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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

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!

Looking at the history, motives and present day construction of anti-Jewish prejudice

Dr Daniel Allington

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

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Dr Daniel Allington

What's the talk about?

With antisemitism in the news at the moment and seemingly tearing the Labour party apart, this topic just couldn't be more bang up-to-date.

"Antisemitism was fundamental to the historical development of conspiracy theories - and conspiracy theories remain fundamental to contemporary antisemitism. In this talk, Dr Daniel Allington of the Campaign Against Antisemitism and King's College, London, explains why Jew-hate is different from other kinds of hate and why it is able to flourish in contemporary political culture."
 

Colin Stuart

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

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Colin Stuart

What's the talk about?

After his very well received talk last year - 13 Journeys Through Space and Time, Colin returns with a new subject.

In The Traveller's Guide to Mars, Colin Stuart will examine our fascination with the Red Planet, our attempts to explore it and send humans there in the not-to-distant future.

The Hidden Story of the Hopes, Fears and Desires of a Nation

James Wright

When?
Thursday, November 15 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
James Wright

What's the talk about?

Note change of programme from that originally advertised following the speaker being unavailable!

Modern graffiti is often seen as transgressive and moronic. However, look closely in the light of a torch at the walls of our historic buildings, trees, caves and rockfaces and you will see a world of graffiti left that illuminates the psychology of our ancestors. The study of historic graffiti enables us to hear the lost voices of ordinary individuals through their images of daisywheels, ships sailing across the walls, knights drawing their swords, demons stalking the stonework and every animal imaginable…

James Wright is an archaeologist, lecturer and author
 

... By Someone Who Tried Everything Else

Rebecca Fox

When?
Thursday, October 18 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Rebecca Fox

What's the talk about?

Most of us weren't born reasonable. We were born into a superstitious culture with only our ramshackle primate brains to try and figure out what’s going on. Reason, an appreciation for evidence and critical thinking skills are virtues that most of us had to fight for and that we have to work hard to keep up in difficult situations.

Rebecca is no exception, she grew up believing many strange things and has had to train herself to think critically. Instead of being embarrassed by our former beliefs Rebecca thinks it is important to have compassion for and interest in what we used to believe and why we believed it. Instead of feeling shame for having been wrong, we should be proud that we had the courage to overturn beliefs that proved to be wrong.

In this talk Rebecca will discuss who she was before, and after she ‘became reasonable’ and overturn the myth that there is such a thing as ‘perfectly reasonable’ we are all, after all, a work in progress.


Rebecca Fox is passionate about skeptical education because she has found the tools of skepticism to be profoundly empowering. Learning to think clearly has made her safer, more confident and happier. Drawing on her experience as a skeptical educator and comic book artist she will present some ideas that will help you improve your critical thinking skills and the way you think about how you think.

Note the change of programme

When?
Thursday, September 20 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Video plus discussion

What's the talk about?

As announced, our speaker has had to withdraw, due to unexpected pressure of work, but we are, as ever, reluctant to deny our faithful following (and ourselves) an excuse to spend an evening down the pub, so we are offering an alternative.

Skeptics regulars will recall the recent visit of Jamie Bartlett, on the Dark Web.

In August last year, BBC2 broadcast a mini-series he made called Hidden Secrets of Silicon Valley. There were two parts, the first on the effects of AI on business and employment, the second on the effect on politics.

The latter issue has since blown up bigtime, with Carole Cadwalladr’s investigation for the Guardian and Observer into the nefarious activities of Cambridge Analytica, Vote Leave and BeLeave in the EU referendum campaign. Jamie gets ahead of the game, exposing the contribution of CA and Facebook to the Trump presidential campaign, featuring a characteristically evasive and obfuscating interview with Alexander Nix, and an interview with the woman who ran Project Alamo, responsible for using the personal ‘preferences’ (i.e. psychographic) data extracted by Daniel Kazinski (interview with him, too) from Facebook clicks and ‘likes’.

The first programme considers the effects of Silicon Valley’s concentration of creative talent and venture capital, and the capacity to ‘disrupt’ (key word – remember Tony Seba on electric vehicles?) existing industrial, commercial and social models, with supposedly (and possibly genuinely) benign motives, but questions how benign the effects may turn out to be. Uber and AirBnB receive not unqualified approval.

