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Illegitimate religious influence in education

Dr Ruth Wareham

When?
Tuesday, November 3 2020 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Online

Who?
Dr Ruth Wareham

What's the talk about?

You are invited to join Chichester Humanists us on Zoom from 19.30 on Tuesday 3 November to hear from Dr Ruth Wareham, who will discuss her work in campaigning against illegitimate religious influence in education.

Dr Wareham will provide an outline of Humanists UK's campaigning work on a variety of educational issues (including faith schools, relationships and sex education, collective worship, illegal schools, and Religious Education). This will be an interactive session, with plenty of time for questions and discussion.

Spaces are limited and registration is essential. To reserve a space for you and your household, please register here:

humanism.org.uk/events/the-trouble-with-faith-in-schools-campaigning-against-illegitimate-religious-influence-in-education/.

We will be using Zoom and a link will be emailed to you ahead of the event.

We look forward to seeing you!

Is there a universal morality that all rational people can agree on?

When?
Tuesday, October 13 2020 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Who?

What's the talk about?

Join us on Google Meet from 19.30 on Tuesday 13 October to hear from Andrew Edmondson, who will be discussing morality as part of the Zeta Course.

The Zeta Course is a skeptic's guide to life, the universe and everything. There are seven sessions: reasoning, science, belief, bias, morality, happiness, the future.
Session 5 considers whether there is a universal morality that all rational people can agree on and how moral we should be
Spaces are limited and registration is essential. To reserve a space for you and your household, please register here https://tinyurl.com/y4rzcush. We will be using Google Meet and a link will be emailed to you ahead of the event.
We look forward to seeing you!

 

Session 4 of the Zeta course

Andrew Edmondson

When?
Tuesday, August 25 2020 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Who?
Andrew Edmondson

What's the talk about?

 Join us on Google Meet from 19.30 on Tuesday 25 August to hear from Andrew Edmondson, who will be discussing human bias as part of the Zeta Course.

The Zeta Course is a skeptic's guide to life, the universe and everything. There are seven sessions: reasoning, science, belief, bias, morality, happiness, the future.
Session 4 considers human bias and comprises three parts: cognitive bias, illusions, conspiracy theory.
Spaces are limited and registration is essential. To reserve a space for you and your household, please email chair-chichester@humanistbranches.uk. We will be using Google Meet and a link will be emailed to you ahead of the event.
We look forward to seeing you!

Understanding What to Believe

Dr Ana Yong

When?
Tuesday, April 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 Ana Yong

What's the talk about?

Ask for Evidence is a campaign run by Sense about Science, helping the general public to ask for the evidence behind health claims, news stories, ads and policies.

They show you how to ask the right questions and how to understand different types of evidence.

They’re here to help every step of the way – they can help you find the right person to ask; give you tips on questions to ask and how to spot good evidence; and help you to make sense of the answer you receive.

Dr. Ana Yong promotes the Ask for Evidence campaign, and is a research scientist at the National Physical Laboratory.

She helps people understand the information around them to make the best decisions in life. This includes demystifying science and academia.

£5 entrance on the door.  All welcome. 
 
This is a not-for-profit event.                 
 

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/