A-Z of CODI

Today marks 1 month till the start of the Fringe, 1 month till our first Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas shows and (most importantly) day one of the A-Z of CODI!

Get to know our shows and our performers through the my collation of the best blog challenge questions I could find! Highlights will include my very transparent attempts at some Scottish lingo and me trying to convince you that eXamples is a suitable theme for ‘X’.

Meet Scott Murray and Caroline Hewson in our first post later today!

Throwback (not quite) Thursday

As the heatwave hits and August and the fringe start to feel much more tangible, here’s a little throwback to last year’s CoDI

Dr Liam Brierley took part in the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas with his show ‘A Virus to End Humanity?’, here is his experience of CoDI:

Can you really trust your own eyesight? Would it be a good thing return to child labour? Is technology the final solution to cancer, or Parkinson’s disease?

These are just some of the thought-provoking questions explored at this year’s Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas (or the handy abbreviation ‘CoDI’), where different academics present a “dangerous” or controversial topic each day at the Edinburgh Fringe. In January, I was trying to think some different or original ways I could communicate my PhD research. Fast-forward eight months, and I’m on a candlelit stage in an intimate George Street theatre, stood beside a Glaswegian comedian with a box on her head.

I was taking part in CoDI for the very first time, exploring what might happen if the next pandemic started at the Edinburgh Fringe and whether this would be “A Virus to End Humanity?”. I have to admit I didn’t really know what to expect when I signed up for CoDI. And in many ways, I couldn’t have – the shows all end up wildly different, depending on the presenter, the topic, and the audience. But as an academic presenter in CoDI, you’re trained in workshops where the Beltane Public Engagement Network guide you through what might work for your show (you certainly don’t need to turn up with complete ideas!) and prepare you for the stage and how to generate discussion with the audience. Compere Susan Morrison co-presents and supports all the shows, so you’re never alone, in the run-up to the Fringe or on the actual stage.

As my own show opened, the audience were informed that the theatre was quarantined because of the new Fringe virus and together, we would conduct our own scientific investigation to find out how risky it might be. Firstly, we explored how viruses jump from animals to humans with the help of our ‘computer simulation’. We found out the Fringe virus came from rodents – pretty risky! – and next, looked whether the virus was spreading. Finding infected audience members with our UV torch, we saw that a lot of contacts of infected people were also infected themselves. Using the epidemiologist’s measure of R0, it seemed like the virus was spreading quite quickly. Our audience then suggested some ideas as to measures we could take to prevent the Fringe virus spreading further across the globe (some successful and some not so successful!) While playing each of these games, we adjusted the levels of risk to humanity as we went along and, happily, our audience successfully prevented the Fringe virus pandemic.

The Beltane Network’s aim for CoDI is to generate “debate, discussion, and discourse”, and in my experience, it certainly did! Obviously, the show was going to attract some people already working in epidemiology, but I was fascinated to find out just how much non-scientist members of the public knew – and they came up with some really challenging questions!

It is surprisingly hard work doing a CoDI show, and it’s easy to feel like you’ve just dived into the deep end. There’s not only your show content to think about, but your staging, your promotion, your dialogue with the audience, etc. But for any academic interested in public engagement, it’s a fantastic way to pick up a lot of new skills and new perspectives in a supportive environment, no matter how experienced you are. And who wouldn’t want to be able to tell all their friends they’ve performed at the Edinburgh Fringe?

Glasgow College CODI shows

The Fringe may not have started yet but our Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas researchers are already hard at work.

Aside from the gruelling boot camps, endless hash tagging and amateur video making, two of our brilliant performers are even embarking on early Cabarets of Dangerous Ideas in June! Richard Kyle and Alan Gow will be performing on the 19th and 21st of June respectively to an audience of Glasgow College staff and students. As usual, incomparable MC Susan Morrison will be in attendance bringing her own signature brand of entertainment

Dr Richard Kyle is Reader in Population and Public Health at Edinburgh Napier University and Head of the Population and Public Health Theme within the School of Health & Social Care. His research features regularly in Scottish and UK newspapers and on national television and radio and he even shapes national policy and public debate. 

His show Obesity Bankrupted Our NHS focusses on a simple premise: we must lose our weight or our NHS. Obesity is something we just can’t afford.  It threatens an institution we all treasure.  For every £100 spent on the NHS, a fiver is spent on obesity, in a decade it’ll double. That’s £12 billion a year – enough to double the number of nurses in the NHS.  As always this dangerous idea promises to bring exciting discussion to the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas.

Dr Alan Gow is a Research Leader and Associate Professor in Psychology at Heriot Watt University. His research focuses on identifying lifestyle and behavioural factors that predict healthy ageing within The Ageing Lab.

His show What Keeps You Sharp? will premiere at Glasgow College this year before appearing during the Fringe Festival on Tuesday 7th August and Thursday 16th August. He will explore the idea of ‘having a senior moment’ and whether we should really think of changes in our mental skills with age in terms of decline. While some people do experience these changes, others do not. He explores how thinking skills change through midlife and beyond, and whether our lifestyles affect those changes through the results of a nationwide survey about attitudes towards the changes people expect in their thinking skills with age.

Sadly these shows are only open to Glasgow College staff and students but we hope to see plenty of you there!

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