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t he cabar et of

d ange rou s id eas Stand in the Square, St Andrew Sq 7th-30th August

#codi15 BeltaneNetwork

2 “The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas is brought to you by Beltane Public Engagement Network. The Beltane Public Engagement Network caters for people interested in making academic research accessible to a wide variety of audiences. The Beltane helps academic staff and students in their network by providing information and advice about the growing field of public engagement, formal and informal learning programmes and fellowships. The Beltane Network equips researchers with public engagement skills through a variety of training workshops and provides a variety of supported, innovative opportunities for Edinburgh researchers to communicate their work, including stand-up comedy and participating in the Edinburgh Fringe! The Beltane strive to ensure that engagement is supported, recognised, rewarded and valued by Higher Education Institutions and other stakeholders and work to build meaningful dialogue about the role of engaged universities in Scotland with MSPs at the Scottish Parliament.”

The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas is produced by Glasgow-based production company Fair Pley and hosted by The Stand Comedy Club. @Fair_Pley @StandComedyClub

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /


aim The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas is designed as an informal platform for academics and researchers to engage with the public on an array of topics. We at Beltane think The Cabaret (#codi15) is public engagement at its best and most extreme. Renowned for its extravagant displays and outlandish performances, the Fringe provides the ideal setting to discuss hidden and controversial research with a different audience.

format The concept of the shows is simple; to get research out beyond the university walls and to the masses. Academics from different universities and organisations come together to create, write and perform individual shows. They make their area of expertise more accessible, by presenting and discussing provocative and ‘dangerous’ topics. The Cabaret avoids delivering lectures and instead these shows encourage informal presentation of information in highly engaging and stimulating ways, with active audience participation under supervision of Compere, and Comedienne, Susan Morrison, who ensures that the audience never goes quiet!

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets ÂŁ8/(7) available at /


“Trial of Chimpanzee Jack” Dr Lewis Dean & Dr Kate Cross

“Brain Training on Trial” with Dr Alan Gow

“Women! Science is not for you!” Dr. Clare Taylor & Dr Pam Cameron

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /


There is something for everyone so chose your event, shake that grey matter, challenge your ideas and put your opinion forward!


August 7th: Soak Up the Sun and to Hell With Skin Cancer pg. 7 Dermatologists tell us to stay out of the Sun but is it really bad for you?

August 8th: Hearing Loss or Deaf Gain? pg. 7 How would you describe deaf people in an encyclopaedia for extra –terrestrials?

August 9th: GM Bacteria Could Save Your Life! pg. 8 GM bacteria is bad, right? August 10th: Cervical Cancer - You’re History! pg. 8 Cervical screening and vaccination prevent cancer, but why do women still fail to use them?

August 11th: Scotland in Six Swallies pg. 9 Six iconic drinks of Scotland’s history: plague, murder, temperance and social reform.

August 12th: Stop Brushing Your Teeth! pg. 9 with Prof Jan Clarkson Confused by constant, contradictory health advice? Away with the pseudoscience.

August 13th: Women! Science is Still Not for You! pg. 10 Highly qualified women are still deserting science – What is going on?

August 14th: Let’s Turn on the Smart Light pg. 10 Would you like internet access via lightbulbs and street lights?

August 15th: Not so Native Now pg. 11 Sounding like a native speaker is good, right? August 16th: Alas, Poor Darin..? pg. 11 Evolutionary theory can be used to explain most human behaviour but does that mean it should be?

August 17th: Fashion and the Selfie Culture pg. 12 Why do we succumb to pressure to present an image of ourselves that is not the image we see in the mirror?

August 18th: Whose Face is it Anyway? pg. 12 Might you, unwittingly, push people to accept risks of appearance – changing surgery? 7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /

6 August 19 : The Hidden World of Functional Disorders pg. 13 How would you feel if you were paralysed or had blackouts only to be told you were imagining it, hysterical or making it up? th

August 20th: Wild, Scottish and Free pg. 13 Scandinavia has Nordic cuisine but is there a Scottish equivalent?

August 21st: Skating on Thin Ice pg. 14 Why don’t we just let the Arctic melt? And why are governments so interested?

August 22nd Swords into Ploughshares pg. 14 How far can dangerous memories, toxic religion and gender violence be transformed into art?

