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When?
Thursday, December 17 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

Who?
James Williams

What's the talk about?

Come and join us for a festive talk followed by a party, with punch. Tickets will be available on the door.

We often see contradictory headlines in newspapers “scientists say drinking read wine is good for you” only to be followed the next day by “Drinking alcohol is bad for you, say scientists” It’s difficult to know who or what to believe sometimes! Scientists have their own language, not just complicated names for plants and animals or unpronounceable chemical names, but a whole set of meanings for words that we use every day like ‘theory’, ‘law’, hypothesis etc. In some instances people play on these different meanings to try and discredit science e.g. creationists who say that evolution is ‘just a theory’. They characterise evolution as a ‘belief system’. But is any science part of a belief system? Or should we talk about accepting the ideas of scientists rather than ‘believing’ in them.

In this talk James Williams will look at the language of science, how familiar words can mean quite different things in everyday and scientific contexts and argues that rather than ‘believe’ what science and scientists tell us, we should accept them, provided there is evidence to back them.

James Williams is a lecturer in education, specialising in science education, at the University of Sussex. His research interests currently revolve around teaching "The Nature of Science" and "The Scientific Method". In particular, what do science teachers understand about these concepts and ideas in science.

Linked to this work is research on the teaching of evolution in science and the controversy of evolution vs creationism in a school and wider context. He has published papers in academic journals on the evolution/creationism controversy as well as articles in the professional and popular press. He is a textbook author and publishes professional books for teachers on approaches to science teaching. His other research interests involve issues surrounding the publication of the Theory of Evolution by means of Natural selection by Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin. He is a regular contributor to BBC Sussex on education matters.

Meirion Jones

When?
Wednesday, November 25 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

Who?
Meirion Jones

What's the talk about?

He’s jailed for 10 years now but how did a British conman sell bogus bomb detectors to Iraq for $85 million? A lack of skepticism cost the lives of an estimated 2,000 people in Baghdad. Meirion Jones tells, with the help of video clips and secret recordings, how Jim McCormick and his chums worked the scam around the world and how whistleblowers and a Newsnight team exposed the scandal. This is about multi-million-dollar bribes in Baghdad, and UK PLC turning a blind eye to boost exports, but this is also about the lethal consequences of not basing policy on evidence. Meirion will demonstrate two real bogus bomb detectors as sold by the hoaxers for up to $40,000 each and show you how to make one that works every bit as well for less than a pound.

Meirion Jones is a BBC producer who is in the unusual position of winning the 2013 Scoop of the Year award for a programme which was never broadcast - his exposure of Jimmy Savile as a paedophile. He also won the Daniel Pearl International Award for Investigative Journalism in 2010 for his reports on toxic waste dumping by Trafigura in Africa. He has exposed everything from the fixing of the 2000 US election, to how Britain helped Israel get the atom bomb, from corrupt politicians to the affair of Mark Stone and the undercover cops, as well as homeopaths and healers.

When?
Wednesday, October 14 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

Who?
John Sweeney

What's the talk about?


Tom Cruise and John Travolta say the Church of Scientology is a force for good. Others disagree. Award-winning journalist John Sweeney investigated the Church for more than half a decade. During that time he was intimidated, spied on and followed and the results were spectacular: Sweeney lost his temper with the Church’s spokesman on camera and his infamous ‘exploding tomato’ clip was seen by millions around the world.

John Sweeney tells the story of his experiences for the first time and paints a devastating picture of this strange organisation, from former Scientologists who tell heartbreaking stories of families torn apart and lives ruined to its current followers who say it is the solution to many of mankind’s problems.

He is mentioned in the Alex Gibney film "Going Clear".

John will be selling his latest book "Church of Fear" for the reduced price of £10.

Part of the Eastbourne Festival

Iszi Lawrence

When?
Thursday, July 23 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

Who?
Iszi Lawrence

What's the talk about?

With great regret Nessa has had to cancel her talk. Stepping into the breach is Iszi Lawrence with her new show. Thank you Iszi.

Skeptic, comedian and voice of the Skeptics Guide To The Universe, Iszi Lawrence is at Eastbourne Sceptics in the Pub 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 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

Members of the Z list include:

Dr Joseph Mortimer Granville, 1833 -1900. Designed and patented a popular medical vibrator to cure hysteria.

Tycho Brahe, 1546-1601. Danish nobleman and astronomer. Discovered supernovae. Got his pet elk drunk, upstairs.

Mad Jack Churchill, 1906-1996. Made the last recorded kill with a bow and arrow by a British soldier. Fought WWII with a sword.

Part of the Eastbourne Festival

Michael Fish

When?
Thursday, July 16 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

Who?
Michael Fish

What's the talk about?

The face of BBC weather for many years will be talking about how the climate has changed in the past, and how we predict it will change in the future. He may also mention "that" storm at some point.


