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Dr David Lawrence

When?
Thursday, March 30 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Dr David Lawrence

What's the talk about?

 Since the 1980s there have been a number of huge developments in the fight against HIV/AIDS. As antiretroviral therapy has become more effective and less harmful to patients we can now expect those in the UK who are diagnosed with HIV to have a near normal life expectancy. A large number of the gains made in this field have been a credit to the lobbying and activism of the LGBT community around the world who pushed for increased global access to treatment. 

 
An emerging trend in this field is the use of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), a single tablet which, when taken by HIV negative individuals, can greatly reduce the chance of catching HIV. Although not available on the NHS, increasing availability of PrEP online has prompted some concerns that this will lead to relaxed safe sex practices, increased rates of other sexually transmitted infections and, if taken incorrectly, PrEP may contribute to drug resistance. Although not much of a sceptic, Dr David Lawrence will talk us through the journey which has brought us to this point, explain the key research findings, and provide an update on the current debates surrounding this treatment.
 
David Lawrence is a junior doctor specialising in HIV and sexual health. He has worked at the Royal Sussex County Hospital since 2012 and has previously worked for a number of large charities which work to promote sexual and reproductive rights around the globe.

Jon Stewart

When?
Thursday, February 23 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Jon Stewart

What's the talk about?

 Alcoholics Anonymous is a commonly accepted and media endorsed "spiritual" programme of recovery for alcoholism.  Yet while AA’s social worth is rarely challenged, its efficacy rate, possibly as low as 5%-10%, appears comparable to that of spontaneous remission.

We're all affected by alcoholism and addiction in some way.  Can a non-existent Higher Power really offer meaningful solutions to this debilitating, potentially fatal, condition?  If so, how can we help all those atheist and sceptic problem drinkers?

AA’s famous 12 Step programme evolved from the tenets of a now forgotten evangelical Christian mass movement for sobriety.  First published in 1939, it remains entirely unchanged since then.  How did AA become the go-to treatment modality for one of the great social health scourges of our age?  Is spiritually-based health-care even ethical?  It's the twenty first century, is this really the best we can do? 

More than just a discussion of AA and alcoholism, this talk draws on the work of philosopher Dan Dennett and evolutionary psychologist Andy Thomson (Trustee of the Richard Dawkins Foundation) to present a wide ranging and humorous case study of how the internet threatens previously sacred texts and closed systems of knowledge.

Jon Stewart was co-founder, guitarist and co-songwriter for platinum-selling Britpop band Sleeper. He currently lectures in popular culture at a local HE Institution, and is a PhD researcher at University of Southampton.

A grateful sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous for almost 15 years, Jon now campaigns for more up-to-date evidence-based secular treatment options via his blog “Leaving AA & Staying Sober: New Perspectives on Recovery” http://jonsleeper.wordpress.com/

Paul Zenon

When?
Thursday, January 26 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Paul Zenon

What's the talk about?

From long-running TV series to sold-out theatre shows and premium rate phone 'advice' lines, the business of 'Love and Light' and talking to the dead is very much alive and well. How are psychics able to convince the public that their other-worldly insight is genuine? Why do people insist on believing, despite the lack of evidence of an afterlife? 

 
Paul Zenon presents a potted history of what  of what Harry Houdini described as ’the filthiest profession in the world’, and takes a look at their methods, past and present. 
 
Paul is possibly best known as a magician; after several series on Childrens BBC in the 90s he became the pioneer of the UK's Street Magic genre, with a number of one-man C4 and ITV Specials. His career has spanned three decades and seen him performing for audiences in around forty countries while making hundreds of TV appearances as performer, presenter and pundit; the latter relating in particular to his inside knowledge with regard to matters generally considered by the media to be 'paranormal’. 
 
Consumer Protection Disclaimer: this talk is investigational and for the purpose of entertainment.

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords

When?
Thursday, December 1 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords

What's the talk about?

 It’s inevitable, isn't it? One day robots will take over the world, either through some kind of violent rebellion, or through the back door -- by taking all our jobs. Aren't we throwing caution to the wind by ignoring this threat? Well, by explaining some of the basic principles behind artificial intelligence and robotics, I'm going to try to convince you that all those science fiction writers are wrong, and whilst robots will have a large part to play in our future, you don't need to worry about the effect they'll have on our existence.

 Nick Hawes is a Reader in Autonomous Intelligent Robotics in the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham. His research is in the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques to create intelligent, autonomous robots that can work with or for humans. He is a passionate believer in public engagement with AI and robotics and was selected to give the Lord Kelvin Award Lecture at the 2013 British Science Festival.

Meirion Jones

When?
Wednesday, September 28 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

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.

Professor Richard Aspinall

When?
Wednesday, August 31 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Professor Richard Aspinall

What's the talk about?

Immortality has held us fascinated throughout history and there are many examples of individuals searching for the elixir of life or the fountain of youth because they wished to live forever. There are even reports that some like the Comte de St Germain have succeeded...

More recently the goals have been modified or even shifted slightly with reports that rather than being immortal we will soon be able to live to be 1000 years old, that’s if we start treating the body like a machine and replacing those bits that wear out with time.

All of this seems plausible and the problems seem to be associated with the issues of overcrowding, supporting ourselves or how do we pay for the treatments. This skips over the first problem which is how we identify age related changes in the body and deal with them. None of us want to end up like Tithonus who was made immortal by Zeus, but forgot to ask for eternal youth and as he aged he withered and begged for death.

 

As a sceptic I propose that we give up all hope for immortality and eternal youth and accept out fate and make the best of what we have been given. 

Kat Arney

When?
Wednesday, August 12 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Kat Arney

What's the talk about?

