Archive by Author | cmalburn

Lifting the Lid on Pseudoscience – Michael Marshall

20:00, 29th April 2014, International Lounge, Liverpool Guild of Students, Mount Pleasant.

A great way to finish the year – join us with Michael Marshall talking about his ongoing adventures in the world of pseudoscience.

Join the Facebook event!


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.

This event is hosted by University of Liverpool Humanists and is open to everyone free of charge. However, so that we can cover our costs and keep hosting events in the future, we must request a voluntary donation – £2-3 (or more!) per person is greatly appreciated.

If you happen to be elsewhere, check out the list of other dates here.

University of Liverpool Humanists AGM Minutes

University of Liverpool Humanists AGM

This is a bit of a long post, but it’s all of the notes needed for the upcoming AGM. As you can see, there’s quite a few positions uncontested or without a candidate, so get in touch and make things more lively! Many of the current committee members cannot run next year, so it’s up to you (YES, YOU!) to help run the society next year.

It’s been a great couple of years- here’s to another two! See you on Tuesday.

Cheers,

Chris

P.S. – If you want a pdf, you can download one here.

Motions & Amendments:

1.      Creation of new committee positions – Daniel Newman

Section 6.3 as it is currently written:

“6.3 Committee members are to be elected as in section 7. Additional members may be elected to the committee, provided that:

6.3.1     An extra position is deemed necessary for the following year by the current committee and the new position is created prior to an AGM and voted on by the committee, or;

6.3.2     Members are informed of the need for a new position on the committee and are given a period of more than 1 week to apply for the position. The appointed candidate must receive a majority vote from the society members at an EGM.”

Proposed amendment:

The substitution of 6.3.2 with:

“6.3.2  Members are informed of the need for a new position on the committee and are given a period of more than 1 week to apply for the position. The appointed candidate must receive a majority vote from the society members at an EGM, or;”

The addition of the following after section 6.3.2

“6.3.3 The AGM or EGM moves that the creation of a new committee position is necessary.”

Rationale:

“This allows an AGM/EGM to create extra positions so that individuals who it would be desirable to have on the committee aren’t excluded due to insufficient positions being created.”

2.      Creation of new committee positions – Daniel Newman

Section 7.3 as it currently is written:

“7.3 The AGM will form the sovereign decision-making body of the society, and the following powers will be exercised at the AGM:

7.3.1     To elect members to the committee.

7.3.2     To amend the constitution

7.3.3     To dissolve the society.

7.3.4     All attendees shall have the right to speak, at the discretion of the Returning Officer.

7.3.5     All members shall have the right to vote on all AGM business.”

Proposed amendment:
The Addition of the following after section 7.3.4:

“7.3.6 To create new committee positions as decided by majority vote, to be voted on at that meeting following the procedure listed in 7.4.”

Rationale:

“This allows an AGM/EGM to create extra positions so that individuals who it would be desirable to have on the committee aren’t excluded due to insufficient positions being created.”

3.      Removing committee positions – Daniel Newman

Section 7.4.3 as it is currently written:

” 7.4.3  The positions to be voted on must be re-stated before the election proceeds. At this point, the Candidates for each position on the new Committee must be entered into the minutes.”

Proposed Amendment:

7.4.3 to be substituted with the following:

“7.4.3 The positions to be voted on must be re-stated before the election proceeds. At this point, the Candidates for each position on the new Committee must be entered into the minutes. If the committee position has been created using the powers listed in 6.6.3 and 7.3.6, the option of ‘No Candidate’ must also be included in the ballot.”

Rationale:

“To ensure future committee do not create extra positions when a smaller committee would be in the interests of the society.”

4.      Stipulating a minimum notice period for an EGM – Daniel Newman

Section 10.1 as it is currently written:

“10.1    An EGM may occur at any time during the year. An EGM should be organised by the committee, adhering to 7.1.3 and 7.2, and the powers listed in 7.3 may be enacted. If committee voting is required (such as in 6.3.2), the procedure as in 7.4.7 must be followed.”

Proposed amendment:

“10.1    An EGM may occur at any time during the year. An EGM should be organised by the committee, adhering to 7.1.3, 7.1.4 and 7.2, and the powers listed in 7.3 may be enacted. If committee voting is required (such as in 6.3.2), the procedure as in 7.4.7 must be followed.”

