What we're about

Bristol Skeptics in the Pub (SitP) holds monthly "thinking and drinking" sessions on a variety of subjects. The format is a 45 minute presentation from an expert speaker, a 20 minute break, and then 45 minutes of Q&A.

Traditionally, skeptics are investigators who "debunk" pseudoscientific claims. Some of our speakers fall into this category. Other speakers demonstrate skepticism in a broader sense, discussing topics related to science, history, journalism or philosophy.

Sometimes people imagine skeptics to be conspiracy theorists or climate change denialists. Not only are we not part of such groups, we strongly disagree with them! Conspiracy theories are regularly debunked by skeptics. As are the claims of climate change denialists.

We meet on the fourth Wednesday of the month at Smoke & Mirrors bar on Denmark Street (just behind the Hippodrome). At first when you enter Smoke & Mirrors it looks like any other pub. But walk through to the back and you'll find the cozy theatre used for our talks.

SitP events are hosted by The Bristol Skeptics Society, a non-profit organisation promoting critical thinking and scientific skepticism.

You don't need to identify as a skeptic to come along. All inquiring minds are welcome!

Upcoming events (5+)

Tom Hallam: Paper Bottles, Paper Batteries and Bags of the future

This month our speaker is Tom Hallam. Tom works for a Swedish paper company which makes innovative types of paper packaging which can be used as substitutes for plastics. For example, each year online retailers mail out 50 billion plastic bags. Tom’s department is developing a paper alternative which can meet the brand owners' standards for durability. Until now conventional paper options have not been able to do this. Tom will also discuss the potential for new types of paper bottle to replace plastic ones and the surprising development of the paper battery. During the Q&A Tom will also be able to answer questions regarding broader environmental questions relating to recycling, responsible forest management and certification. DOORS: 19:00 START: 19:30 Admission is FREE but during the interval we asks for donations. This is to cover speaker expenses and marketing costs such as social media fees and flyers. If you cannot afford to make a donation please do not. If you can, £3-£5 would be greatly appreciated. Venue: Smoke and Mirrors, 8 Denmark Street Two for one pizzas available from the bar! 10% off all drinks! If you would like to see some magic while you're there, close-up magicians will be performing table-side in the bar before the talk (from 6:30pm). Speaker bio Tom Hallam is a Business Development Director at BillerudKorsnas, a Swedish pulp and paper company. Tom’s work involves developing paper-based packaging technologies and solutions to replace conventional plastic ones. He is also a board member of the UK division of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC UK). This is a non-government organization which promotes sustainable forest management through independent third-party certification. Tom was previously an independent environmental consultant for his company Brand Ethics Limited and has previous experience with Finnish Forest products company UPM-Kymmene and in consumer products for Reckitt Benckiser.

Sian Williams: The age of antibiotic resistance

Smoke & Mirrors

Cornerstones of modern medicine are at risk due to drug-resistant infections, with routine surgery, common illnesses and minor injuries becoming potentially life-threatening. People are already dying from drug-resistant infections, and as more drugs stop working, more lives will be put in danger. Everyone is at risk. Sian Williams will discuss the causes behind this major public health issue and how organizations such as the Wellcome Trust are helping to address the challenge. Sian will also explore why we’re not seeing new antibiotics entering the market, the ethical dilemmas involved in the decision to prescribe new drugs, and how we could help GPs stop over-prescription of antibiotics. DOORS: 19:00 START: 19:30 Admission is FREE but during the interval we asks for donations. This is to cover speaker expenses and marketing costs such as social media fees and flyers. If you cannot afford to make a donation please do not. If you can, £3-£5 would be greatly appreciated. Venue: Smoke and Mirrors, 8 Denmark Street Two for one pizzas available from the bar! 10% off all drinks! Sian Williams is a Policy Officer with the Wellcome Trust’s Drug-Resistant Infections priority programme, a team with a £175m commitment to address the challenge of antimicrobial resistance. The programme works with scientists and policy makers to advocate for and support evidence-based decision making globally. She earned a 1st class honours degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and an MSc in Science Communication from Imperial College London.

Alice Sheppard: Grasping the Cosmos - Astronomical misconceptions

Alice Sheppard has acted as ambassador for astronomy for over a decade. During that time, she has encountered all sorts of misunderstandings. These include the ideas that astronomy can predict the future, that it’s a waste of money, that it matters what we call Pluto, and that stargazing is a subject best left to men! In this whiplash tour, Alice will explore some of the most common misconceptions and set the record straight. DOORS: 19:00 START: 19:30 Admission is FREE but during the interval we asks for donations. This is to cover speaker expenses and marketing costs such as social media fees and flyers. If you cannot afford to make a donation please do not. If you can, £3-£5 would be greatly appreciated. Venue: Smoke and Mirrors, 8 Denmark Street Two for one pizzas available from the bar! 10% off all drinks! Alice Sheppard studied Environmental Science at the University of East Anglia before rediscovering astronomy through Galaxy Zoo, whose first discussion forum she led for five years. She began writing articles and giving public talks on how ordinary citizens, when equipped with the right tools, can teach each other astronomy and make their own discoveries. During this period Alice also co-founded Cardiff Skeptics in the Pub! She gained a postgraduate diploma in Astronomy and Astrophysics from Queen Mary University of London in 2014, and is now Community Manager at University College London Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS). ExciteS investigates and supports public involvement in science. She is also the Citizen Science Officer at the Society for Popular Astronomy. Although employed by a university, Alice does not consider herself an academic but rather an example of what members of the public can achieve scientifically outside the academic environment.

Eugene Byrne: Bristol Bullsh!t - local urban myths

Smoke & Mirrors

What happened when a medieval merchant’s wife got hold of the elixir of life? (Hint: It didn’t end well.) Which rock ‘n’ roll star fathered a love child at the Hippodrome? Where did our own local Spring-Heeled Jack attack? Was there really a serial killer at work in the docks and which Bristol office block was HQ for the assassination of Princess Di? For more than 30 years local historian, author and journalist Eugene Byrne has been filing away historical yarns, plus the tall tales he’s heard in the pub or newsroom. Learn all about them at Skeptics in the Pub! DOORS: 19:00 START: 19:30 Admission is FREE but during the interval we asks for donations. This is to cover speaker expenses and marketing costs such as social media fees and flyers. If you cannot afford to make a donation please do not. If you can, £3-£5 would be greatly appreciated. Venue: Smoke and Mirrors, 8 Denmark Street Two for one pizzas available from the bar! 10% off all drinks! Eugene Byrne is a Bristol-based author, historian and journalist who has written science fiction novels and short stories as well as several books on Bristol’s history, including The Bristol Story (with artist Simon Gurr) and a brief history of council housing in Bristol (with artist Anthony Forbes) for Homes For Heroes 100 celebrations in 2019. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at UWE and is editor of the Bristol Post’s weekly Bristol Times local history pull-out.

Past events (5)

Julian Hughes: The dementia manifesto

Smoke & Mirrors

Photos (28)

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