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.

 

The single best work of glyptic art from the Aegean Bronze Age

Charles Baily

When?
Thursday, March 21 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Charles Baily

What's the talk about?

Sadly, the speaker we had booked for this month had to withdraw so, to save wasting good drinking time, we are offering a home-grown topic.

In 2015, a team of archaeologists from Cincinnati University, discovered and excavated, just a few hundred metres from the so-called Palace of Nestor at Pylos in southwest Greece, a hitherto unknown princely tomb. Like the Palace, it dates from the Mycenaean period, the late Bronze Age, about 1450BC.

Uniquely for the period, it contained no pottery at all – all the grave goods were of metal, precious and otherwise, or gemstones. This was a very high status burial indeed.

Most of the objects recovered were published in 2016. But there was one that was so heavily encrusted with limescale, and merited such careful cleaning, that it did not go public until 2017, and such was its quality that it attracted a lot of attention, from scholars and laymen alike.

What distinguishes it, among other things, is a level of realism in anatomical portrayal that is not seen again until the Hellenistic period, a full thousand years later, and then, following the arrival of Christianity, not again until the Renaissance.

This talk will describe its recovery and put it into the context of its time and place; and – because the discovery of any such freakish artefact always invites scepticism (aha!) about its authenticity – consider the possibility that it could be a fake.

Charles chairs Bedfordshire Humanists and is an organiser of Bedford Skeptics in the Pub. He studied the archaeology of the Aegean Bronze Age as part of his degree course, and has followed developments in the field with close attention for the last 50 years. He is involved with local archeeological digs and museums.

As this is a replacement topic, we may even forego the customary contribution buckets!

Cerys Bradley

When?
Thursday, April 18 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Cerys Bradley

What's the talk about?

For decades, science has been fascinated by the LGBTQ+ community. What makes gay people gay? How does sexuality affect one's behaviour, appearance, or ability to raise children? These are the questions that science has asked and the answers have had an impact not only within the scientific world, but also on public policy and the rights of LGBTQ+ citizens. Given the highly politicised nature of the topic, it is perhaps not surprising to discover biases and prejudices hidden in the construction, conduction, and conclusions of these studies but are they still valuable contributions to science?

Join scientist Cerys Bradley, a part time comedian and full time gay, as they look at the science conducted in answer of these questions

Skepticism and the Supernatural Pre-Industrial Europe

Jon Kaneko-James

When?
Thursday, May 16 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Jon Kaneko-James

What's the talk about?

Along with Johannes Nider's Formicarius, Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger's 15th century book, Malleus Maleficarum, became the manual for a vigorous campaign of European Witch Hunting.

Protestant London saw 67 witch trials in the decade of 1600-1610: both before and after the accession of the witch hunting King James.

In the world of publishing, 1598 to 1610 saw a huge growth in fairy-themed literature, with both the rural and urban sick seeking the help of 'fairy' empowered Cunning Folk in the absence of trained medics.

But did everyone actually believe in it?

Author and researcher Jon Kaneko-James will examine the hidden language of equivocation found in medieval chronicles, the differing nature of experience, and the existence of skeptical narratives in pre-industrial Europe.

A confused person's guide to therapy, counselling and self-help

Ariane Sherine

When?
Thursday, June 20 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Ariane Sherine

What's the talk about?

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

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.

and other myths about food and health

Pixie Turner

When?
Thursday, July 18 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Pixie Turner

What's the talk about?

Despite a wealth of information at our fingertips there are still so many things we get wrong about our health, and with a new diet book out every other day it’s no wonder people are confused. What should we be eating? When? How often? Just how important is food when it comes to our overall health?

Humans have always been a bit weird around food. We’re told eating certain foods are the key to living longer, some foods are ‘sinful’ or ‘bad’, that ‘you are what you eat’, and that we must seek to obtain health at all costs. All this means we follow crazy diets that make things worse rather than better, and have a population where most of us dislike our bodies.

Pixie will unpack why diet and nutrition misinformation is so problematic, on social media, in mass media, and on a public health level, and why we could all benefit from taking a moment to assess our personal relationship with food. Expect some mythbusting, diet rants, and lots of fully-referenced evidence-based science.

Pixie is a nutritionist (ANutr), food blogger, and science communicator. She graduated with a First Class degree in Biochemistry, and went on to complete a Masters in Nutrition with Distinction. She is the brains behind the 'Pixie Nutrition' social media accounts, which aim to infiltrate the wellness movement and debunk nutrition misinformation online. In addition, she has been featured as a nutrition expert on BBC and Channel 5, and in publications such as Red magazine, Evening Standard, Grazia, the Telegraph and more. Her first book, ‘The Wellness Rebel’ was published early 2018, with her second book, ‘The No Need to Diet Book’ released March 2019

Ritual Protection of Hearth & Home

James Wright

When?
Thursday, October 17 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
James Wright

What's the talk about?

Physical objects have been placed behind the walls, under the thresholds and within the hearths of historic buildings for centuries. Discoveries of dried cats, witch bottles and ancient shoes have become common during building works. The explanation for these items is less common - as they were often deliberately placed to ritually protect house and occupants from evil spirits, witches and demons.

James Wright is an archaeologist, Lecturer and Author.

James returns to Bedford Skeptics in the Pub after his excellent, and very well received, talk on historic graffiti last year. I'll be there, clutching my garlick.