Past topics

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Topics in 2016
Topics in 2015
Topics in 2014
Topics in 2013
Topics in 2012
Topics in 2011
Topics in 2010
Topics in 2009
Topics in 2008
Topics in 2007

Topic information booklets can be downloaded for most past topics by selecting the  Files  menu option above and searching under the Previous topic list which is ordered by year and month (e.g. 2015/03). Hovering over a date shows the topic title.

Topics in 2016


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Topics in 2015

January Artificial Intelligence: Stephen Hawking suggests that AI will be the end of Humanity. Can we expect to see The Matrix become reality?
February Freedom of Speech: What does that mean? A licence to offend? Are there limits? Is religion a special case? Who decides and how?
March Good to know you?: What makes for good relationships? Are the rules the same in romantic, family, friendship and colleague relationships? 
April Men - the weaker sex?: Evidence may suggest men are less resilient and more stress prone? Male suicide a clue? An overlooked problem? 
May Equality and Diversity: Can we have both? What is Equality? Does it mean treating everyone the same? What about Individual Differences?  
June Summer break to find new venue. 
July Summer break to find new venue. 
August Summer break to find new venue. 
September Summer break to find new venue. 
October The Meaning of Life: Does Life have a meaning at all or is existence a meaningless accident? Or do we give Life meaning and, if so, what?
November Health of the Nation: Is the NHS sustainable in the 21st Century? Is it affordable given lifestyles, more treatment possibilities and longevity?
December Robotic workforce: How likely is it that a robot will take your job in the future? Could they do everything? A threat or an opportunity?

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Topics in 2014

January Human Nature: Are Humans naturally Angels or Devils or somewhere in between? What drives our thoughts and actions?
February Home is where...?: What makes a home? Where you live? Where you were raised? Where you feel at ease? Or where the heart is? 
March Assisted suicide: Are there circumstances in which we should allow or even help people to die? What about Quality of Life? 
April Seeing is believing?: What evidence do we need to believe in something? Authority? Experience? Can we believe the evidence of our own eyes?
May Know thyself?: How well do we REALLY understand ourselves? What do others see in us that we don't? Do we distort our own view?
June My brother's keeper?: Are we so concerned with protecting people from risks and consequences that we make them more dependent?
July Is work necessary?: With increasing automation will we be able to keep everyone gainfully occupied? A different approach to work and leisure? 
August An end to War?: Can we really imagine with John Lennon a world without war and violence? Or is aggression just part of human nature?
September Forgive and Forget?: How do we deal with memories of past wrongs? Are we able to move on or not? What is the role of forgiveness?
October Women's work!: Many career areas seem to have significant gender imbalances. What causes them? Are there women's or men's jobs? 
November Political Correctness: Are we too concerned with avoiding giving offence? Do we end up trying to please everyone and pleasing no-one? 
December Little lies: Is it OK to deceive children with tales of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or Dragons? Are we teaching that Truth does not matter?

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Topics in 2013

January Defining Madness: Are we at risk of defining many everyday experiences as mental illness? What is normality?
February Self-esteem: What helps us feel good about ourselves? Can we build a positive, yet realistic, self image? Does it matter?
March Perchance to Dream: What are dreams? Are they meaningful? Can you interpret them? Why do we sleep anyway?
April The Self Illusion: Modern science tells us there is no 'you' inside your head - so where are free will, choice and morality?
May The Counselling Illusion?: Can talking therapies really change the way you are or behave. Is our personality set at birth?
June Good and Evil: Do they really exist or are they just variable labels we can apply to behaviours that change with the times?
July In Whom We Trust: Is Trust essential in society? Who do we trust - or not? How do we decide? What if trust is broken? 
August Three table groups each drew a separate topic from suggestions in a hat. These were Love, the Regulation of Social Networking and Extra Sensory Perception.
September That's my business!: Should we be entitled to privacy? What should be private and what open to scrutiny? National security?
October Healthy Responsibility: Should treatment be freely available where poor health behaviours have been a major part of illness?
November The Meaning of Meaning: What gives meaning and purpose to Life? Is it all pointless in the end or has it a real value?
December There is no December regular meeting this year as it would fall on 23 December.
Instead we have  a Yule Buffet Social Evening the week before (16 December).
Season's Greetings to all and hope to see you in the New Year.

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Topics in 2012

January All In The Mind: How much of our experience of life is down to what we believe, how we think and our language?
February Is It True Love?: Romantic fantasy? Lust? Hormonal aberration? What is Love? How do we know if it's 'the real thing'?
March Does Truth Matter?: Faced with irrational beliefs and rejection of scientific evidence, should we let facts spoil a good story?
April The Price Of Freedom: How much freedom are we prepared to sacrifice to live in a safe and secure society?
May Learning the Lessons: Is education getting poorer? What should we be teaching and how? Basic 3 Rs?
June Darwin's Dead?: Are humans still evolving? Is natural selection still operating? Where is it taking us?
July Values: Where do your values come from? Inherited from family, from education, religion, social norms?
August Think on your feet (sitting down): No preparation, but lets draw a topic out the hat from suggestions on the night! (Topic drawn was "Who is me?")
September Human Rights?: Are there really Universal Rights or just guidelines for good moral behaviour, responsibilities and privileges? 
October The Bare Facts: What is it about nudity or partial nudity that makes it so titillating yet potentially so offensive? 
November Choice or Conditioning: Does advertising sell us what we want or make us want what it sells? How does it work?
December There is no December regular meeting this year as it would fall on Christmas Eve.
Instead we have  a Yule Buffet Social Evening the week before (17 December).
Season's Greetings to all and hope to see you in the New Year.

