are extremely well funded and can pose a very real threat to public health. Many have chosen to spend their money on spreading their harmful theories, defend people who have irresponsibly infected their partners, and funded the documentary House of Numbers.

 

The documentary encourages people to come off their medication, tells them that HIV tests don’t work, and that anti-viral drugs such as AZT are the real cause of AIDS. To do this the makers of the documentary make liberal use of out-of-context quotations from scientists interviewed for the film, deceitful editing techniques, and flat out lies.

 

YouTube vlogger Myles Power has dedicated a large amount of time to exposing some of the more insidious claims in the documentary. In response there have been multiple Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) violation claims filed against Myles in an attempt to silence his criticism.

 

In his talk Myles will discuss some examples of the dangerous assertions in the documentary and explain how they have led to the death and suffering of hundreds of thousands of people. He will also talk about the failure of the DMCA and how it can be exploited by the proponents of pseudoscience.

 

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle, two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

Please note venue

When?
Wednesday, June 24 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

67 Etruria Old Road,
Etruria,
Stoke-On-Trent,
ST1 5PE.

Who?

What's the talk about?

 Since its inauguration in November 2011, Stoke Skeptics in the pub has been organised by a small team of people, volunteering their time and goodwill to putting on monthly speaker events for the wider community of skeptics and critical thinkers in and around Stoke-on-Trent. Once in a blue-moon however it is necessary to turn the skeptical lens inwards to ensure that we ‘the team’ are doing the best we can to serve the community we have brought together over the last four years.

 

Now is the time to bring your views to the table at our General Meeting, where we will be discuss wider issues that surround the operations of our own organisation. These will include: -

 

  • How sustainable is Stoke Skeptics (in terms of cash flow and personnel)?
  • Are we achieving our mandate of serving the skeptical community of Stoke-on-Trent (and can we do more)?
  • How can we do better?

 

Stoke Skeptics has never been a formal organisation, we have no members and no committee as such, there are simply those that do and those that do not. If you want to be a part of ‘the team’, to promote a more skeptical outlook, then this is the perfect time for you to get involved. Likewise, if you have ideas, information or resources that you think can help us, then this is also the ideal time to bring what you have to offer to the table.

Sleep Paralysis, Exploding Head Syndrome, and Anomalous Beliefs

Brian Sharpless

When?
Wednesday, June 10 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

67 Etruria Old Road,
Etruria,
Stoke-On-Trent,
ST1 5PE.

Who?
Brian Sharpless

What's the talk about?

 PLEASE NOTE This will be the second Wednesday of the month.

When we go to sleep, we like to feel safe and secure.  Therefore, strange experiences that happen during sleep can be particularly disconcerting, and even terrifying.  After describing the symptoms and surprisingly high prevalence rates of two relatively unknown sleep disorders (i.e., sleep paralysis and exploding head syndrome), I will discuss their respective relations to anomalous beliefs.

Sleep paralysis has a long history of being a natural explanation for beliefs in ghosts, demons, vampires, witches, and extraterrestrials. It has also resulted in a number of interesting "folk" treatments since the time of ancient Greece up to the present. Exploding head syndrome has sometimes been misinterpreted as a form of government harassment.  Some believe that the jarring auditory effects are caused by directed energy weapons in the hands of evil agents. In general, both disorders are vivid, dramatic experiences, and can be quite frightening to those who experience them. This especially the case for sufferers who are unaware of the fact that they are actually natural events.

Brian Sharpless is an assistant professor of psychology and director of the Psychology Clinic at Washington State University.

 

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle, two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

Emily St.Denny

When?
Wednesday, May 13 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

67 Etruria Old Road,
Etruria,
Stoke-On-Trent,
ST1 5PE.

Who?
Emily St.Denny

What's the talk about?

PLEASE NOTE This will be the second Wednesday of the month.

This talk is about how the ideas that citizens and politicians have about prostitution influences government policy. Contemporary prostitution policy in France, England, Wales and Sweden are used as a lens through which to investigate the strategies, challenges and incongruities behind policy making on a social issue that people feel strongly about. More broadly, the processes through which governments collect, evaluate and interpret ‘evidence’ on complex social phenomena to inform policy making are unpicked to reveal how disconnected ‘evidence-based policy’ can sometimes be from science.

 

Emily St.Denny is a PhD student at Nottingham Trent University and a research assistant on the ESRC funded Scottish Center on Constitutional Change. Her doctoral research focuses on why contemporary French prostitution policy has changed the way it has in the last fifty years. She is fascinated by how moral and ‘common sense’ claims often come to be used to inform societies on the ‘only’ way or the ‘right’ way to politically address intricate human experiences, especially in the realm of sexuality and the body.

 

 

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle, two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

An introduction to fascism, Godwin's Law and Holocaust denial

Vicky Stiles

When?
Wednesday, April 8 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

67 Etruria Old Road,
Etruria,
Stoke-On-Trent,
ST1 5PE.

Who?
Vicky Stiles

What's the talk about?

 PLEASE NOTE This will be the second Wednesday of the month.

The Third Reich was a large, complex, modern state with a thriving mass media, diverse population, and fruitful trade and cultural links with the rest of the world. The ideology behind National Socialism drew upon well-established strands of nationalist and racialist thinking as well as centuries-old anti-Semitism, and the Nazi Party and its government used cutting-edge technology and techniques to give these ideas the broadest possible audience and appeal. All too often, this baffling web of networks, policies and overlapping interest groups, which changed constantly over the twelve years the Third Reich lasted, gets reduced to the ideas and actions of just one man. From the top of the ivory tower, to the very bottom of the bottom half of the internet, this talk will explore what Adolf Hitler means to all of us, and how our obsession with him is sucking the meaning out one of our most potent historical symbols: the Holocaust.

 

Victoria Stiles recently completed a PhD in History at the University of Nottingham and is a co-organiser of the Greater Manchester Skeptics Society. Her research encompasses stereotype formation, the manipulation of evidence and attitudes towards imperialism in Nazi Germany, as well as Anglo-German relations. She occasionally blogs about her sources and what it means to "do" history at tattyjackets.blogspot.com.

£3 per head on the night includes entry into our drinks raffle.
Two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

Stevyn Colgan

When?
Wednesday, March 4 2015 at 7:00PM

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Where?

67 Etruria Old Road,
Etruria,
Stoke-On-Trent,
ST1 5PE.

Who?
Stevyn Colgan

What's the talk about?

 Skepticism and critical thinking isn't just about UFOs, bad pharma and creationism. It's about the everyday things too. 

After leaving school Stevyn gained places at both art and catering colleges, but turned them down and instead accepted a drunken £50 bet with his homicide detective father that he could survive six months as a police officer. He consequently joined the Metropolitan Police Service in London and ended up staying for 30 years.

During his service he found himself frequently challenging the traditional or 'accepted' ways of doing things; critical thinking and his own natural skepticism led him to explore different ways of doing things, often in innovative and unusual ways. These included using wizards to tackle street gambling, lollipops to stop anti-social behaviour and dog shows to prevent homicides. Ultimately, he was asked by Scotland Yard and the Home Office to be part of an experimental unit to explore some of these new ideas, many of which have now found their way into everyday policing in the UK.

The Skeptical Bobby is all about grass-roots skepticism and why we should be critical thinkers in every aspect of our lives.

'Superb talk at QEDcon by Stevyn Colgan. Intelligent and humane.' - Professor Richard Dawkins

'Stevyn Colgan was fantastic! Beautiful and inspiring talk' - The British Humanist Association

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