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Michael Marshall

When?
Tuesday, July 19 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

8 Pocklingtons Walk,
Leicester,
LE1 6BU

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

 

Homeopathy is one of the most widely debunked form of alternative medicine – yet homeopathic remedies adorn the shelves of respected pharmacies and are funded by taxpayers on the NHS. How big of a problem is this? Using information and personal experiences gathered during his last 6 years of campaigning against homeopathy, Michael Marshall will highlight how much money is spent on homeopathic remedies, how this gives undeserved credibility to homeopathy, how such remedies can lead to genuine harm and what you can do to help.

Michael Marshall is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work 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.

 

Dr Kat Arney

When?
Tuesday, June 21 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

8 Pocklingtons Walk,
Leicester,
LE1 6BU

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 Dave Hone

When?
Tuesday, May 17 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

8 Pocklingtons Walk,
Leicester,
LE1 6BU

Who?
Dr Dave Hone

What's the talk about?

Tyrannosaurus rex is the most well known of the dinosaurs but also suffers from the greatest misconceptions about its biology. The Tyrant King suffers in its popularity with various hypotheses being thrown at it (by both palaeontologists and non-experts) and much of it sticking thanks to the media and pop-culture adoption of these ideas. Critical assessment however shows that few of these tropes stand up to even the most basic of analyses or even already known data. The tyrannosaurs are a fascinating group of dinosaurs and they are much diminished by unnecessary hyperbole when the truth is every bit as interesting

Dr Dave Hone is a palaeontologist and writer. His research focuses on the behaviour and ecology of the dinosaurs and their flying relatives, the pterosaurs. In addition he writes extensively online about palaeontology and science outreach, blogs for the science pages of  The Guardian, and regularly contributes for other media outlets as well as acting as a scientific consultant. His first book, the The Tyrannosaur Chronicles, is out now with Bloomsbury.

Why children are great pretenders, poor problem solvers, and sometimes less clever than crows

Sarah Beck

When?
Tuesday, April 19 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

8 Pocklingtons Walk,
Leicester,
LE1 6BU

Who?
Sarah Beck

What's the talk about?

Young children are excellent imaginers, coming up with all kinds of creative and weird worlds. But what is the imagination really for? Adults use their imaginations to solve problems, but children sometimes struggle with this. In this talk, Sarah Beck will explore how children start to use their imaginations for creative problem solving, using examples of children’s thinking about ‘how things might have been different’ and comparing children’s tool-making to that of clever non-human animals.

 

Sarah Beck is Reader in Cognitive Development at the University of Birmingham. She researches children's thinking about possibility and time, and questions whether adults' thinking in these areas is as sophisticated as we might like to think. She teaches an undergraduate course that compares the cognitive abilities of human children with non-human animals.

Emma McClure

When?
Tuesday, March 15 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

8 Pocklingtons Walk,
Leicester,
LE1 6BU

Who?
Emma McClure

What's the talk about?

 A grisly murder scene, a renegade detective pours over the scene. They find an overlooked clue; a hair, a footprint, a shell casing. Detailed analysis matches it to the bad guy. The bad guy goes to jail - this is often how modern day forensics are thought of and how it is often portrayed in shows such as 'CSI' and 'Silent Witness'. 


Forensic evidence is seen as conclusive when it comes to catching suspects and deciding if someone is guilty in a criminal trial. How could the traces left behind at a crime scene lie?

The science in areas such as DNA collection has progressed enormously in recent decades allowing for break-throughs in many old and cold cases. 

However, we have also seen many high profile exonerations of those previously convicted of the most serious of crimes on seemingly 'conclusive' forensic evidence. This has lead to increasing scrutiny of the way it is analysed, interpreted and presented in the courtroom.

In this talk, prison lawyer Emma McClure explores this issue alongside the amusing, confusing and sometimes tragic consequences of failing to take a skeptical approach to scientific evidence.

