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The Science of Magic and Illusion

Dr Matt L.Tompkins

When?
Tuesday, March 17 2020 at 7:30PM

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Where?

38 West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185
Email: info@chichesterinn.co.uk
Website: www.chichesterinn.co.uk

Who?
Dr Matt L.Tompkins

What's the talk about?

Join Chichester Skeptics in the Pub at 19.30 on Tuesday 17th March to hear from Dr. Matt L. Tompkins on ‘Genuine Fake Miracles: The Science of Magic and Illusion’.


Is seeing believing? Is believing seeing? How can we hope to conduct experiments on things that only exist within our minds? This talk will feature a mixture of historical storytelling and magical scientific demonstrations to explore how scientists, past and present, have approached the study of illusion.

Matt will discuss how magic played a weird but fundamental role in the establishment of psychology as a scientific discipline, and how he and other contemporary researchers have been using magic tricks to create new experiments in order to investigate human memory, perception, and reasoning.

Dr. Matt L. Tompkins is a magician and experimental psychologist. He recently completed his doctorate at the University of Oxford, and he is the first member of the Magic Circle to have been admitted on the basis of a scientific publication. His new book ‘The Spectacle of Illusion’ explores the relationships between scientific researchers, magicians, and fraudulent mystics.

All are welcome — we look forward to an engaging and informative evening. Entry is £5.

Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories

Jason Thompson

When?
Tuesday, February 18 2020 at 7:30PM

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Where?

38 West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185
Email: info@chichesterinn.co.uk
Website: www.chichesterinn.co.uk

Who?
Jason Thompson

What's the talk about?

Join Chichester Skeptics in the Pub at 19.30 on Tuesday 18th February to hear from Jason Thompson on ‘One Small Step: Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories’.

In 1969 Neil Armstrong made 'one small step' into the history books, and eleven other men followed in his footsteps. Fifty years later, there are still some who believe the whole affair to be a conspiracy to fool the world into only believing we had been there. What evidence do they claim for this belief, and why should anyone wish to cast doubt on such a momentous achievement? Join us for an investigation into these questions and more.

Jason has been a member of the Ashford Astronomical Society for ten years and a keen amateur astronomer and student of the history of space flight for even longer. He became Chair of the society on the tenth anniversary of his membership. He has given talks to astronomical societies, schools, and other institutions. Outside the society he works in the diagnostics industry, supplying health tests to hospitals and laboratories.

All are welcome — we look forward to an engaging and informative evening. Entry is £5.

Summary of talk
Jason began his talk by stating the obvious: the Moon landings were not faked!


Beginning with President Kennedy's announcement to send a man to the Moon, his talk focussed on the arguments put forth by conspiracy theorists and their reasons for doing so.


Why was the Moon landing faked? Perhaps to beat the Soviets, distract from the Vietnam war?
Jason then considered the so-called evidence used to support a conspiracy theory, e.g. lunar photographs have no stars in the background sky, shadows on the Moon are not parallel, the USA flag is waving in a vaccuum, etc.


He used photos and video footage from extensive freely available online archives to dispel each false claim. This is a good example of confirmation bias, where evidence supporting a claim is sought whilst evidence contradicting a claim is ignored. Yet conspiracy theorists will claim that they have done extensive research.


Jason trounced the notion that "You have your opinion, I have mine.". Opinions are worthless unless thay can be justified to others.


He considered the benefits of being a conspiracy theorist: financial (writing books), notoriety, a feeling of importance or control, malevolence or fun.


Jason is a member of various anti-conspiracy-theory forums that challenges false Moon landing claims. He thinks it is important for all of us to openly confront online fake news and conspiracy theories.


Jason ended his presentation with a series of his favourite Moon landing hoaxes, illustrated with photos and the famous rocket launch from the Moon.


After a break, Jason answered a wide variety of questions:
Do Moon landing conspiracy theorists believe in other conspiracy theories? In his experience, yes.
Wouldn't the Russians be the first people to publicise a USA Moon landing conspiracy? Yes. Although they might claim that it was a worldwide conspiracy!
Are you looking forward to the Mars landing conspiracy? He'll be ready.


