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7th February 2021

There is an apparent disintegration of communities that is becoming seemingly endemic in many societies across the world today. And while things here in the UK may not quite yet have degenerated to the point where we are storming parliament on misguided beliefs about baby eating cabals, there is cause for concern. Concerns that are only amplified by the upcoming debut of the kind of news channels that have been seen to promote just such divisions. It therefore appears that we are in desperate need of a quick and efficient way to heal the divide and restore our fractured communities, and that’s where Jacques Launay comes in (no pressure)

Ignoring the naysayers, such as Stephen Pinker, who have dismissed music as nothing more than accidental auditory cheesecake unworthy of our time and money, Dr. Launay and his colleagues have discovered the seemingly essential role of music in our society. Music making has previously been shown to have great benefits for both physical and mental health, although not in the way proponents of the “Mozart Effect” may have claimed, and to even act as a natural pain killer, but Launay’s research has revealed it also to be the ideal icebreaker. So it is that SITP Online offers a timely welcome to the good doctor and his talk on music in social bonding.

Cambridge Skeptics

Born to Dance?
The Evolutionary Origins of Music Making
with Dr Jacques Launay
Thursday, 11th February 2021 at 7:00pm
What's the point in making music? Is there a point? Although music surrounds us for a large proportion of our time it doesn't seem to serve any obvious purpose, and this talk will explore that problem. Darwin suggested music could be involved in sexual selection, used to flaunt genetic fitness to potential partners, but there are also several alternative explanations, ranging from Pinker's null hypothesis (it's auditory cheesecake) to the Mozart Effect (music makes you clever). Spoiler alert - those theories are probably both wrong! This talk will primarily explore the role of music in social bonding, and whether music is best understood as the alternative to language. 

Dr Jacques Launay is an expert in music and social bonding and has worked on this from a range of perspectives, including the origins of music-making, the health benefits of singing in choirs, and the neuroscience of moving to sounds.

Singing provides an inclusive and cost-effective means of combating the disintegration of communities that is becoming endemic in many societies today, write Jacques Launay and Eiluned Pearce for The Conversation.
Since making headlines in 2018, many Flat Earth believers have become Covid deniers and QAnon followers. The signs were always there, writes Michael Marshall for The Skeptic.
When their predictions don't come true, cults are faced with a choice: accept reality, or rationalise the failure. Which road will Qanon take? Asks Chris French for The Skeptic.
A Canadian study showed that health food shops were overwhelmingly likely to give misleading advice on cancer - are things any better here? Asks Edzard Ernst for The Skeptic.
Join microbiologust Virginia Ng and marketer David Frank for a regurgitated history of dangerous products. This event, which was streamed live on 4th February 2021, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
Join Prof. Phil Scraton for a critique the reformist ‘rehabilitation’ agenda and an exploration of the potential for prison abolition. This event, which was streamed live on 28th January 2021, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
Join archaeologist and historian Mirko Gutjahr for proof that real archeology is much more exciting - and true - than archaeological fantasies. This event, which was streamed live on 21st January 2021, is now available for catch up on the SitP Online YouTube channel.
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