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Jerry Coyne

When?
Monday, November 26 2012 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Jerry Coyne

What's the talk about?

 

Help us fund Jerry's trip to Scotland!

Evolution is one of the best-established scientific theories around, with mountains of evidence from a variety of fields supporting it.  Despite that, many people throughout the world simply reject the tenets of modern Darwinism.  In this talk, Jerry will summarize the variety of evidence for evolution - evidence so strong and multifarious that evolution has graduated from theory to fact - document the resistance to evolution in the US and throughout the world, and explore the reasons for this rejection.  Those reasons touch not only on religion, but on the kind of social dysfunction that is associated with religiosity throughout the world.

Jerry Coyne is a Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago and a member of both the Committee on Genetics and the Committee on Evolutionary Biology. 

He received a B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary. He then earned a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology at Harvard University in 1978, working in the laboratory of Richard Lewontin. After a postdoctoral fellowship in Timothy Prout's laboratory at The University of California at Davis, he took his first academic position as assistant professor in the Department of Zoology at The University of Maryland. In 1996 he joined the faculty of The University of Chicago.

Jerry has written over 110 refereed scientific papers and 80 other articles, book reviews, and columns, as well as a scholarly book about his field (Speciation, co-authored with H. Allen Orr). He is a frequent contributor to The New Republic, The Times Literary Supplement, and other popular periodicals.

His book, Why Evolution is True, is described by E.O. Wilson, famous sociobiologist, as a "clear, well-written explanation of evolution"; by Neil Shubin - author of Your Inner Fish - as "a stunning achievement"; by Richard Dawkins as "marvellous" and by Steven Pinker as "superb". Jerry himself has been described by Richard Dawkins as "the principal guru on evolutionary genetics in the world".

Dr Gary Lewis

When?
Tuesday, November 13 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Dr Gary Lewis

What's the talk about?

Social and political attitudes are strikingly variable between individuals. Some value ethnic diversity, while others believe that non-indigenous individuals should be repatriated to their land of origin. And while some feel religion ought to play no role in government, others strongly advocate God’s law as national law.

Research exploring why individuals differ in such attitudes has almost exclusively focused on environmental influences (e.g. upbringing, education). To the surprise of many, however, recent evidence implicates a role for genetic factors. The talk will introduce this behaviour genetic approach for understanding origins of social and political attitudes and explore some of the key insights and controversies in this emerging field.

Dr Gary Lewis received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2011, following up with a SAGE Junior Fellowship at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2011-12). Currently a Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Stirling and Honorary Lecturer in Genetic Epidemiology at at Kings College, London, his interests lie in the origins of social, moral, and political attitudes, largely from a genetic and neuroimaging perspective.

"This meeting believes there is no evidence of catastrophic warming remotely as catastrophic as the regulations, taxes and other costs imposed to ameliorate it."

When?
Tuesday, October 30 2012 at 7:00PM

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Where?

134-136 West George Street

Who?

What's the talk about?

Quoting from the UKIP Glasgow website:

"Lord Christopher Monckton of Brenchley, world renowned sceptic on the issues of global warming and anthropological climate change, has confirmed that he will be speaking at the debate being organised by UKIP Glasgow branch on Tuesday 30th October 2012.

Members of the public are invited to join the audience at 7.00 for a 7.30 start on the upper floor of Yates. 134-136 West George Street Glasgow at a public debate on the question: "This meeting believes there is no evidence of catastrophic warming remotely as catastrophic as the regulations, taxes and other costs imposed to ameliorate it."

Over the past few years Christopher Monckton has been much in demand worldwide to speak on the issue of global warming and climate change addressing huge audiences in Canada, United States of America, Australia and New Zealand. Now people in the Glasgow area can come and hear him in person give his contribution to the debate."

We might have phrased things a little differently, but there's info you need. As far as we can tell, the event is free. Hope you'll be able to make it!

Dr Nicola Barclay

When?
Monday, October 29 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Dr Nicola Barclay

What's the talk about?

We spend almost a third of our lives asleep, but what happens to our brain and body whilst we slumber? Whilst we think of sleep as a time when our body winds down, there are actually a host of complex physiological processes governing this secret side of our lives. These processes help to make sleep a somewhat automatic process, but when this automaticity breaks down, sleep can become a very difficult and troublesome behaviour. This is particularly evident for individuals with insomnia. In this talk, Nicola will speak about the processes underlying sleep and will also address some of the popular myths and misconceptions about sleep, aiming to answer questions such as:

Do we all really need 8 hours sleep per night? Why do we feel sleepy when we wake up? Does cheese make us dream? Are sleepwalkers really asleep? Do camomile and lavender really help us sleep? How does alcohol affect our sleep? Why are some people night owls and others morning larks? What causes jet-lag? Are we, as a nation, sleep deprived?  