This was an entertaining fun talk with a serious message.


Visit the forums apollohoax.net and clavius.org to chat with Jason online.


This talk was on behalf of Ashford Astronomical Society (ashfordastro.org.uk/)

Should We Fear the Rise of the Machines?

Dr Allan Tucker

When?
Tuesday, January 21 2020 at 7:30PM

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Where?

38 West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185
Email: info@chichesterinn.co.uk
Website: www.chichesterinn.co.uk

Who?
Dr Allan Tucker

What's the talk about?

Join Chichester Skeptics in the Pub at 19.30 on Tuesday 21st January to hear from Dr Allan Tucker on ‘Artificial Intelligence: Should We Fear the Rise of the Machines?’.


Artificial Intelligence has been a staple of popular culture for generations, from promises of a Leisure Age when robots would do all of our work while we lived in luxury to scare stories where robots turn against their owners. Dr Tucker will look at some of the key figures in AI during the last century through to the state-of-the art learning machines that are all around us today. He will also ask whether we will ever really have intelligent machines that are comparable to humans.

Dr Allan Tucker is a reader in computer science at Brunel University London. His research focuses on designing algorithms that can learn models from data to aid the understanding and prediction of important events (such as disease onset from clinical data and ecological changes in environmental data). He collaborates widely and has current projects with NHS Digital, the Zoological Society of London, and Moorfields Eye Hospital.

All are welcome — we look forward to an engaging and informative evening. Entry is £5.

Summary of talk

Dr Allan Tucker's talk was a great start to our 2020 programme.

Speaking to a well-attended audience, he began by considering the history of Artificial Intelligence (AI), both cultural and scientific, from the automata of the 18th Century to the Alan 
Turing test.

Early post-war advances in AI led to over-optimism. Clever machines and robots would transform society. This is now happening but much later than predicted.

Dr Tucker highlighted some of the most difficult problems: language, motor skills, facial recognition. Great strides were made with increasing computer power but the major breakthrough was creating software that emulated the way the human brain is organised (neural networks).

Even so, Dr Tucker doesn't think we'll have driverless cars in his lifetime. The amazing human brain is the result of billions of years of evolution. It is unrealistic to expect relatively simple computers to be able to perform the complex human interactions involved with driving let alone more sophisticated behaviour.

Dr Tucker used many interesting and often amusing examples to demonstrate the current state of AI, including IBM's Watson taking part in a TV quiz show, Deep Mind playing chess, clinical diagnostic aids, legal implications, AARON creating art, etc.

He spent some time considering the mystery of consciousness and wondered if this was possible for AI, and described some of his early university studies on experiments with brain lesions.

Dr Tucker ended his talk by considering the implications of allowing AI to collect and analyse our personal data when not even the creators of these so-called Black Box systems can ever know how they produce their output.

After the break, Dr Tucker answered many interesting questions, including:

Could machines take over the world? It's possible but unlikely. The greater threat is the way powerful people and organisations make use of AI.

Do you think AI will continue at the rate as it has so far? No but it won't stop altogether. It's still a valuable industry.

Will we need to restructure our economy to stop the risk of AI developing beyond our control? AI will definitely affect the economy but I don't think it will get out of our control.

Should the developers of AI make a greater effort to explain AI to the public? Yes, most definitely.

Doctors of Delusion, Medical Mavericks and Healthcare Hucksters

Richard Rawlins

When?
Tuesday, December 17 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

38 West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185
Email: info@chichesterinn.co.uk
Website: www.chichesterinn.co.uk

Who?
Richard Rawlins

What's the talk about?

Homeopathy, acupuncture, chiropractic, osteopathy, reiki, herbs, naturopathy all work. 

In this talk, Richard applies his experience as a surgeon with his intuition as a Member of the Magic Circle to a critical examination of complementary and alternative medicine - and skeptically advises how we all may avoid being defrauded, scammed, gulled and quacked.

Richard Rawlins MBA FRCS, ship's surgeon and NHS consultant taught anatomy at King's College. He now runs a medico-legal practice in Dartmouth.
 
