This is a recording of the October meeting of the Soho Skeptics group in London.
In the past five years, we have witnessed the rise of the far-right in Europe and beyond. The pinnacle of it all is, if you believe the telly, Greece. But is austerity and the 2008 financial crisis necessarily linked, with the rise of extremists? Hasn’t Russia for instance been dealing with this phenomenon for some time, as well as the financially booming Norway and Austria?
While the world watches Europe, hoping that an economic miracle will stop the neo-nazi threat, some rather dystopic scenarios unfurl elsewhere, and specifically, in Syria. Is the country’s suffering linked with the West’s far-right trouble? Is Al Qaeda and the Golden Dawn two sides of the same coin?
In an analysis taking from cinematic dystopias and current economic ailments, Yiannis Baboulias will show how the introduction of highly extractive financial institutions across the globe, gives birth to extreme movements, and why once a country falls, be it Syria, Somalia, or one much closer to home, it may be impossible to bring it back.
Yiannis Baboulias is a Greek journalist and writer, focussing on European politics, economics and the rise of the far-right. His work has appeared on Vice UK, New Statesman, LRB, Guardian, Open Democracy, NLP and others.He is writing his first book on the Greek crisis and the rise of the far-right, to be published by ZED in 2014.
Insults, threats and abuse have been hurled between trans activists and radical feminists for the past few years. The general public knows little if anything about the raging war between them; not the reasons for the hostilities nor the extent of the damage. Neither side is innocent.
The battle is about an idea: Gender. What is it? Is it socially constructed? Is it an innate male or female self that exists separately from one’s biological sex? Most importantly, who will get to define it? Also, are trans* activists biological essentialists? Or is it the radical feminists who are the biological essentialists? What the hell is biological essentialism anyway? And finally, can we just agree that we all hate Richard Littlejohn and get on with getting on?
Soho Skeptics attempted to find some common ground in a night of personal stories, discussion and comedy.
Adrian Dalton was born female, transitioned and is now male-bodied. He has done a variety of work from performing as drag queen Lola Lypsinka, to writing his novel Inside Lindsey’s Handbag, to life modelling, pole-dancing, transcription services and formatting reports for various companies. He currently lives in Queensway with his cat HRF Elton.
Julie Bindel is a journalist, broadcaster, author and feminist campaigner. She writes for the Guardian, New Statesman, Standpoint Magazine, The Spectator and the Sunday Telegraph, and is managing editor of Gaze – A Modern Review. Julie writes about anything horrible that happens to women and children, but also about culture, music, food, film and sexual and gender identity. She has travelled to Nevada to spend a week in legal brothels; Florida to visit death row, the Middle East to visit Syrian refugee camps and many other countries all over the world to report on a range of issues. Julie’s book, ‘Straight Expectations’ will be published by Guardian Books in 2014.
Unique, striking, cutting…An evening with Bethany Black is a one way ticket to a world you never knew existed. There are many words used to describe Bethany Black, Goth, Lesbian, trans, butch, recovering addict, vegan, Comedian, northern, roller girl. She sometimes sounds like a one woman pigeon hole generator. She’s been variously described as “Dark tinged, but magical” by the Guardian and “The living embodiment of political correctness gone mad” by one of her friends. The one thing that they all agree on is that she’s funny. She’s been a professional comedian for the last 6 years and has performed alongside some of the biggest acts in the world, Her first Edinburgh show “Beth Becomes Her” was the story of her transition from being considered male to how she really is, female, and gained critical acclaim. She currently gigs up and down the country telling incredibly personal stories to people of varying levels of sobriety.
Gia Milinovich, according to Wikipedia, “is an American film blogger and producer” (nope), “she presented TV programmes… dating back to 1995 (1992 actually), but now works largely behind the scenes” (nope). So there you go.
Last weekend as QEDcon 2013 in Manchester, and in addition to picking up an Editor’s Choice Award at the Ockham Awards (thanks!), we also had an hour slot in which we could showcase some interesting people talking about interesting things. Here’s a recording of that.
The British Humanist Association‘s annual Voltaire Lecture, this year delivered by psychologist and public intellectual Steven Pinker. The event was chaired by the Association’s new President, Jim Al-Khalili.
Recorded at the Royal Institution, Helen Czerski was joined by Marcus Brigstocke, Bruce Hood, Barry Smith and Felicity Mellor to discuss what scientists should know about the dark arts of persuasion, and whether they should ever use them.
Chaired by Dr Richard Dawkins, the 2013 British Humanist Association Darwin Day lecture was delivered by Sir Tom Blundell, Professor Emeritus and Director of Research, Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge on the topic of: ‘The emergence of drug resistance: Molecular evolution and new medicines for cancer and tuberculosis’.
Nick Cohen – British journalist, author and political commentator. He is a columnist for The Observer, a blogger for The Spectator, and Standpoint magazine. His most recent book You Can’t Read This Book is about free speech and censorship.
Suzanne Moore – Journalist and columnist who has written for The Guardian, The Mail on Sunday, The Independent and others.
Evan Harris – Former Liberal Democrat MP and currently a prominent member of the Hacked Off campaign, which is campaigning for the implementation of the Leveson recommendations.
Natalie Fenton – Co-Director of the Goldsmiths Leverhulme Media Research Centre. She has written a number of books including “New Media, Old Media: Journalism and Democracy in the Digital Age”
The panel was chaired by Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman.