Past Topics

“An opinion shared is a topic!”

“Every opinion is open to challenge
but every opinion is heard with respect.”

Past Topics

Topic information booklets can be downloaded in .zip format for most past topics by clicking where there is a highlighted topic title.


Topics in 2015

JanuaryArtificial Intelligence: Stephen Hawking suggests that AI will be the end of Humanity. Can we expect to see The Matrix become reality?
FebruaryFreedom of Speech: What does that mean? A licence to offend? Are there limits? Is religion a special case? Who decides and how?
MarchGood to know you?: What makes for good relationships? Are the rules the same in romantic, family, friendship and colleague relationships?
AprilMen – the weaker sex?: Evidence may suggest men are less resilient and more stress prone? Male suicide a clue? An overlooked problem?
MayEquality and Diversity: Can we have both? What is Equality? Does it mean treating everyone the same? What about Individual Differences?
JuneSummer break to find new venue.
JulySummer break to find new venue.
AugustSummer break to find new venue.
SeptemberSummer break to find new venue.
OctoberThe 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?
NovemberHealth of the Nation: Is the NHS sustainable in the 21st Century? Is it affordable given lifestyles, more treatment possibilities and longevity?
DecemberRobotic workforce: How likely is it that a robot will take your job in the future? Could they do everything? A threat or an opportunity?

Topics in 2014

JanuaryHuman Nature: Are Humans naturally Angels or Devils or somewhere in between? What drives our thoughts and actions?
FebruaryHome is where…?: What makes a home? Where you live? Where you were raised? Where you feel at ease? Or where the heart is?
MarchAssisted suicide: Are there circumstances in which we should allow or even help people to die? What about Quality of Life?
AprilSeeing is believing?: What evidence do we need to believe in something? Authority? Experience? Can we believe the evidence of our own eyes?
MayKnow thyself?: How well do we REALLY understand ourselves? What do others see in us that we don’t? Do we distort our own view?
JuneMy brother’s keeper?: Are we so concerned with protecting people from risks and consequences that we make them more dependent?
JulyIs work necessary?: With increasing automation will we be able to keep everyone gainfully occupied? A different approach to work and leisure?
AugustAn end to War?: Can we really imagine with John Lennon a world without war and violence? Or is aggression just part of human nature?
SeptemberForgive 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?
OctoberWomen’s work!: Many career areas seem to have significant gender imbalances. What causes them? Are there women’s or men’s jobs?
NovemberPolitical Correctness: Are we too concerned with avoiding giving offence? Do we end up trying to please everyone and pleasing no-one?
DecemberLittle 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?

Topics in 2013

JanuaryDefining Madness: Are we at risk of defining many everyday experiences as mental illness? What is normality?
FebruarySelf-esteem: What helps us feel good about ourselves? Can we build a positive, yet realistic, self image? Does it matter?
MarchPerchance to Dream: What are dreams? Are they meaningful? Can you interpret them? Why do we sleep anyway?
AprilThe Self Illusion: Modern science tells us there is no ‘you’ inside your head – so where are free will, choice and morality?
MayThe Counselling Illusion?: Can talking therapies really change the way you are or behave. Is our personality set at birth?
JuneGood and Evil: Do they really exist or are they just variable labels we can apply to behaviours that change with the times?
JulyIn Whom We Trust: Is Trust essential in society? Who do we trust – or not? How do we decide? What if trust is broken?
AugustThree table groups each drew a separate topic from suggestions in a hat. These were Love, the Regulation of Social Networking and Extra Sensory Perception.
SeptemberThat’s my business!: Should we be entitled to privacy? What should be private and what open to scrutiny? National security?
OctoberHealthy Responsibility: Should treatment be freely available where poor health behaviours have been a major part of illness?
NovemberThe Meaning of Meaning: What gives meaning and purpose to Life? Is it all pointless in the end or has it a real value?
DecemberThere 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.