As a member of The Magic Circle, he is familiar with the sleight of mind and other methods used to 
deceive and create entertaining illusions.
 
£5 entrance on the door.  Everyone welcome. This is a not-for-profit event.
 
Arrive early for a 7.30pm start.
 

Is it time for Proportional Representation?

Anthony Tuffin

When?
Tuesday, November 19 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

38 West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185
Email: info@chichesterinn.co.uk
Website: www.chichesterinn.co.uk

Who?
Anthony Tuffin

What's the talk about?

Both sides of the Brexit debate see flaws in British democracy. Anthony Tuffin will suggest a solution: Proportional Representation (PR).

The current First Past the Post system used to elect MPs is broken. Parliament does not reflect how people voted and millions of people feel locked out of the political system.

Under the PR system, every vote counts, regardless of where you live or who you vote for. Seats in Parliament match how the people vote.

Anthony Tuffin is the Chair of Make Votes Matter in West Sussex. He is the former Treasurer of the Electoral
Reform Society and has no party-political affiliation.
 
Jonathan Brown is the District Councillor for Southbourne. He was the Liberal Democrats' parliamentary candidate there in 2017. 
 
£5 entrance on the door.  Everyone welcome. This is a not-for-profit event.
 
Arrive early for a 7.30pm start.
 
Summary of talk
 
Anthony Tuffin, Chair of Make Votes Count, began this talk by pointing out that our current First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system is the exception rather than the rule in Europe.
He went on to outline the various types of the alternative Proportiona
l Representation (PR) voting system, concentrating on the most popular one Single Transferable Vote (STV).
Anthony used pie charts for different regions of the UK to show how unfair the FPTP system is, always resulting in a ruling party with less than 50% of the votes. All votes for opposition parties count for nothing, despite being the majority.
He pointed out that one in three elections using FPTP have led to hung parliaments. Furthermore, large elected parties like Labour and Conservative rule by the whip because of the wide range of views held by their MPs.
Using a mock STV ballot paper for Chichester, Anthony demonstrated the merits of PR. He went on to dispel various myths about the PR system.
Jonathan Brown, Lib Dem District Councillor, gave some practical examples of where a PR system would give individuals a say in parliament that they currently do not under FPTP, e.g. local issues such as house building, employment.
Both speakers responded to a wide range of questions. You can hear their answers in the video.
How would PR change our current parties?
Would PR give a voice to extreme groups?
Would PR lead to inequalities between regions?
Will PR lead to less stable governments with short-term policies?
How might PR be introduced in the UK?
How would PR change campaigning during elections?
What is the reaction of Labour and Conservative MPs when asked about PR?
Is it likely that the Brexit referendum would have taken place under PR?
Anthony invited visitors to fill in a Democracy survey. We'll be putting this online soon.
After the talk, Anthony was asked why the Brexit referendum was a simple majority vote (50% + 1 vote). He explained that there was a debate in parliament and it was agreed that because this was to be an ADVISORY vote, a simple majority was appropriate.
[Of course, this was then ignored by the Conservatives who began the mantra "the people have spoken". Both Labour and Conservatives promised to uphold the decision to leave the EU, despite a tiny majority in favour, and even though most MPs had little idea of it's implications. The rest is history.]
Here are some links:
Local Facebook page for Make Votes Count in West Sussex
https://www.facebook.com/.../the-local.../1084298301773813/
https://www.makevotesmatter.org.uk/

You can download a PowerPoint presentation in pdf form and a Word transcript of Anthony's talk by clicking on the Files tab.
 

 

Do we need a new constitution?

Graham Smith

When?
Tuesday, October 15 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

38 West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185
Email: info@chichesterinn.co.uk
Website: www.chichesterinn.co.uk

Who?
Graham Smith

What's the talk about?

Brexit has highlighted huge flaws in the British constitution, not least the impotence and irrelevance of our Head of State.

As parliament struggles to assert itself, government appears to be in chaos and the public are more divided than ever over how we should be governed, it's time for a radical re-think of our constitution.

