Hello and welcome to Lancaster Skeptics in the Pub. This is the home for all your information about upcoming SitP events in Lancaster.

If you have found your way here by accident, and are now wondering what a skeptic is, why we are proud to be skeptics, and whether you should probably just close your computer and back slowly away now, have a read of this.
 

To keep up to date and in touch you can join our mailing list, follow us @LanSkeptics or friend us on Facebook.

To find out more about the organisation, what we do, and our plans for the future, please see About Us.
 

Most importantly, the next speaker and confirmed line up for future events is available here. We are planning to meet once a month, normally on the first Wednesday. We have booked the upstairs bar at The Park Hotel, designed for spoken word and live music events, and with a bar in the room. This may vary due to availability, but we'll try to make that nice and clear when we depart from that norm.  

Dr Tom Williamson

When?
Wednesday, September 26 2012 at 8:00PM

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Where?

1 St. Oswald Street
Lancaster
Lancashire
LA1 3AS

Who?
Dr Tom Williamson

What's the talk about?

Dr Tom Williamson will present an introduction to the scientific method. This include how science gets done (including research and the peer review process), various scientific frauds and how the scientific method was used to uncover them. The talk includes a live demo of how seemingly meaningless data can be spun in favour of a chosen conclusion.

Tom graduated with a PhD in Systems Biology from the University of Manchester in June 2010, and was nominated for berst paper from a Manchester FLS postgrad that year. 

Tom is a humanist, skeptic and Norwich City fan. He writes the blog: Skeptic Canary

How PR Came to Rule Modern Journalism

Michael Marshall

When?
Wednesday, July 25 2012 at 8:00PM

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Where?

1 St. Oswald Street
Lancaster
Lancashire
LA1 3AS

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

 “You can’t believe everything you read in the papers.”

Everyone knows this, but few people realise this truism extends far beyond the celebrity pages and gossip columns, and spills into 'real' news. Here, the near-invisible influence of PR companies is often pivotal in deciding what news gets told, and how it gets reported.

By taking a brief look at the history of modern journalism, and using real examples taken from recent headlines, Michael Marshall will show why you really, really can’t believe everything you read in the papers.

Michael Marshall is the co-founder and vice-president of theMerseyside Skeptics Society, appears on the “Skeptics with a K”, and co-hosted the “Righteous Indignation” and “Strange Quarks” podcasts. Michael also headed up the nationally- and internationally-successful 10:23 Campaign against homeopathy, co-organises the QED conference and sporadically writes about the often-unsuspected role of PR in modern media. He was once described by Ben Goldacre as ‘a mighty nerd from Liverpool’. He was also once rather amusingly called a VERY rude word by self-proclaimed psychic Joe Power.

Mark Stevenson

When?
Monday, June 25 2012 at 8:15PM

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Where?

1 St. Oswald Street
Lancaster
Lancashire
LA1 3AS

Who?
Mark Stevenson

What's the talk about?

When unexpectedly confronted with his own mortality, Mark Stevenson - a writer, deep-thinker, and stand-up comedian - began to ponder what the future holds for our species.

 
Mark set out simply, asking "what's next?" and then travelled the globe in pursuit of the answers.
 
His voyage of discovery took him to Oxford to meet Transhumanists (they intend to live forever), to Boston where he confronted a robot with mood swings, to an underwater cabinet meeting in the Indian Ocean, and Australia to question the Outback's smartest farmer. He clambered around space planes in the Mojave desert, got to grips with the potential of nanotechnology, delved deep into the possibilities of biotech, saw an energy renaissance on a printer, a revolution in communications, had his genome profiled, glimpsed the next stage of human evolution ... and tried to make sense of what's in store.
 
http://anoptimiststourofthefuture.com/

Trailing Homeopaths in the Developing World

Martin Robbins

When?
Sunday, May 27 2012 at 8:00PM

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Where?

1 St. Oswald Street
Lancaster
Lancashire
LA1 3AS

Who?
Martin Robbins

What's the talk about?

 Martin Robbins, of the Guardian's Lay Science blog, reports on dangerous pseudo-medical practices outside the Western world, from homeopaths in East Africa to flat earthers and anti-vaccine campaigns in Nigeria.

As part of this talk, Martin will be showing video clips of his recent visits to homeopathic projects in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, shot for a film he is making with Michael Story, with support from the Wellcome Trust.

Martin Robbins is a writer, podcaster and journalist covering science, pseudoscience and evidence-based politics. Besides the Guardian, he has written for the Times, the Telegraph, the Independent and New Scientist. He also hosts the Strange Quarks podcast with Michael Marshall.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/layscience

Suw Charman-Anderson

When?
Wednesday, April 4 2012 at 8:00PM

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Where?

1 St. Oswald Street
Lancaster
Lancashire
LA1 3AS

Who?
Suw Charman-Anderson

What's the talk about?

More women now than ever are participating and succeeding in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) at all levels of education. They are outstripping men in even the 'hardest' sciences. Is this fairly reflected in the highest echelons of academia and industry? If not, why not? What can and should we do to support women in these areas?

