Where are they? The search for alien life.
Tuesday 21 March 2017
During a lunchtime discussion in 1950 with his physicist colleagues on the possibility of intellige alien life, Enrico Fermi asked the innocuous question "Where are they?". That was back in 1950 and we still haven't received a message back from the little green men despite the fact that we have been pouring TV and radio signals into the void for over 60 years now. Fermi's mates were of the opinion, like Carl Sagan, that there are likely to be millions of technologically sophisticated societies throughout the galaxy but Fermi thought that if this were so we should have seen evidence of them by now.
We will be discussing the likelihood of alien intelligent life, what it might look like and how we might communicate with it.
Of course, some of you may believe that they have already arrived and are amongst us now!
Who believes in Science any more?
Tuesday 18 April 2017
Why, in spite of centuries of admiration for the methods and achievements of science, has its status declined in many sectors of popular culture? Non-scientific, antiscientific and pseudo-scientific alternatives thrive.
Thirty years ago it seemed that science had all the authority on matters of knowledge and that alternatives often sought acceptability by pretending to be science, though perhaps in a some non-standard way. Hence the label, 'pseudo-science.' Consumer product advertising often used this strategy. Now, in our post-modern, post-truth society, those who speak for science seem to be competing with many alternative viewpoints, many of which don't even pretend to be science. The issue was dramatised by the vote-winning rhetoric of Donald Trump.
The Internet gives a platform to those who dissent from scientific orthodoxy on a large range of issues from climate warming to the evolutionary origins of mankind to the likelihood of vaccinations causing autism.
Alex Dolby, retired lecturer from the University of Kent, who used to offer a course on pseudo-science, will be looking at the factors which have led to this decline in the authority of science in popular culture over the last century.
What is the Stoa?
The Stoa is a philosophy discussion group which meets every month in the The Bull pub in Tanners Street, Faversham to talk about serious issues but without being too solemn about it. None of us are professional, academic philosophers and although it's "popular" philosophy we're interested it's never dumbed-down!
When do you meet?
We meet on the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 7.30 — 9.30pm although many members continue informal discussion in the bar after the meeting finishes.
Where do you meet?
We meet in the back bar of The Bull pub in Tanners Street, Faversham, ME13 7JL. Directions...
How much does it cost?
There is no charge for membership but we do have a whip-round of £1 each just to cover the cost of the room.
What kinds of things do you discuss?
Browse through our Topics page to see what we've discussed at previous meetings.
What do you do?
Each meeting is led by a member or a visiting speaker and is generally based one or more articles we have all read (although it's not critical that you read the articles beforehand). Links to all the articles can be found on the Topics page and the dates of meetings can be found on the Schedule page (which includes a link back to the relevant reading).
Who can attend?
Everybody is welcome!
How can I get on your mailing list?
Drop us a line via the Contact form and you will be receive our monthly bulletin "News from the Stoa".
In classical Greek architecture the stoa was the covered promenade attached to the marketplace which became the place where philosophers frequently met to dialogue and debate. In fact it was this habit of regularly meeting in the stoa that earned the 'Stoic' school their epithet: it simply meant "guys who hang out at the stoa and chew the fat!". I like to think that the title of our group suggests an open marketplace where ideas can be traded and critical thinking is our currency.
What is Marginalia?
Marginalia is a blog containing random notes, scribbles, comments, jottings and drolleries on a variety of philosophical topics, including those discussed at the Faversham Stoa. While the notes in the topics section of this site are intended to be fairly impartial, the ideas and polemics in Marginalia are unapologetically my own. You are welcome, indeed encouraged, to append your comments to the entries and start a conversation.
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