27th November 2019 – Henry Bisset: Getting Vaccinated as an Adult – An Alternative to the Alternative

After finishing his alternative education and moving to Bristol, Henry Bisset found his own alternative to the homeopathic and unvaccinated ways of his hometown – conventional medicine.

A year on from documenting his experiences of getting his childhood vaccination as an adult in a short YouTube series, Henry brings the who, the what and the wherefore of both the vaccine skeptics and vaccine advocates to the (small but cosy) stage.

DOORS: 19:00
START: 19:30
Admission is FREE and there will be a collection during the interval (suggested donation £3-5).
Venue: Smoke and Mirrors

As was the intention of the YouTube series, this talk is aimed at everyone from M.D.s to expectant mothers and from chiropractors to those seeking entertainment with their Wednesday night pint.

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25th September 2019 – Izzy Posen: Escaping Extreme Religion

Izzy Posen grew up in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in East London. Despite the location, English wasn’t spoken either at home or at school. For his entire childhood, Izzy spoke Yiddish. It was the only language he knew.  

The school did not teach mathematics, science, history, or any other conventional subjects. Izzy’s days were spent studying religious texts from morning to night. Contact with those outside the community was prohibited. Breaking these rules was met with physical punishment: Izzy was hit almost daily. Meanwhile, the rules of those religious texts governed every minute of his life. He lived in a moment-to-moment psychology prison.

Izzy eventually escaped the community, losing most of his family, his friends and his home in the process. But with time he built a new life. Izzy learned English at 18, took GCSEs at 20, and A Levels at 21. He is now a student at Bristol University studying physics and philosophy, and founder of the University’s Free Speech Society. 

DOORS: 19:00
START: 19:30
Admission is FREE and there will be a collection during the interval (suggested donation £3-5).
Venue: Smoke and Mirrors

26th June 2019 – Colin Davis: Responding to the Climate Emergency – Psychology and (dis)Obedience *DATE CHANGE*

*DATE CHANGE*
Due to unforeseen circumstances this event has been postponed until the following month. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Bristol City Council declared a Climate Emergency in November 2018. Since then over 50 UK councils have followed suit. But how do individuals respond to this emergency?

What are the psychological forces that allow us to ignore the facts of climate change? The path we are currently on will lead to catastrophe — what makes us carry on regardless? Professor Davis will consider these questions from the perspective of psychological studies of obedience and conformity. He’ll also discuss the power of disobedience, and why he has embraced civil disobedience as part of the Extinction Rebellion campaign.

DOORS: 19:00
START: 19:30
Admission is FREE and there will be a collection during the interval (suggested donation £3-5).
Venue: Smoke and Mirrors

Professor Davis is a researcher in cognitive psychology and chair in cognitive psychology at the University of Bristol, and a member of the Extinction Rebellion campaign.

27th March 2019 – Paul McGarrity: A Practical Guide To Attacking Castles

From the age of sieges and chivalry comes a show about medieval love, adrenaline junkies and an insane quest for glory. Join comedian and archaeologist Paul Duncan McGarrity as he explains how modern life could be so much better if we all take a moment and learn how to attack a castle.

DOORS: 19:00
START: 19:30
Admission is FREE and there will be a collection during the interval (suggested donation £3-5).
Venue: Smoke and Mirrors

From the host of the Ask an Archaeologist podcast and live show comes another hour of hysterical historical fun. ‘A more pleasant way to pass an hour could scarcely be found’ (BroadwayBaby.com).

27th February 2019 – Rebecca Fox: How to be Reasonable – By Someone Who Tried Everything Else

Most of us weren’t born reasonable. We were born into a superstitious culture with only our ramshackle primate brains to try and figure out what’s going on. Reason, an appreciation for evidence and critical thinking skills are virtues that most of us had to fight for and that we have to work hard to keep up in difficult situations.

Rebecca is no exception, she grew up believing many strange things and has had to train herself to think critically. Instead of being embarrassed by our former beliefs Rebecca thinks it is important to have compassion for and interest in what we used to believe and why we believed it. Instead of feeling shame for having been wrong, we should be proud that we had the courage to overturn beliefs that proved to be wrong.

In this talk Rebecca will discuss who she was before, and after she ‘became reasonable’ and overturn the myth that there is such a thing as ‘perfectly reasonable’ we are all, after all, a work in progress.

DOORS: 19:00
START: 19:30
Admission is FREE and there will be a collection during the interval (suggested donation £3-5).
Venue: Smoke and Mirrors

Rebecca is passionate about skeptical education because she has found the tools of skepticism to be profoundly empowering. Learning to think clearly has made her safer, more confident and happier. Drawing on her experience as a skeptical educator and comic book artist she will present some ideas that will help you improve your critical thinking skills and the way you think about how you think.

28th November 2018 – Stuart Newman: So You Think You Know How Banks Work…

Stuart Newman gets irate when people “who should know better” perpetuate incorrect descriptions of how things work. One topic in which this happens frequently is banking and, more generally, money.

In this talk he is hoping to bust any myths you might have about how banks work and why it matters. He’ll explain how we’ve tried to make banks safer since the financial crisis and the downsides to the approach we’ve taken. And he might throw in a bad joke or two.

DOORS: 19:00
START: 19:30
Admission is FREE and there will be a collection during the interval (suggested donation £3-5).
Venue: Smoke and Mirrors

Stuart is an economist who has had a varied career working in statistics, journalism, financial services and, before he grew up, as an English teacher in far-flung lands. He is overly enthusiastic about most things, speaks too loudly (often without thinking) and, according to his wife, is somewhat clever (although she may well have said “seldom”). He likes people so come say hello, even if you have no interest in banks.

24th October 2018 – Ronald Green: Time to Tell – A Look At How We Tick

Ronald Green, philosopher, linguist and author, will take a skeptical look into what we have been told about time, while delving into the philosophical and scientific ramifications and the centrality of our place within it all. Challenging what is naturally taken for granted, he will forge a link between philosophy and science, blowing away the cobwebs that obscure both. With time as the core of existence, Ronald’s contention that ‘now’ does not exist opens up questions as to the ‘reality’ of the past, the potential reality of the future, and leads us to central issues of Reality, Truth, Knowledge, Objectivity, the Self and Consciousness. In brief, a journey that goes to the heart of what it means to be human.

DOORS: 19:00
START: 19:30
Admission is FREE and there will be a collection during the interval (suggested donation £3-5).
Venue: Smoke and Mirrors

Ronald Green is the author of “Time To Tell: a look at how we tick” (iff Books, 2018) and “Nothing Matters: a book about nothing” (iff Books, 2011). Philosopher, linguist, university lecturer, with 13 ESL books published, Ronald has lectured and given workshops in Europe, North and South America and the Middle East on linguistics, ESL and the use of Internet in education. His short stories have been published widely.