 Kat Arney works as a science communicator for the charity Cancer Research UK, after spending six years as a laboratory researcher. Kat loves talking and writing about science, and regularly comments in the media on the latest discoveries. She produces the Cancer Research UK podcast, and is also a freelance science writer and helps to present the highly successful Naked Scientists BBC Radio show in her spare time. In the rest of her spare time Kat plays in two bands, Sunday Driver and the Shadow Orchestra, and rarely sleeps. Unsurprisingly, her blog is entitled You Do Too Much:


One hundred years ago, there were very few effective treatments for cancer, save for the surgeon’s scalpel. As a result, homespun cancer cures thrived, with all manner of pills and potions being peddled in newspapers and magazines. The 1939 Cancer Act was brought in to try to stop the advertisement of fraudulent cancer cures to the general public in the UK but it has little jurisdiction in today’s international online world, where thousands of websites offering treatments and cures are available at the click of a button. Kat Arney will talk about why we need to take an evidence-based approach to medicine in general and the treatment of cancer in particular.

Iszi Lawrence

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

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Iszi Lawrence

What's the talk about?

Skeptic, comedian and voice of the Skeptics Guide To The Universe, Iszi Lawrence returns to Nottingham Skeptics 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.

Ash Pryce

When?
Wednesday, June 10 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

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 Edinburgh Fringes. Ash Pryce promises Ouija Boards, Spirit Slates, Spirit Communication, Stopped Pulses, Spewing ectoplasm ... and more.

Ash Pryce is a performer and director 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.

"Ash Pryce is a naturally funny guy and won't allow his audience to be bored" "Very entertaining" - edfringereview

Please note. This is a skeptically themed show and not intended as an actual demonstration of mediumship or psychic abilities.

Bentley Crudgington

When?
Wednesday, March 4 2015 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Bentley Crudgington

What's the talk about?

Who is winning in this fight, science, disease or the anti-vaccination movement?

Bentley is a research scientist with an unhealthy interest in infectious diseases. His current area of research is in veterinary vaccine development (actually its metaphylactic intervention strategies for outbreak scenarios, but no one likes a showoff). He also runs Guildford Cafe Scientifique, Guildford Skeptics and likes it when Science and Art get it on.

As a species Humans like to explore new territories, play with animals, put things in our mouths and have a flagrant disregard for genital safety. As a result we encounter some pretty nasty diseases. Fortunately there are vaccines but what exactly are they and why are they so controversial? Vaccines are wonderfully weird, from snorting scabs in the Old Orient to genetic chimeras cloned in laboratories, they have protected humans and animals from disease for nearly two hundred years. Unfortunately there are plenty new diseases waiting in the dark and old enemies itching for a comeback.

£3 tickets at the door

Let's Do This.

Johno Pearce

When?
Wednesday, October 29 2014 at 8:00PM

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Where?

14-17 Manchester St
Brighton
East Sussex
BN2 1TF

Who?
Johno Pearce

What's the talk about?

Jonathan will be skilfully guiding us through a range of arguments for and against the existence of God. He will also offer some novel arguments that challenge the concept of an omniscient, omnipotent, omni-benevolent God. With Brighton being one of the most godless cities in the UK, as well as being home to a vibrant youg christian community, we're expecting an entertaining Q&A session after Jonathan's presentation. After a very successful show at this year's Brighton Fringe (in the Speigeltent) we're looking forward to welcoming Johno back to Brighton for a proper grilling,

Jonathan is a teacher and author from South Hampshire, who has dedicated many years of his life to all manner of things philosophical and theological. He is the author of several popular books including ‘The Nativity: A Critical Examination’, ‘Free Will? An investigation into whether we have free will, or whether I was always going to write this book’, and ‘The Little Book of Unholy Questions’. As an interlude from writing about philosophy and theology, he has also written a book of advice for dads of twins; Twins: A Survival Guide for Dads. He is a founder member of the Tippling Philosophers, a friendly group of disparate believers and non-believers based in Hampshire, and is also a founder author for the Skeptic Ink Network (SIN), an online community of skeptic writers, bloggers, academics, thinkers and activists. Check out their blog at http://skepticink.com/tippling/ .

 Just £2 on the night to cover speaker expenses.

The Ethics of Caring Technologies

Dr Blay Whitby

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

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Where?

14-17 Manchester St
Brighton
East Sussex
BN2 1TF

Who?
Dr Blay Whitby

What's the talk about?

 **This event will be at our new venue, the Latest Music Bar**

The widespread use of robots in intimate and caring roles will bring about important social changes. Dr Blay Whitby thinks we need to examine these changes now and consider them from an ethical standpoint.
 
Robotic carers and artificial companions are a technology that is likely to be available in the near to mid-­‐term future. In Japan and South Korea robots are seen as potential carers for the elderly and as babysitters. Many researchers are looking to make their products display emotion and respond to emotional displays by users. At least one writer has predicted marriage to robots will be accepted in progressive countries by 2050. This chapter examines some the implications of these -­‐ both technical and social. Do they represent socially and ethically acceptable developments? What is likely to be technically feasible and just what should we allow?
 
Dr Blay Whitby is philosopher and ethicist concerned with the social impact of new and emerging technologies. He is a leading researcher in the field and the author of many books, chapters and papers on the subject including “On Computable Morality”, “Reflections on Artificial Intelligence: The Legal, Moral and Ethical Dimensions and “Artificial Intelligence, A Beginner’s Guide”. 
 
Dr Whitby is a member of the Ethics Committee of BCS The Chartered Institute of IT and ethical advisor to the Royal Academy of Engineering. He is a regular speaker on widening public engagement in science and has participated in several science/art collaborations.
 
We will ask attendees for a donation of £2 on the night to cover expenses or you can book in advance here