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Politics Cafe

23 February 2015

The Bristol Politics Cafe seeks to encourage debate and discussion in the run up to the May 2015 election.

In collaboration with PolicyBristol, the Bristol Politics Cafe has selected a range of experts from the University of Bristol and the University of the West of England to share their expertise and answer your questions on topics from media bias, to EU governance, to austerity. 
Join us 8pm-10pm on Wednesday evenings at The Station, Silver Street, BS1 2AG.




Tariq Modood

Are multiculturalism and cultural integration opposing forces?

What is ‘multiculturalism’ and what is ‘integration’? Is it the case that they are two different things and that we need to choose between them? Many people have been saying over the last few years that ‘Multiculturalism is dead’. What is the evidence for this? I shall suggest that such stark generalisations and choices simply the reality. Integration is an important goal but it may not be possible without some elements of multiculturalism.

  • 4 Mar 2015 20:00 - 22:00 (GMT)

Stephan Lewandowsky

The Psychology of Bias and Misinformation: Climate change, vaccines and weapons of mass destruction

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” This statement by U.S. Vice-President Cheney in 2003 turned out to have no basis in fact. Nonetheless, surveys have revealed time and again that more than 25% of Americans continued to believe in the existence of Weapons of Mass Destruction for many years after the invasion. How do such myths arise? Why do they linger? I will examine the psychological processes that give rise to the formation of myths and that make them so resilient to forgetting and updating. The talk will also examine the psychology of skepticism and the role it plays in processing information presented in the media.

  • 11 Mar 2015 20:00 - 22:00 (GMT)

Simon Burgess

How (not) to run an education system

The discussion will focus on the main parties' approach to schools and teaching.  Why is education important? Should we just ditch the school league tables? Are Free Schools a good thing? How should we get the best teachers? Bring back grammar schools? Simon will talk about the latest research and what it says about these questions. 

  • 18 Mar 2015 20:00 - 22:00 (GMT)

Jo Mitchell

Osborne's austerity: panacea or snake oil?

The coalition government has justified austerity policies on the basis that we are suffering from an unprecedented debt crisis caused by the irresponsible policies of the previous government. In the run up to the election we are told that the Coalition's 'long-term economic plan' is the only route to stability and prosperity. This talk examines the evidence for the government's claims and considers policy alternatives. Dr Jo Michell argues that the macroeconomic basis for austerity is based o n a fallacy and explains the apparent paradox that Government policies have led to higher debt levels.

  • 25 Mar 2015 20:00 - 22:00 (GMT)

Colin Davis

How do we decide who to vote for? Social influence, bias and manipulation in electoral decision making

Making political choices is complex, and requires weighing many factors. Faced with such complexity, people tend to exploit any information that is readily available. Although we may not be aware of it, this leaves us vulnerable to strong effects of social influence. These effects are illustrated by experiments investigating how voters’ judgments of election debates can be manipulated. More generally, people’s electoral decisions are swayed by many factors that are outside their awareness, including factors that most would agree are not strictly relevant (such as the attractiveness of the candidates). Does this matter? If so, what can we do about it? 

  • 8 Apr 2015 20:00 - 22:00 (BST)

Michelle Cini

Is there a future for the European Union?

With Euroscepticism on the rise across the European Union, the EU institutions have tried to find ways to engage with the general public and to rectify what many call the EU's 'democratic deficit'. Yet these efforts have had very little effect on public attitudes towards the EU, and in some cases have even backfired. Focusing on the theme of ethics, integrity and 'good governance', this talk will review some of the attempts the EU has made to improve its public image, as well as the hurdles it must overcome if it is to gain (or regain) the trust of the peoples of Europe in the future.

  • 15 Apr 2015 20:00 - 22:00 (BST)

Martin Bigg

Energy generation, use and denial

Our coal fired power stations are past their sell-by date, some looking greener.  Our nuclear legacy is costing us billions yet we are proposing to increase this liability.  Fracking and gas are seen as the quick easy fix.  We support renewables but not near us.  We are profligate with a valuable resource but are slow to save.  Yet we all want cheap energy at the touch of a switch.

  • 29 Apr 2015 20:00 - 22:00 (BST)

Further information

For further information, please visit the eventbrite page or contact the organiser 

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