Talks & Lectures

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Image of Thinking on Sunday: Climate Change - the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Talks & Lectures

Thinking on Sunday: Climate Change - the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Sun 23 Nov 2014, 11.00

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Climate Change - the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

David Williams

Scientists first warned of the possible effects of anthropogenic CO₂ emissions in the early 1970s. By the mid to late 1980’s, there was a consensus view that if emissions remain unabated a range of catastrophic impacts on humanity could ensue. In the intervening period this perspective has remained unchanged and has largely been reinforced by the significant volume of ongoing research that has been undertaken. The cornerstone international response to the science was defined in 1997 (The Kyoto Protocol) under the auspices of the United Nations. This established emission reduction targets for developed countries which are binding under international law. Numerous follow-on international meetings, discussions and negotiations have been held, national government departments established and rafts of policies introduced. However, in spite of these substantial resources, derisory progress has been made and CO₂ emissions continue their inexorable rise. We can have no real confidence that disastrous outcomes will be avoided.

In this presentation the case will be made that it is, in fact, unsurprising that we are in this position as we are pursuing a strategy that is both intellectually flawed and ethically unsound. An alternative route forward is proposed. 

Dr David Williams was trained as a research scientist and held academic research posts prior to moving to industry. For the following 30 years he held managerial and executive positions in science based businesses and multi-national companies. During this period his responsibilities included product development, business management and strategic planning for a division of a major US international corporation, where he was a Vice-President. He subsequently returned to academia and for the last 6 years his areas of interest have included climate change policy.

Chair - Prof. Evan Parker

Ever since being a 6th former Evan Parker has had abiding interests in how we might improve society and, in religion (although he is not religious). He has worked in industry and has spun out a company on solar energy. He held the Chair in Semiconductor Physics at the University of Warwick for 24 years and is currently Professorial Research Fellow. He currently works on nano-technology for medical applications and also on climate change. He has held leadership roles in many European programmes and published widely on scientific matters and also written a book on his childhood in a remote Cotswold village.

Doors 10.30. Entry £3 standard, £2 concs./Free to Ethical Society members

Tea, Coffee & biscuits will be available.

Image of Money Talks with John Lanchester

Special Events

Money Talks with John Lanchester

Sun 23 Nov 2014, 11:40

The School of Life presents

Money Talks with John Lanchester

Many of us feel we kind-of understand how the economy works, roughly know what it means when interest rates rise, when the budget deficit has been reduced. But this kind of semi-knowledge has meant that we have left the details, the decisions to the ‘experts’. Using a language that is jargon-filled, complex and often baffling, those in charge of our economies have made some catastrophic decisions that only a few individuals really understood.

John Lanchester is on a mission: to teach us to ‘speak money’. He aims to guide us to a genuine understanding so that we and not the financial elites can begin to write the rules. Clear sighted and funny, John will make a case for why we should care, what we should know and what we can do with that knowledge.

Along the way we’ll learn the difference between bullshit and nonsense and how ‘reform’ never ever means 'hiring more people and giving your current workforce more generous pay and conditions'.

Join us for a fun and possibly revolutionary Sunday Morning.

About Sunday Mornings

Since 2008 The School of Life has presented Secular Sermons exploring the values we should live by today. We ask maverick cultural figures to give us their take on the virtues to cling to or the vices to be wary of in our complex world. Expect persuasive polemics, pop-song hymns and artist-made buns and biscuits.

John Lanchester is the bestselling author of Capital and Whoops!: Why everyone owes everyone and no one can pay. A former editor at the publishers Penguin, he is a member of the editorial board of the London Review of Books and is a regular contributor to several newspapers and magazines, including Granta, The New Yorker, and The Observer,and The Daily Telegraph, for whom he writes a weekly column. His latest book How to Speak Money has been praised as a clear and brilliantly entertaining guide to the world of finance.

Tickets: £15


11.20 Doors open 
11.40 Sermon starts
12.30 Refreshments served 
13.00 End

Image of Looking for Common Ground

Special Events

Looking for Common Ground

Tue 25 Nov 2014, 18:30

London Humanists groups in association with Conway Hall Ethical Society and the British Humanist Association as part of Interfaith Week, presents

Looking for Common Ground: How can Humanists and Muslims live and work together in 21st Century London?