August 23rd The Cocaine Conspiracy pg. 15 How successful has the ‘war on drugs’ been in solving social and ecological consequences of the cocaine trade?

August 24th The War on Drugs is Harmful pg. 15 Billions are spent on trying to reduce illicit drug supply and penalise possession but would legalisation be a better option?

August 25th Hug a Thug pg. 16 Do you think the criminal justice system is a soft touch and how would you change it?

August 26th Back to the Statistical Future! pg. 16 How different, or scarily similar, is Scotland in 2015 to Scotland in 1835?

August 27th The Great British Brain Off pg. 17 Do you feel like your brain is half-baked? Or that you mental faculties are going off the boil?

August 28th What if Lance Armstrong Had the Right Idea? pg. 17 How fast, higher, stronger could human performances be if doping were allowed and what are the ethical implications?

August 29th Computers are Only for Geeks pg. 18 What do you imagine when someone mentions they work with computers?

August 30th Edinburgh Should Ban Students pg. 18 What have students ever done for Edinburgh? Would cities be better off without students?

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /

Friday 7th


SOAK UP THE SUN AND TO HELL WITH SKIN CANCER! We are all advised to take care in the sun, because it causes skin cancer, but is it really bad for us? Following on from his TED talk and appearance on Trust Me, I’m a Doctor, Dermatologist Richard Weller sheds some light on how the health benefits of sunlight may well outweigh its risks. Should we ditch the factor 50 and get out a bit more?

DR RICHARD WELLER, Dermatologist,

Department of Dermatology, The University of Edinburgh


Imagine we are creating an encyclopaedia for extra-terrestrials. An argument breaks out over how we describe deaf people: some say hearing loss and others say it’s deaf gain. Help us to decide! In this engaging debate, presenters will describe arguments from each side, drawing from research in the field of deaf studies. ‘Deaf gain’ is defined as a reframing of “deaf” as a

form of sensory and cognitive diversity that has the potential to contribute to the greater good of humanity’ (Baumann and Murray, 2009). The audience will be invited to take part and vote.

PROFESSOR JEMINA NAPIER & DR NOEL O’CONNELL, Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland, Heriot-Watt University 7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /

Sunday 9th


GM BACTERIA COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE! GM Bacteria? Noooo! But what if I told you that GM Salmonella might save your life one day? Most people remember Salmonella because of the controversy with eggs, and many know that Salmonella can cause food poisoning. In fact, Salmonella causes around a billion infections every year. In my lab, we study Salmonella to try to understand more about how it causes infections, but we’d like to do something with our bacteria that you might find surprising... We think we can use GM Salmonella to deliver medical treatments. Join me to find out more...

DR CLARE TAYLOR, School of Life, Sport & Social Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University


Cervical cancer only affects women but is caused by a virus (HPV) very common in both sexes. HPV causes cervical cancer if not cleared by the immune system. We now have great weapons against cervical cancer but it still kills women every year. Cervical screening detects the effects of HPV before cancer develops. Vaccination against HPV before infection occurs is even more powerful at preventing cancer. Screening and vaccination for girls are free through the NHS. So why do too many women not avail themselves of these fantastic services? How can we improve the message?

PROFESSOR SARAH HOWIE, MRC & The University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research & PROFESSOR HEATHER CUBIE, Global Health Academy, The University of Edinburgh 7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /


Tuesday 11th SCOTLAND IN SIX SWALLIES A river of drink runs through Scotland’s history – plague, murder, temperance and social reform are drenched in six iconic drinks (swallies, as the locals say). Alcohol is involved. Dangerous ideas and Susan Morrison lurk everywhere. This will not be entirely serious. Tea reviving Suffragettes and temperance women; coffee fuelling late night Enlightenment argy-bargy; burgundy spilling from goblets dropped by murdered royalty; whisky pouring into Prohibition America; Irn Bru baffling

SUSAN MORRISON, Stand Up Comedienne and Compere of the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas

tourists trying to work out what that taste actually is, and water, the suspect carrier of disease and bringer of massive change to our cities.


