NB : This event will be ticketed.

Robin Ince

When?
Wednesday, January 7 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Robin Ince

What's the talk about?

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Join us for an evening with Robin Ince as he mulls over being excited about being self-conscious in the universe for a finite amount of time, strange nights in the Monkey Cage with Brian Cox and reads from his favourite scientists, along with some shouting and confusion.

Robin is a presenter, comedian and writer – he currently presents the Infinite Monkey Cage on Radio 4 with Brian Cox. He is also the creator of numerous shows (Bad Book Club, Happiness Through Science and the upcoming (Robin Ince is) In and Out of his Mind) and science events (The School for Gifted Children, Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People, Uncaged Monkeys and Robin and Brian’s Christmas Compendium of Reason).

You can find out more about Robin at www.robinince.com.

Michael Marshall

When?
Wednesday, February 4 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

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.

Paolo Viscardi

When?
Wednesday, March 4 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Paolo Viscardi

What's the talk about?

From aliens and monsters to mermaids and holy fish, we interpret the unusual in our world according to what we find familiar in our culture. Meanwhile, our interest in the unfamiliar can whip up a storm of misleading speculation and spectacle in the media.

Join us to explore some examples and explanations of weird and wonderful reporting from the past and present, that say more about our society and our brains than about the supernatural and otherworldly.

Paolo is a natural history curator at the Horniman Museum and Gardens in south east London. He is Chair of the Natural Sciences Collections Association and occasional Scientific Consultant for the BBC. In his spare time Paolo blogs, gives talks and helps run online biology Q&A site Ask A Biologist. He also runs the monthly science communication event 'Science in the Pub'.

Jonny Scaramanga

When?
Wednesday, April 1 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Jonny Scaramanga

What's the talk about?

Jonny Scaramanga attended a fundamentalist Christian school in the '90s where he learned that the Loch Ness Monster disproved evolution, God disapproved of the NHS, and homosexuals were an abomination. He talks about what students learn in these schools today, how they learn it, and how skeptics can respond.

Jonny is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Education, where he is researching student experiences in Britain's 50 Accelerated Christian Education schools. He has written for the Guardian, the Times Education Supplement, New Humanist, and New Statesman. His broadcast appearances include Newsnight, the Jeremy Vine Show, Radio 4, BBC2, BBC local radio, and Channel 4's 4Thought TV. His blog, Leaving Fundamentalism, won the 2014 Ockham Award for Best Blog. You can follow @JonnyScaramanga on Twitter.

Dr David Clarke

When?
Wednesday, May 6 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Dr David Clarke

What's the talk about?

The talk will examine one or more aspects of contemporary UFO belief as aspects of myth. More details will be confirmed nearer the time.

Dave Clarke is Course Leader and Senior lecturer in Media Law at Sheffield Hallam University's Department of Journalism. He has a PhD in Folklore and has spent most of his working life as a journalist and academic investigating aspects of supernatural belief and contemporary legend. Since 2008 he has acted as consultant for the ongoing release of the Ministry of Defence UFO files at The National Archives. He is the author of 14 books including The UFO Files (2012) and UFOs: The Making of a Modern Myth (forthcoming 2015).

Dr Rosie Waterhouse

When?
Wednesday, June 3 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Dr Rosie Waterhouse

What's the talk about?

Lurid tales of children being sexually abused, of animals being ritually slaughtered and babies being bred for sacrifice, in bizarre black magic ceremonies by cults of devil-worshipping Satanists first surfaced in America in the early 1980s. The allegations of what became known as Satanic ritual abuse soon spread to Britain, Australia and New Zealand in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the same time, belief in this apparently new and especially depraved form of child abuse was reinforced and said to be corroborated by another new phenomenon, or fashion, in the field of adult psychotherapy, psychology and psychiatry – the recovered memory movement. On conference circuits and in literature, this movement, led by both medically qualified professionals and untrained therapists, promoted the theory that adults can be helped to recover long-buried “repressed” memories of childhood sexual abuse, in some cases Satanic ritual abuse, and that as a consequence of that abuse those patients suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder.

This talk explores the origins and spread of the myth of Satanic ritual abuse. As early as 1994 a UK government-funded investigation concluded there was no evidence Satanic ritual abuse existed. Yet despite the continuing absence of evidence, anywhere in the world, a minority of child care professionals including police officers and social workers, and adult psychotherapists, psychologists and psychiatrists persist in the belief that Satanic ritual abuse exists. Conferences are still being held around the world.

This talk will chart the progress of my ongoing investigation over 25 years which has examined allegations of the Satanic ritual abuse of children and asked ‘Where’s the evidence’?

In the course of the investigation I explored the controversy over the extreme and polarised recovered-versus-false memory debate – still one of the most divisive issues in adult psychotherapy, psychology and psychiatry today. As an illustration of the damage caused by zealots who believed in Satanic ritual abuse and in their ability to “help” a patient recover the memories, I will relate the tragic story of the life and untimely death of Carol Felstead, alias Myers.

Finally, this talk will explore how the myth of Satanic ritual abuse can be considered in the context of the field of anomalistic psychology, the wonderful whacky world of weird beliefs, for example how people can come to believe they have been abducted by aliens. Some of these UFO “experiencers” also believe they were victims of Satanic ritual abuse. Part of the purpose of my research, ultimately for a PhD by Prior Publication, is to try to understand how and why people can come to believe bizarre, appalling, weird things happened in the total absence of evidence.

