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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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(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

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

Sense About Science

Max Goldman

When?
Wednesday, December 3 2014 at 7:00PM

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(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

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

Who?
Max Goldman

What's the talk about?

 UPDATE: This talk will now be given by Max Goldman, development officer for Sense About Science.

 

This isn’t just a simple talk; it’s a call to arms.

 

Every day, we hear claims about what is good for our health, bad for the environment, how to improve education, cut crime, and treat disease. Some are based on reliable evidence and scientific rigour. Many are not. These claims can't be regulated; every time one is debunked another pops up – like a game of whack-a-mole. So how can we make companies, politicians, commentators and official bodies accountable for the claims they make? If they want us to vote for them, believe them, or buy their products, then we should ask them for evidence, as consumers, patients, voters and citizens.

 

The Ask for Evidence campaign has seen people ask a retail chain for the evidence behind its MRSA resistant pyjamas; ask a juice bar for the evidence behind wheatgrass detox claims; ask the health department about rules for Viagra prescriptions; ask for the studies behind treatments for Crohn's disease, and hundreds more. As a result, claims are being withdrawn and bodies held to account.

 

This is geeks, working with the public, to park their tanks on the lawn of those who seek to influence us. And it's starting to work. Come and hear what the campaign is going to do next and how you can get involved.

 

The Ask for Evidence campaign can be found here. http://www.senseaboutscience.org/pages/a4e.html

 

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle,

two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

Expansionist Policies in Education

David Pollock

When?
Wednesday, November 12 2014 at 7:00PM

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Where?

67 George Street, Stoke-on-Trent, Hartshill, Staffordshire, ST5 1JT.

Who?
David Pollock

What's the talk about?

VENUE CHANGE Due to double booking this meeting will now take place at the Greyhound in Hartshill

Apologies for any inconvenience

PLEASE NOTE this is the second Wednesday of the month

The talk commences with an historical account of the Church of England's involvement with education. The Church like to proclaim that it pioneered schooling in the 19th century in the face of government indifference, but in fact the truth is quite the opposite. In the present day the Church is rapidly expanding its network of schools with the explicit aim of protecting its own future in the face of modern secularism and indifference toward church teachings. The aim: If people will not come willingly to church, then the church will going after them, through their children's schools.

 

David Pollock is a trustee of the British Humanist Association and sometime president of the European Humanist Federation.

 

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle,

two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

Adrian Bailey

When?
Wednesday, October 8 2014 at 7:00PM

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(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

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

Who?
Adrian Bailey

What's the talk about?

PLEASE NOTE this is the SECOND Wednesday of the month

 

Tolerance is a virtue but how tolerant should we be of things we object to, of things that are objectively wrong? Is tolerance the recipe for a calm, happy life, or are we risking becoming victims of others' beliefs and actions? I'll look at a range of issues from alternative medicine to faith schools to abortion to freedom of the press and ask how (in)active can we afford to be?

 

Adrian Bailey is Chairman of Birmingham Humanists.

 

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle,

two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

why people reject science and what we can do about it

When?
Wednesday, August 13 2014 at 7:00PM

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(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

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

Who?
Dr Christopher Hassall

What's the talk about?

PLEASE NOTE the change of date.
"The rejection of well-established scientific principles is commonplace, particularly in the fields of alternative medicine and climate denialism.  I will discuss a recent case of climate change denial within a university environment and use this to outline how climate denialism came to be, and how ingrained some climate sceptics are within institutions.  I will then briefly consider two other forms of science denial - HIV/AIDS denialism and creationism - to provide some general conclusions about why people reject science and what we can do about it."

 

Dr Christopher Hassall is an evolutionary ecologist working on human impacts on ecological systems  and large-scale evolutionary patterns at the University of Leeds.

 

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle,

two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

Ongoing adventures in the world of pseudoscience

When?
Wednesday, July 2 2014 at 7:00PM

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Where?

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

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

 It’s easy to think of pseudoscience existing in a glass case at a museum – something to be examined and critiqued from a safe distance, but not something to touch and to play with. Using examples taken from his own personal experiences in skepticism, Michael Marshall will show what happens when you begin to crack the surface of the pseudosciences that surround us – revealing the surprising, sometimes-shocking and often-comic adventures that lie beneath.

 

Michael Marshall is the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and Project Director of the Good Thinking Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work with the MSS has seen him organising international homeopathy protests and co-founding the popular QED conference. He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Statesman.

 

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle,

two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

Guy Otten

When?
Wednesday, May 7 2014 at 7:00PM

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(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

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

Who?
Guy Otten

What's the talk about?

Even Tony Blair (May the blessings of Allah be upon him) now argues that the prime emergency faced by the West is not the Russia/Ukraine confrontation or Syria, but Radical Islam (Independent 24th April). He argues that Europe and the USA are ‘curiously reluctant to acknowledge’ Islamic Extremism.

Following on his talk on the mythological origins of Islam last year, Guy now asks whether an ethical shortfall in Islam contributes to challenges faced by the world posed by Islamic Extremism and Terrorism.”

A trained humanist celebrant, Guy Otten also gives talks to humanist groups, the Intervarsity Club, Skeptics in the Pub and other groups. He has been happy to engage in dialogue with religious groups including Muslim students and the Manchester Bible Debate group.

Guy is the current Chair of Greater Manchester Humanists and a member of the Board of Trustees of the British Humanist Association.

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle,

two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.

Exploring the limits of human perception

Paul Hopwood

When?
Wednesday, April 9 2014 at 7:00PM

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(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

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

Who?
Paul Hopwood

What's the talk about?

Please note change of date to the second Wednesday

After the success of his SiTP talk, the award-winning ‘You know less than you think’, Paul Hopwood is back for the sequel!

 

Based around his Cognitive Psychology studies, the first talk focused on the different stages of information processing in the human brain. By looking at research into the brain’s ability to acquire, store, retrieve and use information; the talk highlighted that humans have a tendency to severely overestimate their ability to perform these tasks.

 

This second talk moves away from how good we believe our cognitive toolkit is: and instead looks at how well we think we use it. Through looking at various examples of human perception; the audience will be engaged to think about such matters as ‘Is Common Sense that common and does it make that much sense?’, ‘Does looking backwards help us to look forwards?’, ‘How much attention should we pay to randomness?’ and ‘Are you an idiot or a genius?’

 

Paul Hopwood is an active member of the Skeptic Community, who has received widespread praise for the enthusiastic and enlightening nature of his public talks. His first SiTP talk was awarded ‘The Worfolk Lecture 2012’ by The Chris Worfolk Foundation; having being adjudged by the Foundation’s committee to be the best talk for improving the public understanding of science that year.

 

He is a regular guest on ‘The Skeptic Canary Show’ each Wednesday night at 7pm; and is a very keen amateur chess player. He is also, to his knowledge, the only person to ever successfully solve a Rubik’s Cube during a SiTP Q+A.

£3 per head will get you a ticket in our drinks raffle,

two lucky attendees will win a FREE pint on the night.