Posts Tagged Skeptics in the Pub

Charlotte Hardman – Feeding the mind: Is chocolate really as addictive as cocaine?

When:  Thursday,November 15th 2018, 7.30 – 11.00 PM
The Casa Bar, 29 Hope Street

Why is it so difficult to stop eating the chocolates even though we’re full? A popular idea is that certain foods like chocolate are addictive and that “food addiction” explains why so many people are overweight.

But does food really have the same effects on the mind and body as hard drugs? Or is food addiction simply a myth or an excuse for over-eating?
To answer these questions, I will talk about the latest scientific research on food and addiction with a particular focus on the role of psychology. I will consider the similarities but also the key differences between eating and substance use disorders.

Dr Charlotte Hardman is a lecturer in the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool. Her research examines the factors which influence appetite, eating and food preferences and she has worked in this area for more than 15 years, including designing and testing interventions to change eating behaviour. She has a PhD in Psychology and has published over 40 scientific papers in prestigious journals including Nature Reviews Endocrinology and the International Journal of Obesity.


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James Crossland – Fake News is Old News: The British Origins of 21st Century Psychological Warfare.

When:  Thursday, September 20th 2018, 7.30 – 11.00 PM
The Casa Bar, 29 Hope Street

In recent years, the idea of the internet being “weaponised” to disseminate propaganda and warp public perceptions has been presented as a new means of waging war. The idea of one state using the latest communications technology to engage in psychological warfare against another, however, is far from new, nor is it the uniquely Russian practice that it is often presented as today. As this talk will explain, so many of the psychological warfare techniques used by the trolls of today were not developed in Russian “bot factories”, but in top secret radio stations in Britain over 70 years ago. There, during the country’s darkest hour, a rag-tag group of journalists, poets and political hacks conspired to wage a war of words against Hitler’s Germany, and in so doing pioneered what we in the 21st century now call fake news, targeted propaganda, and communications hi-jacking.

James Crossland is a Senior Lecturer in International History at Liverpool John Moores University. A specialist in the history of modern warfare, intelligence and the laws of armed conflict, he is the author of War, Law and Humanity: the Campaign to Control Warfare, and Britain and the International Committee of the Red Cross, 1939-1945.

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Guest Authors

The Merseyside Skeptics Society is a non-profit group who aims to promote scientific skepticism and rational thinking. While we do have an organising board, to make decisions in the interest of the group and to plan specific group activities, we welcome the input of our members and attendees. That’s why we have an open monthly board meeting before each social event which anyone is welcome to attend and contribute to discussion.

It’s also why we have recently relaunched our blog showcasing the talent of some of the wonderful members and attendees of the Merseyside Skeptics Society.

We’ve had some really interesting topics with plant cell biologist and science communicator, Dr Geraint Parry explaining the differences between genetically modified and gene edited plants, Dr Sarah Clement has written about whether green spaces are really good for you, Christina Berry-Moorcroft wrote about the value of voluntourism and Karin McClure told us all about the GAPS diet.

If you’ve missed any of our previous posts you can find them in our archives.

We have some exciting topics coming up in the next few weeks but in the meantime, if you have any ideas for blog post topics or you think you’d like to write something for our blog, get in touch with our blog editor and let us know.



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The QED Skeptics in the Pub forum – topics wanted!

At every QED there has been a Skeptics in the Pub Forum – an open forum to discuss issues around the starting, running and expanding of a local Skeptics in the Pub group.

Whether you are a current organiser looking to share your successes, or want tips on how to expand, or are looking to set up a new group in your hometown, this is the place to be.

This year the forum will be moderated by:

  • Ian Scott – Ian is the founder of Glasgow Skeptics, who in 2014 hosted the largest public debate on Scottish independence of any non-aligned organisation. Ian is also the Acting Chief Executive of the Humanist Society Scotland, and Events Manager at the British Humanist Association.
  • Kash Farooq – Kash is an organiser of Nottingham Skeptics in the Pub and the co-founder of the popular PubhD network.
  • Alice Howarth – Alice is a PhD cancer researcher, co-host of the Skeptics with a K podcast and Secretary of the Merseyside Skeptics Society.

The forum will mainly be an open Q&A session, but if you have any topic that you’d particularly like to be covered, please leave a comment below and we’ll try to make sure it’s included during the discussion.

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Lifting The Lid: Ongoing adventures in the world of pseudoscience

Since joining the Good Thinking Society, I’ve been extensively touring my Skeptics in the Pub talk on the topic of hands-on skepticism, and the fun that can be had from exploring the pseudoscience around you.

I’d like to do as many talks as possible, so if you’d like me to talk for your Skeptics in the Pub, university group, humanist group or other, let me know and I’ll do my best to accommodate you. To book my talk, visit the Good Thinking Society’s website.

Lifting The Lid: Ongoing adventures in the world of pseudoscience

by Michael MarshallMichael Marshall: Bad News: How PR Came to Rule Modern Journalism

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 Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and Project Director of the Good Thinking Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work with the MSS 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.

(Alternative photos – Image 1, Image 2Image 3)

Requirements: projector, screen, audio playback (this talk involves some short video clips with sound).

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Guest Post: Pondering Evidence-Based Policy and the Geek Manifesto

Dr Benedict Michael is a NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow (DRF). He trained in Medicine in Liverpool, and has helped set up the NHS Northwest Neurological Infectious Diseases Research Network and Brain Infections UK and is a main author for the ABN/BIA National Encephalitis Guideline. Here, he shares his take on our recent guest speaker Mark Henderson’s ‘Geek Manifesto’:

I recently attended an interesting talk hosted by the Merseyside Skeptics Society and given by Mark Henderson, author of the “Geek Manifesto”, and one main thing struck me: Why are so many of the greatest proponents of evidence-based approaches not scientists?! As a physician, NIHR PhD Fellow, author of over 20 peer-reviewed scientific publications and active author in the Cochrane Collaboration, arguably the most widely respected evidence-based institution, I can claim at least some interest in this!

Although I commend Mark’s efforts, the non-scientific authors and proponents, if I can call them that (and by which I mean authors not regularly engaged in peer-reviewed scientific research publications and nothing pejorative), are not always in line with the scientific community.

In fact, many scientists and doctors oppose a fully evidence-based approach to guiding policy and practice, and some have gone so far as to raise the alarm against a cryptofacist evidence-based hegemony in which they find their practice constrained.

Now before you grab the pitch forks and tie me to a stake, let me explain. Read the rest of this entry »

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