Talks & Lectures

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Talks & Lectures

Stop the First World War

Tue 30 Sept 2014, 19:00

Oppositions to the Great War

A series of talks and discussions every Tuesday evening at 7pm from September 30th to November 11th 2014.

Curated by Deborah Lavin, and presented by Conway Hall Ethical Society and the Socialist History Society.

Until the very day before the British government declared war on Germany, the Liberal foreign secretary Sir Edward Grey was claiming that despite the Ententes with Republican France and Tsarist Russia, Britain had no binding commitments to join them in the threatened war against Germany. And many, including a substantial number of  M.P.s in the ruling Liberal Party, believed Britain not only could, but would remain neutral; as it had done in the Russo-Turkish War of 1878-1879 and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871.

There is no doubt that when war was declared on August 4th 1914, there was a great wave of patriotic feeling, but the now conventional myth that the First World War was supported patriotically throughout by the overwhelming majority of all classes and political groupings in Britain and the British Empire, is merely that, a myth.

With the long prepared “Defence of the Realm Act” (DORA) passed within days of the declaration of war "No person shall by word of mouth or in writing spread reports likely to cause disaffection or alarm among any of His Majesty's forces or among the civilian population”  allowing for the imprisonment of anti-war dissidents, there was from the start serious opposition to the war

Week 1: Norman Angell - liberal, radical, socialist, pacifist or patriot?

Prof Martin Ceadel

Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1933, Norman Angell, journalist, peace pundit was a founding member of the “neutralist” Union for Democratic Control, Initially a Liberal from 1929-1931, he was Labour M.P. for Bradford 

The best-seller of 1910 that made Norman Angell’s name as a peace pundit, The Great Illusion, combined pacifist and pro-defence arguments in a fashion which later caused him much intellectual grief.  And the neutralist campaign in response to the First World War that identified him as a rising star of the British left was based on a mix of often contradictory ideas.  

Martin Ceadel is a Professor of Politics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of New College where he has taught since 1979. His research has concentrated on the politics of war prevention with special reference to Britain’s peace movement. The most recent of his five single-authored books is Living the Great Illusion: Sir Norman Angell, 1872-1967 (2009).

Entry £5/£3 (Ethical Society and Social History Society members)

Image of New Scientist Live - Exposing climate change

Special Events

New Scientist Live - Exposing climate change

Wed 1 Oct 2014, 18:30

New Scientist Magazine presents

New Scientist Live - Exposing climate change

Friederike Otto, Post Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Oxford

Alice Bows-Larkin, Reader, University of Manchester

One of the irritating things about climate change is that its effects are often unpredictable and invisible. These factors only increase controversy. But scientists are working to expose its impacts: to understand whether the extreme weather events we're seeing are linked to increased carbon in the atmosphere and to identify what we need to do to starve off the dangerous consequences of climate change.

Doors to Conway Hall will open at 6pm, the talk will commence at 6:30pm.

Tickets £14/£12

Tickets will only be available in advance through Eventbrite (subject to availability).

Image of Thinking on Sunday - Debate: Is UKIP Ethical?

Talks & Lectures

Thinking on Sunday - Debate: Is UKIP Ethical?

Sun 5 Oct 2014, 11.00

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Is UKIP Ethical?

Tom Rubens & Anne Marie Waters

Tom Rubens is a semi-retired teacher of English and Philosophy. He has worked as a university and college lecturer, and as a private tutor, and is still active in the latter field.

Linked to his teaching work is his writing activity: he has produced eight books on philosophy (seven published so far) and has also published poetry. A novel is due to appear later this year.

He has been a member of Conway Hall Ethical Society since the 1980s, and has been active at Conway Hall in a number of ways: serving a brief period as editor of the Ethical Record: delivering a large number of Sunday morning lectures; and doing archive work on material in the Society's journals from the 1870s onwards.

Anne Marie Waters is one of the country's leading secularists and has been a spokesperson for the National Secular Society and the One Law for All campaign and has campaigned for free speech and women's rights. She is standing as the UKIP candidate for Basildon and Billericay at the next election. 

Chair - Norman Bacrac

Norman was first elected a Trustee of the Ethical Society several decades ago. He is also Editor of the Society's monthly journal, Ethical Record. As a former physics teacher, he is particularly interested in the hard problem of how the physics of the brain generates conscious experiences, the role it might play in determining the choices we make - and the implications of all this for humanist philosophy.