Rationale:

“While the election of a new committee member at an EGM currently requires more than a week’s notice, motions and amendments to the constitution can still be passed with less than this. The new potential new power of an AGM/EGM being able to create positions would also provide a way to abuse the lack of a minimum notice period for an EGM.”

Election Candidates:

 

President:

  1. Daniel Newman

Previous roles: Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, AHS Representative.

 

Vice President:

  1. Ricki Hewitt

Experienced| Determined | Enthusiastic | Fair

My story; my record:

Hi, my name is Ricki and I’m a first year student studying Combined Honours BSc in Criminology and Psychology.

I got involved in my students’ union, like many others, by accident – but I haven’t looked back since. This year I have been a part of the Guild of Students, completely changing its democratic and representative structures. I’m running to be part of the Humanists Society because having started to get more involved in the secular community, I feel like there is a severe lack of “real student” voices driving what the movement does.

“Change and activism happens day in, day out, throughout student led activities led, by the most involved who don’t know they are the most engaged. The challenge is how we communicate our impact to the wider world; when people know our   success, our story and how integral our unions are to local communities, it will strengthen our ability to campaign and more importantly win for our members.” Ricki Hewitt.

What I can bring:

Over a period of two years, at my previous institution, Deeside College, I was elected President of the Student Voice Association, in this time I worked on several campaigns: I set up our first ever societies. I campaigned for an autonomous student-led movement, more computers in the college library, and re-wrote the Student Voice Constitution to help better serve students.

I run my own secular movement: that espouses human logic and skepticism, its focus is reducing ties between the UK Government and state religion, replacing laws based on scripture with civil laws. So I know what it’s like to be at the forefront of a society like this one – I’d like to use this experience to work alongside the President in building communication links with local schools, and work on a campaign to promote the teaching of humanism in religious education locally. I am also keen to reflect the opinions of others, especially in considering what our priorities are for the year ahead.

“Ricki puts a huge amount of effort into the extra activities that he takes on, many of which are to support others.  At Deeside College we encourage our students to perform to their highest potential, not just academically but also in other elements of their lives, Ricki is an excellent example of this.”

David Jones, Principal and CEO, Deeside College

“Ricki demonstrates dynamic social and   political awareness and is always looking to make positive changes to student life.”

Rhodri Roberts, LGBT Officer, NUS Wales

Don’t be hesitant, vote Ricki Hewitt for Vice-President!

http://www.facebook.com/mrprofhewitt

http://www.twitter.com/ricki hewitt

http://www.realism-themovement.com

“I don’t just voice the change, I make it.”

 

Secretary:

  1. Hannah Farrall

Previous roles: General Committee Position.

 

Treasurer:

No candidates.

 

Social Secretary:

No candidates.

 

General Committee Position 1:

  1. Helena Siggins

Previous roles: Interfaith Coordinator, Social Secretary.

Hello, I’m Helena (person reading this please don’t put on a silly voice). Sorry I can’t be there – I’m currently studying abroad but I will be back in September. I have been on the committee before and would really like to be part of it again, as a general committee member. In my previous role no major disasters occurred, and, contrary to popular belief, no one died. I really enjoyed being part of the society and would love to continue to help it grow and develop. Please vote for me, you know, if you want.

 

General Committee Position 2:

1. David Law

Previous roles: President of Astronomy Society, Treasurer of Physics Society, Vice President of Physics Outreach, Non-Commissioned Officer for the Royal Navy.

People should vote for me because although I’m opinionated and always willing to share that opinion, I’m also bloody good at fighting for what we are owed from the Guild! Also, I’ll bring rum to meetings! (Not all of them, though. What, do you think I’m bloody made of money?!)

David is currently in Majorca, having booked his holiday before the AGM was announced.

 

AHS Representative:

  1. Helena Siggins

Previous roles: Interfaith Coordinator, Social Secretary.

Hello, I’m Helena (person reading this please don’t put on a silly voice). Sorry I can’t be there – I’m currently studying abroad but I will be back in September. I have been on the committee before and would really like to be part of it again, as a general committee member. In my previous role no major disasters occurred, and, contrary to popular belief, no one died. I really enjoyed being part of the society and would love to continue to help it grow and develop. Please vote for me, you know, if you want.

