CoDI 2017 Podcast

Meet the colleagues from the University of Edinburgh’s College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine taking part at the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Featuring contributions from:

  • Liam Brierley (“A virus end to humanity?”)
  • Dave Robertson (“Dr Data: the answer to cancer?”)
  • Mhairi Aitken (“Dr Google will see you now”)
  • Stephen Lawrie (“Psychiatry is the best medicine”)

https://media.ed.ac.uk/media/1_dzwuvll1

No Copyright, No Problem?

Join Smita Kheria at 1.50pm, Wednesday 16th August at the New Town Theatre (Fringe venue 7) to discuss the necessity and future of copyright.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself

Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Edinburgh. Feminist. Former amateur DJ.

How does your CoDI show fit in with your research?

My CoDI show is derived from research I conduct on copyright ‘law in action’; as opposed to just ‘law in the books’. Mainly I have been investigating whether copyright continues to play a useful role in creative practices. The show is inspired by fieldwork I conducted at the Edinburgh Festivals in 2014 and 2015 when I interviewed various writers, illustrators, comic book artists, visual artists and performers to find out what is the relevance of copyright, if any, in their everyday creative lives.

Why is the topic ‘dangerous’?

The topic is dangerous because it delves into the question of what would happen if there was no copyright, and relatedly, whether or not copyright currently has a positive role in today’s post-digital society. Dumping copyright might, on the surface, sound like a good idea, but the idea actually carries dangers with it because copyright protects both creative works and the livelihoods that many creators successfully derive from them.

If copyright disappeared, would we all really be able to ‘freely’ download and share all the content we like (e.g. Game of Thrones episodes, Harry Potter books, and Ed Sheeran songs)? Or, would other restrictions perhaps replace said copyright law and be even less desirable? Additionally, without copyright, would artists continue to create content and pursue financially sustainable creative lives? Would a sufficient number of artists continue to create so that we can continue enjoying reading, watching, listening to new creative content? And if so, what kind of artists will they be?

Perhaps most dangerously of all, without copyright protecting creators and their works, will large corporations like Google benefit more as they will be able to scoop up mountains of “free” content that they can then monetise ?

Does it rightly have this label? Is the topic unjustly controversial?

A cursory look at popular media demonstrates that not only is copyright protection highly controversial but also an issue that polarises opinion, and although we mightn’t often think about it, copyright is ubiquitous. In fact, it intersects with our lives on a daily basis.

Whether or not you are a professional content creator or producer, you are still likely to be regularly engaging with copyright protected content: watching videos on Youtube, taking photographs to share on Instagram, reposting a funny comic or illustration you found online on Facebook. The examples are endless (and they are not limited to the digital environment). If you are a professional content creator or producer then you will be routinely dealing with copyright in the various contracts and agreements you enter into (not as simple as it sounds).

Yet, copyright is more controversial today than it has ever been. The very ability to easily create, edit, and share copyright content has raised questions about the role of copyright. Do we need copyright when it poses restrictions on this process of creation and sharing? Do content creators really benefit from copyright? Is it an unjust monopoly?

Why is the topic important to you?

Copyright is a complex issue. It is important to me that research is used to examine the nature of the various myths and misunderstandings that have built around copyright, and to also properly assess if copyright can, or in fact does, play an important role in the lives of creative practitioners.

Describe your show in 3 words

Three pictures instead?

Why should the unenlightened Fringe-goer attend your show? What will they learn?

Because they will go boldly where no Fringe-goer has gone before!

At the largest arts festival in the world, the unenlightened Fringe-goer will see many artists and enjoy lots of creativity. As patrons and consumers of art, they can learn from my show, whether copyright law matters to artists, creativity, and society, or could we live without it.

 

Get your tickets here!:

The Stand

Ed Fringe

Fitness to Witness

Join Faye Skelton at 8.20pm, Monday 14th August and at 1.50pm, Thursday 17th August at the New Town Theatre (Fringe venue 7) to discuss whether or not we can rely on eyewitness testimony in criminal cases. 

 

Tell us a bit about yourself 

I’m a lecturer in cognitive psychology at Edinburgh Napier University with a particular interest in cognition applied to forensic settings. With a background in face recognition, I’m predominantly interested in identification of offenders and police facial composites.

How does your CoDI show fit in with your research?

My research is focused on face recognition and construction of police facial composites, so it directly feeds in to Fitness to Witness, which will explore factors affecting our memory for faces and events, and what happens when it goes wrong.

Why is the topic ‘dangerous’ ?

Witnesses to, and victims of, crime are often extremely confident in their identification of an offender. This show will challenge people’s perceptions of the accuracy of their memory and hopefully persuade them that even their very clear and confidently recalled memories are likely to contain inaccuracies. For this reason we cannot have confidence in the reliability of witness testimony.

Why is the topic important to you?

The majority of miscarriages of justice involve mistaken eyewitness evidence, and jurors are largely unaware of factors that can affect a witness’ memory of an event and perpetrator(s). It’s incredibly important to increase awareness so that fewer innocent people are wrongfully convicted.