Tamasin Cave

When?
Tuesday, February 16 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

8 Pocklingtons Walk,
Leicester,
LE1 6BU

Who?

What's the talk about?

This event has been cancelled

Robin Tudge

When?
Tuesday, January 19 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

8 Pocklingtons Walk,
Leicester,
LE1 6BU

Who?
Robin Tudge

What's the talk about?

Robin Tudge is a writer based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, who has lived and worked in Chicago, Moscow, Hanoi, Beijing and Pyongyang, and among other tomes wrote the pioneering Bradt Guide to North Korea, now in its third edition. He has visited North Korea several times since 2001 and led tours there in 2013 and 2015 for the leading tour company, Koryo Tours. He is to present an illustrated talk on travelling to that impoverished, surprising country, so show what can really be seen beyond the Potemkin illusion. 

Philip Moriarty

When?
Tuesday, December 15 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

1 Millstone Lane,
Leicester,
LE1 5JN

Who?
Philip Moriarty

What's the talk about?

 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.

John Martin

When?
Tuesday, November 17 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

8 Pocklingtons Walk,
Leicester,
LE1 6BU

Who?
John Martin

What's the talk about?

 Dinosaurs have been the popular face of palaeontology for almost as long as the science has existed - over 150 years. They have 'big, fierce and extinct' appeal, but the main way dinosaurs have captured the public's imagination is that they have been, and still are, 'brought to life' in illustrations and other kinds of art. This is where science meets art meets popularisation. 


Dinosaur 'reconstructions' have a special power, however - they don't only enthuse the public (and hopefully encourage children into careers in science); they also seem to influence the way palaeontologists themselves study, and publish supposedly rigorous scientific papers about, the fossils on which dinosaur science is based.

How are the reconstructions made? How 'correct' are they? Do they reveal as much about human nature as they do about life in the past? As someone who has spent half a lifetime studying, interpreting and drawing dinosaurs and other extinct animals, John brings the insights of an insider to these questions.

From 1974 John was curator of geology at Leicestershire Museums, then managing curator of New Walk Museum, Leicester. He specialised in vertebrate palaeontology, and in exhibitions, interpretation and design. In 2001 in moved into interpretation full-time, working for a firm designing and building museums and other heritage attractions all over the world. He's now 'retired', which means self-employed but relaxed - still doing interpretation and a bit of dinosaur work.

why should we care if our friends are similar to us?

Katherine Woolf

When?
Tuesday, October 20 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

8 Pocklingtons Walk,
Leicester,
LE1 6BU

Who?
Katherine Woolf

What's the talk about?

Do you find yourself making friends with people like you? Katherine Woolf draws on her often controversial research to explore why this happens, and its impact on success and injustice. Discover how you can challenge the status quo to create a fairer, more integrated, more successful society.

Dr Katherine Woolf is a Senior Lecturer and academic psychologist working at UCL Medical School finding out what makes people – especially doctors – do really well or really badly. Her work focusses on how and why ethnicity and gender influence success, and how we can use this knowledge to improve fairness and equality. She has recently been discovering how our choice of friends can make a big difference to our success.

Michael Story

When?
Tuesday, September 15 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

8 Pocklingtons Walk,
Leicester,
LE1 6BU

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

Iszi Lawrence

When?
Tuesday, August 18 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

8 Pocklingtons Walk,
Leicester,
LE1 6BU

Who?
Iszi Lawrence

What's the talk about?

Skeptic, comedian and voice of the Skeptics Guide To The Universe, Iszi Lawrence is out to delight and inform with her new show The Z List Dead List. The Z List Dead List is a live comedy show about obscure people from history. As a skeptic, Iszi has found a few people from the past that will peak your interest. Expect woo, violence, sex and death. And a competition.

The show is also a podcast with guest interviews from Jon Ronson, Griff Rhys Jones, Natalie Haynes, Neil Denny, Richard Herring etc. You can find it on iTunes here: itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-z-list-dead-list/id915778702?mt=2 or go to the website www.zlistdeadlist.com