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

Tea, Coffee & biscuits will be available.

Image of London Thinks: Shouting Back

Special Events

London Thinks: Shouting Back

Thu 9 Oct 2014, 19:30

Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

London Thinks - Shouting Back

With Laura Bates, Caroline Criado-Perez. Chaired by Samira Ahmed.

Two of the UK's finest feminist firebrands will discuss the evolution of 21st Century feminist campaigning and how to solve the problem of institutionalised sexism in society.

Caroline Criado-Perez is a freelance journalist and feminist campaigner. She is co-founder of The Women's Room, an organisation and database that campaigns for more women experts in the media, and she led the campaign to keep women on banknotes, for which she received a barrage of rape and death threats. She has a degree in English Language & Literature from Keble College, Oxford, is completing an MSc in Gender at LSE, and is currently writing a book about inspiring women around the world, called Do It Like A Woman: The New Pioneers, which will be published by Granta in 2015. Caroline was the recipient of the Liberty Human Rights Campaigner of the Year Award 2013.

Laura Bates is the founder of the award-winning Everyday Sexism Project, an ever-increasing collection of over 70,000 women's experiences of gender imbalance. The project has expanded into 18 countries worldwide and become internationally renowned, featuring in media from the New York Times to French Glamour, CNN to Grazia South Africa, Cosmopolitan to the Times of India.

Laura writes regularly for the Guardian and the Independent and her work has appeared in the Financial Times, Grazia, Red Magazine and the New Statesman among others. She works closely with MPs, police forces, schools, universities and businesses to use the data collected by Everyday Sexism to create concrete real-world change.

Laura is Contributor for Women Under Siege, a New York-based organisation working against the use of rape as a tool of war in conflict zones worldwide.

Laura was named one of the Huffington Post's 'Most inspirational women of 2012' and a Woman of the Year 2013 by Cosmopolitan and the Sunday Times. The Guardian named her as a 'Rising Star' to watch in 2014. She was named one of the 50 most influential Left-Wingers in the UK by the Telegraph and one of the 50 top tweeters to follow by the Times. She won the 'Smart Woman' award at the Red Magazine women of the year awards in 2014.

Laura is also Patron of Somerset and Avon Rape and Sexual Abuse Support, SARSAS (formerly Bristol Rape Crisis).

Laura’s first book, 'Everyday Sexism', was published by Simon and Schuster in 2014.

The event will be chaired by Samira Ahmed.

Samira has worked as a News Correspondent and a reporter on the Today programme and Newsnight, where she was one of the first broadcast journalists to investigate the rise of Islamic radicalism on British university campuses in the early 1990s.

She covered the OJ Simpson case as BBC Los Angeles Correspondent and was a presenter and reporter at Channel 4 News from 2000 to 2011.

Samira won the Stonewall Broadcast of the Year Award in 2009 for her film on so-called "corrective" rape in South Africa, and made the acclaimed Channel 4 documentary series Islam Unveiled. Samira has also worked as a news anchor for BBC World and for Deutsche Welle TV in Berlin, and writes regularly for newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Independent and The Big Issue.

Tickets: £15 Standard Advance. £5 Conway Hall Ethical Society Members/Concessions. Please book your tickets using the Eventbrite booking link below.

Doors & Reception: 18:30. Start: 19:30. Ends: 21:30

Complimentary wine and nibbles are available from 6.30pm.

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

Image of Thinking on Sunday - The origin of World War One – hidden history and lessons for today

Talks & Lectures

Thinking on Sunday - The origin of World War One – hidden history and lessons for today

Sun 12 Oct 2014, 11.00

The origin of World War One – hidden history and lessons for today

Ken MacIntyre

The causes of the First World War are usually ascribed to a terrible accident of alliances colliding with Balkan intrigues and ancient hatreds or German ambitions that got out of hand. A recent controversial book, Hidden History: the secret origins of the First World War (Mainstream Publishing) by researchers Gerry Docherty and Jim McGregor published in 2013, makes the startling claim that the war was planned by a clandestine elite group of powerful men in London who successfully deceived Parliament and the country. The authors draw the history of the group founded by Cecil Rhodes by American historian Carroll Quigley.  The talk will discuss this in the context of how ruling elites have used deception to advance their interests over the centuries including today. Conspiracy theory or conspiracy fact? Judge for yourselves.