All welcome and please bring an open mind.

London is probably the most diverse and vibrant city in the world. One in eight of our fellow Londoners is a Muslim, but how much do we know about London’s Muslim communities? And how much do they know about Humanism? Is there common ground? What diversity exists amongst Muslims in London? What is changing? Can we see beyond our differences? How can we work together?

This evening of discussion is a unique opportunity to address these questions and others you may wish to ask. 

Alom Shaha, author of “The Young Atheists Handbook” will be in conversation with:

  • Mamadou Bocoum - Public Relations Officer for the Sharia Council
  • Sara Khan - Co-Founder and Director of the human rights charity Inspire
  • Yasmin Rehman - From the Centre for Secular Space and researcher into polygamy and the law.
  • Huda Jawad - Advisor at the Centre for Academic Shi'a Studies and Research Coordinator for Solace Women’s Aid.  

The event is free to attend and open to all but we will ask for donations on the door to cover our costs, we ask you to give what you personally can afford.

The evening is organised jointly by London Humanists groups in association with Conway Hall Ethical Society and the BHA as part of Interfaith Week.

In the first half of the evening each speaker will be in a one to one conversation with Alom Shaha. 

Then everyone will form a panel and take questions from the audience.

The evening will conclude around 9.30 p.m. 

Please register your intention to attend via Eventbrite, this is free to do so and important so we know how many intend to attend.

Doors at 18.30 for 19.00

Image of NOW Live Events: Alastair Creamer - Am I in the Right Job?

Courses & Workshops

NOW Live Events: Alastair Creamer - Am I in the Right Job?

Tue 25 Nov 2014, 19:00

NOW Live Events presents

Alastair Creamer: Am I in the Right Job?

A self-development workshop in partnership with Psychologies Magazine.

In this powerful, interactive session, leading creative thinker, coach and energetic Eyes Wide Opened co-founder Alastair Creamer will reveal the most powerful questions to ask yourself ahead of a big career decision or shift within your current place of employment and help you to get both mind andheart in the right place for career fulfilment. You have the answers, says Creamer. This will help bring them to the forefront.

This workshop will help you to:

  • Decide what kind of work really suits you.
  • Create a more meaningful job where you are right now.
  • Work out what’s next if you’re not in the right job.
  • Ask yourself the right questions about work and what it means to you.
  • Learn why ‘What do you want to do?’ is the wrong question. 



This event is in partnership with Psychologies Magazine ( as part of our NOW Live Events ongoing events series.

Image of Thinking on Sunday: Has human prosperity peaked already?

Talks & Lectures

Thinking on Sunday: Has human prosperity peaked already?

Sun 30 Nov 2014, 11:00

The Conway Hall Ethical Society

Thinking on Sunday - Has human prosperity peaked already? with Hazhir Teimourian

Will the future bring only greater poverty and more turmoil? Is it too late for us to take preventive action? Do we have any real leadership in the world, or are we merely drifting? These questions sound hyperbolic and we must hope they will prove just that. But the signs are frightening. We are not reversing climate change and the population of the world, particularly in the tropics, continues to grow rapidly. Unicef predicts that there will be over one billion under-18s in Africa alone by the middle of the century, only 36 years away. If that extra population were to achieve a decent standard of living, the consequences for the climate would be dire. The prediction is that it will not achieve even a modest standard of living, one of the results being severe migration pressures towards the industrialised world.

Hazhir Teimourian believes that the underlying main cause of the present turmoil in Arab countries is large numbers of young people unable to find worthwhile jobs.  He hopes to be proved mistaken, so please come along and show him!

Hazhir Teimourian was born in the Kurdish country of western Iran in 1940 and has lived and worked in the UK as a commentator on the Middle East for decades, mainly with the BBC and The Times. He is the author of a detailed biography of Omar Khayyam, the eleventh century freethinker and poet who nearly succumbed to the lynch mob. He is writing a book with a professor of demographics at the University of Oxford to investigate these trends and has begun to consult some of the world’s top thinkers and scientists to aid him.

