What has Scientology got to Hide?
Aug 4 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
What has Scientology got to Hide? @ Conway Hall | London | United Kingdom

The Church of Scientology has a problem with free speech, according to three speakers who have dared to question the Church’s self-certification of itself as a religion and the claim made by its apostles, Tom Cruise and John Travolta, that it is a force for good.

US journalist Tony Ortega, author of an acclaimed biography, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, John Sweeney, the BBC Panorama journalist and author of Church Of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology and the publisher of both books, Humfrey Hunter, explain what it is like to question the word and the worth of The Church That Likes To Wear Dark Glasses.

Tony Ortega has written about Scientology as a journalist for nearly 20 years, and began working with Paulette Cooper about her life story while he was still at the Voice. Ortega appears in Alex Gibney’s HBO-produced documentary about Scientology, Going Clear, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

John Sweeney is a writer and journalist. His philosophy as a reporter is: ‘I poke crocodiles, if crocodiles they be, in the eye with a stick.’

He’s helped free seven people falsely accused of killing their babies and reported on wars, revolutions and trouble in 80 countries, but he’s most famous for doing an impression of an exploding tomato while investigating the Church of Scientology.

Humfrey Hunter previously published John Sweeney’s book, The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology, and last year brought Russell Miller’s landmark biography of Scientology’s founder, Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard, back into print for the first time in 27 years.

Books will be available to purchase and get signed on the night.

‘What Was & What Is’ with artist-in-residence Marjan Nemati
Aug 5 @ 7:00 pm
'What Was & What Is' with artist-in-residence Marjan Nemati @ Parasol unit foundation for contemporary art | London | United Kingdom

This event will be an opportunity to hear Parasol unit’s current artist in residence, Marjan Nemati, talk about her current body of work, What Was and What Is.

“We are living in an era of destruction, reconstruction and renovation: an era where history is abolished and reassembled. Structures collapse and the old is superseded by the new. Meanwhile whatever survives turns into a token of what had been; an evidence of time, a mark of an era.” Marjan Nemati

This event is held in partnership with MOP Foundation.

7 pm | Free | Booking required

Beyond a Joke? Why Studying Comedy is Important to Higher Education
Aug 5 @ 7:30 pm
Beyond a Joke? Why Studying Comedy is Important to Higher Education @ The Star and Garter | London | United Kingdom

The children’s author EB White once quipped: ‘Analysing humour is like dissecting a live frog. No one is interested and the frog dies.’ Studying comedy, at university level, has encouraged a number of criticisms, but two have dominated: that it is too frivolous when more ‘serious’ matters need to be investigated; and it is somehow beyond investigation because some people are just funny – they have ‘funny bones’ – and cannot, therefore, be taught. Reflecting this, when politicians, and the various advisory bodies, consider the direction that Higher Education should take, rarely are there worries that comedy is being insufficiently studied or researched. Instead, comedy is seen as something that should be extra-curricular, like the Footlights at Cambridge, and not part of serious academic work. To suggest otherwise leads to accusations of ‘dumbing down’, wasting public money, and ‘soft’ subjects on the curriculum.

In this talk I want to suggest that studying comedy offers us fascinating insights and important possibilities. A sense of humour, and a capacity to laugh in response to a cognitive or emotional state, is unique to humans. It is not surprising, therefore, that by looking at laughter we can discover important aspects about what it means to be human. The talk will seamlessly (hopefully) explore a path through evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, health care, pedagogy, cultural anthology, the performing arts, and other academic fields, looking at the work of comedy and humour scholars. Specifically, the areas discussed will include: the benefits of tickling rats to neuroscience; why Jeremy Clarkson is of political significance; and why you can get away with making very close-to-the-knuckle jokes in Japan but only under very specific circumstances. The talk will also briefly look at stand-up comedy, and my own doctoral research in which I argued that laughter rarely has much to do with anything being objectively funny, but is more connected to human relationships. I also want to briefly argue that teaching stand-up to undergraduates has value beyond an academic study of a performing art, in that it works well with widening participation goals, as well as developing vocational and transferable skills. Finally, I shall examine Bright Club, the comedy club where academics present research as comedy.