The common phrase ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ sounds quite sensible in promoting healthy living, doesn’t it? However, a quick internet search suggests that eating an apple a day will: keep the doctor away if you’re a woman, over 50; not keep the doctor away; send you running to the dentist. So we’re surrounded by a lot of contradictory and confusing information. Join Professor Jan Clarkson, one of the world’s leading experts on oral health, as she discusses what we actually know about looking after our teeth and what’s nothing more than pseudoscience.

PROFESSOR JANET CLARKSON, Co-Director, Dental Health Services Research Unit (DHSRU), School of Dentistry, University of Dundee 7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /


Thursday 13th WOMEN! SCIENCE IS STILL NOT FOR YOU! The UK desperately needs more scientists and engineers, yet highly qualified, talented and ambitious women are still deserting science. Reasons such as unconscious bias and lack of confidence are only the tip of the iceberg. What’s really going on? Could the answers be found in role models, mentors and male support, or do women simply lack ability in science? Dr Clare Taylor and Dr Pam Cameron have returned to discuss what, if anything, we should do about this loss to science.

DR PAM CAMERON, Novo Science & DR CLARE TAYLOR, School of Life, Sport & Social Sciences, Edinburgh Napier University


How can light bulbs be smart? Could LED light bulbs really be used for wireless data communication? Here at the Li-Fi Centre at the University of Edinburgh, we are developing the electronics to make this happen. We will show you how Li-Fi will complement existing Wi-Fi networks to give you better service. Li-Fi will be a central part of future hybrid networks in homes, schools, offices and smart cities, and there will be new Li-Fi networks for aeroplanes, hospitals, even for communication underwater. We will also explain how it is highly energy efficient.

YUNLU WANG & ARAVIND VENUGOPALAN, Li-Fi Research and Development Centre, Institute for Digital Communications (IDCom), The University of Edinburgh

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /


Saturday 15

Learning a language? Sounding like a native


maintaining native-level perfection in your own


speaker is good, right? What if we said that language might stall your second language learning? People living abroad often make mistakes in their mother tongue; the same mistakes as second-language learners. Why? The more your brain adapts to accommodate another language, the better you’ll speak the second language, but the less native-like you’ll seem in your own. Join Professor Antonella Sorace to explore how languages affect each other in the brain, and why the key to multilingualism might lie in making more mistakes.

PROFESSOR ANTONELLA SORACE, Developmental Linguistics, The University of Edinburgh

Sunday 16th

If Darwin was alive today he’d be very, very angry


theory can be used to explain pretty much any human

about what we’ve done with his idea. Evolutionary behaviour, but that doesn’t mean it should be. Is it natural for married men to have affairs? Are good novelists more evolutionary? Does the pill make you more attracted to your brother? Psychologist Kate Cross and biologist Lewis Dean will use sketches, debate and game shows to explore the data behind the headlines and help decide: evolutionary just-so story or evolutionary just-right?

DR KATE CROSS AND DR LEWIS DEAN, School of Psychology & Neuroscience, University of St Andrews

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /

Monday 17th


FASHION AND THE SELFIE Mal Burkinshaw, Programme Director of Fashion at ECA and Director of the Diversity Network, discusses and debates the role that fashion plays in stereotyping ideals of beauty – when are we ever good enough? With the rise of the “me, me, me selfie” culture – why do we succumb to pressure to present an image of ourselves to the world that is not the image we see in the mirror, or the image beneath the skin? This show asks whether empathy can ever change the strict doctrines of current beauty codes.

MAL BURKINSHAW, Programme Director of Fashion at Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh


Surgery to change facial appearance is increasingly common, for both reconstructive and cosmetic reasons. Surgical advances allow us to perform previously impossible operations, including face transplants. What does the future hold? Many patients undergo a series of multiple operations - where should we stop? Meanwhile, increasing numbers of adults and children are turning to cosmetic surgery. What drives this? Should we blame the media and glossy magazines? How do you think about disfigurement? Might you, unwittingly, push people to accept risks of appearance-changing surgery? Share your views, discuss ethics and explore prejudice with Surgeon Felicity Mehendale.

DR. FELICITY MEHENDALE, Consultant Cleft & Plastic Surgeon, Royal Hospital for Sick Children & Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer, The University of Edinburgh 7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /

Wednesday 19th


THE HIDDEN WORLD OF FUNCTIONAL DISORDERS How would you feel if you were paralysed or had blackouts, only to be told you were imagining it, hysterical, or making it up? This is still the experience of some patients with Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), a very real but misunderstood condition that affects 15% of UK neurology outpatients. In spite of being relatively common, FND is remarkably hidden from public view. Consultant Neurologist Dr Jon Stone brings this illness out of the shadows. Hear the science and lift the stigma.