In answering these questions, Nicola will also explain what we can do to try to get enough sleep in our 24/7 lifestyles. 

Nicola L. Barclay, BA, MSc, PhD is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology, and Associate Director of the Northumbria Centre for Sleep Research, at University of Northumbria, UK. She obtained her PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. Dr. Barclay’s research primarily focuses on understanding the interplay between genetic and environmental influences in the onset of sleep disturbances, in particular insomnia. Using quantitative genetic techniques, her research investigates i) the magnitude to which genetic and environmental factors influence sleep quality and associated phenotypes (such as diurnal preference/ circadian rhythmicity); ii) specific social determinants of sleep quality; and iii) statistical gene-environment interaction. Using molecular genetic techniques, her research focuses on identifying specific genetic polymorphisms (such as serotonin, PER and CLOCK genes) associated with sleep disturbances and indices of circadian rhythmicity, and investigating the interaction between genetic vulnerabilities and stress in the onset of sleep problems. In addition, her work focuses on understanding cognitive biases associated with sleep disturbances. Dr. Barclay’s research is conducted in collaboration with researchers from numerous institutions, including Northumbria University (UK); Goldsmiths, University of London (UK); The Institute of Psychiatry (UK); the University of Surrey (UK); the University of Sheffield (UK); the University of Pittsburgh (USA); and the University of Washington (USA).

Prof. Keith Laws

When?
Tuesday, October 16 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Prof. Keith Laws

What's the talk about?

CBT for severe mental disorder CBT has been promoted as the ‘most developed’ of the talking therapies by the Layard report and led to the conclusion to invest £0.6 billion to provide CBT in 250 dedicated therapy centres across England (the so-called ‘Improving Access to Psychological Therapies’ [IAPT] initiative).

CBT has been viewed as a modern panacea for almost every ailment. In particular, NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) recently re-approved CBT for use in “all people with schizophrenia”, recommended it for bipolar depression and of course, is widely used with simple depression. While CBT is assumed to be ‘evidence-based’, the evidence base for the effectiveness of CBT in reducing symptoms and preventing relapse in these disorders may be much less than previously thought. So, why is it still promoted?

 

Keith R Laws C.Psychol, AFBPsS, FHEA is Professor of Cognitive Neuropsychology at the University of Hertfordshire, UK. He holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, UK. He is a Chartered Psychologist, Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Professor Laws is the author of more than 100 peer-reviewed articles in international journals, many book chapters and abstracts and recently a book entitled ‘Category-Specificity: Evidence for Modularity of Mind’. Additionally, his research on cognitive function in schizophrenia has received wide recognition and several awards. Several areas of Prof Laws research (e.g. the impact of ecstasy on memory, the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in severe mental disorder and sex differences in multitasking) have generated significant public, professional and press interest. His work has been reproetd widely in the national and international media (including Sunday Telegraph, Independent, Times, Guardian, Sun, Mirror, Reuters, Radio 4 Today programme, Radio 5, Radio 1).

Dr Kevin Smith

When?
Tuesday, September 25 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

Who?
Dr Kevin Smith

What's the talk about?

Seasoned sceptics will be aware of the delusional nature of homeopathy, a ‘therapeutic’ modality based on the absurd notion that absent molecules, removed by dilution, can nonetheless exert biological effects. The idea that homeopathy has any scientific validity represents a fringe viewpoint, one not entertained by serious scientists nor supported by reason and evidence.

The science-based objections to homeopathy have been well-rehearsed – albeit to little avail, as homeopathy appears to be intact despitedecades of reasoned objections from scientists and skeptics. However, the ethical implications of homeopathy have been less well explored. It is important to consider homeopathy from an ethical perspective: there are serious negative outcomes associated with homeopathy in terms of both its practice and promulgation. A utilitarian analysis leads to the conclusion that homeopathy is ethically unacceptable and ought to be actively rejected by all agents who encounter it, including physicians, healthcare professionals and educators.

