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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. 

Sense About Science

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

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Sense About Science

What's the talk about?

This isn’t just a simple talk; it’s a call to arms. Every day, we hear claims about what is good for our health, bad for the environment, how to improve education, cut crime, and treat disease. Some are based on reliable evidence and scientific rigour. Many are not. These claims can’t be regulated; every time one is debunked another pops up – like a game of whack-a-mole. So how can we make companies, politicians, commentators and official bodies accountable for the claims they make? If they want us to vote for them, believe them, or buy their products, then we should ask them for evidence, as consumers, patients, voters and citizens.

 

The Ask for Evidence campaign has seen people ask a retail chain for the evidence behind its MRSA resistant pyjamas; ask a juice bar for the evidence behind wheatgrass detox claims; ask the health department about rules for Viagra prescriptions; ask for the studies behind treatments for Crohn’s disease, and hundreds more. As a result, claims are being withdrawn and bodies held to account.

 

This is geeks, working with the public, to park their tanks on the lawn of those who seek to influence us. And it’s starting to work. Come and hear what the campaign is going to do next and how you can get involved.

 

 

Sense About Science challenge many misleading claims about scientific and medical evidence. They are launching a public campaign, ‘Ask for Evidence’, to bring about wider, more lasting change. When people come across dubious scientific claims, they want someone to go to with their questions. The campaign will encourage everyone to take up claims they think are misleading, both by reporting dodgy science claims and by getting involved in tackling claims themselves, to help stop the spread of misinformation in public discussion.

 

http://askforevidence.org

Part of British Science Week 2016

Hartmut Blank

When?
Thursday, March 10 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Hartmut Blank

What's the talk about?

After the event (or after having learned a new fact), we’re not only wiser but also often fall prey to the illusion that this was knowable before, with subtle but important consequences for learning from experience, decision making and judging others’ decisions and actions: If I believe that I knew something all along, why would I take reality feedback on board? If I think that others should have foreseen a negative outcome, I might be more likely to blame them for it, etc. I will give an introduction to hindsight bias research including my own research that explores the idea that distinct aspects of hindsight (impressions of foreseeability and inevitability, as well as memory distortions) work in different ways, i.e. involve different psychological processes and functions. I will also discuss ways of reducing hindsight bias.

Short biography: After briefly studying geophysics and training as a heating installator, I studied psychology and received my doctoral degree at the University of Konstanz. Later I worked as a lecturer (teaching social psychology) at the University of Leipzig. I joined the University of Portsmouth in 2005, where I mainly teach research methods and statistics. My research is on hindsight bias, social memory (including eyewitness suggestibility) and lately also meta-analysis.  

 

This talk is part of British Science week 2016

 

Josie Pegg

When?
Thursday, February 11 2016 at 7:30PM

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Where?

1 Lord Montgomery Way
Portsmouth
PO1 2AH

Who?
Josie Pegg

What's the talk about?

Parasites are the stuff of horror movies, consuming their host and often capable of controlling their host’s body and mind in the most freakish of ways.

 

But this is only half the story. Around 75% of all species are parasitic, and parasites play an essential ecological role, prove unlikely allies and are in many ways responsible for life as we know it.

 

In this presentation, Josie Pegg will give us an insight into the world of parasites and challenge their negative reputation.

 

Josie Pegg is a postgraduate researcher at Bournemouth University and is passionate about marine and aquatic ecology, fish and parasites.

Steve Colgan

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

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Where?

18-20 Florence Rd
Southsea
Portsmouth
Hampshire
PO5 2NE

Who?
Steve Colgan

What's the talk about?

Given the bewildering variety of life on Earth – all stemming from one self-replicating molecule – can we really predict what life on other worlds is like? Maybe not. But we can imagine what it isn’t like. 