Annual General Meeting 2014

17:30, Tuesday 22nd April 2014, Sydney Jones Library, Abercromby Square

Join the Facebook event!

It’s that time of year again – we need to vote for the people who’ll be taking on the challenge of running the University of Liverpool Humanists next year! This year, the AGM is particularly important, because many of the current committee will be unable to continue next academic year. If you’d like to see our society continue being active and continue to put on great events, then express your interest and help out!

If you would like to do your bit for the best non-religious society on campus, then nominate yourself by emailing Chris, the returning officer, at chrismalburn@gmail.com by the 15th April. Don’t worry if you miss this deadline, you will still be able to stand for positions at the AGM in person, but it looks good if you seem organised! If you can’t make it to the AGM for whatever reason, then you can send a statement to be read out on your behalf, or you can nominate someone else to speak on your behalf. You can also ask for more information by commenting here, on the AGM Facebook page, or by asking any of the current committee.

The committee positions up for grabs are :

  1. President 
  2. Vice President
  3. Treasurer
  4. Secretary
  5. AHS Representative – Represent the interests of the society within the AHS. They are usually a member of the caucus for the AHS AGM along with the president although they may delegate this responsibility. They are also co-responsible for coordinating attendance of the AHS AGM.
  6. General Committee position – role to be decided by new committee.
  7. General Committee position


You can also suggest your own ideas for the direction you’d like the society to go in the future, as well as suggest changes to how the society is run. You can do this by submitting constitutional amendments and motions. These should be submitted to Chris by the 15th April – he can help with drafting if needed.

We’ll be meeting in the Sydney Jones Library at half 5 on Tuesday 22nd April, and we’ll release the final agenda in due course, however, it will follow approximately as follows:

  • Welcome & Reports
    • President’s report on the preceding year.
    • Treasurer’s report on society finances.
  • Elections
    • Positions and candidates will be announced.
    • Candidates have a maximum of 5 minutes to speak, and 5 minutes to answer questions.
    • A secret ballot will be carried out for each committee position in accordance with the Constitution.
    • New committee will be announced.
  • Motions & Amendments Closing remarks & celebratory drinks.
    • Motions will be announced.
    • One proponent and one opponent each has a maximum of 5 minutes to speak, and 5 minutes to answer questions.
    • A secret ballot will be carried out for each motion or amendment in accordance with the Constitution.
    • Results will be announced.
  • Closing remarks & celebratory drinks.

Rant Night!

8pm, Tuesday 4th March, LGoS Bar, 5 Abercromby Square.

Join the Facebook Event!

Do you have a hobby horse or something you like to get on your soapbox about? Come to our Rant Night!

What is Rant Night?

It’s an open mic-style event where you can get on your soapbox for a few minutes, as well as hear about other people’s passions or bugbears – something that’s cool, interesting, funny or infuriating…

Everyone has something that gets them fired up, so why not give it a go? It can be as well-prepared or as shambolic as you like – it’ll only be for 5 minutes!

How do I take part?

If you’re interested in taking part, send us an email at livunihumanists@gmail.com or message one of the committee and let us know what you’d like to rant about. Also, feel free to volunteer on the night – the more the merrier! On the night, we’ll give you 5 minutes, a microphone and an audience. 😀 There may be prizes for the best rants…

What can I rant about?

Anything you like, really – if it’s about humanism, skepticism, science, philosophy, politics, ethics, or something like that, then it’s a shoe-in, and as long as it’s something interesting, funny or controversial, then we’ll probably say yes anyway, as long as no-one else is already down for the same topic. If you’re planning on being sexist, homophobic, racist, or anything like that, then we’ll probably say no! If you have lots of things to rant about, then we can likely get you a couple of slots.
This a new style of event for us, and is a bit of a departure from our usual lecture style, so we need your help to make it as fun as possible. We’re really looking forward to hearing your rants!

The Wonders & Worries of Genetic Modification – Geraint Parry

Apologies for the lull recently, but we’re back with another talk! I’m very happy to announce that we’ve bagged Geraint Parry, an expert on Genetically Modified Organisms, to give us a 101 and dispel some of the myths that are out there.