The speaker:


Schooled at Eastbourne College and City University London, Michael Fish is the longest serving broadcast meteorologist on British television (and probably the world). He joined the Met Office in 1962 and started on BBC Radio in 1971. He took up the role on television in 1974


He was awarded the MBE in 2004 for services to broadcasting. He also holds Honorary Doctorates of Science from both Exeter and City Universities as well as the Freedom of the City of London.


He has recently resumed forecasting on BBC South East Today, providing holiday cover for the regular forecaster and has also taken to acting. He is a Patron of numerous organisations and charities.

Part of the Eastbourne Festival

Edzard Ernst

When?
Wednesday, July 8 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Devonshire Park,
College Road,
Eastbourne,
East Sussex
BN21 4JJ

Who?
Edzard Ernst

What's the talk about?

Please note that this talk is at the Towner Gallery, and starts at 7.30pm.

The cafe in The Towner  will be open for pre-talk drinks and bar snacks from 6pm onwards.

'A SCIENTIST IN WONDERLAND' is the story of my life as a doctor and a scientist. Despite a youthful ambition to become a jazz musician, I eventually studied medicine and became first a clinician and then a medical research scientist, taking up professorships in Germany, Austria and finally in England. My reverence for the pursuit of truth through the application of the scientific method, coupled with a growing interest in the history of medicine during the Nazi era, did not always endear me to my peers. In 1993, when I was I was appointed to the world's first chair in complementary medicine, this was an area that had rarely been studied systematically, and was almost entirely dominated by evangelic promoters of quackery - among them, famously, HRH Prince Charles. Many of  these enthusiasts exhibited an overtly hostile, anti-scientific attitude towards the objective study of their therapies. Clashes were inevitable, but the sheer ferocity with which advocates of alternative medicine would pursue their aims came as a profound surprise. My memoir provides a personal insight into the cutthroat politics of academic life and offers a sobering reflection on the damage already done by pseudoscience.

There will be copies of his latest book for sale, "A Scientist in Wonderland" for £7.50.

About the speaker:

Edzard Ernst is an academic physician and researcher specializing in the study of complementary and alternative medicine.

He was appointed Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, the first such academic position in the world.

He served as chairman of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Vienna but left this position in 1993 to set up the department of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter.

He became director of complementary medicine of the Peninsula Medical School in 2002. Ernst was the first occupant of the Laing chair in Complementary Medicine, retiring in 2011.

Edzard's writing appeared in a regular column in The Guardian where he reviewed news stories about complementary medicine from an evidence based perspective. Since his research began he has been seen as "the scourge of alternative medicine" for publishing critical research that exposes methods that lack documentation of efficacy.

(without an earpiece)

Ash Pryce

When?
Tuesday, June 16 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

Hydesville. New York. 1848. The young Fox sisters begin communicating with the spirit of a murdered beggar and spiritualism is born. This interactive look at a history of talking to the dead will feature an array of magical treats including levitating tables, ectoplasm manifestation and spirit communication.

Part magic show, part comedy, part rational inquiry this fun show has regularly packed venues at the Edinburgh fringe.


Spirit Slates
Spirit Communication
Stopped Pulses
Spewing ectoplasm
And more...


Ash Pryce is a performer, director and occassional magician based in Scotland.  He has written and staged several skeptically themed shows looking at myths & legends, ghosts, psychics and mediumship as well as producing full plays ranging from Faustus to more contemporary original shows in Edinburgh.  He is the founder of Edinburgh Skeptics, the newly started History in the Pub Edinburgh, and runs what is believed to be the worlds first skeptical ghost tour every Fringe.  He lives just outside of Edinburgh with his three Degus, one of which holds a grudge against him.

 

Anthroposophy and Spiritual Science

Andy Lewis

When?
Wednesday, May 13 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

Who?
Andy Lewis

What's the talk about?

With Michael Gove and the coalition approving new Steiner Schools to open under the Free School Programme, it is timely to look closely at the origins and beliefs of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of the occult movement of Anthroposophy. Steiner was a mystic who believed he had direct clairvoyant access to cosmic knowledge. As such he developed an esoteric belief system based on karma, reincarnation, astrology, homeopathy and gnomes. His visions gave insights into architecture, art, dance, agriculture, medicine, education, science and diet. His racial hierarchy of spiritual developmental resonated in Germany in the early 20th Century turning a personal belief into a worldwide movement. Today we find hundreds of anthroposphically inspired organisations in the UK alone: everything from Steiner Schools, Biodynamic farms to banks, pharmaceutical and cosmetic companies, charities and cheese makers.

Andy Lewis has been trying to lift the veil on the inner secrets of the movement and will discuss how this secretive movement has direct impact on public life.