DR JON STONE, Consultant Neurologist, Edinburgh’s Western

General Hospital & Honorary Senior Lecturer in Neurology, Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences,The University of Edinburgh


A culinary conundrum. Six-thousand years of farming and improving crops and livestock and we still pay a premium for wild food. Our neighbours in Scandinavia are developing a new Nordic cuisine based on local, seasonal and native ingredients. Is there a Scottish equivalent? From Jokkmokk to Adelaide, fine restaurants serve wild meat, fish and foraged vegetables. What nutritional benefits or ecological consequences stem from eating on the wild side and is it really sustainable? Chefs, gourmets, nutritionists and ethnobotanists are challenged to create a genuine Scottish cuisine based on indigenous and iconic plants, animals and fungi.

IAN EDWARDS, Head of Exhibitions and Events, The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets ÂŁ8/(7) available at /

Friday 21st


SKATING ON THIN ICE Why don’t we just let the Arctic melt? What will the Arctic look like in 50 years’ time? Will your children be the last generation to learn that the Arctic seas are covered by ice all year round? Why are governments across the world so interested in what is happening up North? The Arctic climate is warming more quickly than anywhere else on the planet. We already see the effects on land, as well as at sea. Discover how the Arctic helps to keep our planet cool, and why its changing state could affect us all.

DR LORNA STREET, Project HYDRA, part of the NERC Arctic Research Programme & PROFESSOR PHIL WOOKEY, Ecosystem Science, to Heriot-Watt University


Transforming arms into art. How far can dangerous memories, toxic religion, intractable conflicts and gender violence be transformed? Professor Jolyon Mitchell (former BBC World Service Journalist and Producer) and Dr Lesley Orr (The Iona Community) investigate how different media and arts can be used to build peace. Drawing on a range of international, national and domestic examples, they explore both whether, and how, ‘swords can become ploughshares’ and weapons can be transformed into art.

PROFESSOR JOLYON MITCHELL, Prof of Communications, Arts & Religions, School of Divinity & DR LESLEY ORR, Fellow, The University of Edinburgh

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /


Sunday 23rd THE COCAINE CONSPIRACY The cocaine trade has enormous social and ecological consequences on both global and local scales. The production of cocaine involves large scale deforestation and pollution caused by the cocain production process. Western governments have been pursuing the so-called “war on drugs” for many years at a cost of billions of dollars. But how successful has this approach been? Is a hard line approach the only solution? In this forum we will discuss this and alternative approaches to tackling the problem.



President Nixon declared war on drugs - the public enemy number one in 1971. By 1994, drug laws resulted in the incarceration of one million Americans each year. The US now spends $50 billion annually on the war on drugs, mainly focussed on reducing supply – often through military aid. Comparatively little is spent on treatments for addicts. It was recently estimated that the legalisation of drugs would bring annual savings on enforcement and incarceration of about $41 billion, and also raise $47 billion in tax. So who, if anyone, is benefitting from the war on drugs?

PROFESSOR STEPHEN LAWRIE, Head of the Division of Psychiatry, Professor of Psychiatry & Neuro-Imaging and Director of PsySTAR, The University of Edinburgh

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /


Tuesday 25th HUG A THUG Do you think the criminal justice system is a soft touch? Do you think that prisons make life too easy for criminals? Would you like to bring back hanging? Then this show is for you! You will hear the stories of prisoners and victims, many of whom committed crimes from a young age. You will also have the chance to design your ideal prison. Academics at the University of Edinburgh will challenge your preconceptions about crime and punishment. You’ll leave wanting to hug a thug, or your money back!

PROFESSOR LESLEY MCARA, Chair of Penology & PROFESSOR SUSAN MCVIE, Quantitative Criminology, School of Law, The University of Edinburgh


How different is Scotland in 2015, to Scotland in 1835? As good education is increasingly costly and inaccessible to the poor, are we seeing our modern ‘lords and gentlemen’ believing we will be ‘more obedient and dutiful, were [we] more ignorant, and had no education’? Might our poor potentially be ‘corrupted, by being taught to read and write’? Might we be returning to a time when libraries are only sustained by subscriptions? Join us for a whistle stop, hover-board ride through the bizarre parallels between modern Scotland and the ‘New’ Statistical Accounts of Scotland (1834-1845).

