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Michael Brooks

When?
Monday, May 16 2022 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Farm Road
Sheffield
South Yorkshire S2 2TP

(Press the buzzer to be let in. We are in the back room of the Club.)

Who?
Michael Brooks

What's the talk about?

 1, 2, 3 … ? The untrained brain isn’t wired for maths; beyond the number 3, it just sees ‘more’. So why bother learning it at all? The mathematics of triangles enabled explorers to travel far across the seas and astronomers to map the heavens. Calculus won the Allies the Second World War and halted the HIV epidemic. And imaginary numbers, it turns out, are essential to the realities of twenty-first-century life. You might remember studying geometry, calculus, and algebra at school, but you probably didn’t realise — or weren’t taught — that these are the roots of art, architecture, government, and almost every other aspect of our civilisation. From ancient Egyptian priests to the Apollo astronauts, and Babylonian tax collectors to juggling robots, join Michael Brooks and his extraordinarily eccentric cast of characters in discovering how maths shaped the world around you.

Michael Brooks is a science writer with a PhD in quantum physics and the author of several books, including '13 Things that Don't Make Sense' and 'The Quantum Astrologer's Handbook' a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year. His latestbook is 'The Art of More: How Mathematics Created Civilisation'. 

Chris French

When?
Monday, April 18 2022 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Farm Road
Sheffield
South Yorkshire S2 2TP

(Press the buzzer to be let in. We are in the back room of the Club.)

Who?
Chris French

What's the talk about?

Following his retirement in October 2020, Emeritus Professor Chris French reflects on the work of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit, founded in the year 2000. Ever since records began, in every known society, a substantial proportion of the population has reported unusual experiences many of which we would today label as “paranormal”. Opinion polls show that the majority of the general public accepts that paranormal phenomena do occur. Such widespread experience of and belief in the paranormal can only mean one of two things. Either the paranormal is real, in which case this should be accepted by the wider scientific community which currently rejects such claims; or else belief in and experience of ostensibly paranormal phenomena can be fully explained in terms of psychological factors. This presentation will provide an introduction to the sub-discipline of anomalistic psychology, which may be defined as the study of extraordinary phenomena of behaviour and experience, in an attempt to provide non-paranormal explanations in terms of known psychological and physical factors. This approach will be illustrated with examples relating to a range of ostensibly paranormal phenomena.

Chris French is Emeritus Professor and Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. His main current area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims.

Michael Marshall

When?
Monday, March 21 2022 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Farm Road
Sheffield
South Yorkshire S2 2TP

(Press the buzzer to be let in. We are in the back room of the Club.)

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

When 2020 brought with it a new strain of coronavirus, the world was plunged into confusion and uncertainty. While most people accepted the realities of the virus, little white stickers began to appear in public around the world claiming COVID-19 was a hoax concocted by the governments of the world to instil fear into their people, as a pretext for introducing new, permanent totalitarian laws. The graffiti was part of a co-ordinated grassroots campaign by a group calling itself The White Rose, urging members of the public to join their encrypted messaging channels to learn more about what was really going on.

So that's what Michael Marshall, full-time skeptical investigator, did. After spending months undercover in the messaging app Telegram, he reported on the various conspiracy theories spread by the White Rose, and how groups used the Covid crisis to radicalise vaccine hesitant members of the public into a dangerous ecosystem of misinformation and extremism.

Michael is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society, Editor of The Skeptic, and President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. For further detail visit: https://goodthinkingsociety.org/about/.  

A Food strategy for England

Natalie Bennett

When?
Monday, April 20 2020 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Farm Road
Sheffield
South Yorkshire S2 2TP

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Who?
Natalie Bennett

What's the talk about?

This event will now take place at a future date once the coronavirus lockdown is over.

 

 

 

 

Michael Brooks

When?
Monday, March 16 2020 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Farm Road
Sheffield
South Yorkshire S2 2TP

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Who?
Michael Brooks

What's the talk about?

Rebecca Nesbit

When?
Monday, February 17 2020 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Farm Road
Sheffield
South Yorkshire S2 2TP

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Who?
Rebecca Nesbit

What's the talk about?