Entry £3, £2 concs./Free to Ethical Society members

Doors 10.30. Tea, Coffee & biscuits will be available.

Image of London Thinks - Ben Goldacre: I Think You'll Find It's a Bit More Complicated Than That!

Special Events

London Thinks - Ben Goldacre: I Think You'll Find It's a Bit More Complicated Than That!

Mon 1 Dec 2014, 19:30

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

London Thinks - Ben Goldacre: I Think You'll Find It's a Bit More Complicated Than That!

The very best journalism from one of Britain’s most admired and outspoken science writers, author of the bestselling "Bad Science" and "Bad Pharma" and his new book "I Think You'll Find It's a Bit More Complicated Than That" - which is now an Amazon No.1 Bestseller.

The event will be chaired by Prof. Trisha Greenhalgh OBE.

In ‘Bad Science’, Ben Goldacre hilariously exposed the tricks that quacks and journalists use to distort science. In ‘Bad Pharma’, he put the $600 billion global pharmaceutical industry under the microscope. Now the pick of the journalism by one of our wittiest, most indignant and most fearless commentators on the worlds of medicine and science is collected in one volume.

Dr. Ben Goldacre is a best-selling author, broadcaster, campaigner, medical doctor and academic who specialises in unpicking the misuse of science and statistics by journalists, politicians, quacks, drug companies, and more.
His first book “Bad Science” (4th Estate) has sold over 500,000 copies to date, is published in 18 countries, and reached number one in the UK non-fiction bestseller charts. Bad Pharma, is on bad behaviour in the pharmaceutical industry and medicine more broadly, and I Think You'll Find It's a Bit More Complicated Than That! is about the complex world of bad journalism: it is now a top ten UK best seller.

Ben's books will be available to buy on the night. 

Prof Trish Greenhalgh is Professor of Primary Health Care and Dean for Research Impact at Barts Hospital, and an internationally recognised academic in primary health care and a non-principal general practitioner in north London. She joined Barts and the London Medical School in 2010 to set up the Healthcare Innovation and Policy Unit within the Centre for Primary Care and Public Health. 
Her many awards and prizes include Order of the British Empire for Services to Medicine, National Institute for Health Research Senior Investigator Award, Royal College of General Practitioners Research Paper of the Year Award and European Health Management Association Baxter Prize for Outstanding Contribution to Research in Healthcare Management.

Complimentary wine, soft drinks and nibbles will be available on the night too.

Tickets £15/£5 concessions and Conway Hall Ethical Society Members.

London Thinks is Conway Hall Ethical Society's monthly discourse on the big issues and problems of society in our age.

Image of A ‘New Magna Carta’?

Talks & Lectures

A ‘New Magna Carta’?

Thu 4 Dec 2014, 18:00

The National Secular Society presents

A ‘New Magna Carta’: time for a written constitution?

As the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta approaches, has the time come for the UK to have a written constitution? And if so, what form should it take?

These issues will be discussed at a public event at Conway Hall on 4 December, by Graham Allen MP, chair of the Parliamentary Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee, and Bob Morris, from the UCL Constitution Unit.

The speakers will set out the pros and cons and consider the possible implications for secularism.

The Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee has launched a major consultation into the UK's current and future democratic settlement, which could potentially lead to the constitution being codified in what is being called a 'New Magna Carta'. The committee have recommended three possible ways forward:

  • Constitutional Code – a document that doesn't have legal force, but which would set out the existing principles of the constitution and the workings of government.
  • Constitutional Consolidation Act – a document which would consolidate existing constitutional laws in one place.
  • Written Constitution – a document of basic law by which the UK would be governed, setting out the relationship between the state and its citizens.

Graham Allen, the Labour MP for Nottingham North, is an honorary associate of the National Secular Society, and a high profile supporter of constitutional reform.

Bob Morris is a former Home Office career civil servant. At the UCL Constitution Unit. Bob Morris has worked on a number of ecclesiastical and royal issues, including their 2009 report on Church and State in 21st century Britain.

The event is free and open to all but attendees must either register online or reserve places by calling 020 7404 3126.

Image of Thinking on Sunday -Should we spend billions looking into deep space?

Talks & Lectures

Thinking on Sunday -Should we spend billions looking into deep space?