Tim Miles wrote jokes for BBC radio as an undergraduate, subsequently running his own comedy club booking the then-unknown Al Murray and Graham Norton. Having taught in Higher Education for ten years he was awarded a PhD by the University of Surrey in 2014, his doctoral research examining ways of analysing live stand-up comedy. He has been a member of the editorial board of Comedy Studies since 2010. He has published on a number of areas relating to comedy, including: comic responses to the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland; humour and the erotic; and emotion in stand-up comedy. In 2015 his book Reading between the Punch-Lines; a Guide to Analysing Stand-up Comedy will be published. In 2015 he will also be editing an edition of Comedy Studies devoted to Japanese comedy. He occasionally performs stand-up at various Bright Clubs, winning the ‘worst pun’ award in 2013 for a joke about Nietzsche, which he promises not to tell during this talk.

John Quekett, Victorian Microscopist
Aug 11 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
John Quekett, Victorian Microscopist @ Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons | London | United Kingdom

The microscope was at the forefront of medical science in the 19th century. However, the advances made in the instrument would have come to nothing without the techniques for preparing specimens for viewing. John Quekett was the most capable of those who developed these techniques, and he was the greatest communicator of them. In his short life he sliced, stained and injected everything and anything that came his way, from fossil pterodactyl bones to human skin nailed to church doors.

London’s Sailortown in the 18th century: Social History of Shadwell and Ratcliff
Aug 12 @ 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
London's Sailortown in the 18th century: Social History of Shadwell and Ratcliff @ Society of Genealogists | London | United Kingdom

By 1800, London had spawned, along its Riverside east of the Tower, one of the world’s great industrial complexes. It built and furnished ships and equipped the men who sailed them to every known and unknown quarter of the earth.

The River’s north bank in particular was London’s Sailortown, a straggling bustling district quite different from any other part of the capital, yet known the world over by seafaring men. For long it was a district buried in obscurity and clouded by myth. But in recent years this part of the East End during its formative period has been expertly recovered for us in a revelatory multi-volume survey. The survey previously explored the parishes of Mile End Old Town, Whitechapel, and Wapping. It now completes the Riverside with Shadwell and the hamlet of Ratcliff.

Feed the world: The Challenges of Global Food Security
Aug 13 @ 6:30 pm
Feed the world: The Challenges of Global Food Security @ London | United Kingdom

From climate change to over-population, the challenges facing global food production are increasing. Join Professor Tim Benton as he explores the difficulties of sustainably and equitably providing food for a growing world population and explains the demand for a ‘sustainable nutrition’ agenda.

Professor Benton is a ‘Champion’ for the UK’s Global Food Security (GFS) programme, leading, facilitating and coordinating its activities. GFS is a partnership of the UK’s main public funders of research in food security, including the research councils and government departments (including Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs, International Development, Health and Business, Innovation and Skills).

This lecture is organised in partnership with IChemE’s Food and Drink Special Interest Group.

Faith Schools – Fair Admissions Campaign
Aug 19 @ 7:00 pm
Faith Schools - Fair Admissions Campaign @ Conway Hall | London | United Kingdom

Did you know that 1.2 million state school places in England and Wales are subject to religious admissions criteria? Did you know that these schools can prioritise not just those of a certain faith but also those of other faiths over those of no faith? And did you know that these admissions policies don’t just segregate schools religiously but also ethnically and socio-economically? Richy Thompson, BHA Campaigns Manager, will talk about the Fair Admissions Campaign and how you can help open up all state-funded schools to all children, without regard to religion.

Richy Thompson is the Campaigns Manager at the British Humanist Association, working on issues from across the BHA’s public policy remit. From May 2011 to February 2015 he was the Faith Schools and Education Campaigns Officer, and before that he was the President of the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies. As a student at the University of Oxford he founded Oxford Atheists, Secularists and Humanists and led the organisation of the first Oxford Think Week.

Richy is a member of the advisory group of the Sex Education Forum, on the steering groups of the Accord Coalition for inclusive education and the Fair Admissions Campaign, a representative of the BHA at the Religious Education Council for England and Wales, and the humanist representative and Vice Chair of Lambeth Standing Advisory Council on RE.

Doors open at 6.30 pm for talk at 7.00 p.m.

Please arrive early to have a glass of wine from our CLHG Charity Wine Bar and to find a seat and chat with other members.

Any profits from the wine bar will be donated to Richy’s chosen charity, The British Humanist Association

All our talks are open to the general public and free to attend but we ask those who can to make a donation of what they can afford to cover the costs of room and equipment hire and help keep our talks free to all.

We look forward to seeing you there.