In these straitened times, it is particularly unacceptable that NHS funds are afforded to homeopathy. For example, Glasgow has an NHS-funded ‘homeopathic hospital’, courtesy of NHS largesse. Another example: last year Ninewells hospital in Dundee advertised for a ‘homeopathic doctor’ (salary up to £68k for 8 hours/week). The expenditure of scarce public healthcare resources on pseudoscientific ‘medicine’ is ethically indefensible.

 

Kevin Smith is a bioethicist and scientist (genetics). Earlier this year his paper ‘Against Homeopathy – A Utilitarian Perspective’ was published in the prominent journal Bioethics. Publication was met with approval from several scientists and skeptics worldwide – and strong condemnation and vigorous repudiation by homeopathic ideologues.

Prof Darren Monckton & Dr Colin Clark

When?
Monday, September 10 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Prof Darren Monckton & Dr Colin Clark

What's the talk about?

with Prof Darren Monckton & Dr Colin Clark 

 

Part 1: Darren Monckton, University of Glasgow, Professor of Human Genetics

Evolution through natural selection has generated a vast array of biological diversity with the planet populated by millions of different species, of plants, animals and microbes. This biological diversity has its primary foundation in the genetic differences between species. However, defining what exactly constitutes a species remains a persistent problem in biology. Likewise, what defines a sub-species or race, remains even more subjective. Modern humans evolved in Africa about one million years ago and spread out of Africa to populate the planet about 60,000 years ago.  Understanding how human genetic diversity is differentially distributed remains critical in our current efforts to identify disease-causing genetic variants and use these to develop novel therapies.  In his talk, Darren will examine the degree of genetic variation that exists among all humans, that which is "population specific", and gene flow between populations, to help to shed some light on whether or not race exists. 

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Part 2: Dr Colin Clark, University of Strathclyde, Senior Lecturer in Sociology

Colin's presentation, from a social constructionist position, will argue that 'races' do not exist in a fixed biological sense. Further, the more recent designation of 'ethnic groups' is an equally dangerous tool for social/group categorisation. Our concern should be with the way in which the term 'race' is routinely deployed, situated and reproduced for ideological and political ends. A preferred focus might be with the process of 'racialisation'; that is, we should be critically examining the ways in which ideas of 'race' become racialised in an everyday manner by those in power in order to oppress, subjugate and discriminate. That is, processes of racialisation have very real and serious material consequences for those groups that have been effectively racialised (for example, in Glasgow, witness the recent experiences of the Roma in Govanhill). In short, Colin will argue that 'race' is a monster, and that as an analytical concept, it is both flawed and redundant.


Darren G. Monckton obtained a BSc in biochemistry from the University of Bath (1989) and a PhD in human genetics from the University of Leicester (1992). He did postdoctoral research in Baylor College of Medicine and MD Anderson Cancer Center (Texas, USA), where he was the Muscular Dystrophy Association Sammy Davies Junior Neuromuscular Disease Research Fellow. In 1996 he took up a lectureship in genetics at the University of Glasgow, where he was also the recipient of a Lister Institute Research Fellowship. He was the Scientific Meetings Secretary of the Genetics Society from 2002-2006. In 2005, in collaboration with the artist Jacqueline Donachie, he produced a film ‘Tomorrow belongs to me’. He is currently Professor of Human Genetics and Director of the University of Glasgow Wellcome Trust four-year PhD programme. He teaches genetics on a range of courses, and leads a research team investigating the basis of genetic instability in disorders such as myotonic dystrophy and Huntington disease. He has presented more than 100 invited seminars and lectures, including the Genetics Society Balfour Lecture, the Tenovus Scotland medal lecture and many to patient groups. He is a Scientific Advisor to the Myotonic Dystrophy Support Group (UK) and the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation (USA).

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Dr Colin Clark is Associate Dean (Postgraduate Research) and Head of the Graduate School for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. He is also Senior Lecturer in Sociology. His research is mainly located within the broad field of Ethnic and Racial Studies, with particular interests in Romani Studies, nationalism and migration. For further details please see here

Citizen Science for Skeptics

Alice Sheppard

When?
Tuesday, August 28 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Alice Sheppard

What's the talk about?

 Astronomy has been the subject of wonder and speculation for as long as historical records exist. As with all science, people got some things right – and, even with the best methods available, other things wrong.

Since 2007, Alice Sheppard has run the Galaxy Zoo Forum, the discussion area for an online astronomy project with 300,000 members worldwide. Galaxy Zoo has so far produced 21 papers, whose authors and acknowledged contributors include several ordinary citizens. Some of its findings were a direct result of questions or collections of objects created by the users, who became “Citizen scientists”.

