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Elliot George

When?
Thursday, November 2 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-41 Bedford Street,
Middlehaven,
Middlesbrough
TS1 2LL

http://www.oconnellspub.co.uk/

Who?
Elliot George

What's the talk about?

Remember when airliner MH370 disappeared?  Experts on the news said, "Until we have some kind of evidence, it's very difficult to say anything".  Similarly, until evidence for a God arrives, the default position of no evidence for a god remains in place. Some people claim that there is a god, but we are currently in a situation of ignorance regarding their god-hypothesis.  So mankind is in a god-free zone where god has not yet been demonstrated to exist. In fact there has naver been any credible evidence for the existence of any god (unlike MH370, the exitence of which was once very evident), so we must have always been god-free in the past. We are also fairy-free and goblin-free.

Of course if someone does invent a way of investigating this "supernatural realm", it will instantly become part of the natural realm simply by virtue of having been newly detected! [Believers] won't want that to happen, it would be the end of the "supernatural god", wouldn't it. A boring natural god with influence in our world?

This is where "Intelligent Design" comes in.  Members will probably remember the case put forward last year by Jonathan McLatchie.

Evidence for a god with influence in the natural world?  If religious people have found, as they claim, that there is evidence of god's work on earth then it can be examined by non-believers.  Intelligent Design has been examined extensively by non-believers and the result will be presented on Thursday.

Elliot George is the pen-name of a retired science teacher living in the UK.  He writes anti-theistic articles and books in an attempt to help people shake off harmful myths.  His books are available through www.patreon.com where you can also contribute to his writing by becoming a Patron.

 

Beyond The Potemkin Illusion

Robin Tudge

When?
Thursday, October 5 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-41 Bedford Street,
Middlehaven,
Middlesbrough
TS1 2LL

http://www.oconnellspub.co.uk/

Who?
Robin Tudge

What's the talk about?

North Korea: Beyond the Potemkin Illusion. 

 

Tourism in North Korea is nearly always decried as a grand exercise in fooling gullible foreigners, with visitors seeing nothing but gold in a gilded gulag of bombs and famine. North Korea tour leader Robin Tudge shows what really can be seen on a tour and how it challenges the West’s narrative about this country.

 

Robin Tudge is a writer, author and tour leader in North Korea. He is now taking a degree in paramedic practice.

A Double Bill

Alan Peyton & Vincent Richardson/Paul Duncan McGarrity

When?
Thursday, September 7 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-41 Bedford Street,
Middlehaven,
Middlesbrough
TS1 2LL

http://www.oconnellspub.co.uk/

Who?
Alan Peyton & Vincent Richardson/Paul Duncan McGarrity

What's the talk about?

Since money was invented there have been many ways to use it and try to control it to the benefit of all, sometimes.   Whichever way has been chosen it has seemingly led to cycles of boom and bust and many instances of inflation, deflation, corruption and fraud.  Banks tend to lend money so that assets can be bought (such as housing) whilst neglecting areas of true growth with more risk.  Economics recognises the frailties of the current system but seems completely helpless in finding any changes needed that haven't been tried before.  What can be done?

Alan Peyton and Vincent Richardson are at the forefront of a movement that has some ideas about what can be done and will both be here to explain Positive Money.

 

Vincent Richardson

 

Systems and Management BSc with honours at City University London,

2 years retail management with the Littlewoods organisation;

11 years running own retail business;

21 years running a hotel;

5 years supporting/running Positive Money organisation in the North East.

 

Vincent has always had a keen interest in economics since his days at University. After the 2008 crash he experienced first hand the hardships that bank-led recessions can cause businesses and the wider society. Researching the problem he discovered Positive Money who impressed him with their analysis of the circumstances leading to the crash and more importantly had positive solutions as to how we can stop it happening again,which undoubtedly will happen at some point. He was so motivated as to want to become an active supporter and help educate others as to what happened and how we can put this right.