Yet in a normal world the changes we need shouldn't be seen as radical. Make our parliamentary system genuinely democratic from top to bottom and re-balance the power between government, parliament and the people. And in the middle of a revitalised constitution a new head of state, elected by the people for the people.

Graham Smith has been CEO of Republic since 2005. He originally joined the group in 1990 before moving to Australia where he was involved in community and charity work. On his return he stood for election to local government and has graduated from Open University with a degree in International Studies.

Graham first got involved with Republic as a volunteer in 2003. Since then he has transformed the campaign group, building a strong supporter base and raising the campaign’s media profile. He has also played a leading role in establishing and nurturing the Alliance of European Republican Movements.

Summary of talk

I would normally write a summary of this talk but the Republic website is so clear and full of information that there doesn't seem much point. All I can add is the following observations.

Graham is a most competent and engaging speaker who has a firm 
grasp of the facts. In the short time available, he managed to give an overview of the Republic campaign.

Anyone attending this talk will have been left in no doubt: our monarchy is not fit for purpose. Indeed, it hampers parliament and takes the place of a properly functioning head of state, i.e. a democratically elected President.

Graham answered many questions, including:

What does he think about the Queen being Defender of the Faith? Graham has given talks to Humanist groups on this issue and of course opposes the privileged position of religion in our constitution.

Are there any checks on an elected President? Graham prefers a neutral President who actively promotes the UK and upholds a written constitution. He does not support a US style political presidency. A President could be impeached if they abuse their power. On the other hand, a President can prevent abuses, e.g. the recent prolonged prorogation of parliament for political gain.

Does the monarchy increase tourism? This is one of a number of myths that are debunked on the Republic website. Graham convincingly argued that the monarchy does not increase tourism and is a drain on the public purse.

Visit https://www.republic.org.uk/ for more information. You can sign up for regular emails, become a member and make a donation.

 

An introduction to Cryogenics and Superconductivity

Dr Jess Spurrell

When?
Tuesday, September 17 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

38 West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185
Email: info@chichesterinn.co.uk
Website: www.chichesterinn.co.uk

Who?
Dr Jess Spurrell

What's the talk about?

When Dr Jess Spurrell says she works in cryogenics, the first thing people ask is, "Do you freeze dead people? Or aliens?"

At very low temperatures, all sorts of unusual things can happen. Electrical resistance can disappear, frogs and surfers can levitate, liquid can climb out of its container, biological processes can be slowed almost to a halt.

Dr Jess Spurrell is School-University Partnership Officer at the University of Southampton. She has a PhD in Cryogenic Engineering and Superconductivity. 

Jess is an ambassador for women in engineering and has given numerous talks and demonstrations. 

£5 entrance on the door. 

Summary of talk

Dr Spurrell certainly knows her stuff. She spoke fluently and with passion about cryogenics and her PhD project on superconductivity.

She became interested in cryogenics after finishing a degree in aerospace engineering. Along the way, she also ran a 
comedy club.

She now works for Southampton University as the School-University Partnership Officer and is an advocate for women in science. She began her talk by discussing some of her favourite famous scientists.

After defining cryogenics (temperatures below those normally occurring on Earth), she described the process of liquefying gases such as Nitrogen and Hydrogen drawn from the air. She explained that liquid Helium, however, is becoming a scarce resource that is mined from the earth.

Dr Spurrell moved on to freezing living things and showed why only the smallest creatures can survive being frozen: the formation of ice crystals damages cell walls, and other reasons.

She discussed the wide range of applications of cryogens such as liquid hydrogen, including rocket fuel, refrigeration, energy storage, tissue storage, space simulation, manufacturing.

Dr Spurrell ended her talk with superconductivity and its applications: MRI, MagLev trains, computers, the Hadron collider and her PhD project on lossless electrical power transmission.

After a break, she answered several questions and showed us some video clips, including levitating frogs and liquids.

We thanked Dr Spurrell for an entertaining talk and for shedding light on this fascinating topic and science of the future.

You can download her PowerPoint presentation in the Files section on our Facebook page.

... and other myths about food and health

Pixie Turner

When?
Tuesday, August 20 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

38 West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185
Email: info@chichesterinn.co.uk
Website: www.chichesterinn.co.uk

Who?
Pixie Turner

What's the talk about?