The Obesity Trap and How We Can Escape It

David Lewis and Margaret Leitch

When?
Thursday, April 16 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

Who?
David Lewis and Margaret Leitch

What's the talk about?

More than a billion people worldwide are overweight and almost 500 million are obese.  It is much easier to get fat than to stay fit. Dr Lewis and Dr Leitchs’ research shows that it is not lack of self-control that is to blame. Foods high in sugar, fat and salt engage the same parts of the brain as hard drugs, making fast food addiction a terrifyingly real prospect.

Instead, we need to look at the corporations whose profits depend upon the promotion of unhealthy food and to the inadequacy of current standards of nutrition education. The speakers also give practical strategies for slimming down and maintaining a healthy weight.

The Speakers:

Dr David Lewis is a best-selling author and was a consultant to Channel 4's 'Secret Eaters' diet programme.

Dr Margaret Leitch is a specialist in identifying overeating habits.

Clive Bates

When?
Wednesday, March 25 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

Who?
Clive Bates

What's the talk about?

With cigarettes killing 100 million in the 20th Century and as many as 1 billion in the 21st Century on current trends, why is there so much resistance to e-cigarettes and vaping, an alternative to smoking that is at least 95% less risky, and may not be harmful at all? This talk will explore why 'harm reduction' is always controversial, examine the role of academic publishing and alarmist media reporting, and probe the underlying motives and incentives of public health organisations.


About the speaker:

Clive Bates runs the 'Counterfactual' a consultancy and advocacy practice with a widely read blog on tobacco (www.clivebates.com). He is a former senior civil servant (2003-2012) and former Director of Action on Smoking and Health (1997-2003). He has no competing interests with respect to tobacco industry, pharmaceutical industry or e-cigarette industry.

Part of the Brighton Science Festival

Nessa Carey

When?
Wednesday, February 25 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

Who?
Nessa Carey

What's the talk about?

Modern biology is rewriting our understanding of genetics, disease and inheritance.

There are lots of situations where two things that are the same at the DNA level are different in appearance and behaviour. These tell us that there is more to life than just the genetic code, and they are known as epigenetic phenomena.

Think of a caterpillar and a butterfly, or a slipper limpet that can change its sex as an adult shellfish. Identical twins become more dissimilar as they age, despite sharing an identical DNA script. The differences can even be as extreme as one twin developing a serious disease while the other remains completely healthy.

Scientists are starting to understand how these epigenetic differences are created and maintained. The process depends on a complex set of chemicals that our cells add to our genes. These chemical changes controls how genes are expressed, so that the same genetic code can create different outcomes. They can also have unexpected effects.

For example, epigenetics is very significant to human health and disease and may have a role in a wide range of conditions from chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and schizophrenia, to drug addiction and to the long term effects of abusive or neglectful childhoods. It is also known to be important in cancer.

Sometimes, epigenetic effects may even be passed on from parent to child. Children born to mothers who have lived through starvation may have increased susceptibilities to various diseases later in life. Animal studies have suggested that fear itself may be passed down to offspring.

About the speaker:

Nessa Carey has a virology PhD from the University of Edinburgh and is a former Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biology at Imperial College, London. She has worked in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry for ten years. She lives in Bedfordshire.

Professor David Goulson

When?
Wednesday, December 17 2014 at 8:00PM

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Where?

Who?
Professor David Goulson

What's the talk about?

Dave Goulson will talk about modern farming, pesticides, and the growing but highly controversial evidence that certain insecticides may be contributing substantially to the ongoing decline of bees, butterflies, birds and more. Expect talk of bees, intrigue, conspiracies, and political corruption.

PARTY:
After the talk and Q and A we will be laying on some wine and mince pies. In keeping with the bee theme we hope to get some mead in. Why not stay a little and have a chat with fellow sceptics. To make it easier to plan the catering please buy a ticket as early as possible.

About the speaker:
Professor Dave Goulson was brought up in rural Shropshire, where he developed an early obsession with wildlife. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Oxford University, followed by a doctorate on butterfly ecology at Oxford Brookes University. Subsequently, he lectured in biology for 11 years at the University of Southampton, and it was here that he began to study bumblebees in earnest. He subsequently moved to Stirling University in 2006, and then to Sussex in 2013. He has published more than 200 scientific articles on the ecology and conservation of bumblebees and other insects. He is the author of Bumblebees; Their Behaviour, Ecology and Conservation, published in 2010 by Oxford University Press, and of the Sunday Times bestseller A Sting in the Tale, a popular science book about bumble bees, published in 2013 by Jonathan Cape, and now translated into German, Dutch and Danish. This was followed by A Buzz in the Meadow in 2014. Goulson founded the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in 2006, a charity which has grown to 8,000 members. He was the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s Social Innovator of the Year in 2010, was given the Zoological Society of London's Marsh Award for Conservation Biology in 2013, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2013.