Suw started Ada Lovelace Day three years ago, which has become an international celebration for women in STEM. The site is a repository for information about women, both historical and currently working, telling their stories, and the work they do. More than that, the organisation is looking to provide a set of resources to support women looking to get into these areas or advance once they are there.

Suw is also an author, having recently completed her first book, Argleton (available on Amazon and through her sites), which has met with acclaim.

Suw is a social software consultant and writer who specialises in the use of blogs and wikis behind the firewall. With a background in journalism, publishing and web design, Suw is now one of the UK's best known bloggers, frequently speaking at conferences and seminars. She was also a founding member of the Open Rights Group.

Her personal blog is Chocolate and Vodka, and she writes on Strange Attractors, a shared blog with Kevin Anderson, and she tweets as @suw.

Trystan Swale

When?
Wednesday, March 14 2012 at 8:00PM

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Where?

1 St. Oswald Street
Lancaster
Lancashire
LA1 3AS

Who?
Trystan Swale

What's the talk about?

It was the practical joke that conned the world. Two pensioners began flattening shapes into fields of corn, giving rise to one of the greatest mysteries of the past century - crop circles. Almost 21 years on from their admittance of guilt, the legacy of Doug Bower and Dave Chorley's prank remains. Trystan Swale takes you inside the dubious science associated with the phenomenon; the poor research, abuse of statistics and outlandish conclusions. And he questions just why some specialist publications continue to get it wrong.

Biography

Trystan Swale is a contemporary folklorist, and between 2004 and 2009 was an active member of two paranormal investigation teams in southern England. From his experiences with these organisations he developed his own rationalist approach to investigating anomalous phenomena. This has led him headlong into scrutinising claims of ghosts, unidentified flying objects, poltergeists, winged humanoids and out of place animals. Since 2005 he has contributed to publications including ‘The Big Cats in Britain Year Book’ and ‘Haunted Swindon’. In 2009 Trystan created the popular Righteous Indignation podcast to explore claims of the paranormal from a critical perspective. Trystan has also spoken at a range of events including 2011′s Seriously Strange conference, Cheltenham and Swindon paranormal festivals, Edinburgh Free Fringe, numerous Skeptics in the Pub meetings and QED Conference 2011.

Crispian Jago

When?
Wednesday, February 1 2012 at 8:00PM

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Where?

1 St. Oswald Street
Lancaster
Lancashire
LA1 3AS

Who?
Crispian Jago

What's the talk about?

Crispian Jago is one of the founding members of the Hampshire Skeptic Society, and co-founder & co-organiser of Winchester Skeptics in the Pub.

He was recently longlisted for the 2011 Orwell Prize for his satirical skeptic blog Science, Reason and Critical Thinking, where he "hurls ad hominem attacks at passing woo mongers and takes random pot shot at supernatural, paranormal and pseudoscientific bullshit."

How to Point and Laugh at Irrational Nonsense will review many of the topics covered in the Science, Reason and Critical Thinking blog over the past couple of years and ponder whether or not ridicule is an appropriate method for sceptical activism.

In his day job, Crispian is a freelance IT consultant specialising in the design and management of software test strategies in order to ensure the successful deployment of complex IT systems.

An Introduction to Anomalistic Psychology

Professor Chris French

When?
Wednesday, January 4 2012 at 8:00PM

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Where?

1 St. Oswald Street
Lancaster
Lancashire
LA1 3AS

Who?
Professor Chris French

What's the talk about?

Ever since records began, in every known society, a substantial proportion of the population has reported unusual experiences many of which we would today label as “paranormal”. Opinion polls show that the majority of the general public accepts that paranormal phenomena do occur. Such widespread experience of and belief in the paranormal can only mean one of two things. Either the paranormal is real, in which case this should be accepted by the wider scientific community which currently rejects such claims; or else belief in and experience of ostensibly paranormal phenomena can be fully explained in terms of psychological factors.

This presentation will provide an introduction to the sub-discipline of anomalistic psychology, which may be defined as the study of extraordinary phenomena of behaviour and experience, in an attempt to provide non-paranormal explanations in terms of known psychological and physical factors. This approach will be illustrated with examples relating to a range of ostensibly paranormal phenomena.

Professor Chris French is the Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths College, University of London (www.goldsmiths.ac.uk/apru). He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, as well as being a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the British False Memory Society. He has published over 100 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics within psychology. His main current area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims. He writes for The Skeptic and for the Guardian’s online science pages. Follow him on Twitter: @chriscfrench

Simon Perry

When?
Wednesday, December 7 2011 at 8:00PM

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Where?

1 St. Oswald Street
Lancaster
Lancashire
LA1 3AS

Who?
Simon Perry

What's the talk about?

Simon is an active campaigner against nonsense. Using the ASA, Trading Standards, other regulatory bodies and even gaining help from MPs, his campaigns have helped shut down dodgy allergy test services, prevented traditional chinese medicine salesmen from claiming to cure cancer and exposed psychic scams.

