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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.

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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.

Official Statement regarding Mufti Ismail Menk at the University of Liverpool

Since this was published, we have received news that Mufti Menk has cancelled his tour of UK Universities – see here and here for more details.

Mufti Ismail Menk is Saudi cleric who currently lives in Zimbabwe and is embarking on a tour of UK university campuses including the University of Liverpool. The cleric is notable, however, for his anti-gay bigoted views, claiming that homosexuals are worse than animals – (source)

With all due respect to the animals, [gay people] are worse than those animals. Remember, we are saying, with all due respect to the animals, because to the animals it is an insult to them to even suggest this to them. Automatically the pigs and the dogs do not engage in this (homosexuality)

You can find more information about the event here.

Understandably, many on campus are uneasy with an anti-gay speaker being invited onto campus by the Liverpool University Islamic Society. Below is our official statement regarding the talk:

The University of Liverpool Humanists condemn in the strongest terms the decision by Liverpool Islamic Society to invite the Mufti Ismail Menk to speak at the Guild of Students on the 12th November 2013.

We consider the speaker’s anti-gay sentiments and use of dehumanising language towards homosexuals to be in complete opposition to our Humanist values of affirming the dignity and worth of every human being, and to the collective ethical conscience of those on campus. We hope that the committee and members of the Liverpool Islamic Society do not share the view of the Mufti that homosexuals are worse than “animals” and encourage them to join us in condemning such views.

However, we are committed to freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas, so will not be calling for Mufti Ismail Menk to be banned from our campus. It is our view that this event may provide a platform for a constructive public debate regarding Islam and homosexuality.

As we feel that these ideas should be intellectually opposed, we intend to be in attendance of the talk and will support any form of protest by other societies which intends to highlight the discriminatory views of the cleric.

-The University of Liverpool Humanists Committee

Feel free to contact the committee with any enquiries by emailing livunihumanists [at] gmail .com

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.

Chris’s Tester Post

Hello world.