Humanity is causing a mass extinction on a scale the Earth last saw with the demise of the dinosaurs, transforming the future of life. Protecting nature is vital to our survival and wellbeing, yet to do this effectively we need to forget some of our fundamental beliefs about conservation.

There is no objective answer to questions about what the natural world should look like. We can’t even justify the view that species have intrinsic value so need to be protected from extinction. Anyone who believes they are being guided solely by science is therefore failing to acknowledge their underlying values. Science can tell us how to achieve our goals, but we need ethics to determine what those goals should be.

This talk will question the intuition which has caused us to consider the honeybee a conservation icon while ignoring species such as the hairworm. We will explore alternative approaches to setting our conservation priorities, and ask how to make equitable decisions about the future of the natural world.

Rebecca is an ecologist and writer with a particular interest in the science and ethics of setting conservation priorities. For her PhD she used radars and flight simulators to study butterfly migration, and she now works in science communication. She has written two books: ‘Is that Fish in Your Tomato?’, looking at the fact and fiction of GM foods, and ‘A Column of Smoke’, a novel.

Tom Marshall

When?
Monday, January 20 2020 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Farm Road
Sheffield
South Yorkshire S2 2TP

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Who?
Tom Marshall

What's the talk about?

Complementary and alternative medicine is caricatured as unscientific and contrasted with the scientific rigor of mainstream medicine. But this is misleading. Mainstream medicine is also riddled with ineffective treatments and procedures. There are treatments in widespread use that we know to be ineffective. There are effective treatments given to the wrong patients. There are treatments where harms and costs clearly outweigh any benefit. There are treatments where we really don’t know if they are effective. This talk will provide a number of examples of ineffective treatment and the clues to overtreatment provided by looking at variations in clinical practice. It will also illustrate why the problem is so intractable.

Tom Marshall is a Professor of Public Health and Primary Care. His main medical speciality is in Public Health Medicine but he also has trained in General Practice and has studied Health Economics. Tom has contributed to local, national and international media in relation to his research, particularly in relation to prevention of cardiovascular disease.

 

Ariane Sherine

When?
Monday, December 16 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Farm Road
Sheffield
South Yorkshire S2 2TP

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Who?
Ariane Sherine

What's the talk about?

December marks the 10th birthday of talks at Sheffield Skeptics in the Pub!

Our very first speaker was Ariane Sherine so we invited her back to kickstart our next 10 years of talks. We might also have cake.

 

Comedy writer and journalist Ariane Sherine created and organised the Atheist Bus Campaign, persuading Richard Dawkins and the British Humanist Association to support her – and buses with variations on the slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” ran in 13 countries across the globe.

As a result, Ariane received an Inbox full of hate mail from Christians, which eventually led to a major nervous breakdown and suicidal ideation. She ended her journalistic career, and didn’t write again for over three years.

In this talk, she will tell the full story of how therapy and medication saved her life, prompting her to write her new book, Talk Yourself Better: A Confused Person’s Guide to Therapy, Counselling and Self-Help.

Ariane will also be signing copies of Talk Yourself Better after the talk.

What people have said about Talk Yourself Better:

“Brilliant – makes the baffling comprehensible.” JEREMY VINE

"What an excellent, long-overdue idea! A super-accessible guide, through the bewildering marketplace of modern therapy, to ease our noble search for help." DERREN BROWN

“How do we cope with this brutal world? In this witty, revealing book Ariane Sherine runs through the ways. An excellent, funny and thought-provoking read for all who seek answers.” ARTHUR SMITH

“What makes Ariane Sherine’s Talk Yourself Better stand out from the crowd is its accessibility and humour; to be able to discuss difficult things with a lightness of touch and a comedy that does not trivialise is a rare skill indeed. This, combined with the honest – and often deeply moving – stories of clients and practitioners alike, makes this the ideal introduction to for anyone considering therapy for the first time.” BRIAN BILSTON

Ariane Sherine is the comedy writer and journalist who created the Atheist Bus Campaign, as well as the bestselling celebrity book The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas. She has written for BBC1’s My Family, Channel 4’s Countdown and BBC2’s Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, as well as for The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday, New Statesman, New Humanist and The Spectator. She lives in London with her seven-year-old daughter, Lily.

