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Ash Pryce

When?
Thursday, May 24 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

35 Rosemount Viaduct
City Centre, Aberdeen AB25 1NE

Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

Since early man with his rattles and whistles first read the entrails of a rabid mule, people have thought it possible to see into the future.  You can predict certain things based on trends, but an all seeing third eye with aspirations of being the new Nostradamus is not a reality.  However, it is almost impossible to walk through a busy town centre without seeing adverts for tarot readers and psychics who can tell you what’s in your future- using my own prediction ability I see a loss of about £10 in the future of anyone deciding to engage with a bit of pub tarot.

Learn about the ages old palmistry, how the runes can affect your life, take part in an interactive gameshow to discover if Nostradamus got anything right at all and compare alleged supernatural prophecy with some prediction based magic trickery.

So join us as we attempt to unravel the mysteries of predicting the future, from phrenology to crystal gazing- feeling your bumps and playing with balls if you will-  this show will use humour and audience participation to investigate prophecy.  Is there anything to it or is it all just bunk? (hint: it’s probably the latter.  Not that I’m psychic or anything).
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Ash Pryce is the founder of the Edinburgh Skeptics Society.  He has acted as a co-producer for Skeptics on the Fringe- probably the biggest free skeptical event in the world which in 2010 played to around 2000 people.  In 2009 he created the world’s first exclusively sceptical ghost walk as a response to the vast number of ghost tours in Edinburgh.  He has developed theatrical séances for private and public groups and regularly writes a column on myths and the supernatural for the website The Twentyfirst Floor.

He studied Performing Arts in Leicester and runs Chimaera Productions, a small independent theatre company as well as being a playwright and award winning director.


Sometimes he likes to sit on the beach and watch crabs fight each other.

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Professor William G. Naphy

When?
Thursday, April 12 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

35 Rosemount Viaduct
City Centre, Aberdeen AB25 1NE

Who?
Professor William G. Naphy

What's the talk about?

In the West, non-normative gender identification is often understood in the context of ‘sexuality’ or transgender/transsexuality which largely consider the entire issue within the context of binary genders where gender (as socially constructed) maps directly onto biology.  Many other cultures, both now and throughout history, have taken a radically different approach which posits multiple genders (usually with 3 genders but occasionally more).  This talk will look as these cultures and consider whether their approach might inform modern debates about identity and sexuality.

Professor Naphy received his doctorate (in Reformation History) from the University of St Andrews in 1993.  He was appointed a lecturer at the University of Manchester in 1993 and, in 1996, at Aberdeen where he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 1999.  He was awarded a personal chair in 2007.  He is the author of six books with translations into six languages (including an up-coming translation into Bosnian for an NGO raising awareness of homosexuality in Bosnia) as well as numerous edited volumes and articles in scholarly journals.  
He has made frequent appearances in the media (Channel 4; Grampian TV; BBC-Scotland; BBC-Radio 4: Start the Week) as a specialist on the history of witchcraft, plague, and sexuality.  He contributed extensively to the media in the discussions surrounding the Kirk's position on gay ministers.  Most recently he was the historical consultant for Out in the World, a four-part series on the history of sexuality broadcast on Radio 3 last Autumn.
He is a leading authority on Calvin's Geneva during the sixteenth century as well as the history of crime and punishment in the early modern period.  He also is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. 
 

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Aberdeen Skeptics in the Pub abd BCS

Nir Oren

When?
Thursday, March 29 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

35 Rosemount Viaduct
City Centre, Aberdeen AB25 1NE

Who?
Nir Oren

What's the talk about?

The first question I'll attempt to address is why a computer scientist is in any position to discuss democracy. With last year's dismal failure of AV, together with the discussion of various other alternatives (e.g. FPTP, AV+), I'll examine what links these different approaches to representation, and investigate which system works "best" (the answer is none of the above). After providing this rather depressing answer, I'll look at why, and what can be done with this major limitation. Following this, I hope to discuss how new technologies such as the internet can aid or hinder the democratic process.

Nir Oren is a lecturer in Computing Science at the University of Aberdeen. His main research interests revolve around practical reasoning (i.e. reasoning how to act). He has published in the areas of argumentation theory; normative reasoning and computational trust, and is interested in game theory, computational logic, machine learning, computer game playing and pretty much anything else AI related. When not working, he can be found playing go, running, cycling, swimming, climbing, or trying to pick up another hobby.

BCS is the chartered institute for IT.  The Aberdeen branch host talks and events throughout the year, which are generally free and also open to non-members.  For more information go to : http://aberdeen.bcs.org/

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National Science and Engineering Week Special

When?
Thursday, March 15 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

35 Rosemount Viaduct
City Centre, Aberdeen AB25 1NE

Who?

What's the talk about?

