Who: Paulina Wegrzynek
When: Tuesday, September 8th 7:30pm
Where: The Westgate
Computer-mediated communication and social media have become a pervasive phenomenon in today’s society. People use social media as a platform for social expression and a tool for social change. Most recently, it has been argued that the accessibility and the mobility of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter mediated the crowd into participation in the 2011 English riots, the Occupy protests, and the “Arab Spring”. However, research into the social concepts of group decision making and group polarisation in the context of modern communication strategies is lacking. This talk will provide an overview of a recent study addressing this topic and discuss its findings and implications.
Paulina Wegrzynek is a research assistant in psychology and a postgraduate neuropsychology student at Bath Spa University. Her research interests and current work focus on social media and group decision making, employee well-being, and a link between depression and inflammation.
Who: Stevyn Colgan
When: Tuesday, October 6th 7:30pm
Where: The Westgate
Skepticism and critical thinking isn’t just about UFOs, bad pharma and Creationism. It’s about the everyday things too. After leaving school Stevyn gained places at both art and catering colleges, but turned them down and instead accepted a drunken £50 bet with his homicide detective father that he could survive six months as a police officer. He consequently joined the Metropolitan Police Service in London and ended up staying for 30 years.
During his service he found himself frequently challenging the traditional or ‘accepted’ ways of doing things; critical thinking and his own natural skepticism led him to explore different way of doing things, often in innovative and unusual ways. These included using wizards to tackle street gambling, lollipops to stop anti-social behaviour and dog shows to prevent homicides. Ultimately, he was asked by Scotland Yard and the Home Office to be part of an experimental unit to explore some of these new ideas, many of which have now found their way into everyday policing across the UK. The Skeptical Bobby is all about grass-roots skepticism and why we should be critical thinkers in every aspect of our lives.
Stevyn Colgan is an author, artist, songwriter, speaker and oddly-spelled Cornishman. He is one of the ‘Elves’ that research and write the popular BBC TV series QI and co-writes its sister show, The Museum of Curiosity, for BBC Radio 4. He has, among other things, been a chef, a potato picker, a milkman and a police officer. He has written briefing notes for two Prime Ministers and TV scripts for Gerry Anderson and Doctor Who. He’s helped build dinosaur skeletons for the Natural History Museum, movie monsters for Bruce Willis to shoot at, and was the official artist for the 2006 National Children’s Book Fair. He has been set on fire twice, been shot at once, and he is a regular at festivals and events such as Skeptics in the Pub, Cornbury, Harrogate, Hay, Latitude and the Edinburgh Fringe.
He is the author of Joined-Up Thinking, Henhwedhlow: The Clotted Cream of Cornish Folk Tales, Constable Colgan’s Connectoscope, and The Third Condiment. He has co-written Saving Bletchley Park – due to be published in October 2015 with Dr Sue Black and his new book Why did the Policeman cross the Road? will be published in May 2016 (if you want to know how to police elephants using bees, or why an Austrian mayor leaves fake vomit down alleyways, or how the phantom bus stops of Dusseldorf help protect dementia patients, please consider pledging here.) He is currently writing a novel and a book about art, and recording an album of his own songs. He stops inordinately frequently for tea.
Who: Michael Marshall
When: Tuesday, November 3rd 7:30pm
Where: The Westgate
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 Project Director of the Good Thinking Society and the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work 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.