 

Alan Peyton

BSc Mech Engineering 1970

Open University BA degree in 1978 (interdisciplinary but mainly science based with emphasis on Geology)

 

Alan worked in engineering until 1988 when he had his first interface and confrontation with the finance industry, resulting from deregulation of that sector.  He switched to Business Analysis & Consultancy after an MBA in 1990 and gained a Common Entrance qualification in Law in 1991.  After extensive work in dealing with banks & finance he eventually retired in 2008.

He was NOT to blame for the crash – the timing was merely coincidental!

Paul Duncan McGarrity - Ask an Archeologist

Our special guest comedian arrives fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe.  His show does what it says in the title.  Paul sits in front of an audience of Skeptics and answers questions.  Most audiences tend to ask about work in the field but other questions have been on Brexit, Time travel and knitting patterns.

Woven around these queries Paul dishes the dirt on what really goes on in the trenches.  Topics covered include the dating techniques of Vikings, the awkward truth behind the death of Richard III and Shakespeare's laddish side.

 

 

Are They Harmless Fun?

Dr Daniel Jolley

When?
Thursday, August 3 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-41 Bedford Street,
Middlehaven,
Middlesbrough
TS1 2LL

http://www.oconnellspub.co.uk/

Who?
Dr Daniel Jolley

What's the talk about?

Conspiracy theories are associated with almost every significant social and political event, such as the suggested theory that the U.S. government orchestrated the 9/11 attacks, that the U.K Government murdered Diana, Princess of Wales, or that the pharmaceutical industry deliberately conceals the harmful side-effects of vaccines to ensure that they are able to make a profit.

Beliefs in these type of conspiracy theories are blooming in the 21st century; millions of people subscribe to them.  A basic understanding of logic, rationality, and probability tell us, however, that most of these conspiracy claims are probably false. So why then do so many people believe them? What makes them so attractive and compelling to certain people? And, anyway, what’s the problem, aren’t they just harmless fun?

Until recently, psychologists have not explored these questions in great depth but today the psychology of conspiracy theories is flourishing.   In this talk, Daniel will provide a brief overview of what we have learned so far about why people subscribe to conspiracy theories, before uncovering some of the potentially damaging consequences of conspiracy theories; maybe they are not just harmless after all.  

BIOGRAPHY

Dr Daniel Jolley is a Lecturer in Psychology at Staffordshire University.  He is a Chartered Psychologist of the British Psychological Society, where he is a member of the Executive Committee of the Social Psychology Section and a Committee Member of the Research Board.   

Daniel’s main area of research is the psychology of conspiracy theories. He is particularly interested in using experimental methods to examine the social consequences of exposure to conspiracy theories and has co-authored articles in outlets such as PLoSONE, the British Journal of Psychology and Political Psychology.  

Daniel blogs at conspiracypsychology.com and tweets @DrDanielJolley 

 

John Cossham

When?
Thursday, July 6 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-41 Bedford Street,
Middlehaven,
Middlesbrough
TS1 2LL

http://www.oconnellspub.co.uk/

Who?
John Cossham

What's the talk about?

John Cossham FRSA is a campaigner, sustainability activist and entertainer who co-founded Frack-Free York in 2011.

He won the Oxfam Carbon Footprint competition in 2008 with the lowest in the UK, and is passionate about compost, polyamory, bicycles and Near Term Human Extinction.

His talk covers unconventional gas extraction and climate change, and promises to be both interesting and entertaining. 

Brian Eggo

When?
Thursday, June 1 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-41 Bedford Street,
Middlehaven,
Middlesbrough
TS1 2LL

http://www.oconnellspub.co.uk/

Who?
Brian Eggo

What's the talk about?

Every December a string of ‘psychics’ across the world use their clairvoyant powers to make predictions for the coming year, with varying degrees of success. In this talk Brian Eggo from Glasgow Skeptics will take a look at things a little closer to home. What type of predictions have Scottish psychics made in the past? What did they think was in store for us in 2016? Will they be willing to go on the record? He will also make a bold attempt to recreate the recreation of ‘The Hurkos Experiment’ – prepare to be underwhelmed!

