Welcome to Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub

Honorary President: Professor Jim Al-Khalili 

We are a friendly, informal group who meet to enjoy talks on science, pseudo-science, philosophy, religion (and more), and to chat about these subjects over a drink. You can find details of our upcoming meetings below.

We usually meet on the second Thursday of each month. Talks are free, but we do appreciate a small donation of £2 - 3 to cover speakers’ expenses.

What can you expect at our events? Interesting talks, lively debate, a chance to hang with people who have a rational outlook, and people willing to listen to you and answer your questions. 

To keep up with future events, you can sign up to our mailing list (below, in the sidebar to the right), or follow us on social media: Facebook pageTwitter feedGoogle+ community, MeetUp group

Michael Head

When?
Thursday, May 12 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Michael Head

What's the talk about?

 

We all love our children dearly and chose to vaccinate them or not vaccinate them because of that deep love. Yet the discussion of whether or not to vaccinate can bring friendships to an end and the decision itself can have life-threatening consequences, not just for babies and unvaccinated children, but for anyone with a compromised immune system such as elderly people in our community.

Michael Head looks at vaccination in the larger context. Smallpox is eradicated, polio has nearly gone the same way and in most countries diphtheria is rare. That’s due to vaccination. Yet headlines are often fixated on measles outbreaks on both sides of the Pond, or the ‘dangers’ of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine.

Too many people are just not fussed about vaccines, or worse, they actively preach and campaign against them, with more than the occasional dollop of an absence of morality.

Plus there’s the desperate search for an ebola vaccine, the imperfections of the tuberculosis vaccine, the waning immunity over time of the pertussis (whooping cough) immunisation, that HIV vaccine that just won’t come, and the annual guesswork that is the composition of the influenza vaccine. It’s a complicated business, alright.

This presentation will walk you through some facts and figures, highlight the new vaccines in the pipeline and provide an insight into the public health danger posed by those who, even today, still try and tell you the MMR vaccine gives your child autism (it doesn’t, by the way).

Michael Head is a senior research fellow in infectious diseases at the University of Southampton, and a visiting academic in the Farr Institute for Health Informatics at University College London. He has an undergraduate qualification in Biomedical Science, postgraduate degree in epidemiology and is in the final throes of a PhD with the University of Amsterdam in infectious diseases and global health.

Michael has been working in infectious disease research since 2004, has around 30 peer-reviewed publications in journals including Lancet and Nature journals, and for some reason spends far too much of his spare time reading about ‘bad science’ on the web. 

Ash Pryce

When?
Thursday, June 9 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

 

Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! Gather ye round the traveling caravan, as Snake Oil Salesman Ash Pryce demonstrates the miraculous curative abilities of psychic surgery, taught to your humble trickster by a wise man in the Philippines. See with wonder the telekinetic forces at work as you learn how to move objects with your mind, psychically predict the outcome of the historic Zener Cards and read the minds of your peers.


Whereas the sister show How to Talk to the Dead looked specifically at spirit communication in the past, How to be a Psychic Conman will look at the more incredible, magical side of psychic claims that persist today. The types of demonstrations that blur the line between the honest deception of magic, and the dishonesty of those hoping to make a quick buck out of your deep rooted beliefs.

The show is an interactive, skeptical, how to guide to a whole host of psychic scammery. Warning to those on the front row… there will be blood!

www.ashpryce.co.uk

Michael Marshall

When?
Thursday, July 14 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

It’s easy to think of pseudoscience existing in a glass case at a museum – something to be examined and critiqued from a safe distance, but not something to touch and to play with. Using examples taken from his own personal experiences in skepticism, Michael Marshall will show what happens when you begin to crack the surface of the pseudosciences that surround us – revealing the surprising, sometimes-shocking and often-comic adventures that lie beneath.

Michael Marshall is the Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work has seen him organising international homeopathy protests and co-founding the popular QED conference. He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Statesman.

Dr. Kat Arney

When?
Thursday, October 13 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Dr. Kat Arney

What's the talk about?

The language of genes has become common in the media. We know they make your eyes blue, your hair curly or your nose straight. We're told that genes control the risk of cancer, heart disease, alcoholism or Alzheimer's. The cost of DNA sequencing has plummeted from billions of pounds to a few hundred, and gene-based advances in medicine hold huge promise.

There are 2.2 metres of DNA inside every one of your cells, encoding roughly 20,000 genes. These are the 'recipes' that tell our cells how to make the building blocks of life, along with all the control switches ensuring they're turned on and off at the right time and in the right place. But rather than a static string of genetic code, this is a dynamic, writhing biological library. With the help of cats with thumbs, fish with hips and wobbly worms, Kat will unpack some of the mysteries in our DNA and explain the latest thinking about how our genes work.

Dr Kat Arney is a science communicator and award-winning blogger for Cancer Research UK, as well as a freelance science writer and broadcaster whose work has featured on BBC Radio 4, the Naked Scientists and more. She is about to publish her first book, Herding Hemingway's Cats, about how our genes work. You can order it here: http://bit.ly/HerdingHemingwaysCats