Rosie Waterhouse is Director of the MA in Investigative Journalism, at City University London and a freelance journalist with extensive experience as an investigative reporter, having worked for five national newspapers and as a TV reporter. She has twice been a member of the Sunday Times Insight team, she worked for The Independent and Independent on Sunday, where she was Investigations Editor, and for BBC Newsnight, where she contributed to a BAFTA award-winning film on BSE. As a freelance journalist, Rosie has contributed articles to publications including New Scientist, The Guardian's G2 section, the New Statesman, the Daily Mail, and The Oldie. She has most recently written a series of articles in Private Eye on the 'Satanic Panic'.

Her freelance television work includes a spell as a research consultant on a BBC Real Story documentary on the Rochdale Satanic abuse controversy. Earlier documentaries include a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation into allegations of fraud at Red Star and a BBC Bristol investigation into allegations of bribery by Westland Helicopters to win contracts in Saudi Arabia. Rosie has been researching the myth of Satanic Ritual Abuse and the controversy over false versus recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse for more than 24 years and her published work on these issues formed the basis of her PhD by Prior Publication, submitted in January 2014.

Martin Rowson

When?
Wednesday, July 1 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Martin Rowson

What's the talk about?

Martin will talk about offense and cartoons. More details will be confirmed nearer the time.

Martin Rowson is an editorial cartoonist and novelist. His genre is political satire and his style is scathing and graphic. He characterizes his work as "visual journalism.”

Dr Tim Miles

When?
Wednesday, August 5 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Dr Tim Miles

What's the talk about?

The children's author EB White once quipped: 'Analysing humour is like dissecting a live frog. No one is interested and the frog dies.' Studying comedy, at university level, has encouraged a number of criticisms, but two have dominated: that it is too frivolous when more 'serious' matters need to be investigated; and it is somehow beyond investigation because some people are just funny - they have 'funny bones' - and cannot, therefore, be taught. Reflecting this, when politicians, and the various advisory bodies, consider the direction that Higher Education should take, rarely are there worries that comedy is being insufficiently studied or researched. Instead, comedy is seen as something that should be extra-curricular, like the Footlights at Cambridge, and not part of serious academic work. To suggest otherwise leads to accusations of 'dumbing down', wasting public money, and 'soft' subjects on the curriculum.

In this talk I want to suggest that studying comedy offers us fascinating insights and important possibilities. A sense of humour, and a capacity to laugh in response to a cognitive or emotional state, is unique to humans. It is not surprising, therefore, that by looking at laughter we can discover important aspects about what it means to be human. The talk will seamlessly (hopefully) explore a path through evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, health care, pedagogy, cultural anthology, the performing arts, and other academic fields, looking at the work of comedy and humour scholars. Specifically, the areas discussed will include: the benefits of tickling rats to neuroscience; why Jeremy Clarkson is of political significance; and why you can get away with making very close-to-the-knuckle jokes in Japan but only under very specific circumstances. The talk will also briefly look at stand-up comedy, and my own doctoral research in which I argued that laughter rarely has much to do with anything being objectively funny, but is more connected to human relationships. I also want to briefly argue that teaching stand-up to undergraduates has value beyond an academic study of a performing art, in that it works well with widening participation goals, as well as developing vocational and transferable skills. Finally, I shall examine Bright Club, the comedy club where academics present research as comedy.

Tim Miles wrote jokes for BBC radio as an undergraduate, subsequently running his own comedy club booking the then-unknown Al Murray and Graham Norton. Having taught in Higher Education for ten years he was awarded a PhD by the University of Surrey in 2014, his doctoral research examining ways of analysing live stand-up comedy. He has been a member of the editorial board of Comedy Studies since 2010. He has published on a number of areas relating to comedy, including: comic responses to the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland; humour and the erotic; and emotion in stand-up comedy. In 2015 his book Reading between the Punch-Lines; a Guide to Analysing Stand-up Comedy will be published. In 2015 he will also be editing an edition of Comedy Studies devoted to Japanese comedy. He occasionally performs stand-up at various Bright Clubs, winning the 'worst pun' award in 2013 for a joke about Nietzsche, which he promises not to tell during this talk.

Dr Kevin Felstead

When?
Wednesday, September 2 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Who?
Dr Kevin Felstead

What's the talk about?

Hypnotised, sedated and brainwashed, Carol’s childhood memories were eradicated and her mind was reordered through 20 years of protracted psychotherapy. Assigned a new identity, separated from her family, a myth was created around Carol which helped stoke the entire Satanic Abuse panic in the United Kingdom. Out of the blue, in 2005, Carol phoned her brother and said that she wanted to return home. One week later she died in mysterious circumstances. Her family then embarked on a quest to discover the truth about Carol’s life and death. Caught up in a frightening conspiracy of silence, misinformation and institutional cover-ups, they discovered what really happened to her mind, body and soul.

In 2014 Carol’s family were granted permission by the Solicitor General to apply to the High Court to order a new hearing and to quash the findings of the original inquest into her death.

Dr Kevin Felstead completed a doctorate in history at Keele University where he taught undergraduate courses on the history of crime, policing and punishment since 1800. He later taught American history at Liverpool Hope University College; subsequently Kevin was employed by High Peak Borough Council and from 2003 to 2011 by Manchester City Council working in the field of community safety, neighbourhood crime and justice. Kevin is the author (with Richard Felstead) of Justice for Carol – The True Story of Carol Felstead. He is currently employed as Director of Communications for the British False Memory Society.

More information about the Justice for Carol campaign can be found at http://www.justiceforcarol.com.

Ash Pryce

When?
Wednesday, October 7 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

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 Festival Fringe and Ash has performed frequently at Skeptics in the Pub groups to positive responses.