Despite a wealth of information at our fingertips, there are still so many things we get wrong about our health. With a new diet book out every other day, it’s no wonder people are confused. What should we be eating? When? How often? Just how important is food when it comes to our overall health?

Pixie will unpack why diet and nutrition misinformation is so problematic. Expect some myth busting, diet rants, and lots of fully-referenced evidence-based science.

Pixie Turner studied biochemistry and is a nutritionist, food blogger, science communicator and author. She is the brains behind the 'Pixie Nutrition' social media accounts, which aim to infiltrate the wellness movement and debunk nutrition misinformation online. 
 
£5 entrance on the door.  Everyone welcome. This is a not-for-profit event.
 
Summary of talk
 
Pixie introduced herself as a registered nutritionist (3 year biochemistry degree, masters in nutrition, 3 years of practice) in contrast to non-registered nutritionists who might have only completed a 3 month course.

She began by considering how we c
an be partly defined by the diets we follow, with negative consequences.

Pixie drew on research to explain why diets only work for around 20% of people, long term, covering yo-yo dieting, dieting drugs, negative consequences and weight stigma (instead of targeting overweight people, the government should focus on health-promoting behaviours).

She criticised the moralising of dieting, identifying dieting with health and beauty.

And then she went to town on the quacks and charlatans who promote diets that are unsupported by the evidence and which can cause harm. These are often promoted using online social media and the press.

After considering various diets such as paleo, vegan, low carb, etc., she gives some simple advice: eat a wide range of foods in moderation.

Pixie ended her talk with some pointers to a healthy approach to food and dieting.

After the break, Pixie answered numerous questions, including:

What does she think about Veganism?
Who can we trust?
Should we eat organic food?
Who are your clients?
Are artificial sweeteners harmful?
Give us three pieces of advice.

We thanked Pixie for a professional entertaining talk. A raffle was held for one of her books.

You can read more about her work and buy her books by visiting:
http://www.plantbased-pixie.com/

A Beginner's Guide to Therapy

Ariane Sherine

When?
Tuesday, July 16 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

38 West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185
Email: info@chichesterinn.co.uk
Website: www.chichesterinn.co.uk

Who?
Ariane Sherine

What's the talk about?

 Ariane created the Atheist Bus Campaign: 

“There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”

As a result, she received a deluge of hate mail from Christians, which led to a nervous breakdown and a three year break from writing.

In this talk, she will tell the full story of how therapy and medication saved her life, prompting her to write her new book, Talk Yourself Better: A Confused Person’s Guide to Therapy, Counselling and Self-Help.

Ariane Sherine is the comedy writer and journalist who created the Atheist Bus Campaign. She has written extensively for TV, national newspapers and magazines, and is the author of the bestselling celebrity book The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas.

Entry £5 on the door.

Summary of talk

Ariane is most famous for her atheist bus campaign: 

There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

She began by giving us an insight into her struggle to cope with psychological problems from the age of 11.

Each diagnosis lead to a different form of therapy, including family counselling, psychodynamic therapy, psychoanalyis, cognitive behavioural therapy and so on into adulthood.

Ariane became a successful comedy script writer. After reading The God Delusion and seeing religious bus adverts, she managed to raise funds for the atheist bus campaign, which spread across the world.

Little did she realise that the hate mail she would receive (mainly from UK and USA Christians) would push her into depression and more therapy. She could not work for over 3 years.

Eventually, with a mixture of drugs and therapy, she began work again, writing her latest book Talk Yourself Better, based on numerous interviews with therapists, their clients (including some famous names like Stephen Fry) and her extensive personal experiences.

After the break, Ariane answered numerous questions from a moved and fascinated audience.

This was an uplifting talk of relevance to all who come into contact with psychological health problems.