Describe your show in 3 words

Remembering is hard

Why should the unenlightened Fringe-goer attend your show? What will they learn?

I hope that everybody who attends will learn something new. Some people might be particularly interested in forensic psychology, while others might want to know more about face recognition and those who perform very well (so-called ‘Super-Recognisers’) or very poorly. I’d like people to learn about the limitations of memory generally, and why it’s so difficult to establish truth.

 

Get your tickets here!:

14th:

The Stand

Ed Fringe

17th:

The Stand

Ed Fringe

Psychiatry is the Best Medicine!

Join Stephen Lawrie at 8.20pm, Saturday 26th August at the New Town Theatre (Fringe venue 7) to discover why psychiatry doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am Head of Psychiatry at Edinburgh University and Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist with NHS Lothian

How does your CoDI show fit in with your research?

I have done studies about the stigmatisation of psychiatry and psychiatric patients

Why is the topic ‘dangerous’?

It challenges people’s preconceptions that medicine is effective while psychiatry is ineffective

Does it rightly have this label? Is the topic unjustly controversial?

Yes, I think so

Why is the topic important to you?

I wish to reduce the stigmatisation of psychiatry, psychiatrists and our patients

Describe your show in 3 words

Promoting Psychiatry Truths

Why should the unenlightened Fringe-goer attend your show? What will they learn?

To learn how psychiatry is practised and how effective it is

 

Get your tickets here!:

The Stand 

Ed Fringe

Fibre Optic Sensors Can Save the World!

Join Matthew Partridge at 8.20pm, Tuesday 22nd August at the New Town Theatre (Fringe venue 7) to discover how fibre optic sensors really can save the world.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself 

I have several current roles, firstly (and least importantly) I’m the cartoonist and blogger behind the site ErrantScience.com. I launched the site in 2008 as a place devoted to talking about the lighter side of research, and being irreverent about science. My day job is working as a Research Fellow in the Centre of Engineering Photonics at Cranfield University, where I develop fibre optic chemical sensors for everything from water pollution monitoring to cancer diagnosis.

How does your CoDI show fit in with your research?

My research is fibre optics, my show is all about fibre optics and fibre optics is right there in the title. If that’s not already hinting at the way that my show fits to my research then I’m going to have to keep mentioning fibre optics more. Fibre optics.

Why is the topic ‘dangerous’?

Mostly people wouldn’t call fibre optics dangerous and would really say that the most dangerous thing about them is that they can carry laser beams capable of burning a hole through sheet metal. But to me I think of fibre optics as dangerous because they can be so thin that they can slip between skin cells and get embedded in you without you even knowing. Which is both an example of why they are dangerous and an explanation for how I ended up with a fibre optic in my finger as a constant reminder to wear gloves.

Does it rightly have this label? Is the topic unjustly controversial?

The biggest controversy about fibre topics is that everyone thinks they are only good for streaming Netflix. They can do so much more (providing you wear gloves when doing it)

Why is the topic important to you?

It is both my day job and something I passionately want to help educate people about so that they too can see how amazing they are and appreciate the how much better the world would be if there were more of them.

Describe your show in 3 words

Fibre optic death

Why should the unenlightened Fringe-goer attend your show? What will they learn?

Seeing my show will worth it because you’ll learn all about the history of fibre optics, which is really the history of jealous scientists, a crazed person attaching molten glass to a crossbow and the most honest scientist in the world being secretly funded by the CIA. There’s also some bits about the post office and the Dorset Police force and why you need to thank them for the broadband we have today.

Then if all that wasn’t interesting enough as a Fringe-goer you get to challenge me to come up with fibre optic solutions to any problem you can think of. I will happily solve relationship issues, general election confusion and provide a simple solution to Brexit. All with some little known uses of fibre optics.

 

Get your tickets here!:

The Stand

Ed Fringe

Cows Eat Grass, Don’t They?

Join Orla Shortall at 1.50pm, Thursday 24th August at the New Town Theatre (Fringe venue 7) to discuss the way in which our milk is produced and how this relates to how we value agriculture in general. 

 

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’m a social scientist at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen. I do research on how people make decisions about land use and why we value agriculture. Is agriculture similar to any other industiral sector in our economy and we should try to produce as much food as efficiently as possible? Or what are the other reasons why agriculture is important to us, including the role of agriculture in our history, culture and countryside; our connection with the land through the food we eat; and our relationship with animals. How can these values be included in decisions making about agriculture?

How does your CoDI show fit in with your research?

Indoor dairy farming is a topic I’ve developed an interest in over recent years as I’ve been working on disease control on dairy farms. It seems that the dairy sector in the UK is changing rapidly with more cows spending more time indoors, but the public are largely unaware of these changes. I feel more discussions around the topic would be helpful.

Why is the topic ‘dangerous’?

I feel this topic is dangerous because it’s not being widely discussed. When I mention indoor dairy farming to people many of them are surprised that it’s happening and very much against it, so there seems to be something of a disconnect between what people believe, how they want their food to be produced and the direction the industry is going in. When you get a disconnect between what people in the scientific community or industry believe and what “the public” believe then you can get outbreaks of controversy and protest. It has also been the subject of controversy in the past with protests over a “mega dairies” opening in people’s local area.