Ken MacIntyre has previously presented a talk at Conway Hall on the financial crisis and the nature of money in March 2013 and researches financial and other matters in the context of elite politics. He has Masters degrees from both Edinburgh and London Universities and is a qualified pensions professional.

Chair - Deborah Lavin 

Deborah Lavin is an active member of the Socialist History Society. She has written one of its occasional papers Bradlaugh Contra Marx, Radicalism vs Socialism in the First International. She is currently in the final stages of a Life and Times of Dr Edward Aveling, which covers the same 19th century radicalism vs socialism theme.

Originally an actress, Deborah has also written several plays  including The Body Trade, a brutal comedy about the illegal traffic in human organs, produced in Berlin (Stukke Theatre) and Aachen (Grenzlandtheatre) in Germany and Happy Families produced twice in Tokyo. (Studio-Life Theatre and Atelier Theatre).

Deborah now also gives talks mostly on 19th century radicalism and socialism and more recently on the Causes of the First World War.

Deborah has curated and is chairing the autumn seasons of talks at Conway Hall, Stop the First World War. She is also giving a talk The Commune of Paris in Camden on Bradlaugh and Marx’s colossal row over the Commune at the Camden Local history Centre on October 9th 2014.

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

Tea, Coffee & biscuits will be available.

Image of Margaret Nimmo-Smith: Bereavement and Individual Psychology: Overlooked or Ignored?


Margaret Nimmo-Smith: Bereavement and Individual Psychology: Overlooked or Ignored?

Thu 16 Oct 2014, 19:30

The Adlerian Society UK presents

Adlerian Society London Lecture: Bereavement and Individual Psychology: Overlooked or Ignored?

Lecturer: Margaret Nimmo-Smith

Many of our difficulties in day to day life, and in dealing with crises stem from the way we deal with loss and bereavement, learned from past experience.

There are many theories and explanations of the process of bereavement: when it is normal and when it is overwhelming, prolonged or harming the individual. This lecture will endeavour to explore the dearth of Adlerian literature about bereavement and link bereavement theories to Adlerian concepts using some case examples.

Margaret Nimmo-Smith trained in Individual Psychology with Anthe Millar in Cambridge. She works as a counsellor, supervisor and trainer. She is about to resume being a co-tutor on the Bottisham Adlerian Diploma course, having retired 4 years ago. She has also worked for Cambridge Cruse Bereavement Care for the past 20 years and has given bereavement workshops at ICASSI (the International Committee of Adlerian Summer Schools and Institutes), Green Park and Clonmel summer schools.

Admission £7 (concessions £4) All welcome. No need to book. CPD certificates are available. Lecture enquiries:

Image of Vampire, Werewolves and Witches

Talks & Lectures

Vampire, Werewolves and Witches

Sat 18th Oct 2014, 10:30

Centre for Inquiry UK and Conway Hall Ethical Society present

Vampire, Werewolves and Witches: the myth and the reality regarding some of the most horrific creatures imaginable

The modern vampire is suave debonair and sexy instead of pestilence ridden and undead. What does this drastic modern re-interpretation say about the culture of the twenty-first century audience? 

The werewolf is a common horror motif but what happened when people were accused of “lycanthropy” in the sixteenth and seventeenth century and who was worse - man or beast? 

Why and how are people still accused, abused and murdered in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries as witches?

11.00 Jessica Monteith on Vampires. The Modern Vampire: Suave and Debonair as we've never seen him before. Vampire in film and television have evolved from the undead, pestilence ridden revenants of the medieval and rennaissance eras, into handsome playboy figures. Why has there been such a drastic re-interpretation of the vampire, and what does it say about the twenty-first century audience that this new 'modern' vampire has permeated popular culture?

12.00 Deborah Hyde on Werewolves. The werewolf is a common horror motif, but what did people during the witch-hunt of sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe really mean when they accused someone of 'lycanthropy'? A discussion including films, history and analysis, during which we will found out who is worse - man or beast. Deborah writes, lectures internationally and appears on broadcast media to discuss superstition, religion and belief in the supernatural. She is currently writing a book ‘Unnatural Predators’.