Brian is the main organiser and primary mouthpiece of Glasgow Skeptics. As such, he has an unhealthy interest in the equally amusing and frustrating realms of woo & pseudoscience. This has caused him to spend way too much of his own money on the type of things he encourages other people not to spend their money on. He occasionally dabbles in skeptical activism when prompted, and has been known to make some awful puns on podcasts. His day job is in Training & Development, which explains a lot.

Ian Glendinning

When?
Thursday, May 4 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-41 Bedford Street,
Middlehaven,
Middlesbrough
TS1 2LL

http://www.oconnellspub.co.uk/

Who?
Ian Glendinning

What's the talk about?

Ian Glendinning - Elaborating on the 5 minute Open Mike slot from last August:
"Me and My Free Will - Consciousness is as real as you are."
 
Materialist science has a hard time explaining consciousness and almost by definition cannot explain our subjective experience of it. And, even when it tries, it remains just as hard to account for how our subjective "will" can really affect the physical world. The problem is as old as philosophy itself, most famously exposed during the Enlightenment by Descartes's dualism and dubbed simply "The Hard Problem" in the late 20th century. So hard that many scientists and philosophers have concluded in all seriousness that Consciousness and Free Will must be illusions, that they are simply not real.
 
Evolutionary philosopher Dan Dennett has spent as much time working on this as anyone to date, and his latest book "From Bacteria to Bach and Back" is probably as good as it gets.
 
Surprisingly, in addition to providing the best explanation of consciousness so far as our "User Interface", perhaps the most significant conclusion from Dennett's latest, is the question it throws upon what makes for a good "scientific explanation".
 
Science finds itself under examination.
 

Ed Atkinson

When?
Thursday, April 13 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-41 Bedford Street,
Middlehaven,
Middlesbrough
TS1 2LL

http://www.oconnellspub.co.uk/

Who?
Ed Atkinson

What's the talk about?

Burning carbon must be driven from our cheap-energy economy on a global scale - and soon - to stop a looming disaster. But is there a workable way to drive out Carbon? If nations, corporations or individuals ‘do the right thing’ and burn less carbon won’t that just make coal, oil and gas cheaper for everyone else? Just how cheap does installing new solar need to be to make it cheaper than turning on the valves in the Saudi oil fields?

It is easy to lose hope that change is possible, especially in Trump-World. The USA is the key to change and a group originating in the US 'Citizens Climate Lobby’ (CCL) is doing well there (including with Republicans). They advocate a policy of a Carbon Fee which is all used to make a Dividend to the populace, thus making for a policy that is effective and politically attractive (most people are made better off). There really is hope.

In this talk a representative from CCL, Ed Atkinson, will outline the policy options and their merits. He’ll include Cap & Trade, subsidising renewables and efficiency measures, divestment, Carbon Taxes and its variant the CCL policy of Carbon Fee and Dividend. Ed will be delighted to get awkward questions on these policy issues leading to discussion in the SitP group. The science of climate change will not be covered.

 

Ed's bio: My background is in international development. I was a Senior Scientist at the former government research lab 'HR Wallingford' where I worked on water resources issues in Africa and Asia

Sam Hogarth

When?
Thursday, April 6 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-41 Bedford Street,
Middlehaven,
Middlesbrough
TS1 2LL

http://www.oconnellspub.co.uk/

Who?
Sam Hogarth

What's the talk about?

Social media is struggling with an epidemic. Fake news spreads like a virus, with its ludicrous claims and compelling headlines. Some claim it cost Hillary Clinton the Presidency.  Some say it has encouraged Britain to drastically alter it's political future. Others think it's just a bunch of opportunists running get-rich-quick schemes.

In a "post-truth" world, where we've had enough of experts and can prove anything with facts(?); what challenges must we address in order to combat fake news?  As a Skeptic community, how does this affect us?

