Nerd Nite Brighton 34: naturalism, sampling, alcoholism.

Join us in our new venue for another fun night of evidence-based entertainment. This month we have three great talks on wonderfully varied topics. Learn about why pan-species listing is important for naturalists, hear an argument for intelligent musical thievery, and take a look inside AA.

1. Graeme Lyons – Going down the pan-species listing route to becoming a better naturalist

Graeme Lyons is senior ecologist for Sussex Wildlife Trust, a freelance consultant, life-long naturalist and founding member of the Pan-species Listing Movement. 38 years old, he has already seen and identified 6,345 species in the UK. Graeme is also the county recorder for bugs (heteroptera). Graeme’s main passion is invertebrates, particularly beetles, bugs and spiders, but his interest in wildlife is far-ranging with birds, bryophytes, molluscs, cetaceans, fish and fungi high on his identification ability.

In his talk, Graeme will tell us about becoming a better naturalist through pan-species listing. His skills revolve around setting up efficient and focused monitoring strategies across a broad range of taxa to answer questions about habitat management. He also uses this data to inform the management planning process in a feedback loop which constantly informs and fine tunes the habitat management cycle! For more info, see

2. Dave Waller – Stealing is wrong (but sampling is ace): an argument for intelligent musical thievery

In his talk, Dave will lead us on an audio trip through the magic and history of sampling. His tools: his own blessing/curse of a record collection and a wonky portable turntable. Sampling has had a bad rap since it exploded, almost accidentally, in the mid-80s, with arguments that it’s uncreative and steals work from actual musicians. And thanks to the threat of costly court cases, it’s pretty much off the map now for any hip-hop producer who isn’t Kanye West or working for Jay Z. Which is a shame, as there’s so much beauty in sampling too: not only can a four-bar snippet propel you down a rabbit hole into a lifetime’s exploration of forgotten musical treasures, but there’s a real alchemic quality that comes with stumbling on the old, dusty and/or weird and creating something new.

Dave is a writer who was dubbed ‘the hip-hop encyclopaedia’ upon arrival at university. Disclaimer: that was 20 years ago. But it’s thanks to hip-hop and sampling that he’s still spinning such gems as ‘Actual Business Letters’, Cliff Richard’s ‘Two a Penny’ and ‘Fight the Flab with Terry Wogan’.

3. Jon Stewart – Inside AA: Can God Cure Alcoholism?

Alcoholics Anonymous offers a commonly accepted and media endorsed “spiritual” programme of recovery — but can God really offer meaningful solutions to this debilitating, potentially fatal condition? If so, how do we help all the secular alcoholics?
AA’s famous 12 Step programme evolved from the tenets of a now forgotten evangelical Christian mass movement. First published in 1939, it remains entirely unchanged since then.

How did a Higher Power become the go-to treatment modality for one of the great social health scourges of our time? Is spiritually-based health care even ethical? It’s the twenty first century, is this really the best we can do?

This wide ranging talk draws on the work evolutionary psychologist Andy Thomson (Trustee of the Richard Dawkins Foundation) and philosopher Dan Dennett to show how sacred texts and faith-based belief systems are being challenged in a new age of internet transparency. Jon Stewart was co-founder, guitarist and co-songwriter for platinum-selling Britpop band Sleeper. He currently lectures in popular culture at a local HE Institution, and is a PhD researcher at University of Southampton. A grateful sober member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 14 years, Jon also campaigns for more up-to-date evidence-based secular treatment options via his blog at

As always we’ll have the usual quizzing, cakes, music and drinks!

Tickets £4 (£3 Student/65+ nerds) from here – book early to avoid disappointment

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