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When?
Monday, May 5 2014 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Dr Chris White

What's the talk about?

Particle physics continues to excite public interest, due to various high profile discoveries in recent years. It also generates controversy, as ever larger experiments are needed to test present day theories. Nevertheless, particle physics (together with cosmology) aims to answer the most profound questions faced by humankind: what is the universe, where did it come from, and how will it end? In this talk, I will review our current best fundamental theory - the Standard Model of physics. This itself distils over a hundred years of research, culminating in the 2012 discovery of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider in CERN. Then, I will describe how we know that the Standard Model must actually be wrong, and how some of these issues may or may not be resolved.

 

Dr Chris White works in the Particle Physics Theory group at the University of Glasgow, specialising in the theory of quarks and gluons, which underpins physics at the Large Hadron Collider. He has recently also worked on quantum gravity, and at how to apply mathematics from particle physics to other research areas, such as optics and computer science.

When?
Monday, March 24 2014 at 7:00PM

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Where?

6 Granville Street
G3 7EE
Glasgow

Who?

What's the talk about?

Open to all, free of charge. Organised by Glasgow Skeptics, a grassroots-not-for-profit organisation committed to promoting understanding, critical thinking, and freedom of expression.  Debating the question will be: 

 

Yes

  • Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, Yes Scotland Advisory Board Member & SNP MEP Candidate
  • Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party
  • Cat Boyd, Radical Independence Campaign 

No

  • Jackson Carlaw MSP, Deputy Leader of the Scottish Conservatives
  • Jackie Ballie MSP, Scottish Labour Party, Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health
  • Willie Rennie MSP, Leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

 

 - - -

Doors open at 19:15

Start: 19:30

When?
Monday, March 10 2014 at 7:00PM

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Where?

Who?

What's the talk about?

Richard Wiseman is the UK’s only Professor for the Public Understanding of Psychology. Scientific American has called him “the most interesting and innovative experimental psychologist in the world today”.

Researching luck, deception, humour, self-help and paranormal beliefs, Richard has written a string of best-selling books that have been translated into over 30 languages, including Did You Spot the Gorilla?; The Luck Factor; Quirkology; Paranormality; 59 Seconds; and Rip It Up.

With over 100,000 followers on Twitter, he is one of the most popular psychologists in the world, and has produced more viral videos than anyone else in the UK, with more than 1 million subscribers to his YouTube channel.

He has spoken across the world, including keynote addresses to The Royal Society, The Swiss Economic Forum, Google and Amazon.

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The Admiral Bar

72a Waterloo Street

19:00 for 19:30

 

FREE and open to all

Dr. Dick Byrne

When?
Monday, February 24 2014 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Dr. Dick Byrne

What's the talk about?

Although many of our everyday judgements of intelligence in other species can be shown to be dubious, the idea that some species have developed superior intelligence is a respectable one. The tricky part is measuring it! Brain size seems more ‘objective’ than intelligence, but it too is not easy to compare across species. Also, having a large brain is not necessarily a ‘good thing’. Despite these difficulties, there’s been real progress in understanding what sorts of animal have specialized in intelligence, and what ecological problems have pushed their evolution in that direction. But there’s much less agreement about what their ‘higher intelligence’ actually is, perhaps because it can be several things. Purely quantitative differences in learning and memory may be responsible for a lot of what we notice and can measure. Yet human intelligence did not come from nowhere: and human intelligence includes the ability to understand how things work, whether those things are other people or systems of inanimate objects in the world. The big challenge will be discovering the precursors of this qualitative advance in other species.

 

Dick Byrne studies the evolution of cognition, particularly the origins of distinctively human characteristics, using evidence from species as diverse as great apes, elephants and domestic pigs. In 1987, with three colleagues, he set up the Scottish Primate Research Group, which now links 17 faculty and their research teams in an informal collaboration spanning 5 Scottish universities. Professor Byrne has published 1298 refereed journal articles, 64 invited book chapters, and edited 3 books. He was awarded the British Psychology Society Book Award 1997 for his O.U.P. monograph The Thinking Ape, and appointed to the fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2002.