Both programmes are, imho, excellent, and I am reluctant to offer any recommendation for which one we use. Both will be available, so perhaps we could decide on the night by, say, a referendum. What could possibly go wrong?

 

When?
Thursday, August 16 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
None

What's the talk about?

Traditionally, due to everyone being busy with holidays, we don't have a meeting this month.

The Non-Believing Religious Studies Teacher

Kevin Precious

When?
Thursday, July 19 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Kevin Precious

What's the talk about?


Having previously performed at Bedford Skeptics in the Pub last year, Kevin Precious was very well received and we're delighted that he returns once more, honing his efforts in preparation for an Edinburgh Festival run. His Humanist perspective is welcome and his stories of teaching RE as a non-believer are right on target for a Skeptical audience.

Expect jokes and stories about teaching Religious Studies, being a Humanist, the God-Shaped Hole, little bits - here and there - relating to the Philosophy of Religion, and - ultimately - a suggestion that a secular approach to teaching the subject is the way forward.

Kevin has had something of a long and varied career, making his first tentative foray into the world of entertainment as a teenage bass playing dirt bag in the working men's clubs in his native city of Hull. Venturing South, he continued his musical adventures in the Big Smoke, playing in all manner of different outfits, the culmination of which saw him perform at the legendary Ronnie Scott's on a couple of occasions.

Kevin set up a 'Pop Quiz' in a trendy boozer in Camden, which rapidly became laden with celebrities and culminated in him being asked to organise and compere the NME's first national pop quiz. It was these events that would later inspire a move into comedy.

When?
Thursday, June 21 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
None

What's the talk about?

We’ve had the unfortunate news that our planned speaker for June, Sean Parker, on ‘Stammering and Creativity’, has been unavoidably detained. We have tried to find an alternative speaker, but at such short notice we have drawn a blank.

So we are offering the opportunity, to avoid staying in and watching the telly, to go out and watch the telly – but with the opportunity a have a drink.
 
Jonathan Meades has a very odd manner, but rarely fails to be provocative.  His latest foray, broadcast last week, was on ‘Jargon.’  The issue of the use of language has attained a pretty high profile of late, so we’ll be showing the programme, starting at 7.30pm.  After the interval we’ll have the opportunity to share among ourselves our own bêtes noires (funny that – Word supplied the circumflex accent, but then told me my adjective, perfectly agreeing in gender and number, was wrong.  Never trust AI!)

As a free bonus, since this is a pretty low-budget offering, the collection buckets will remain in the cellar.

Neil Woods

When?
Thursday, May 17 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Neil Woods

What's the talk about?

Neil Woods worked undercover on the streets of the U.K. infiltrating some of the nations most violent drug gangs. Facing regular violence and some near death experiences, he came to realise that things are not quite as we have been led to believe by decades of government and media presentation of drug policy.

Neil is now chairman of LEAP UK, and a board member of LEAP in the USA. This is an organisation of law enforcement officials that have realised that things have to change, and it is growing across the globe. In the U.K., members include former Chief Constables, barristers, magistrates, undercover police, prison guards and governors, MI5, and SAS. They campaign to reform our drug laws, but in order to do that, the public need to be informed about what is really going on.

Dr Martin Graff

When?
Thursday, April 19 2018 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Dr Martin Graff

What's the talk about?

There is much evidence that being in a good relationship can be beneficial to our health, happiness and general well-being. However, should we resort to online dating in the pursuit of a happy relationship? Research would seem to suggest that online dating may not be the easy answer.

This talk focuses on the reasons why we should be cautious in our online dating pursuits. For example, people make bad decisions in online dating. Furthermore, those we contact are often not what they appear to be. Additionally, there is no evidence that the algorithms employed by dating sites and which purport to match us with a desirable partner actually work in reality.

Finally, this talk will conclude with some information on how to maximize our chances in an online dating environment.

Dr Martin Graff is Reader in Psychology at the University of South Wales, UK, an associate fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Chartered Psychologist. He has researched cognitive processes in web-based learning, the formation and dissolution of romantic relationships online and offline, online persuasion and disinhibition. He has written over 50 scientific articles, published widely in the field of Internet behaviour, and presented his work at numerous International Conferences. He writes for Psychology Today magazine and regularly speaks at events in the UK and Internationally.