NICOLA OSBORNE & DR HELEN AITON, EDINA, Centre for Digital Expertise & Online Service Delivery, The University of Edinburgh

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /


Thursday 27th THE GREAT BRITISH BRAIN OFF Do you feel like your brain is half-baked? Or that your mental faculties are going off the boil? Join ‘head chef’ Dr Alan Gow in the Great British Brain Off to consider the recipe for the perfect brain, and what you can do if you feel your own grey matter needs some extra spice. Bring your questions about the ingredients that might protect or harm the brain as it ages, and we’ll put those into the mix. There probably won’t be any cakes, but jelly brains are likely to make an appearance.

DR ALAN GOW, Associate Professor in Psychology, Heriot-Watt University


Every four years we marvel at the feats of human endeavour at the Olympic Games, but imagine a world where doping was allowed. How much faster, higher and stronger could human performance become? This talk explores what the limits of human performance could be - with the aid of a range of doping agents; whether we would want to see what a human could achieve, and the ethical implications that such an approach could raise.

DR DEREK BALL, Associate Professor in Applied and Integrative Physiology, Heriot-Watt University

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /


Saturday 29th COMPUTERS ARE ONLY FOR GEEKS What do you imagine when someone mentions they work with computers or in IT? Do you immediately think of a slightly nerdy man hunched over a keyboard in a darkened basement room, impervious to the rest of the world? Many people would think this. However, computer scientists and IT workers are diversifying and many are attempting to throw off their predominantly male, geeky, introverted image. In this show, Dr Karen Petrie wants to know what turned you on or off computers, and how there are major consequences for an outdated view of computer science.

DR KAREN PETRIE, School of Computing, University of Dundee


What have students ever done for us? Surely Edinburgh would be a better city without them? Swathes of the city would be habitable again for families, noise complaints would slump, and traffic cones could rest easy. Vice Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Professor Mary Bownes imagines what Edinburgh, and countless other UK cities, would look like without students and the universities they attend. Professor Bownes will argue for students’ place in our cities, and highlight both the visible and hidden benefits they bring to civic life.

PROFESSOR MARY BOWNES, Vice Principal Community Development,The University of Edinburgh

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets ÂŁ8/(7) available at /


venue The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas takes place in a yurt at ‘The Stand in The Square’, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh (EH2), Fringe Venue 372.

St Andrew Square

Accessibility: There are no steps into the yurt. It is accessed from a path running off from the main footpath in St Andrew Square.There might be the odd bump as it’s a temporary structure. The routes to seating within the yurt are narrow so will be a little tricky for wheelchair access but help will be provided.

Susan Morrison A professional comedian, regular compere at The Stand, author, children’s TV actress, broadcaster, Titanic expert and advisor to Bright Club Scotland. Susan is MC for the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas shows. Susan is an associate of Beltane and our resident chair interested in academia becoming more accessible – through comedy preferably. She did a great job of balancing entertainment with the sobriety needed to discuss sometimes quite upsetting and personally affecting topics during our Cabaret shows last year and we’ll see if she brings back her robots and builders’ hats this year as well. @suziemo

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /



7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets ÂŁ8/(7) available at /


“A rare treat of the Fringe is being able to speak your mind in a venue without having the talent shout you down.” (Broadway Baby:2014)

“There are no talks here which don’t promise to be hugely educational and thought-provoking” (The List: 2014)

“The Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas should be applauded for providing a space for academics to discuss their research and share ideas with the general public. “ (Broadway Baby: 2014) Find us on Facebook - /BeltaneNetwork Twitter @CODIfringe and @edbeltane #codi15 Contact us:

7th-30th August | 3-4pm | Venue 372: The Stand in the Square | Tickets £8/(7) available at /

y b ring our own bra in #codi15 BeltaneNetwork

Booking information: 7th-30th August | 3pm Venue 372: The Stand in the Square Tickets ÂŁ8(7) available from and

Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas programme  

Programme and Information for Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015 @CODIfringe #codi15