An evening of art revolution with Penny Woolcock & Charlotte Church
Aug 20 @ 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm
An evening of art revolution with Penny Woolcock & Charlotte Church @ Roundhouse | London | United Kingdom

A clash of art forms with Penny Woolcock in an evening of art revolution, celebrating the ideals and themes of Utopia. Penny will be joined by singer, songwriter and anti-cuts campaigner Charlotte Church, spectacular neo-burlesque performer and clown Fancy Chance, performance poet Malik Sankara, One Mile Away’s Zimbo who will be performing accompanied by classical string musicians.

False Recovered Satanic Childhood Abuse Memories
Sep 2 @ 7:30 pm
False Recovered Satanic Childhood Abuse Memories @ The Star and Garter | London | United Kingdom

Hypnotised, sedated and brainwashed, Carol’s childhood memories were eradicated and her mind was reordered through 20 years of protracted psychotherapy. Assigned a new identity, separated from her family, a myth was created around Carol which helped stoke the entire Satanic Abuse panic in the United Kingdom. Out of the blue, in 2005, Carol phoned her brother and said that she wanted to return home. One week later she died in mysterious circumstances. Her family then embarked on a quest to discover the truth about Carol’s life and death. Caught up in a frightening conspiracy of silence, misinformation and institutional cover-ups, they discovered what really happened to her mind, body and soul.

In 2014 Carol’s family were granted permission by the Solicitor General to apply to the High Court to order a new hearing and to quash the findings of the original inquest into her death.

Dr Kevin Felstead completed a doctorate in history at Keele University where he taught undergraduate courses on the history of crime, policing and punishment since 1800. He later taught American history at Liverpool Hope University College; subsequently Kevin was employed by High Peak Borough Council and from 2003 to 2011 by Manchester City Council working in the field of community safety, neighbourhood crime and justice. Kevin is the author (with Richard Felstead) of Justice for Carol – The True Story of Carol Felstead. He is currently employed as Director of Communications for the British False Memory Society.

More information about the Justice for Carol campaign can be found at

Jamrach’s Exotic Menagerie – The Noah’s Ark of the East End
Sep 8 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Jamrach’s Exotic Menagerie - The Noah’s Ark of the East End @ Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons | London | United Kingdom

Building on the legacy of the menagerie owners and showmen of the 18th century, Jamrach’s menagerie was seen as ‘animal HQ’ and supplied its customers with all their animal needs, whether a pet, a scientific specimen, or the newest ‘star’ destined for the zoological gardens. This talk will focus on the history of exotic animal trade, paying particular attention to Charles Jamrach’s animal emporium and the insight it can offer into this curious industry.

This lecture has Speech-to-Text provided by Stagetext

The 16th European Skeptics Congress
Sep 11 @ 8:30 am – Sep 13 @ 1:00 pm
The 16th European Skeptics Congress @ Professor Stuart Hall Building | London | United Kingdom

It is now possible to register for the 16th European Skeptics Congress on the congress website ( The congress is held under the auspices of ECSO (the European Council of Skeptical Organisations), and is jointly organised by ASKE (the Association for Skeptical Enquiry) and APRU (the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths College).

The congress will feature presentations from a number of experts in the field of scientific scepticism, including Professor Jim Al-Khalili, who will deliver the keynote, and Emeritus Professor Edzard Ernst, Professor Susan Bewley, Dr James May, Dr Catherine de Jong, Dr Maciej Zatonski, Mark Lynas, Deborah Hyde, Professor Richard Wiseman and Professor Chris French.

The venue will be the Professor Stuart Hall Building, Goldsmiths. The dates are Friday 11th to Sunday (lunchtime) 13th September 2015, and there will also be a pre-congress event on Thursday afternoon.

We have tried to keep the fee affordable – it is £135, which covers attendance on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (morning) and includes refreshments at breaks and buffet lunch on both Friday and Saturday.

Further information, including details about accommodation, is on the website.

Sep 12 @ 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Tetralogue @ Kings Place (St Pancras Room) | London | United Kingdom

Start your Saturday with a bit of exercise for your grey cells!

In this entertaining and accessible excursion into philosophy, Oxford Professor of Logic Timothy Williamson uses a fictional conversation, played out by four actors, to explore questions about truth and falsity, knowledge and belief.

Who is right? Who is wrong? Join Professor Williamson to decide.

Men Explained
Sep 12 @ 5:30 pm
Men Explained @ Kings Place (St Pancras Room) | London | United Kingdom

In Why Men Skim Stones, Chris Windle provides an indispensable insight into why men do the things they do from angling in the rain, building a shelter when there’s a bed waiting at home or peeing as high as he can up a wall. He is joined by Tim Dowling, Guardian columnist, member of the band Police Dog Hogan and author of How to Be a Husband.

