Archive for category Skeptics in the Pub

The Psychology of Possession and Exorcism – by Chris French

When: Thursday, July 17th, 2014, 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Vines, 81 Lime St, Liverpool

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It can be argued that human beings tend to be intuitive dualists, finding it easy to believe that “mind-stuff” simply cannot be reduced to matter. Such intuitions underlie the belief that mind (or, as some would call it, “soul”) can become separated from the physical body. Indeed, most people go further and believe that consciousness can in some way survive physical death. Comforting though such beliefs may be, they also open the door to the possibility that other spiritual beings, both human and non-human, may at times take control of another person’s physical body. Belief in possession and exorcism is widespread in many societies, both ancient and modern. Neuropathological and sociocognitive factors that underlie such beliefs will be presented in this talk.

Professor Chris French is the Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a member of the Scientific and Professional Advisory Board of the British False Memory Society. He has published over 120 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims, as well as writing for the Guardian and The Skeptic magazine. His most recent book, co-authored with Anna Stone, is Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience.

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Is Cleanliness a Bad Thing? – by Sheena Cruickshank

When: Thursday, September 18th, 2014, 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Vines, 81 Lime St, Liverpool

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This talk will highlight how the rise in sanitation and vaccination in developed countries has seen a correlative prevalence of autoimmune disease and allergy, leading to the counterintuitive possibility that we might be able to cure the current wave of allergies and autoimmune diseases with worms.

Dr Sheena Cruickshank lectures in Immunology in the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Manchester. Her work explores the relationship between cleanliness and allergies.

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An Atheist on the Alpha Course – by Simon Clare

When: Thursday, October 16th, 2014, 8.00 – 11.00 PM
Where: The Vines, 81 Lime St, Liverpool

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The Alpha Course runs in 162 countries and has been attended, according to their website, by 25 Million people. Over a 9 week period, students are guided through Christian theology ostensibly to “Explore the meaning of Life”.

Simon Clare, an unabashed atheist, signed up to his local course in Brighton, wondering if his faithlessness would be challenged. Spoiler: He wasn’t converted but he was surprised at what he learnt about faith.

The new Archbishop Of Canterbury, Justin Welby, found his faith at the home of the Alpha Course and his election suggests that the Alpha model of spreading the word is now at the heart of Christianity’s struggle for survival. As well as giving an overview of the course from biblical history to singing in tongues, Simon will discuss what atheists can learn from the Alpha Course.

Simon Clare runs Horsham Skeptics in the Pub and is a founder member of the South East Skeptics Society.

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The Angels of Mons: a legend of the Great War – by Dr Dave Clarke

When: Thursday, May 15th, 2014, 8.00 PM

‘…the greatest wartime mystery of the 20th century…’ A.J.P. Taylor

One hundred years ago, in August 1914, a force of 30,000 crack British troops were surrounded outside the Belgian city of Mons by a massive German Army three times as strong. But at the very moment they expected to be annihilated the attack was suddenly halted, allowing the troops to escape and fight another day.

Back home, newspapers attributed the escape of the British Expeditionary Force to “a miracle” and many Christians came to believe that the Germans had been stopped by a vision of angels that appeared between them and the BEF. And as the war bogged down in the trenches wounded soldiers and nurses who cared for them came forward to claim they had witnessed the miracle at Mons. 

The Angels of Mons captured the imagination of thousands across the world, bringing hope of victory to the Allies and restoring faith to those who lost loved ones in the slaughter on the Western Front. As the centenary of the legend approaches the story lives on with plans for a battle of Mons trail and commemorative events to mark the beginning and end of the war in the Belgian city.
In this talk David Clarke – author of the definitive book on the mystery (The Angel of Mons, Wiley: 2004) – sets out to reveal the facts behind the story, drawing upon original documents and accounts from journalists who collected stories about the ‘angels’.
The talk follows the evolution of the story to the present day and asks if it really was ‘the first example of a modern urban legend’.

Dr David Clarke is an expert on folklore and supernatural beliefs. He is a senior lecturer in the Department of Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University. From 2008-2013 he worked as The National Archives consultant for the opening of the Ministry of Defence’s UFO files. His book The UFO Files (Bloomsbury 2012) is the first comprehensive history of the MoD’s UFO investigations. His website is dedicated to folklore and journalism: http://www.drdavidclarke.co.uk/

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Why Haven’t We Cured Cancer Yet? Debunking the Conspiracies – by Dr Vicky Forster

When: Thursday, March 20th, 2014, 8.00 PM

Millions of pounds is poured into cancer research and drug development every year and although cure rates for many forms of cancer have improved dramatically in the last fifty years, some remain exceptionally hard to treat. An increasing number of passionate cancer conspiracy theorists claiming that ‘the cure’ has already been found and is being suppressed and that unproven alternative therapies are better than conventional therapies, are threatening the health of cancer patients and the reputation of cancer charities, doctors and researchers.

This talk will aim to address misunderstandings about the basic biology of cancer, look for any evidence behind the most popular touted ‘alternative cancer therapies’ and hopes to stimulate discussion as to why there are a growing number of people who believe in these largely-unfounded conspiracies.

Dr. Vicky Forster is a cancer research scientist at Newcastle University, and a survivor of childhood cancer. She is also passionate blogger for a large cancer charity and tweets a lot about her own work and demanding evidence for alternative cancer treatments and therapies.

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What do faith healers, Roman gladiators and anal probes have in common? – by Big Heritage

When: Thursday, February 19th, 2014,  8.00 PM

The answer is, they all take centre stage in the Roman Medicine Roadshow, a public education workshop organised by Merseyside-based non-profit organisation, Big Heritage.

Developed by a team of archaeologists and funded by the Wellcome Trust; this project explores medicine in the Roman world, and examines how human remains and archaeological discoveries can tell us more about the practicalities and ethics of medicine in the past. Exploring the past also helps shed light upon the logic of modern-day faith healing and sacred temples by viewing them through 2nd century eyes.

This talk will be given by archaeologists from Big Heritage, and will consist of a light-hearted lecture followed by an opportunity to handle a range of Roman medical tools and casts of human remains from Roman Britain displaying a range of diseases and impact traumas.

http://www.bigheritage.co.uk/

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