Alice takes us through some of the best and worst of astronomical history, and what ancient and modern mistakes are made today. We will hear the questions people have come to Galaxy Zoo with, the ways in which biases were found and dealt with by the scientists and participants, the beautiful and inspiring projects created by untrained people and the scientific thinking they learnt for themselves to apply.

We also take a look at citizen science in general, how Galaxy Zoo taught large numbers of people to understand and use science, and explore what this might mean for skepticism.

Alice co-founded Cardiff and Hackney Skeptics in the Pub. She’s also been an admin of various things, an English and thrown-off-the-course science teacher, an office supervisor for a charity for disabled people, and an occasional astronomy writer. She’s currently in London doing an MSc in Astrophysics – all Galaxy Zoo’s fault, obviously.

In the meantime, you can classify a few galaxies for yourself at www.galaxyzoo.org

Dr Brooke Magnanti

When?
Tuesday, July 24 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Dr Brooke Magnanti

What's the talk about?

What is a Sex Myth and how do we spot one? Where do our assumptions about sex and sexuality come from, and do they have merit? In a lighthearted ramble through the various dark corners of sex and the media, Dr Brooke Magnanti examines the data for widely believed truisms, like the one that adult entertainment - strip clubs, massage parlours, and the like - cause crime. Drawing both on her experience as a sex worker and career as a scientist, she plumbs the depths of sexual myth-making and exposes that what we think we know, we often don't know much about at all.

Dr Brooke Magnanti, perhaps better known as previously anonymous author Belle de Jour, wrote the award-winning blog 'Secret Diary of a London Call Girl' that inspired 5 books and a television series starring Billie Piper. She has a doctorate in forensic science, and has also worked in cheminformatics, genetic epidemiology, and cancer research. She lives and works in Fort William, Scotland. "The Sex Myth" is her first book under her real name.

 

http://www.sexonomics.co.uk

 

 

Dr William Webster

When?
Tuesday, June 12 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Dr William Webster

What's the talk about?

It is often said that there are more Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) / video surveillance cameras per person in the UK than in any other country in the world.  The UK’s ‘love affair’ with surveillance cameras has been fuelled by the widespread belief that they are effective in the ‘fight against crime’, including the ‘war on terror’, and because they foster a sense of safety in those being surveyed.  The UK is therefore portrayed as the world leader in the provision of CCTV cameras and systems in public places - and the policy processes and governance structures associated with their introduction and deployment have been copied by many countries.

In this discussion Dr Webster will review the key features of the CCTV revolution in the UK and will question some of the key assumptions underpinning not only the deployment of CCTV in the UK, but also their subsequent transfer around the world.  The assumptions that: CCTV works, that the cameras are popular and that they are ubiquitous will be challenged and refined.  In doing so, the presentation will question the logic of the CCTV revolution and consequently the rationality of public policy-making processes.

 


Dr Webster is the Programme Director of the MBA in Public Service Management programme at the University of Stirling and the Chair of the Living in Surveillance Societies (LiSS) COST research programme, a 4 year European multidisciplinary social science research programme involving over 150 academics in 26 countries.

What are the options, and where is the evidence?

Ewan Hoyle

When?
Monday, May 14 2012 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Ewan Hoyle

What's the talk about?

Drug policy is a highly controversial political issue that the vast majority of politicians instinctively avoid. Policy in the area is frequently guided less by the available scientific and economic evidence than by consideration of the perceived opinions of the public and the media.

In this talk, Ewan will present the evidence indicating that certain reforms of drug policy are likely to be far more successful in limiting harm. He will also present important evidence indicating that any evidence-led reforms are highly likely to be politically popular as well as effective. Finally, Ewan will discuss the importance of language and terminology to any future debate on alternative policies and how alternative drug policy options can be presented so that politicians no longer fear engaging with the issue.

 

Ewan is the founder of Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform and lead author of their newly updated drug policy "Protecting individuals and communities from drug harms".  He has a Masters in Neuroscience from the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London and is currently completing a Masters in Public Policy at the University of Glasgow.  He has recently had comment pieces published in the British Medical Journal and "The House" and blogs regularly at Liberal Democrat Voice.

When?
Sunday, April 29 2012 at 2:00PM

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Where?

262 Woodlands Road,
Glasgow,
G3 6NE

Who?

What's the talk about?

The book we’ll be discussing at the April book club is Delusions of Gender, by Cornelia Fine, as voted for by members of the Facebook group.

All welcome.