His largest involvement in a campaign, coined the "Quacklash" by Jack of Kent involved almost 600 separate letters being sent to trading standards to report claims to treat childhood diseases with a back rub. 60 of the letters gained 500 signatories. Further complaints were issued with the General Chiropractic Council.

Simon will be explaining the techniques he's used to fight woo, what works and what doesn't and tell stories about some of the crazy nonsense he's encountered along the way.

Simon runs Leicester Skeptics in the Pub, blogs at http://adventuresinnonsense.blogspot.com and writes a skeptical column in the Leicester Mercury. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Simon_Perry.
 

Matt Parker, The Standup Mathematician

When?
Wednesday, November 9 2011 at 8:00PM

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Where?

1 St. Oswald Street
Lancaster
Lancashire
LA1 3AS

Who?
Matt Parker, The Standup Mathematician

What's the talk about?

Did aliens help prehistoric Britons found the ancient Woolworth's civilization? Matt will look at how seemingly incredible results can actually be meaningless random patterns.

 Matt Parker is a highly enthusiastic Mathematician whose life goal is to make people more excited about Maths. Using a range of presentations and hands-on activities, he communicates Maths in a very engaging and entertaining way. Matt talks about Mathematics for organisations including the Royal Institution and the BBC and he was the People's Choice Award in the 2009 national Famelab competition. His favourite number was previously 496, and has recently been updated to 3435.

Ronald Green

When?
Wednesday, October 12 2011 at 8:00PM

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Where?

1 St. Oswald Street
Lancaster
Lancashire
LA1 3AS

Who?
Ronald Green

What's the talk about?

 Why should nothing matter? If anything matters, why should nothing matter? And yet it does, for there isn’t anything, it seems, that nothing does not touch, or anything that does not touch nothing. History, philosophy, religion, science, art, literature, music – all look towards nothing at some point, stimulating questions that would otherwise not be asked.


Who, for example, could have believed that nothing held back progress for 600 years in the Middle Ages, all because of mistaken translation, or that nothing is a way to tackle (and answer) the perennial question "what is art?"? Ronald Green uses nothing in a genuine attempt to look at the world in a different way, to give new angles to old problems and so to stimulate new thoughts.

What is this nothing, that we can’t actually see, touch or feel? Is it absolute? Is it relative to everything else? If we are able to think about it, write and read about it, is it something, and if so wouldn’t it then not be nothing?

This is precisely the mystery of nothing – that the more we think about it, the more there is to it.

Disarmingly invisible, the point of nothing – to paraphrase Bertrand Russell on philosophy – is to start with something so simple as to seem not worth examining, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.

Ronald Green is the author of "Nothing Matters – a book about nothing" (iff-Books). Philosopher, linguist, university lecturer and ESL teacher, with 13 ESL books published, Ronald has lectured and given workshops in Europe, North and South America and the Middle East on linguistics, ESL and the use of the Internet in education. His  short stories have been published in Nuvein magazine, Tryst, Aesthetica, the Sink and Unholy Biscuit. He has completed a philosophical novel and co-authored a psychological thriller with strong philosophical underpinnings. For the past five years he has been thinking seriously about nothing, culminating in his recently-published book.

Managerialism and quackery endanger a noble enterprise.

David Colquhoun

When?
Wednesday, September 7 2011 at 8:00PM

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Where?

14 Dalton Square
Lancaster,
England
LA1 1PL
01524 845 785

Who?
David Colquhoun

What's the talk about?

David Colquhoun, PhD, FRS, is a noted British pharmacologist. He held the A.J. Clark Chair of Pharmacology at the University College of London (UCL) from 1985 to 2004, Honorary Director of the Wellcome Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology, and is now is an Honorary Fellow (2004) and research assistant at UCL.

Since 2001, Dr Colquhoun has run DC’s Improbable Science, a wildly popular blog and website (with 2,209,000 hits) and Twitter account (with over 2600 followers). These sites are dedicated to critical assessment of various sorts of pseudoscience, such as “Alternative Medicine” and much managerialism and science fraud. Lately he has taken an interest in more general problems of inference in clinical trials, science policy, and science communication. He has been particularly critical of a number of United Kingdom universities that offer science degrees incorporating pseudoscientific courses such as homeopathy and acupuncture.

In December 2009, Dr Colquhoun won a freedom-of-information judgment, requiring the University of Central Lancashire to release details of their undergraduate course in homeopathy.

Dr Colquhoun is well known as author of Lectures in Biostatistics (Clarendon Press 1970; Oxford University Press, 1996). With statistician Alan G. Hawkes, he developed the stochastic theory needed for the interpretation of single-ion channel experiements, and the methods of maximum likelihood inference of mechanisms from experimental records with exact allowance for missed events. This has resulted in a series of experimental and theoretical papers about single-ion channel mechanisms. Besides UCL, Dr Colquhoun has worked at Yale University in America and at the University of Southampton.

Earning his PhD in 1964 at the University of Edinburgh, where he studied the binding of immunoglobins to lung tissue, Dr Colquhoun became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1985.