Stevyn Colgan has been involved with aliens for three decades. He’s held Jabba the Hutt’s face, helped sculpt creatures for Bruce Willis to shoot at, and had a script accepted for Doctor Who in the 1980s. In this entertaining talk, you’ll hear about feuding gangs of scientists, film directors with less imagination than children, and the perils of concrete poo. You’ll also come to realise that if we really are intelligently designed, we're an illogical and inefficient system.

 

Stevyn Colgan is an author, artist, songwriter, speaker and oddly-spelled Cornishman. He is one of the ‘Elves’ that research and write the popular BBC TV series QI and co-writes its sister show, The Museum of Curiosity, for BBC Radio 4. He has given hundreds of talks across the UK and USA and is a regular at festivals and events such as Skeptics in the Pub, QEDCon, Cornbury, Hay, Cheltenham, Latitude and the Edinburgh Fringe. He is a contributor to the bestselling QI books and annuals and is the author of ‘Joined-Up Thinking, Constable Colgan’s Connectoscope’, ‘Henhwedhlow: The Clotted Cream of Cornish Folk Tales’, ‘The Third Condiment’, ‘Why Did The Policeman Cross The Road?’ and co-wrote ‘Saving Bletchley Park’ with Dr Sue Black.

Clio Bellenis

When?
Thursday, November 12 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

18-20 Florence Rd
Southsea
Portsmouth
Hampshire
PO5 2NE

Who?
Clio Bellenis

What's the talk about?

Why are psychiatric drugs so frequently denigrated by popular press and Skeptics alike? Is it rational, or based on something less reasonable?

Dr Clio Bellenis is a Child Adolescent Psychiatrist and a Clinical Director with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Follow Clio Bellenis on twitter @CBellenis

Johno Pearce

When?
Thursday, October 8 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

18-20 Florence Rd
Southsea
Portsmouth
Hampshire
PO5 2NE

Who?
Johno Pearce

What's the talk about?

Jonathan will be skilfully guiding us through a range of arguments for and against the existence of God. He will also offer some novel arguments that challenge the concept of an omniscient, omnipotent, omni-benevolent God. We're expecting an entertaining Q&A session after Jonathan's presentation. After a very successful show at this year's Brighton Fringe (in the Speigeltent) we're looking forward to welcoming Johno back to Portsmouth for a proper grilling.

 

Jonathan is a teacher and author from South Hampshire, who has dedicated many years of his life to all manner of things philosophical and theological. He is the author of several popular books including ‘The Nativity: A Critical Examination’, ‘Free Will? An investigation into whether we have free will, or whether I was always going to write this book’, and ‘The Little Book of Unholy Questions’. As an interlude from writing about philosophy and theology, he has also written a book of advice for dads of twins; Twins: A Survival Guide for Dads. He is a founder member of the Tippling Philosophers, a friendly group of disparate believers and non-believers based in Hampshire, and is also a founder author for the Skeptic Ink Network (SIN), an online community of skeptic writers, bloggers, academics, thinkers and activists. Check out their blog at http://skepticink.com/tippling/

JIM AL-KHALILI

When?
Thursday, September 10 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

102 Milton Rd
Portsmouth
Hampshire
PO3 6AR

Who?
JIM AL-KHALILI

What's the talk about?

We welcome back Portsmouth Skeptics Honorary Chairman this September with a talk entitled: Quantum Life: How physics can revolutionise biology.

Tickets £3.50 each: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/329076

How do migrating birds know where to go? How do we really smell the scent of a rose? How do our genes manage to copy themselves with such precision? Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how does it work? Even in this age of cloning and synthetic biology, the remarkable truth remains: nobody has ever made anything living entirely out of dead material. Life remains the only way to make life. Are we missing a vital ingredient in its creation?

Jim Al-Khalili will reveal the hitherto missing ingredient to be quantum mechanics and the strange phenomena that lie at the heart of this most mysterious of sciences. 

Please note the change to our usual venue

Ticketed Event

Edzard Ernst

When?
Thursday, July 9 2015 at 7:45PM

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Where?