Join us at 20:15, Tuesday 18th February 2014, International Lounge, Liverpool Guild of Students, University Square.

RSVP on Facebook!

Yeah, it's a commons image. Don't panic. :P

GM produce gets a mixed press, and has been described as everything from evil frankenfood that makes people ill to a panacea against world hunger and environmental damage. The ethical debate on GM can be polarising, especially with the amount of misinformation in the media and popular culture. Geraint Parry will explain the science behind GM crops and touch on some of the controversies that go along with this technology.

Geraint is a lecturer at University of Liverpool, and undertakes fundamental research on transport of molecules in and out of a plant cell nucleus. He creates transgenic organisms and, it could be argued, has a vested interest in the science, politics and regulation of this somewhat controversial topic. Follow him on twitter at @liverpoolplants.

This event is hosted by University of Liverpool Humanists and is open to the public, free of charge. However, so that we can cover our costs and keep hosting events in the future, we must request a voluntary donation – £2 (or more!) per person is greatly appreciated.

Apologies for the odd start time – due to the limited space in the Guild, we have been shifted back a little from our usual start time to allow for us to set the room up.

See you there!

First Social of 2014!

Join us at the Augustus John for our first social of 2014, on 28th Jan at 19:30!

Join the Facebook event.

First social of 2013!

Now that the exam period is over, we can all relax with a nice drink, with the University of Liverpool’s favourite Humanist society – if you want to find out more, make suggestions or just meet some nice people, we’d love to see you!

We have more things  that we’ll announce in the near future – watch this space. (Or come to the social and ply the committee with drink if you really can’t wait!) 😉

Mike Homfray – Sex, Religion, Humanism & the Gay Issue

Coming up on Thursday 28th November, 20:00, Dining Room, Liverpool Guild of Students, 5 Abercromby Square.

Join us for a whistlestop tour through the history of sexual liberation!

File:Gay flag.svg
Find out how religious and social views have changed through the ages, and affected campaigns for equal rights: from ancient Greece to the liberation movements of the 1960s and 70s and recent campaigns for marriage equality. With Mike Homfray, we’ll look at the positions of Humanism and Christianity on homosexuality, the evolving position of the Church of England and how Humanism has taken on issues faced by gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

This talk and discussion is a great opportunity to brush up on our background knowledge and ask questions – particularly Humanists and those involved in LGBT issues, although of course anyone who’s interested is welcome!

Mike Homfray is an ex-Christian and a gay man who has experienced both ‘sides’ of the religious divide. He has been involved in a range of initiatives to reform the Church with regard to its position on sexuality, but came to the conclusion that brick walls are not for beating heads against. Now embracing a humanist outlook, he still admires those working for change in the church. Mike is a sociologist and the author of ‘Provincial Queens’, a study of the gay and lesbian community in the north-west of England.

This event is hosted by University of Liverpool Humanists (with  help from Liverpool Guild LGBT Society) and is open to everyone free of charge. However, so that we can cover our costs and keep hosting events in the future, we must request a voluntary donation – £2 (or more!) per person is greatly appreciated.

Campaigning for Fair Admissions – Richy Thompson

Join the facebook event here!

20:00, Tuesday 12th November, Liverpool Guild of Students, 160 Mount Pleasant.

Support the Fair Admissions Campaign

We will be welcoming Richy Thompson to talk about how to set up a local Fair Admissions Campaign group here in Liverpool and why we should do it!

Liverpool faces a unique set of conditions as a historically very religious city, with a reduced population, as well as being the home seat for the former Shadow Education Secretary, Stephen Twigg MP. Richy will be advising us on how to deal with these factors as part of a campaign.

Richy is currently the Campaigns Officer for the British Humanist Association and an expert on issues relating to religious selection in schools. He has been President of Oxford’s AHS society, the founder of Oxford Think Week, Press Officer then President of the AHS, Campaigns Volunteer for the European Humanist Federation before becoming the BHA’s lead campaigner on education and faith schools.

This event is hosted by the University of Liverpool Humanist Society, a student group. You don’t have to be a member to attend – anyone who is interested in the campaign is welcome.

