25th April 2018 – Lois Bibbings: Outcasts, Cowards and Quakers – Re-examining the Conscientious Objectors of the First World War

This talk will consider conventional ideas about objectors alongside an exploration of who these men (and women) were, what they did and why, what happened to them and how they were viewed. A complex picture emerges which takes us a long way from stereotypical images of objectors as, for example, despised, rejected, unmanly, lacking courage and/or devotedly religious.  

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

Lois S. Bibbings is Professor of Law, Gender and History at the University of Bristol. She is one of the curators of the ‘Refusing to Kill: Bristol’s World War 1 Conscientious Objectors’ exhibition (which moves to Bristol Records Office in the summer) and a member of Remembering the Real WW1 (https://network23.org/realww1/about/). She is also helping to put together a national WW1 festival in 2019.

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28th March 2018 – Jamie Bartlett: Radicals – What’s the Future of Politics?

Jamie will talk about his new book Radicals, which is an exploration of the individuals, groups and movements rejecting the way we live now, and are attempting to find alternatives.
Jamie will present the political ideas of the future and invite the audience to consider:

  • What will happen if AI takes all the jobs?
  • Can Europe handle 250 million climate change refugees?
  • Is society’s attitude to relationships completely wrong?
  • Will psychedelic movements change the world?
  • Is it possible to live together without countries?

He will take us inside the strange and exciting worlds of the innovators, disruptors, idealists and extremists who think society is broken, and believe they know how to move on in an improved direction.

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

Jamie Bartlett is the Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the think-tank Demos, where he specialises in online social movements and the impact of technology on society. He is also author of Radicals (2017) about political outsiders and The Dark Net (2014) about internet subcultures. He is also a regular commentator on national and international media outlets and recently presented the two-part BBC documentary series ‘The Secrets of Silicon Valley’.

24th January 2018 – [CANCELLED] #Dave: Literally the Best Magician

CANCELLED

Unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances we are having to cancel this event. We apologise for any inconvenience this causes.

After a sell-out run at Edinburgh Fringe and fresh off the back of hosting QED 2017, Skeptic regular Dave Alnwick tours his new show ‘Literally the Best Magician’.

Is Dave Literally the Best Magician? He certainly thinks so and intends to spend an hour proving it. Working through every genre of Magic, Dave hopes to ‘one up’ the classics of conjuring.

Ok, enough of this third person charade. I’m doing a Magic show. It’ll be really good, you should totally come. In the past I’ve focused on mentalism (y’know that Derren Brown mind reading business) but I thought I’d step away from that and have a go at old school stuff. It’s not easy making tricks with rope, tissues and post-it notes interesting but I’m pretty sure I’ve smashed it.

“He is the kind of performer who could probably make reading the dictionary into an entertaining show” – WorldMagicReview.com

I’ll even do a talk after the show about Magic. I’ll teach you a trick. We’ll do a Q&A. Maybe have a drink. It’ll be dope.

See you there.

DOORS: 19:00
START: 19:30
Admission is FREE and there will be a collection during the interval.
Venue: Smoke and Mirrors

25th October 2017 – Danny Chambers: With a Quack Quack Here and a Quack Quack There – Veterinary Pseudoscience

You may be surprised to hear that the anti-vaccination movement is not restricted to human medicine – animal owners are increasingly turning their back on conventional medicine and seeking out unproven alternatives, often at the detriment of their animal’s health. You might be even more surprised to learn about the myriad other forms of pseudoscience animals are subjected to, including the common practice of ‘horse psychics’.

Danny Chambers will discuss the use of pseudoscience in veterinary practice and the implications this has on human health and wellbeing, including the campaign he has led to prevent vets from prescribing homeopathy for animals.

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

Danny Chambers grew up on a farm in Devon, graduated from Liverpool Vet School and has since worked as a vet across the UK, as well as in New Zealand, Africa, India and Iraq. He works for Langord Vets, University of Bristol.

27th September 2017 – Ian Ridpath: UFOs – Fact or Fantasy?

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According to one estimate, around 100 UFOs are sighted worldwide every 24 hours – that’s one every 15 minutes. What’s causing all these reports? Are they, as believers claim, evidence that we are being visited by aliens from other planets? Or is there a more prosaic explanation? This hard-hitting talk by Ian Ridpath, astronomy writer and UFO sceptic, traces the growth of the flying saucer myth since the first sighting in 1947, and demonstrates some of the most common causes of UFO reports. The talk will discuss the implications of formerly top-secret government documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, and will end with Ian’s first-hand account of his own research into the Rendlesham Forest incident, a major event outside a US Air Force base at Woodbridge in Suffolk, still widely regarded as among the best UFO cases ever.

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

Ian Ridpath is a writer, editor, and long-time UFO skeptic. As an amateur astronomer, he is particularly interested in the way that celestial objects are misperceived as UFOs. He is probably best known for investigating and solving the Rendlesham Forest UFO case, sometimes termed Britain’s Roswell, which will form part of his talk.

Ian Ridpath’s UFO skeptic pages:
http://www.ianridpath.com/ufo/ufoindex.htm

23rd August 2017 – Bobby Stuijfzand: An Explosion of Data – Applications and Implications of a Data-Driven Society

Our ability to generate and use data has tremendously increased in the past few years. Data is now influencing many aspects of daily life, from tailoring your internet experience to the managing of traffic flows on smart motorways.

Data is also the key-driver behind major technological advances based on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Advances that, soon, are expected to have major effects on society as we know it (think for example about driverless cars, electronic personal assistants and the internet of things).

So, data is a powerful, promising and omnipresent force in modern day society. But this however, sits quite uncomfortably with many of us. We don’t always know where and when data is being collected, what it is being used for, and what we get back from it.   

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

During this talk, Bobby Stuijfzand will present some exciting applications of machine learning and how it might affect our lives in the near future. He will also discuss the implications of the exponential increase in data collection and usage on our society as well as our personal experience. Finally, he will consider how this increase in data collection might be viewed as a good or a bad thing on a societal and personal level.

26th July 2017 – Jonathan Pearce: How Violent is Islam Really?

This century has seen the emergence of Islam as a religion closely connected to violence and terrorism. With regrettable regularity the latest religiously inspired terror attack fills the news broadcasts around the world whether they be the work of ISIS, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda or other such group. However these events are also vociferously condemned by peaceful Islamic groups as being distinctly against the teachings of the Quran. Islam is a religion of peace and unity for many Muslim across the world.

To investigate whether violence is a part of Islam, and to what extent, Jonathan will examine in turn; the Quran, the history of the prophet of Muhammad, and modern day interpretations given by Muslims. However, regardless of his conclusion, Jonathan will consider what role political expediency plays in accepting the narrative that fundamentalists are acting outside of the religion. It may be more desirable to accept a more moderate interpretation of Islam, even if it is less accurate.

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

Jonathan is a philosopher and author of several books of philosophy and theology. He is a founding member of both Tippling Philosophers and the Skeptic Ink Network.