18-20 Florence Rd
Southsea
Portsmouth
Hampshire
PO5 2NE

Who?
Edzard Ernst

What's the talk about?

Edzard Ernst: A Scientist in Wonderland July 9th Tickets £4.50 +booking fee
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/319494

We have been working with a group of SitPs in the South to bring Prof. Ernst over from France for a small speaking tour. To cover his costs tickets will go on sale for this event. Early Bird tickets will be available in person from our event in May @ £4.50 each

Prof Ernst will talk about research in alternative medicine. He has conducted research in this field for 20 years and will provide thought-provoking insights into his results, experiences and conclusions. 

 

About the speaker:

 Edzard Ernst is an academic physician and researcher specializing in the study of complementary and alternative medicine.

 He was appointed Professor of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, the first such academic position in the world.

 

He served as chairman of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Vienna but left this position in 1993 to set up the department of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter.

 

He became director of complementary medicine of the Peninsula Medical School in 2002. Ernst was the first occupant of the Laing chair in Complementary Medicine, retiring in 2011.

 

Edzard's writing appeared in a regular column in The Guardian where he reviewed news stories about complementary medicine from an evidence based perspective. Since his research began he has been seen as "the scourge of alternative medicine" for publishing critical research that exposes methods that lack documentation of efficacy.

Ash Pryce

When?
Thursday, June 11 2015 at 7:45PM

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Where?

18-20 Florence Rd
Southsea
Portsmouth
Hampshire
PO5 2NE

Who?
Ash Pryce

What's the talk about?

Tickets: Ash Pryce: How to Talk to the Dead June 11th Tickets £3 + booking fee
http://www.wegottickets.com/event/319497

Hydesville. New York. 1848. The young Fox sisters begin communicating with the spirit of a murdered beggar and spiritualism is born. 
This interactive look at a history of talking to the dead will feature an array of magical treats including levitating tables, ectoplasm manifestation and spirit communication.


Part magic show, part comedy, part rational inquiry this fun show has regularly packed venues at the Edinburgh fringe.

Ouija Boards
Spirit Slates
Spirit Communication
Stopped Pulses
Spewing ectoplasm
And more...


Ash Pryce is a performer, director and occassional magician based in Scotland.  He has written and staged several skeptically themed shows looking at myths & legends, ghosts, psychics and mediumship as well as producing full plays ranging from Faustus to more contemporary original shows in Edinburgh.  He is the founder of Edinburgh Skeptics, the newly started History in the Pub Edinburgh, and runs what is believed to be the worlds first skeptical ghost tour every Fringe.  He lives just outside of Edinburgh with his three Degus, one of which holds a grudge against him. 

From Ash, as he has had a few queries “Please note. This is a skeptically themed show and not intended as an actual demonstration of mediumship or psychic abilities”

When?
Thursday, May 14 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

18-20 Florence Rd
Southsea
Portsmouth
Hampshire
PO5 2NE

Who?
Iszi Lawrence

What's the talk about?

 

Skeptic, comedian and voice of the Skeptics Guide To The Universe, Iszi Lawrence is coming to Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub with her new show The Z List Dead List.The Z List Dead List is a live comedy show about obscure people from History. As a skeptic, Iszi has found a few that will peak your interest. 

Expect woo, violence, sex and death. And a competition. 

 

The show is also a podcast with guest interviews from Jon Ronson, Griff Rhys Jones, Natalie Haynes, Neil Denny, Richard Herring etc. 

You can find it on iTunes here: itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-z-list-dead-list/id915778702?mt=2 

or go to the website www.zlistdeadlist.com 

When?
Thursday, April 9 2015 at 7:30PM

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Where?

18-20 Florence Rd
Southsea
Portsmouth
Hampshire
PO5 2NE

Who?
Ian Parker

What's the talk about?

Cancelled - Due to unforeseen circumstances we regret we are going to cancel the SitP talk this Thursday. Look forward to seeing you next month Portsmouth Skeptics