We will not charge for entry, but will accept donations to cover costs such as speaker expenses. We request a donation of £2 per person.

Lawrence Krauss in Liverpool!

I’m still struggling to believe this, but this Tuesday, we were visited by a world-famous physicist. In a highly improbable turn of events, our committee member, and Vice President of the Physics Society, Sam Walton managed to persuade Lawrence Krauss to visit the two societies during a very busy trip to the UK and do a Q&A session for us.

The committees had a hectic couple of weeks to organise a venue and everything else you need for a super-important guest speaker, and during this time, we watched as the guest list passed the normal figure of 30-40 people, and kept climbing past 100, past 200, and beyond the capacity of the room we had originally booked, in fear that no-one would show up!

70% of the Humanist and Physics Society committees with our esteemed guest.

The committees have dinner with Krauss. (I know – I’m just showing off now!)

As it happened, the evening went pretty well, and the committees took the Professor out for dinner at the Amalia Italian restaurant in the city centre, and tried not to ask him questions that were too interesting, as to save them for the event itself! However, he was very keen to share his experiences filming in London that day, as well as his star treatment, and accidentally blocking the path of the Queen’s car at the London Eye! And James, President of Physoc, took the ‘Calzone Challenge’, which was the cause of much hilarity.

Sadly, some of us had to leave early to set up the lecture theatre, and we found several dozen people already at the doors half an hour before the start! There were some problems with the audio system in that it was locked inside a cupboard to which no-one had the key, but as it happened the acoustics were OK, and the microphones we had borrowed from the Merseyside Skeptics went unused… (Sorry.)

The event started with Krauss giving an overview of a few topics of interest, including the search for the Higgs, dark matter and the scope of science, before it was opened up to questions. The first one, from Sam, was in relation to his claim that teaching young earth creationism is akin to child abuse, and he immediately got most of the audience onside by explaining that, while not as damaging as some other forms of abuse, it is still intellectually irresponsible to teaching untruths to children. Then followed some questions, which I will admit went over my head at times – about how we would test the existence of the Higgs field and its properties, the evidence for sparticles as an extension of the Standard Model, the future research of dark matter, and the idea that universes ‘evolve’ similarly to natural selection, in order to spawn black holes – as well as debates he has taken part in, whether God can be falsified, and how he decided to become a physicist.

Despite the sometimes heavy topics, Lawrence put the ideas across in a very accessible way and with a good sense of humour, and made everyone laugh by answering a phone call from his publisher in a very terse manner! After a break, he returned to chat with members of the audience, sign autographs and take photos, my favourite exchange resulting in a bible being signed with “I do not exist – God”

Following a good few minutes of signing and chatting, Professor Krauss and about half of the audience, it seemed, crammed into the Philharmonic Pub for more talking and some drinking, which, after returning to his hotel room for an hour or so for a faculty meeting via skype (a ridiculously busy man!), continued in Baa Bar, meaning lots of people got the opportunity to have a chat with a world famous physicist, which you don’t get to do every day!

A few people enjoying a pint after the event.

Many thanks go to the committees for pulling it out of the bag in a very short time, particularly Sam for taking the reigns of organisation and chairing the evening, thanks to everyone who attended, particularly those who travelled long distances, and of course to Lawrence Krauss for making the evening.

If you still don’t believe me, please check out these blogs by people who were there! Many thanks to Megan for the use of her photos.

Megan’s Blog

Ed’s Blog

LivUniHumanists on the BBC!

OK, for 2 minutes, on BBC Radio Merseyside this Sunday morning, but it’s still worth bragging about, right?

If you’re interested, take a look here, and fast forward to 1:12:00 if you specifically want to hear my nervous verbalisations!

We were approached by BBC Radio Merseyside, as they were covering the religious societies at the Freshers Fair for the Sunday morning ‘Faith and Ethics’ show, and asked us if we wanted to be included. Not wanting to turn down publicity, we said yes – and 5 minutes later, I was shouting into a microphone!

I was somewhat uncertain about being on a programme so much geared towards religious worship, but I figured presenting a friendly face wouldn’t do any harm. However, I was slightly paranoid (unnecessarily) about saying things that could be taken out of context for most of the interview! I hope I gave a good impression of non-religious students, anyway.