1-1.45 lunch

1.45 Owen Davies on Witches. The persecution of witches in Europe and America – after the witch trials. Professor Owen Davies, University of Hertfordshire, has written widely on the social history of witchcraft, magic, ghosts, and popular medicine. In this talk he will explore why and how thousands of people, mostly women, were abused and murdered as witches in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

2.45-3.30 Roundtable.

3.30 END.

Presented by Steven Law

£10 (£5 students, Members of Conway Hall Ethical Society and the British Humanist Association). Free to friends of CFI UK

Image of Thinking on Sunday: Slavery, civil rights & contemporary racism - how far have we come?

Talks & Lectures

Thinking on Sunday: Slavery, civil rights & contemporary racism - how far have we come?

Sun 19 Oct 2014, 11.00

The Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Thinking on Sundays: Slavery, civil rights & contemporary racism - how far have we come?

Coinciding with Black History Month in this talk Sean will discuss the current issues of racism and its deep roots in the enslavement of African peoples and British imperialism. He will review how the history of Black Britain and anti-racist solidarity can be a useful tool for today’s anti-racists in their quest to create a more just and equal society. He will particularly focus on the period from the 1880s to 1939 introducing us to some of the activists.

Sean Creighton is a semi-retired history project worker whose interests inc. labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and social/political use of music/song. He has a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. He co-ordinates Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and N. E Slavery & Abolition Group, and advises the North East People's History Project. His publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications, inc. titles on British Black History.

He blogs at He writes for He has been convening Croydon TUC’s working party on local economic development.  

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

Tea, Coffee & biscuits will be available.

Image of New Scientist Live - Closing in on consciousness

Special Events

New Scientist Live - Closing in on consciousness

Wed 22 Oct 2014, 18:30


New Scientist Magazine presents

New Scientist Live - Closing in on consciousness

Anil Seth, Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, University of Sussex

Manos Tsakiris, Professor of Psychology, Royal Holloway, London University

Every day you sense the world around you and react to it. You think about it, plan ahead and have no doubt where "you" end and everything else begins. Your consciousness is so familiar you take it for granted, yet it is deeply mysterious and has intrigued philospohers and scientists for centuries. Recent research has revealed much about the subtleties of this state and what we still need to uncover.

Doors to Conway Hall will open at 6pm, the talk will commence at 6:30pm.

Tickets £14/£12

Tickets will only be available in advance through Eventbrite (subject to availability).

Image of Thinking on Sunday: Humanism in India - Babu Gogineni

Talks & Lectures

Thinking on Sunday: Humanism in India - Babu Gogineni

Sun 26 Oct 2014, 11.00

The Conway Hall Ethical Society presents

Thinking on Sunday
Humanism in India - The Laughing Buddha's Weeping Moment

The Story of how the Dalai Lama conspired to sacrifice a child for his political ambitions and spiritual beliefs; of what happened as a culmination of nearly three years of campaigning by Humanists; and of how the story unfolded on TV as a soap opera that gripped the imagination of South India.

What is happening in India, and what are the implications of the recent

developments in the country for the future of Indian Secularism? A look at the forces at play in the country.

Babu Gogineni

Babu Gogineni was Executive Director of IHEU in London for 9 years before returning to his native India as IHEU’s International Director 8 years ago.

During his long association with IHEU as its Executive Director, Babu Gogineni implemented the IHEU’s move to the UK, turned IHEU into a multi-lingual pro-active campaigning organisation, firmed up IHEU’s lobbying efforts at the International institutions, organised IHEU’s first GA in Africa, and conceptualised and founded the IHEU Centre for Bioethics at the UN in New York. He helped organise IHEU’s Congresses in Mumbai (1999), Amsterdam (2002) and Paris (2005), and its first GA in Africa (2004).

Babu Gogineni has been a laureate of Oratorio a prestigious contest in India. He was part of a winning team at a Cambridge Union Society debate, and was invited by the UN to speak as an expert to its Madrid Conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief Conference. He delivered Mexico National University’s Primavera Lecture on Globalisation at the Anthropology Museum of Mexico City.

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

Tea, Coffee & biscuits will be available.

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