Skeptics in the Pub in Bedford

Fistly, just scroll down the page to see a list of our forthcoming events.

Now into our 5th year, the group is well established with a solid programme of events, as you can see from the listings below. If you are planning to join us, our meetings are usually very well attended and you would be recommended to arrive early.

We usually meet on the third Thursday of the month. Arrive 19.00 for a 19.30 start.

If this is your first visit to the site, please read about us.

If you're not sure what skepticism is all about, please read this.

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Email list: we have an email list to notify of new events, but some ISPs seem to block it as spam. If you have subscribed and don't receive the emails, please do let us know at a meeting.

 

Jonathan M.S. Pearce

When?
Thursday, February 18 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Jonathan M.S. Pearce

What's the talk about?

Do we have free will, or are our ‘choices’ determined by our environment and past experience?

Author and educator, Jonathan M.S.Pearce offers an entertaining introduction to the debate, and explains how new developments in brain science have influenced philosophers.

We will also consider the impact of free will and determinism on Christianity’s concept of a judgmental God, and the implications for our justice system if we don’t have free will.

An entertaining introduction to the age-old philosophical debate on whether we have free will or whether we live predetermined lives.

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 currently studying for a Masters in Philosophy, and is a founder member of the Tippling Philosophers, a friendly group of disparate believers and non-believers based in Hampshire.

The Nativity: A Critical Examination is his fourth book, and follows Free Will? An investigation into whether we have free will, or whether I was always going to write this book, a popular philosophy, science and theology book that examines the free will vs. determinism debate. He has also written The Little Book of Unholy Questions, which looks to show the incoherence of the idea of an all-loving, all-knowing and all-powerful God. As an interlude from writing about philosophy and theology, he has branched out by writing a book of advice for dads of twins; Twins: A Survival Guide for Dads.

He is a founder author for the Skeptic Ink Network (SIN), an online community of skeptic writers, bloggers, academics, thinkers and activists, which can also be found on their Facebook page.

...a live comedy show about obscure people from History

Iszi Lawrence

When?
Thursday, March 17 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

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 here:  www.zlistdeadlist.com

The NHS and Beyond

Michael Marshall

When?
Thursday, April 21 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

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.

Beyond the Potemkin illusion

Robin Tudge

When?
Thursday, May 19 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Robin Tudge

What's the talk about?

Robin Tudge is a writer in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he has lived and worked in Chicago, Moscow, Hanoi, Beijing and Pyongyang.

As an author he has written the No Nonsense Guide to Global Surveillance,  the best-selling Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories, and contributed to the pioneering Bradt Guide to North Korea. He has visited North Korea several times since 2001 and has led tours there in 2013 and 2015 for the leading tour company, Koryo Tours.

This talk will be an illustrated presentation on travelling to that impoverished, surprising country, and how much one can see beyond the Potemkin illusion.

What does the modern family look like?

Dr Fiona MacCallum

When?
Thursday, June 16 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Dr Fiona MacCallum

What's the talk about?

What does the modern family look like? Technology has led to the creation of families that were not previously possible; a woman can become pregnant with, and give birth to, a child who is not genetically related to her. Parents don’t have to be in a female-male couple but can be with a same-sex partner or going it alone. Many assumptions are made about the best situation for children but what is actually known about the psychological effects of being raised in a “non-traditional” family?

I’ll discuss research which investigates different family types and asks questions such as does it matter if a child has two mums or two dads? What do parents tell their children about how they were conceived? And when it comes to family relationships, is “blood” really thicker than water?

Fiona MacCallum is a developmental psychologist with a particular interest in parent-child relationships and their influence on children’s social and emotional wellbeing. She began to research the psychology of new family forms in 1996, and has specialised in the study of non-genetic families. Fiona is an Associate Professor in Psychology at the University of Warwick.

How do our genes work?

Dr Kat Arney

When?
Thursday, July 21 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

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 Kat Arney holds a degree in natural sciences and a PhD in developmental biology from Cambridge University, followed by a post-doc at Imperial College, London.

For her day-job Kat is a professional science communicator, media spokesperson, award-winning blogger, podcaster and general comms dogsbody for Cancer Research UK. She counts among her achievements saying the word “boobs” and discussing oral sex on the Today programme, the infamous “drink it down your face” interview, and likening part of the cell division machinery to something out of Star Wars.

When?
Thursday, August 18 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
-

What's the talk about?

The holiday season is upon us so, as is traditional, we don't have a meeting this month.

Are we “medicalizing normality”?

Dr Stephen Ginn

When?
Thursday, September 15 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Dr Stephen Ginn

What's the talk about?

Psychiatry is in essence the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of mental function i.e. abnormalities of thought, perceptions, emotional and purposeful behaviour.  Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in this area.

Psychiatry is one of the most controversial medical specialties.  There are a number of reasons for this, which the talk addresses.  These include:

The validity of “mental illness”.  Many psychiatrists argue that mental illnesses can be viewed as diseases like those affecting other parts of the body.  Others argue that mental illness are predominantly social rather than medical in origin, and are used for purposes of control.  Szasz famously argued that mental illnesses do not exist at all.

We may agree that mental illness is a valid concept, but how widely should this be applied?  Has shyness, for instance, become "generalized anxiety disorder".  If it has, does this matter?  Many new disorders have appeared with new editions of psychiatric classification manuals and some regard this as “medicalizing normality”.

Alongside diagnosis, psychiatric treatments also receive scrutiny. The number of prescriptions of antidepressants in England and Wales has increased in recent years.  Does this reflect the better recognition and treatment of mental disorders, or the influence of the pharmaceutical industry over doctors’ prescribing?  And do these medications actually work?   Should more talking therapies be offered instead?

Dr Stephen Ginn is a consultant psychiatrist working in North London.  He specializes in in-patient care of people with severe mental illnesses.  He blogs at www.frontierpsychiatrist.co.uk (sadly neglected, but hopefully soon to be resurrected) and tweets at @psychiatrist.  He also co-runs the Art of Psychiatry Society (www.artofpsychiatry.co.uk and @artofpsychiatry) which holds meetings to explore the shared space between psychiatry and the creative arts.