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The Admiral Bar

72a Waterloo Street

19:00 for 19:30

FREE and open to all

Dr Gijsbert Stoet

When?
Monday, January 13 2014 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Dr Gijsbert Stoet

What's the talk about?

It is of enormous importance to study the psychological differences between men and women scientifically. For example, such research can ultimately help to understand why men and women suffer to different degrees from a number of mental disorders, why boys and girls do not always perform equally in schools, and why there are not equal numbers of men and women working in every profession.

 

In this talk, Gijsbert will discuss how research of gender differences is difficult to discuss without getting into ideological discussions.

 

Interestingly, both the left and right extremes of the political spectrum seem surprisingly united in rejecting a common sense approach to research of gender differences, especially when it come to accepting the role of biology in gender differences and sexuality. Stoet discusses how the influence of ideology severely limits the positive effect research could potentially have on dealing with existing gender gaps in society.

 

Gijsbert Stoet is an internationally renowned psychologist, currently working a Reader in Psychology at the University of Glasgow. Dr. Stoet is originally Dutch, and has worked a long time in England, Germany, and the USA. His current research focuses on cognitive psychology, education, and achievement gaps between men and women. His research is regularly covered in the national and international media.

 

- - -

The Admiral Bar

72a Waterloo Street

19:00 for 19:30

 

FREE and open to all

Chris Peters

When?
Monday, November 25 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Chris Peters

What's the talk about?

This isn’t just a simple talk; it’s a call to arms.

 

Every day, we hear claims about what is good for our health, bad for the environment, how to improve education, cut crime, and treat disease. Some are based on reliable evidence and scientific rigour. Many are not.  These claims can't be regulated; every time one is debunked another pops up – like a game of whack-a-mole. So how can we make companies, politicians, commentators and official bodies accountable for the claims they make? If they want us to vote for them, believe them, or buy their products, then we should ask them for evidence, as consumers, patients, voters and citizens.

 

The Ask for Evidence campaign has seen people ask a retail chain for the evidence behind its MRSA resistant pyjamas; ask a juice bar for the evidence behind wheatgrass detox claims; ask the health department about rules for Viagra prescriptions; ask for the studies behind treatments for Crohn's disease, and hundreds more. As a result, claims are being withdrawn and bodies held to account. 

 

This is geeks, working with the public, to park their tanks on the lawn of those who seek to influence us. And it's starting to work. Come and hear what the campaign is going to do next and how YOU can get involved.

Prof. Gordon A. Hughes

When?
Monday, November 11 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Prof. Gordon A. Hughes

What's the talk about?

An independent Scotland would be a classic, small, open, resouce-dependent country; however, the investment required to sustain or increase oil and gas production is considerably higher than in many other parts of the world.

Any energy-dependent economy must plan on the assumption of volaticle prices, combined with the need to maintain investment in both production and technology.

How have other resource-dependent countries responded to these problems? Couldn’t Scotland simply follow Norway’s example in setting up a Sovereign Wealth Fund? Are the predictions of the value of Scotland’s remaining oil credible, or reasonable? What would be the effect, on other industries and on Scotland as a whole, of oil and gas forming a far larger proportion of the Scottish economy? And finally, does it make sense to assume that the rest of the UK would choose to remain dependent on imported gas from Scotland?

This talk seeks to answer all these questions and more.

Professor Gordon Hughes was a senior adviser on energy and environmental policy at the World Bank until 2001. He is currently a Professor of Economics at the University of Edinburgh. His main fields of interest are natural resources, environmental economics, and public economics.

Michael Fay

When?
Monday, October 28 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Michael Fay

What's the talk about?

A brief history of nano – which goes back further than you might think – and where we are now. A story that includes scientists, futurologists, hucksters, terrorists, politicians, the media, and everyone else. Alongside the genuine excitement in the possibilities, nanotechnology has also come with the unwelcome accompaniment of a great deal of both hype and alarmism. How much is the reality swamped by the Hollywood plot device, and what does it tell us about the link between science and the public?

 

Michael is Research fellow at Nottingham Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Centre, part of Nottingham University were he is responsible for the day to day operation of the Nottingham Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre microscopy suite. He was also responsible for the production of the world's smallest periodic table which was written on a human hair. This feat was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records in 2011.