Visit Ariane's daily blog on Twitter: @ArianeSherine

The Rise of Flat Earth Belief

Michael Marshall

When?
Tuesday, June 18 2019 at 7:30PM

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(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

38 West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185
Email: info@chichesterinn.co.uk
Website: www.chichesterinn.co.uk

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

In 2013, when Michael Marshall first interviewed the Vice President of the Flat Earth society for his show Be Reasonable, people could scarcely believe that anyone could genuinely think the Earth was flat. Five years later, Flat Earth belief has gone mainstream, spawning thousands of hours of YouTube videos, gaining widespread international media coverage, and attracting countless followers. How did we get here?

Michael Marshall is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. He has organised homeopathy protests, gone undercover to expose psychics and quack medics, and co-founded the popular QED conference. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast and has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Statesman.

This talk is part of the Chichester Festival and will be a ticketed event. 

Tickets available here: 

https://chichesterboxoffice.ticketsolve.com/shows/873599562?fbclid=IwAR1LesnQTwMTjKozckz3TPZg6Xq5Viu4JLE0P2XlckOo8W5gMpVx6FtWl7k

£6 on the door, if there is any space left.

Summary of talk
 
Michael Marshall is a professional skeptic, employed by The Good Thinking Society. His role is to understand why people believe in pseudoscience, conspiracy theories, superstition, the paranormal, etc. and promote a skeptical way of thinking.

His late
st talk gave us insights into the flat earth believers he met at a conference. These are a disparate group of people who enthusiastically applauded every speaker, regardless of content and their mutually contradictory theories.

Apparently, one group don't really believe in a flat earth but enjoy the challenge of creating (spurious) supporting arguments, to the delight of the true believers.

Michael took us through a few of the hundreds of "reasons" why it is obvious that the world is flat. These ranged from the bizarre (a dome covering the flat world, discovered by military missiles hitting it) to the naive (the horizon looks flat ... although it doesn't when you look closely).

Surprisingly, most of the flat earthers he met were religious.

A more sinister aspect of the conference was the ready acceptance of unsavoury conspiracy theories, such as the Jewish conspiracy. He suggested that flat earthers and conspiracy theorists share a distrust of those in power.

Michael is on a mission: to encourage a skeptical approach to life. He recently gave a talk to the older students of a primary school and was most impressed with some of their questions. He plans on repeating this educational initiative in other schools.

He answered a wide range of questions from a diverse audience and promised to return next year to entertain us with his latest findings.

This well-attended talk was part of the Chichester Festival. We look forward to taking part again in 2020.

 

Misconceptions about Astronomy

Alice Sheppard

When?
Tuesday, May 21 2019 at 7:30PM

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Where?

38 West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185
Email: info@chichesterinn.co.uk
Website: www.chichesterinn.co.uk

Who?
Alice Sheppard

What's the talk about?

Alice Sheppard takes us on a whiplash tour of just a few of the misconceptions of astronomy she's encountered as an ambassador of the subject: 

• it’s a waste of money 
• it matters what we call Pluto 
• it can predict the future 
• it's a subject to which men are better suited.

Alice Sheppard is Community Manager at UCL Extreme Citizen Science, which investigates and supports public involvement in science. Alice does not consider herself academic but rather an example of what members of the public can achieve scientifically outside the academic environment. She is also the Citizen Science Officer at the Society for Popular Astronomy. Alice led the Galaxy Zoo forum from 2007-2013, with daily discussions of astronomy.

Entry £5 on the door.

Summary of talk

Alice became interested in astronomy when she discovered Galaxy Zoo, an online project where members of the public help classify thousands of galaxies. She ended up running the discussion forum for this project, called Citizen Science.

During the last
 3 years, Alice has been Community Manager at UCL Extreme Citizen Science, a discipline investigating and supporting the public in involvement and decision-making in science. Previous roles include founding Cardiff and Hackney Skeptics in the Pub groups, teaching assistant and astronomy club leader. She is a regular contributor to the magazine Society for Popular Astronomy and supports women in science.

Alice entertained us with a few examples of common misconceptions that people have about astronomy: confusion with astrology, only boys and men are interested, pseudoscience, etc.
She highlighted the paucity of astronomy in the national curriculum but pointed to other ways we can learn more and become involved: local astronomy club, TV, YouTube.