Skeptics in the pub, the regular relaxed and friendly pub discussion on all things sceptical, teams up this year with Bring Your Own Brain to explore the most powerful computer of all - our incredible brain! Speakers will include a mix of researchers from different disciplines who study the brain in different ways, from psychology to biochemistry.

Dr Alexandra Johnstone, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen

When?
Tuesday, February 28 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

35 Rosemount Viaduct
City Centre, Aberdeen AB25 1NE

Who?
Dr Alexandra Johnstone, Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, University of Aberdeen

What's the talk about?

With the increasing obesity epidemic comes the search for the 'magic bullet' cure for weight loss.

Weight loss is easy in theory, energy intake needs to be less than energy expenditure, but in practice this is difficult to achieve. There are lots of myths surrounding weight loss and these will be discussed.

One of my fabourite sayings is, "I'm not overweight I just have large bones" in the style of Garfield the cartoon cat. I am looking forward to discussing topical weight loss diets and current research themes.

 

Rev Jim Simpson

When?
Tuesday, January 31 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

35 Rosemount Viaduct
City Centre, Aberdeen AB25 1NE

Who?
Rev Jim Simpson

What's the talk about?

Employed by NHS Grampian with lead responsibility for mental health, based in Royal Cornhill Hospital, Aberdeen, duties include supporting patients and carers, helping front line staff, and continuing research.
 

I will be talking about my role within NHS Grampian. As part of the multi-disciplinary team chaplains complement the work done by medical practitioners and provide opportunities to explore beliefs, values and what motivates, individuals and society. With a wide variety of backgrounds patients present with different conditions and behaviours, although these are important, I am interested in helping them make sense of what is happening to them. It’s a person-centred, existential, exploration that I would define as spiritual care. For some it may include religious rites and ritual but for the majority it’s the all too human search for meaning.
 

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Guest Speaker from Edinburgh Skeptics

Keir Liddle

When?
Thursday, November 24 2011 at 7:30PM

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Where?

35 Rosemount Viaduct
City Centre, Aberdeen AB25 1NE

Who?
Keir Liddle

What's the talk about?

Psychology is an oft misunderstood and misused science and there are many myths and misconceptions about it in popular culture. Whether it’s claims that we only use 10% of our brain or that IQ tests are biased there are  many areas in which the academic science of psychology is cut adrift from the public’s understanding of the subject. These common misconceptions have also helped give rise to all manner of oddities that thrive under the banner of “popular psychology”. From self help to facilitated communication this talk will aim to address many of these odd notions from a skeptical viewpoint and hopefully clear up some of what is and what isn’t myth in psychology.

 
Keir Liddle is a psychology graduate and PhD student. He has been a skeptic for many years now and helps organise Edinburgh and Stirling Skeptics. He writes for and edits the twenty-first floor blog (www.thetwentyfirstfloor.com)  and once had the bright idea of bringing scepticism to the masses via the method of a free festival (Skeptics on the Fringe has now had two successful runs and plans are underway for a third).

 

Dr Kevin Smith

When?
Thursday, October 27 2011 at 7:30PM

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Where?

35 Rosemount Viaduct
City Centre, Aberdeen AB25 1NE

Who?
Dr Kevin Smith

What's the talk about?

 Seasoned sceptics will be aware of the delusional nature of homeopathy, a 'therapeutic' modality based on the absurd notion that absent molecules, removed by dilution, can nonetheless exert biological effects. The idea that homeopathy has any scientific validity represents a fringe viewpoint, one not entertained by serious scientists nor supported by reason and evidence.

The science-based objections to homeopathy have been well-rehearsed - albeit to little avail, as homeopathy appears to be intact despite decades of reasoned objections from scientists and skeptics. However, the ethical implications of homeopathy have been less well explored. It is important to consider homeopathy from an ethical perspective: there are serious negative outcomes associated with homeopathy in terms of both its practice and promulgation. A utilitarian analysis leads to the conclusion that homeopathy is ethically unacceptable and ought to be actively rejected by all agents who encounter it, including physicians, healthcare professionals and educators.

In these straitened times, it is particularly unacceptable that NHS funds are afforded to homeopathy. For example, Glasgow has an NHS-funded 'homeopathic hospital', courtesy of NHS largesse. Another example: last year Ninewells hospital in Dundee advertised for a 'homeopathic doctor' (salary up to £68k for 8 hours/week). The expenditure of scarce public healthcare resources on pseudoscientific 'medicine' is ethically indefensible.

Kevin Smith is a bioethicist and scientist (genetics). Earlier this year his paper 'Against Homeopathy - A Utilitarian Perspective' was published in the prominent journal Bioethics. Publication was met with approval from several scientists and skeptics worldwide - and strong condemnation and vigorous repudiation by homeopathic ideologues.

Peter Harrison

When?
Thursday, September 8 2011 at 7:30PM

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Where?

35 Rosemount Viaduct
City Centre, Aberdeen AB25 1NE

Who?
Peter Harrison

What's the talk about?