This talk could save relationships, smooth family life or provide much needed reassurance for any man seeking to better understand his own actions or for any woman still trying!

Chaired by Tim Samuels, award-winning documentary filmmaker and broadcaster, host of Men’s Hour on Radio 5.

Bitch Lit
Sep 12 @ 8:00 pm
Bitch Lit @ Kings Place (St Pancras Room) | London | United Kingdom

Killer Women, the crime-writing collective, bring their unique brand of debate to Kings Place. Powerful, sexy, toxic: the bitch is a great crime archetype. Is the genre finally moving away from victims and mothers? Is writing about bitches feminist or misogynist?

Erin Kelly chairs fellow authors Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train), Laura Wilson (The Wrong Girl) and Kate Rhodes (The Winter Foundlings) in the discussion. Expect controversy, black humour and a criminally good time. | | |

The Book of Human Emotion
Sep 13 @ 12:45 pm
The Book of Human Emotion @ Kings Place (St Pancras Room) | London | United Kingdom

Cultural historian Tiffany Watt-Smith has made an inventory of over a hundred emotions from anger to zeal, blushing to yawning, apathy to empathy, and euphoria to disgust. She covers the globe and draws on history, anthropology, science, art, literature, music and popular culture to find the answers and tickle our humour.

The Impact of Diasporas
Sep 17 @ 9:30 am – 8:00 pm
The Impact of Diasporas @ Royal Geographical Society | London | United Kingdom

The Oxford Diasporas Programme at the University of Oxford and the Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain programme at the University of Leicester are hosting this Impact of Diasporas event.

The event is the culmination and conclusion of two innovative, multidisciplinary five-year research programmes, generously supported by the Leverhulme Trust. It will showcase the work of these two programmes and celebrate their achievements.

It will have an academic focus with four themed panels: ‘Home and Away’; ‘Lost and Found’; ‘Coming and Going’ and ‘Remembering and Forgetting’. Both programmes will present research in the panel discussions and the audience will have the opportunity to engage in debate around these themes.

A keynote presentation will be given by Thomas Hylland Eriksen.The event will conclude with lectures by the principal investigators (Joanna Story and Robin Cohen), and an evening drinks reception.

Alongside the event itself, there will be extensive displays of work from each programme in the form of project posters, photo-essays and publication displays; artist’s pieces from the Doh Mix Meh Up exhibit; and an exhibition by the Royal Geographical Society that will display a selection of their extensive archival holdings.

My Life in Science: An evening with @RichardDawkins
Sep 28 @ 7:00 pm
My Life in Science: An evening with @RichardDawkins @ Kings Place | London | United Kingdom

Voted by Prospect Magazine as the World’s Top Thinker, Richard Dawkins is a pioneering scientist and public thinker who is famous (and infamous to some) around the world. Dawkins was bound to have biology in his genes: he was born to parents who were enthusiastic naturalists, and linked through his wider family to a clutch of accomplished scientists. But what are the influences that have shaped his life and intellectual development? Who and what inspires him?

This promises to be a fascinating evening in which Richard Dawkins will discuss his memoir Brief Candle in the Dark, following the threads that have run through his life so far and homing in on the key individuals, institutions and ideas that have inspired and motivated him. Most important of all, for the first time he reviews with fresh and stimulating insights the evolving narrative of his ideas about science over the course of his highly distinguished career as thinker, teacher and writer, helping us to finally understand the private influences that shaped the world’s most famous atheist, who, more than anyone else in his generation, has explained our own origins.

Being Human: How to Become the Person You Were Meant to Be
Sep 29 @ 6:30 pm – 8:00 pm
Being Human: How to Become the Person You Were Meant to Be @ St Paul's Cathedral | London | United Kingdom

What kind of person do you want to be? It’s easy to go through life without ever really considering what we’re here for and who we want to be. How can we think not just about what we do with our lives, but who we’re becoming while living them?

Steve Chalke says that God calls each one of us to play our part in his plan for a just and loving world, and it’s finding our place in that story that will shape us and our lives into everything we were meant to be.

How can we hear God’s call to us in a world that tells us that peace and justice are a dream, and that there are so many better, quicker fixes for our lives?

Steve Chalke is the senior minister of Oasis Church Waterloo. In 1985, he founded Oasis Trust which now has over 5,000 staff pioneering educational, healthcare and housing initiatives in the UK and overseas. He is also the founder of Stop the Traffik and UN Special Advisor on Community Action Against Human Trafficking, and a well-known author and broadcaster. His latest book is Being Human (Hodder 2015).