After a short quiz to show that the general public already know quite a bit about astronomy, she focussed on the Moon, showing how we can navigate using it, the so-called “dark side”, and how it affects us on Earth.

We discussed the naming of Pluto (is it really a planet), the importance of mathematics in astronomy, the female astronomers who helped discover dark matter, the big bang, and whether astronomy is value for money.

Alice ended her talk by considering how some people are excluded from science, referencing her colleague Emily Dawson’s book “Equity, Exclusion and Everyday Science Learning: The Experiences of Minoritised Groups”.

After the break, Alice played us a video clip from Carl Sagan (Pale Blue Dot). She then answered various questions from the audience.
We ended by visiting the GalaxyZoo project, and took part in classifying a few galaxies.

Alice is passionate about science and astronomy and her enthusiasm showed through in her talk.

GalaxyZoo is just one project of Zooinverse, where members of the public contribute to research using the internet.

https://www.zooniverse.org/

The psychology of vaccine acceptance, hesitancy and refusal

Richard Clarke

When?
Tuesday, April 16 2019 at 7:30PM

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(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)

Where?

38 West Street
Chichester
PO19 1RP

Tel: 01243 783185
Email: info@chichesterinn.co.uk
Website: www.chichesterinn.co.uk

Who?
Richard Clarke

What's the talk about?

The reasons why an individual may refuse a vaccine that is backed by extremely strong safety and efficacy evidence are wide ranging and complex. In this talk, Richard Clarke will introduce you to the concept of Vaccine Hesitancy and explain how risk perception, uncertainty, social influence and, above all, trust plays a role in vaccine delay, selection and refusal.

Spoiler: Strangely enough just saying, “Vaccinate your damn kids!” might not be the most effective health communication strategy out there. Who’d have thought it?

Richard Clarke is a health psychologist and final year PhD candidate with The Vaccine Confidence Project (www.vaccineconfidence.org) based at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Richard's area of expertise focuses on the social science related to vaccine delivery.

All are welcome — we look forward to an engaging and informative evening. Entry is £3.

Summary of talk

Richard Clarke gave us an insight into the work of a final year PhD health psychology researcher at The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

He outlined the various stages of vaccine creation and delivery. Richard's work is concerned with the factors that influence public confidence in a vaccine. 

Richard's talk was divided into three sections: Risk, Information and Trust. He used various graphs and diagrams to describe the historical and current uptake of vaccines. He interspersed these with personal stories, including some emotive photos of a young girl who suffered horribly and died from meningitis.

Importantly, he touched on the same concerns all true Skeptics have: spurious beliefs based on a lack of evidence, poor evidence, conspiracy theories, fake news, fear and other human weaknesses.

Richard's conclusions are that trust is the most important factor in public acceptance of the vaccination programme (he quipped that he could have been talking about any public healthcare intervention such as the wearing of seat belts). If people don't have trust in the healthcare system, they will put it elsewhere, including alternative medicine or conspiracy theories. Part of the solution is to empower local communities by supporting groups that appreciate the science.

After the break, Richard answered a few questions.

How can we change public distrust of experts (when scientists are wrongly equated with economists)? This is a big problem but we can start by supporting local community groups who are aware of the latest science.

What is the minimum percentage vaccination rate to avoid the spread of infectious diseases like measles. Measles is one of the most infectious diseases and is a killer. This is why there is so much emphasis on the MMR vaccine. We need around 95% of the population to be vaccinated in order to contain an infectious outbreak.

Why did you decide to research vaccines? Initially I was planning to research a rare disorder that restricts the ability to recognise faces. Then I met a fellow student who was working on the ebola outbreak and realised I could help more people by conducting social psychological research into public health. I am an advocate of Effective Altruism, which seeks to maximise the effectiveness of charitable action.

Quite coincidentally, Chichester Humanists hosted a speaker from Southampton Effective Altruism group the following week.

Everyone found the talk interesting and informative. Richard will be repeating his talk at other Skeptics venues throughout the country.

If you have any questions about vaccines, Richard will be happy to answer them via Twitter @RichClarkePsy or email Richard.Clarke@lshtm.ac.uk