Tag Archives: Jim Al-Khalili

BHA Conference 2013 – Full Talks

The British Humanist Association held their annual conference in Leeds this year. Here’s some of the talks from some of the guests in full.

Christopher Priest
Magic as metaphor; metaphor as the reality ingredient of literature; a rational approach to the fantastic. Presented by the award winning author of The Prestige, which was later adapted into a successful Hollywood movie directed by Christopher Nolan, Priest will explore another way of seeing – exploring magic as a metaphor in literature and lifting the veil on taking a rational approach with the fantastic.


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Sue Blackmore
“I did not come to this conference of my own free will because free will is an illusion. Plenty of evidence from neuroscience suggests that there is no persisting ‘me’ who could exert this mysterious power. Libet’s experiments on the timing of voluntary actions throw free will into doubt; the neuroscience of volition reveals the brain areas responsible for decision-making and self-control; and research by Wegner shows how the feeling of being responsible for an action depends on post-hoc attributions based on sequence, similarity and timing. So if our intuitions are not to be trusted, how should we live our lives? Many people reject the traditional idea of free will but still say they must live ‘as if’ they have free will. Otherwise, they claim, society would disintegrate and all hell break loose. I disagree and will discuss ways of living a moral and happy life without believing in free will.”


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Marek Kukula
Our tiny blue planet is the only place we know where life can exist – a precious oasis in the vast desert of space. But throughout Earth’s history everything from exploding stars to impacts with giant asteroids have all left their mark on our planet – with profound consequences for its cargo of plants and animals. Public Astronomer Dr Marek Kukula explores how the world around us has been shaped by events in space, and how life on Earth has adapted to survive them.


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Melinda Gebbie
Having used art in many areas of politics – from Processed World, the magazine for Angry Secretaries, to anti-nuclear vehicles such as the 1985 film When the Wind Blows, Melida Gebbie’s work has always had the message that if an artist is doing their job properly they are meant to be the social, political, and universal barometer of their times. Currently working with Alan Moore on Angel Passage, a tribute to William Blake Gebbie will focus on the art and life of William Blake, exploring his vision and aspirations.


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Jim Al-Khalili
With ongoing discussions between neuroscientists and philosophers on the existence, or not, of free will, and with so many people in the so-called ‘enlightened’ West still believing that their fate is somehow linked to the movements of the stars and planets, what does modern physics have to say on the matter of determinism and chance? Indeed, is our future preordained? This lecture will be a whistle-stop tour of Einsteinian relativity, quantum indeterminacy and whether, according to our current understanding of the nature of time, the future is knowable.


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AHS Convention 2013 – Talks In Full

Here are some of the talks in full from the National Federation of Atheist, Humanist and Secular Student Societies annual convention – held on 2nd March 2013 at Conway Hall in London.

Andrew Copson


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Jim Al-Khalili
In his first speech as new President of the British Humanist Association.


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Natalie Haynes


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Polly Toynbee


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Episode 179 – 22nd March 2013

A blockbuster show as we speak to Apollo 15 Astronaut Al Worden (HE WENT TO THE MOON!), along with psychologist Steven Pinker and new BHA President Jim Al-Khalili. The Chief Asteroid Miner at Planetary Resources explains… how to mine asteroids, and we also take a look at some crazy goings on both in Germany and closer to home.



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Apollo Astronaut Al Worden Interview (2:53) by Carl Hutchinson
Steven Pinker Interview (13:21) by Liz Lutgendorff
Jim Al-Khalili Interview (23:43) by James O’Malley
Asteroid Mining (28:12) by Kash Farooq (ft Chris Lewicki)
German Quackery (41:34) by Sven Rudloff
Creationists Schools in the UK (48:26) by Jonny Scaramanga

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Episode 166 – 14th December 2012

Jim Al-Khalili is announced as the new British Humanist Association President and we speak to the BHA’s Chief Exec about what the amazing new census numbers mean for non-religious people in the UK. It’s not so great for non-believers elsewhere though as a new report shows – and we also pick apart the Snoopers Charter, which was shot down this week by Nick Clegg. Plus a new mental health manual could have a big impact, why Northern Ireland is still flagging, and why Erasmus Darwin was awesome.



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Census Results and a new BHA President (2:11) by Liz Lutgendorff (ft Andrew Copson)
Atheist Persecution Worldwide (9:11) by Bob Churchill
Snooper’s Charter Slapdown (19:56) by Jenny Woods
Mental Health Diagnosis Pronosis (29:35) by Max Davie
Reviewing Peer Review (36:30) by Drew Rae
Flying The Flag (42:13) by Rory Fenton (ft Brian McClinton)
Erasmus Darwin (48:48) by Philip John
Video Codecs (55:11) by Trent Burton

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Episode 134 – 4th May 2012

This week we find out why geeks need to get more political by speaking to Mark Henderson, author of the ‘Geek Manifesto’, speak to Professor Jim Al-Khalili about his new book on paradoxes in science, discover why FRAND is no friend of free software, and go down the Ancestor’s Trail. And more!


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The Geek Manifesto (2:40) by James O’Malley (ft Mark Henderson)
Open Standards and FRAND (15:08) by Salim Fadhley (ft Glynn Moody)
Paradoxes in Science (24:20) by Liz Lutgendorff (ft Jim Al-Khalili)
The Ancestor’s Trail (36:54) by James O’Malley (ft Chris Jenord)
Protest Voting (44:32) by Alex Fitch
Biobank is Good (50:34) by Peter English
The sketch at the end is by David Lovesy & Brain Two

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