Sun 7 Dec 2014, 11:00

The Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Prof. Lucio Piccirillo

I will talk about big basic science projects and the huge tax payers money required, and in particular what is involved in setting up and running a large expensive space program, where there is no very obvious return to the man-in-the-street.

This is a very real and important question for humanity.  I will discuss and will present a personal view on the rationale of  why we should continue to make such investments in basic research and astrophysics and the consequences of this to the general public.

Lucio Piccirillo is Professor of Radio Astronomy Technology at the University of Manchester. Before arriving in Manchester he worked in the Netherlands, France, Italy and USA. His main scientific interests are in the field of cosmology - i.e. the study of the earliest moment of the Universe. His particular specialty consists in developing new technologies to build more and more sensitive astrophysical instruments.

Doors 10.30. Entry £3, £2 concs./Free to Ethical Society members

Tea, Coffee & biscuits will be available.

Image of Martin Rowson's

Talks & Lectures

Martin Rowson's "The Coalition" Talk

Fri 12 Dec 2014, 19:30

The Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Martin Rowson's "The Coalition Talk" 

"When you've got a vicious bunch of cut throats in power you need a cartoonist who is up for the evisceration.  Rowson's your man." - Mark Thomas

After the historic General Election of 2010, Britain ended up with a Tory-Lib Dem coalition government. While the media has reported onits highs and lows, no one has captured the cabinet's actions better than Martin Rowson, who has been documenting his own version of events in cartoons for The Guardian, The Mirror, The Morning Star and other publications. 'The Coalition Book' collects his best, most brutally funny and visceral cartoons from the last four years.

Cameron and Clegg take centre stage as we're reminded of some of the highlights of their term in power: phone-hacking, double-dip recession, riots, endless arguments about Europe - topics that will be central to the debate in the lead up to the next general election in 2015.  Rowson provides a full cast list of the principle players from the world of politics and the media, and a brief descriptive scene-setter to each cartoon.  Laced with Rowson's characteristically savage satire, 'The Coalition Book' is a political pantomime with a rottweiler's bite.

One of Britain’s best-loved cartoonists, Martin Rowson has contributed regularly to The Guardian, Daily Mirror, The Times, The Spectator, Time Out, The New Statesman and many other publications. He is also the author of several graphic novels including adaptations of The Wasteland, Gulliver’s Travels, and Tristam Shandy (SelfMadeHero).  His prose books include The Dog Allusion: Gods Pets and How to be Human, and the memoir Stuff. He lives in London.

Tickets: £5 Standard Advance, Free for Ethical Society Members. £24.99 with book pre-order (to collect on the night).

The Coalition Book will be available on the night for £20.

Image of Thinking on Sunday - How humanity might avoid devastation

Talks & Lectures

Thinking on Sunday - How humanity might avoid devastation

Sun 14 Dec 2014, 11:00

The Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Dr. Nicholas Maxwell

Population growth, destruction of natural habitats and rapid extinction of species, vast inequalities of wealth and power around the globe, the lethal character of modern war, pollution of earth, sea and air, and above all the impending disasters of climate change; all these looming global problems indicate we face a grim future.

In order tackle these problems intelligently, effectively and humanely, requires that our institutions of learning, our universities and schools, are rationally designed and devoted to the task.  At present, they are not.  We have inherited from the past a kind of academic inquiry so grossly irrational that it has actually contributed to the genesis of these problems.  The great intellectual success of modern science and technological research has made possible, even caused, all these global crises.

As a matter of supreme urgency we need to bring about a revolution in academia so that humanity may acquire what it so desperately needs: a kind of inquiry rationally designed and devoted to helping us make progress towards as good a world as possible.   

Nicholas Maxwell has devoted much of his working life to arguing that we need to bring about a revolution in academia so that it seeks and promotes wisdom and does not just acquire knowledge. In 2003 he founded Friends of Wisdom an international group of academics and educationalists concerned with the role of universities in this regard. He has published widely including eight books.  For thirty years he taught philosophy of science at University College London, where he is now Emeritus Reader. 

Doors 10.30. Entry £3, £2 concs./Free to Ethical Society members

Tea, Coffee & biscuits will be available.

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