Sam is a software developer, Labour Party campaigner and co-organiser of Newcastle Skeptics in the Pub.   As the proverbial intersection on the techno-politi-skeptical Venn diagram, he can provide an interesting confluence of perspectives and guide us through the murky maze of fake news. Alas, the answers to this problem are ours to decide. We're a group, let's work it out together.


 

This is a free event, however donations on the door would be greatly appreciated in order to cover running costs. 

Kevin Precious

When?
Thursday, March 2 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-41 Bedford Street,
Middlehaven,
Middlesbrough
TS1 2LL

http://www.oconnellspub.co.uk/

Who?
Kevin Precious

What's the talk about?

In between the various comedic activites, Kevin Precious attends his local humanist group - he's an agnostic, folks - where he loves a good old debate about the big questions in life. 

 

Expect jokes and stories then, about his time as an RE teacher, being a humanist, the God-Shaped Hole, and the philosophy of religion... and you can ask him a few questions of your own afterwards, if you wish.

 

Kevin Precious is a former RE teacher turned stand-up comedian and promoter.  Besides having played many of the top clubs in the land, he also promotes shows in arts centres and theatres under the Barnstormers Comedy banner. He has previously toured the country with a stand-up show entitled 'Not Appropriate', dedicated to the business of teaching.

Denis McEoin

When?
Thursday, February 2 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-41 Bedford Street,
Middlehaven,
Middlesbrough
TS1 2LL

http://www.oconnellspub.co.uk/

Who?
Denis McEoin

What's the talk about?

Denis McEoin states:

"The talk will argue that scientific evidence for homeopathy is at an increasingly high level, with more than one Nobel Prize-winning scientist researching and confirming its usefulness and scientific basis.

This will be in a context that argues for the existence of bias and prejudice in many parts of the scientific and medical establishments. He will approach this as a pro-science rationalist and will draw in part on his own extensive academic experience studying religious fundamentalism.

Denis comes from a long career in scepticism, but one in which he is not merely sceptical about religious and supernatural claims, but also sceptical of the actual practice of science (something well demonstrated by Kuhn’s theory of paradigm shifts, in which established scientists reject new ideas that do not conform to their own understanding).

Denis will also refer to Harry Collins’s direct observations of the problem of replication in science, as set out in his classic text, Changing Order".

 
Denis was born in Belfast in 1949. MA in English, Trinity College, Dublin (1971); MA (1st class) in Persian, Arabic and Islamic History, Edinburgh University (1975); PhD in Persian Studies, Cambridge, King’s College (1979).
 
He taught Arabic-English translation at Mohammed V University, Fez, Morocco. Taught Arabic and Islamic Studies, Newcastle University; Hon orally Fellow, Centre for Middle East and Islamic Studies, Durham University; editor of the Middle East Quarterly (Philadelphia); Distinguished Senior Fellow, the Gatestone Institute, New York; council member of Scholars for Peace in there Middle East; member of Middle East Study Group, Hull University.
 
Denis is an author of 40 books and hundreds of articles. I won’t bore you with my interests in music, literature, or film. He was at one point Chairman of the UK Natural Medicines Society. He is married to a homeopath.

Graham Smith

When?
Thursday, January 5 2017 at 7:30PM

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Where?

29-41 Bedford Street,
Middlehaven,
Middlesbrough
TS1 2LL

http://www.oconnellspub.co.uk/

Who?
Graham Smith

What's the talk about?

Many myths and legends are generated by newspapers, news magazines, TV News and the all-pervading Internet.

How can newspapers be read in such a way that the myths and legends can be by-passed and using critical thinking, the message closer to the truth be found?

Dr Graham Smith is Co-organiser York Skeptics and Head of Wildlife Epidemiology and Modelling at the Animal and Plant Health Agency.  He has spent over 20 years working in scientific research for the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs collecting, analysing and interpreting data on wildlife problems