 

An oneironaut, or lucid dreamer, is someone who can deliberately remain consciously awake during a dream and is completely aware of the situation. With the release of Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Inception, lucid dreaming has once again been thrown into the public eye. The topic is surrounded by myths, misunderstandings, and controversy. Most communities focusing on lucid dreaming consist of individuals interested in unlocking their psychic potential, or meeting their spirit guides. For this reason, many people associate lucid dreaming with the supernatural. What many people (skeptics included) do not realise is that the existence of lucid dreaming has been well established by scientists all over the world and is actively studied in many universities and scientific establishments. This is a fascinating scientific topic, unfortunately often lumped together with irrational supernatural beliefs.

Peter Harrison is a science graduate, a magic/mentalism consultant, and a highly successful lucid dreamer. But unlike so many of his fellow oneironaughts, he’s an active skeptic and interested in the science behind the phenomenon. This talk covers the reality of lucid dreaming, the scientific evidence and experiments in this interesting field, and the abundant myths and misunderstandings.

 

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Dr Jonathan Pettitt

When?
Thursday, August 25 2011 at 7:30PM

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Where?

35 Rosemount Viaduct
City Centre, Aberdeen AB25 1NE

Who?
Dr Jonathan Pettitt

What's the talk about?

Since the beginning of the Enlightenment, our understanding of what makes us human has changed dramatically: from having a unique place in God’s creation, we are now “nothing but mammals”, our characteristics determined, in large part, by our genes. The news media run stories of “My genes made me do it!”, or announce the discovery of a “new gene for” a particular human behavioural trait, such as ruthlessness, commitment-phobia, or a risk-taking. Neuroscience, too, has thrown light upon the biological basis of human nature, locating previously nebulous human traits, such as love, to specific areas of the brain; even suggesting that free will itself is an illusion. Unsurprisingly, many people reject this apparently deterministic view of ourselves, and in doing so retreat back from a rational view of humanity. In this talk Dr Jonathan Pettitt (University of Aberdeen) will give an account of how science has brought us to this apparently “bleak” view of ourselves, exploring how the difficulties with materialistic accounts of human nature are due to the inherently hierarchical nature of biology.
 

Quackery and managerialism endanger a noble enterprise

Prof. David Colquhoun

When?
Thursday, July 7 2011 at 7:30PM

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Where?

35 Rosemount Viaduct
City Centre, Aberdeen AB25 1NE

Who?
Prof. David Colquhoun

What's the talk about?

The culture of managerialism that has engulfed universities has nit only disenfranchised academics but it has led to the sort of abandonment of academic values that are manifested in the publish--or-perish mentality, the "impact agenda",  the substitution of PR for genuine public engagement  and the awarding of degrees in what can only de described as voodoo and black magic.
 A huge industry has grown up that has the aim of selling to a gullible public, medicines that don't work. Their sales method are very much like those of the pharmaceutical industry at its worst, but at least some of the latter's products work. .  Some universities still offer "BSc (hons)" degrees in this sort of quackery, though many have stopped when what is actually taught on the degrees has been revealed with the help of the Freedom of Information act.  The fact that such degrees have been accredited and validated by the university and by the QAA shows the utter uselessness if these procedures as a guarantee of quality.  That sort of doublethink endangers science as a whole.  It is that sort of doublethink which allows Research Councils to insist on statements about the impact of your research before it has even begun.. That is every bit as much government-sponsored lying as the offering of degrees in homeopathy.

Professor Pete Smith

When?
Thursday, June 23 2011 at 7:30PM

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Where?

35 Rosemount Viaduct
City Centre, Aberdeen AB25 1NE

Who?
Professor Pete Smith

What's the talk about?

The term “climate skeptic” has come to mean somebody who doesn’t believe in human induced climate change (and who believes it has all been dreamed up by the liberal left to push forward a politically-driven environmentalist agenda). This seems entirely wrong. In my opinion, the sceptics’ attention should be on the large and powerful vested interests in the fossil fuel industries who wish to portray climate change as nonsense, so that we continue to burn their fossil fuels far into the future. The thing I am most sceptical about in the climate change field, is whether we can move forward fast enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions, with these powerful bodies so close to the power!

I tend not to believe something until I have seen evidence for its existence. Having spent the last 15 years looking at the evidence concerning human-induced climate change, I am in no doubt that it is real, and that it is a serious threat to the planet. I will present these (compelling!) arguments during the meeting.
 
I am looking forward to a healthy debate and bit of banter with the Skeptics in the Pub on this topic on 23rd June 2011.
 
Pete is a Professor at the University of Aberdeen, his main areas of expertise are in modelling greenhouse gas / carbon mitigation, bio-energy for fossil fuel offsets, and biological carbon sequestration. He is co-leader with Dr Jo Smith of the Environmental Modelling Group. http://www.abdn.ac.uk/biologicalsci/staff/details/pete.smith
 
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