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... 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.
 

Paul Duncan McGarrity

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

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Paul Duncan McGarrity

What's the talk about?

Well, they always said that the best jokes are the old ones, so why not ask an archaeologist?

An archaeologist and comedian (same person, Paul Duncan McGarrity) sits in a room and answers your questions on any subject as honestly as possible. Could be rude, probably crude. Be prepared to talk candidly with the protection of context.

'Like a very tall, funny, excited child' (Scotsman)

Dr John Betts

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

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Dr John Betts

What's the talk about?

Mankind has been able to utilise biology to manufacture a range of products; Dr Betts will be discussing how these applications have developed in complexity as our understanding of biology has advanced

John currently works at Sartorius Stedim Biotech in Royston (formerly TAP Biosystems) as a product development scientist working on novel, small scale robotic solutions for use in biopharmaceutical research and development.

Why is Veganism becoming increasingly popular?

James Peter Jandu

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

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
James Peter Jandu

What's the talk about?

It is probably a very approriate time, this close after Xmas, when most people will be feeling like they've over indulged in the Turkey, Goose, Beef or whatever (and assisted by a good helping of alcohol) to review what it is we eat. An awful lot of people give up the alcohol at this time of year, so should we maybe consider giving up meat too?

The modern vegan movement is more than just a trend that will phase out. It's a movement that shows no signs of diminishing in size or strength. Is veganism the future?

James Peter Jandu is an author, documentary and video producer, but has a varied history: he travelled for two decades as a fundamentalist Christian preacher.  As an author, speaker and online radio host he was interviewed numerous times on Christian TV. He also pastored a Church for ten years. For seven years he organised an annual three day Church workers and Leaders conference in Kerala, South India attended by hundreds.

Today his work reaches out to fundamentalists within religious circles, including Muslim, Hindi, with an emphasis on Christian fundamentalists. He believes religions should be revamped to be more inclusive and sensitive to modern society by re-examining why they believe what they believe and endeavour to better understand their scriptures by viewing them through rational lenses.

When?
Thursday, December 21 2017 at 12:00AM

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Where?

Who?

What's the talk about?

For obvious reasons, we have no meeting this month. Here's wishing you all a peaceful and relaxing break and we look forward to seeing you again in the new year.

The secret world of the Internet

Jamie Bartlett

When?
Thursday, November 16 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

60 Roff Avenue
Bedford MK41 7TW

Who?
Jamie Bartlett

What's the talk about?

Beyond the familiar online world that most of us inhabit -  a world of Google, Hotmail, Facebook and Amazon - lies a vast and often hidden network of sites, communities and cultures where freedom is pushed to it limits, and where people can be anyone, or do anything, they want. A world that is as creative and complex as it is dangerous and disturbing. A world that is much closer than you think.

The dark net is an underworld that stretches from popular social media sites to the most secretive corners of the encrytped web. It is a world that frequently appears in newspaper headlines, but one that is little understood, and rarely explored. The Dark Net is a revelatory examination of the internet today, and of its most innovative and dangerous subcultures: trolls and pornographers, drug dealers and hackers, political extremists and computer scientists, Bitcoin programmers and self-harmers, libertarians and vigilantes.

Based on extensive first hand experience, exclusive interviews and shocking documentary evidence, The Dark Net offers a startling glimpse of human nature under the conditions of freedom and anonymity, and shines a light on an enigmatic and ever-changing world.

Jamie is Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the think-tank Demos. His primary research interests are: new political movements and social media research and analysis, internet cultures and security and privacy online. His book The Dark Net was shortlisted for The Political Award and longlisted for The Orwell Prize.

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