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Topics in 2011

January Who Am I?: There's Nature and Nurture but who is the 'Me' that they modify? Is there a core 'Me'?
February Justice for All?: Punishing all the guilty or protecting all the innocent? What is Justice anyway?
March Money Money Money!: The root of all evil? Or is that love of money? Wealth, consumption and greed!
April It's My Life!: But is it yours to end? Can suicide ever be a rational choice and, if so, when is it OK?
May Vengeance is Mine!: Is revenge ever an acceptable motivation? Should it be an alternative to due legal process?
June Live Long and Prosper: How long would you like to live? Are you taking action to live longer? What will it be like?
July So you think?: What is consciousness? Good information processing? Self awareness? Could machines become conscious?
August That's a Laugh!: What makes us laugh? What is the nature of comedy? Is being funny a serious business?
September I Predict A Riot!: What leads to riots? Poor parenting, social exclusion, moral decline, political policy?
October Halloween: Just a children's festival? Then why does belief in Witchcraft, Astrology, Mysticism and Magic persist?
November Eye of the Beholder?: What makes something (or someone) beautiful? Is there any objective standard?
December There is no December meeting this year as it would fall on Boxing Day.
Season's Greetings to all and hope to see you in the New Year.

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Topics in 2010

January The Tale's the Thing: Is literature the richest source of meaningful psychological insight?
February No Gain Without Pain: To appreciate Success, do we need Failure? For Happiness, do we need Sadness?
March Sex Sells: Is modern society too driven by Sex, Sexualisation and Sexuality? Are there consequences?
April A Collective Unconscious?: Do we all, on some level, share an awareness and understanding of Life?
May What makes Authentic Happiness?: Wealth? Health? Love? Karma? Should we expect to be happy anyway?
June The Pursuit of Knowledge?: How do we know what we know? Can we trust information on the internet?
July The Meaning of Life?: Does Life have Meaning and Purpose or is that a delusion? Are they necessary?
August A Life Worth Living?: Are there guidelines for living well? What are they? Can/do we live by them?
September But is it Art?: Sculpture, painting, performance? Some are highly controversial. What is Art anyway?
October Beyond Science?: Are some things closed to scientific study? Or just when it doesn't agree with us?
November Alien Nation? Does technology reduce real interactions and erode social values? Are we less 'human'?
December Selfish Survival?: When times are tough, should we put 'me and family' first? How far would we go?

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Topics in 2009

January It's a Wonderful Life!: What makes Life wonderful? Is it wonderful for you? What can improve it?
February I Want to be Free!: But what is Freedom? Can we ever be really free? Could we handle total freedom?
March Mental Illness/ Mental Health: Real issues or conspiracy among Society, Doctors and Drug Companies?
April Leaders and followers: Are leaders born or bred? What makes a good leader? Do we need leaders?
May Surviving the 9 to 5: Is Work good for us, apart from the money? Joys, sorrows and alternative models?
June Evidence for Belief: Can issues of religious Faith or metaphysics be explored through science?
July Assertive, aggressive or wimp?: Putting across your views and personality in groups.
August Old As You Feel: Is Age more than a number? Is growing older growing up? Social concepts of ageing.
September You Are What You Think?: What is the power of our thoughts in forming us and our experience of life?
October What's Right in the future? Ethics evolve with time and knowledge. What will the next big issues be?
November Fate or Fluke: What maintains superstition and belief in luck, 'signs' and coincidences? Is it real?
December Merry Commercialism: Have religious festivals become meaningless in a secular and material society?

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Topics in 2008

January Crime and Punishment: Forgiveness, an eye for an eye or rehabilitation?
February True Love: Romantic fantasy? Lust? Hormonal aberration? How do we know if it's the real thing?
March Madness, Genius or Eccentricity: Where are the lines drawn? And what is normality anyway?
April The Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth: Is Honesty always the best policy?
May The Pleasure Principle: If it harms no one, should we be free to pursue whatever gives us pleasure?
June Free Will: Is all the world a stage and are we merely actors? Can we really make choices?
July Everyone's a Victim: All 'rights' without 'responsibilities'? Do we still have a 'duty' to society?
August Euthanasia: Is termination of life to end suffering justifiable? Should we be able to choose?
September War: Can we live without enemies? Is war an inevitable outcome of human nature?
October It's Good To Talk: Or is it? Does talk help resolve emotional problems? Should we just endure them?
November Play to win: Why do we emphasise competition rather than co-operation? In games and in life?
December Who am I?: What makes identity? Appearance? Memories? Personality? What if they're lost or changed?

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Topics in 2007

January Setting up the Group
February Good and Evil?
March How do I know what is real?
April You are what you choose to be: individuality and free will in a chaotic (existentialist) universe?
May Sex and (Im)morality?
June Science versus Faith?
July 'Til Death Us Do Part?': relationships in the 21st Century
August What makes Authentic Happiness?: Wealth? Health? Love? Karma? Should we expect to be happy anyway?
September Perception: the world is how I see it!... or is it how you see it? Sharing perspectives (or not!)
October Addiction: you can't live without it... or can you? Personality, physical, psychological?
November With constant pressure to be positive and optimistic, are we missing some advantages of pessimism?
December Festive Season Social

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