Does it rightly have this label? Is the topic unjustly controversial?

It depends what point of view you look at it from. There are lots of reasonable arguments for indoor dairy farming and we’ve already partly accepted indoor pig and poultry production in our food sector – so why should dairy farming be different? It might be the case that people oppose changes to the sector now but we get used to milk being produced indoors. A lot of the arguments about indoor dairy farming relate to the cows’ welfare, with opponents stating that cows aren’t happy indoors all the time and proponents saying that cows can have a very good life indoors. This one is hard to resolve because you can’t ask cows which they prefer and there isn’t agreement on the best way to assess if cows are “happy” or not, and there haven’t been that many studies done on it. Other countries such as the Netherlands have already undergone these changes and are now moving back in the opposite direction, with requirements for cows to spend a proportion of their time out of doors and a market for free range, outdoor milk. This suggests this isn’t a topic that isn’t just going to go away.

Why is the topic important to you?

I drink milk and eat dairy products in the first instance, so that gives me a reason to think about how milk is produced. The disconnection between how normal indoor dairy farming is in the industry in the UK, and how unaware most people are of it has struck me over the last few years. I’m interested in how the dairy sector is changing. It’s a really diverse sector in the UK with all types of different systems, technologies, sizes, so this feels like an important time to think about dairy farming. I’m Irish as well, and Ireland has a more extensive dairy system in general than the UK, with lower milk yields and cows spending more time on grass, so I’m interested in the comparison. People seem to object to cows being housed all year around more so than pigs or chickens, so I’m interested in why that is as well. The image of cows grazing in a grass field is such an iconic image of the countryside.

 Describe your show in 3 words

Talk about milk

 Why should the unenlightened Fringe-goer attend your show? What will they learn?

They’ll get the chance think more about how their food is produced and discuss the different sides of the argument. They’ll be challenged and hopefully exposed to a lively debate.

 

Get your tickets here!:

The Stand

Ed Fringe

How to Rebuild a Life

Join Alastair Ager at 1.50pm, Wednesday 23rd August at the New Town Theatre (Fringe venue 7) to discuss real life testimonies of how lives have been rebuilt after epidemics, earthquakes and wars.

 

Get your tickets here!:

The Stand

Ed Fringe

Hug More Thugs

Join Lesley McAra and Susan McVie at 8.20pm, Monday 21st August at the New Town Theatre (Fringe venue 7) to discuss why we should be hugging more thugs. 

 

Tell us a bit about yourselves

Lesley is Assistant Principal Community Relations and Professor of Penology at the University of Edinburgh

Susan is the Director of the Applied Quantitative Methods Network and Professor of Quantitative Criminology at the University of Edinburgh

Both Lesley and Susan are Co-Directors of the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime

How does your CoDI show fit in with your research?

This show features aspects of the research we do on crime and justice related issues.  In particular, it draws on findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, a longitudinal study of over 4000 people, which has highlighted how harsh and punitive methods of dealing with young people who come into conflict with the law are mostly ineffective and can sometimes make things worse.

Why is the topic ‘dangerous’?

The Daily Mail once included Lesley and Susan in their league table of “academics who state the bleedin’ obvious” – because they had robust evidence that early experience of school exclusion was a strong predictor of who would end up in prison by age 24 (in the Mail’s view, “once a ned always a ned”).   Crime evokes strong emotions amongst politicians and the public.  Governments that are not seen to be appropriately “tough” on crime are strongly criticised in the tabloid press.  Paradoxically so called tough responses to crime actually exacerbate it (and are often far softer in practice).  In contrast, rehabilitation and efforts to tackle the needs and vulnerabilities of the most serious offenders are often more effective at reducing crime and reducing the risks of victimisation.  If the Edinburgh Study findings are so ‘bleedin obvious’ then why has more not been done to tackle the problem?

Does it rightly have this label? Is the topic unjustly controversial?

Crime and punishment are controversial, and weak governments often turn to punitive responses to try to win popular support. De-politicising youth justice, and treating it as more akin to a public health problem, would lead to more sustained and effective responses.

Why is the topic important to you?

Lesley and Susan’s overall aim is to use research evidence to promote and campaign for positive social and political change.  The findings of their research have been utilised by policy makers and practitioners in Scotland and internationally to support the well-being and flourishing of young people, and in particular those most excluded and marginalised within society.

Describe your show in 3 words

Challenging, eye-opening, engaging

Why should the unenlightened Fringe-goer attend your show? What will they learn?

People often think they know a lot about crime and justice, but they know more fiction than fact. In our show they will learn about the very strong relationship between needs (poverty, exclusion, mental health problems, neglect) and deeds (crime and anti-social behaviour); and what works in reducing crime. We will challenge you to consider the role of the criminal justice system in our society and how effective or not it is in dealing with youth crime.

 

Get your tickets here!:

The Stand

Ed Fringe