Ash Pryce

When?
Monday, November 18 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Farm Road
Sheffield
South Yorkshire S2 2TP

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Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

Learn to bend metal with your mind, read your friends thoughts, perform psychic surgery and move an object with your brain!

... or maybe it's all just a trick? Come along and find out!

A magic show that will involve demonstrations and explanations of how you can appear to perform telekinesis, metal bending, psychic surgery and remote viewing as well as looking at government funded research into psychic phenomena and where it went wrong. And if that wasn’t enough, throughout the show will be performances of stage mind reading and mentalism to add an extra layer of entertainment to the proceedings.

Stagetime Promotions Magician of the Year 2017, and Edinburgh Horror Festival Sell out performer 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Warning to those on the front row… there will be blood!

"Educating his audience while making them laugh" - Leeds Skeptics

"Intelligent, funny, and totally entertaining!" - Cardiff Skeptics

"Has the entire audience laughing" - Bath Skeptics

www.ashpryce.co.uk // Twitter: @ashpryce // Facebook: @ashprycemindreader // Instagram: @ashpryce

Ally Lewis

When?
Monday, October 28 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Farm Road
Sheffield
South Yorkshire S2 2TP

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Who?
Ally Lewis

What's the talk about?

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS TALK HAS BEEN MOVED FROM THE 21st TO THE 28th OF OCTOBER.

Air quality has improved markedly over the last 100 years with the thick pea-soup sulfur smogs of the 1950s long consigned to history. Yet the profile of air pollution as an environmental issue has never been higher with both the public and with politicians. So is air quality still a serious public health issue in the UK, and what can be done if it is? Who are the susceptible groups and what evidence is there of harm and costs? Whilst electrification of vehicles and de-carbonising of the energy supply over the next two decades will have positive impacts on air pollution and climate, many other sources of pollution in cities will still remain. So are there limits on how much money should be invested in urban clean air, or should we accept that urban living will always come at a cost to health?

 

Anna Williams

When?
Monday, September 16 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Farm Road
Sheffield
South Yorkshire S2 2TP

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Who?
Anna Williams

What's the talk about?

This highly illustrated talk (graphic images) describes the unique outdoor forensic laboratories known colloquially as 'Body Farms' in the USA and Australia, and discusses how the research that has been conducted at them has helped criminal investigations. It details how there isn't a similar facility in the UK and explores the reasons for and against them, and discusses public opinion towards them, in order to stimulate healthy debate. 

Dr Anna Williams is Principal Enterprise Fellow in Forensic Anthropology at the University of Huddersfield. She read Archaeology and Anthropology at Oxford University, and specialised in Forensic Anthropology through a Masters, PhD and lots of casework. She's an expert in forensic osteology (bones) and decomposition. She has appeared on TV and radio discussing anthropology and forensic science. She was a 2014 British Science Association Media Fellow for New Scientist.

You can find out more about Dr Anna Williams and body farms below:

Twitter: @Bonegella and @HTF_4_UK

Website: http://htf4uk.blogspot.com/

Rajin Chowdhury, Michael Heap, Joanne Mutlow and Mike Parker

When?
Monday, August 19 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Farm Road
Sheffield
South Yorkshire S2 2TP

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Who?
Rajin Chowdhury, Michael Heap, Joanne Mutlow and Mike Parker

What's the talk about?

A recent survey has revealed that the majority of people in this country now say that they do not belong to any religion. Meanwhile, Humanists UK, the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people, continues to grow in strength and now has over 85,000 members and supporters. Humanists UK ‘advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail’. ‘We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all’.

Four local humanists will each give a short presentation on what humanism means to them and how they are actively involved in the community as humanists. The audience will then be invited to ask questions and to share their beliefs and opinions about humanism.