Prof. Ian Reid

When?
Monday, October 14 2013 at 7:30PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Prof. Ian Reid

What's the talk about?

Antidepressant prescribing has more than quadrupled over the last decade. What does this mean? Will everyone be addicted to them soon? Are we medicalising everyday distress? Why don't we get to the root of the problem with talking treatments anyway? Do antidepressant drugs work? How do they work?

Prof. Ian Reid, Division of Applied Medicine, will debate these questions and more. Bring your preconceptions, but be prepared to lose them...

And Other Skeptical Questions About Education

Stuart Ritchie

When?
Monday, September 16 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Stuart Ritchie

What's the talk about?

 

As if teachers didn’t have a hard enough job, they’re beset on all sides by peddlers of pseudo-scientific interventions and theorists with political agendas.

 

In this talk, Stuart Ritchie, a PhD Psychology student at The University of Edinburgh, attempts to set out the science behind many controversial questions surrounding education, including:

 

• Does going to school make you smarter?

• Are there multiple ‘styles’ of learning?

• How does the education system affect social mobility?

• What can emerging sciences like neuroscience and genetics offer education?

• Does class size or teacher quality matter for educational achievement?    

 

Stuart is a PhD Psychology student in the Psychology Department at The University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on two questions: (a) which educational interventions improve learning, and which don’t work?, and (b) what are the effects of education, anyway? he also has secondary interests in other areas, like the psychology of religion and the paranormal.

 

 

Stevyn Colgan

When?
Monday, September 2 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Stevyn Colgan

What's the talk about?

Stevyn joined the police because of a bet with his father. His career in the force was as unconventional as his entry: he spent most of it challenging the efficacy of firmly-entrenched ideas and working practices, and keeping a skeptical eye upon whether police officers were offering the best service for the public.

He retired in 2010 after 30 years of service, during which he was a member of the award-winning Met Police Problem Solving Unit that used business techniques and creative thinking to tackle issues that did not respond to traditional policing/enforcement methods.

 

Stevyn Colgan is an author, artist, songwriter and public speaker. He is one of the ‘QI Elves’ who supply the questions for the popular BBC TV series and co-writes its sister show, The Museum of Curiosity, for BBC Radio 4.

He has also, among other things, been a chef, a potato picker, a milkman and a police officer. He has written TV scripts for Gerry Anderson and Doctor Who and briefing notes for two Prime Ministers. He’s helped build dinosaur skeletons for the Natural History Museum and movie monsters for Bruce Willis to shoot at. He has been set on fire twice, been shot at once, and has given hundreds of talks across the UK and USA on a variety of subjects including problem solving, Cornish mythology and why he believes that he wasn’t intelligently designed.

He is the author of Joined-Up Thinking (Pan Macmillan 2008), Henhwedhlow: The Clotted Cream of Cornish Folk Tales (Kowethas 2010) and Constable Colgan’s Connectoscope® (Unbound 2013). He is currently writing a comedy crime novel and a book about art, recording an album of his own songs and developing an animated series based on Constable Colgan’s Connectoscope®.

He stops inordinately frequently for tea.

When?
Monday, August 19 2013 at 7:00PM

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Where?

72a Waterloo Street

Who?
Kathryn Ford

What's the talk about?

The notion that one can judge a person’s character on the basis of their facial appearance is an idea that dates back to the ancient Greeks and for a short period, the practice of physiognomy was considered scientific. Despite the fact that this ancient practice has long been discredited, the idea that one can “read” a person’s character simply by looking at their face still persists within folk psychology. In fact, this belief and our natural tendency to judge people on the basis of facial appearance has a surprisingly pervasive effect on all of our lives.

In this talk, Kathryn Ford will look at the modern face of physiognomy, trying to answer questions such as: why do we judge people as soon as we see them; how accurate are these judgements; and does facial appearance affect how people are treated within the criminal justice system?

Warning: This talk will involve some discussion of rape.

 

Kathryn Ford received a BSc in Neuroscience and Psychology from Keele University in 2011 and an MSc in Evolutionary Psychology from Brunel University in 2012.