Topics in 2012

JanuaryAll In The Mind: How much of our experience of life is down to what we believe, how we think and our language?
FebruaryIs It True Love?: Romantic fantasy? Lust? Hormonal aberration? What is Love? How do we know if it’s ‘the real thing’?
MarchDoes Truth Matter?: Faced with irrational beliefs and rejection of scientific evidence, should we let facts spoil a good story?
AprilThe Price Of Freedom: How much freedom are we prepared to sacrifice to live in a safe and secure society?
MayLearning the Lessons: Is education getting poorer? What should we be teaching and how? Basic 3 Rs?
JuneDarwin’s Dead?: Are humans still evolving? Is natural selection still operating? Where is it taking us?
JulyValues: Where do your values come from? Inherited from family, from education, religion, social norms?
AugustThink 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?”)
SeptemberHuman Rights?: Are there really Universal Rights or just guidelines for good moral behaviour, responsibilities and privileges?
OctoberThe Bare Facts: What is it about nudity or partial nudity that makes it so titillating yet potentially so offensive?
NovemberChoice or Conditioning: Does advertising sell us what we want or make us want what it sells? How does it work?
DecemberThere 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.

Topics in 2011

JanuaryWho Am I?: There’s Nature and Nurture but who is the ‘Me’ that they modify? Is there a core ‘Me’?
FebruaryJustice for All?: Punishing all the guilty or protecting all the innocent? What is Justice anyway?
MarchMoney Money Money!: The root of all evil? Or is that love of money? Wealth, consumption and greed!
AprilIt’s My Life!: But is it yours to end? Can suicide ever be a rational choice and, if so, when is it OK?
MayVengeance is Mine!: Is revenge ever an acceptable motivation? Should it be an alternative to due legal process?
JuneLive Long and Prosper: How long would you like to live? Are you taking action to live longer? What will it be like?
JulySo you think?: What is consciousness? Good information processing? Self awareness? Could machines become conscious?
AugustThat’s a Laugh!: What makes us laugh? What is the nature of comedy? Is being funny a serious business?
SeptemberI Predict A Riot!: What leads to riots? Poor parenting, social exclusion, moral decline, political policy?
OctoberHalloween: Just a children’s festival? Then why does belief in Witchcraft, Astrology, Mysticism and Magic persist?
NovemberEye of the Beholder?: What makes something (or someone) beautiful? Is there any objective standard?
DecemberThere 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.

Topics in 2010

JanuaryThe Tale’s the Thing: Is literature the richest source of meaningful psychological insight? (No file)
FebruaryNo Gain Without Pain: To appreciate Success, do we need Failure? For Happiness, do we need Sadness?
MarchSex Sells: Is modern society too driven by Sex, Sexualisation and Sexuality? Are there consequences?
AprilA Collective Unconscious?: Do we all, on some level, share an awareness and understanding of Life?
MayWhat makes Authentic Happiness?: Wealth? Health? Love? Karma? Should we expect to be happy anyway?
JuneThe Pursuit of Knowledge?: How do we know what we know? Can we trust information on the internet?
JulyThe Meaning of Life?: Does Life have Meaning and Purpose or is that a delusion? Are they necessary?
AugustA Life Worth Living?: Are there guidelines for living well? What are they? Can/do we live by them?
SeptemberBut is it Art?: Sculpture, painting, performance? Some are highly controversial. What is Art anyway?
OctoberBeyond Science?: Are some things closed to scientific study? Or just when it doesn’t agree with us?
NovemberAlien Nation? Does technology reduce real interactions and erode social values? Are we less ‘human’?
DecemberSelfish Survival?: When times are tough, should we put ‘me and family’ first? How far would we go?

Topics in 2009

JanuaryIt’s a Wonderful Life!: What makes Life wonderful? Is it wonderful for you? What can improve it?
FebruaryI Want to be Free!: But what is Freedom? Can we ever be really free? Could we handle total freedom?
MarchMental Illness/ Mental Health: Real issues or conspiracy among Society, Doctors and Drug Companies?
AprilLeaders and followers: Are leaders born or bred? What makes a good leader? Do we need leaders?
MaySurviving the 9 to 5: Is Work good for us, apart from the money? Joys, sorrows and alternative models?
JuneEvidence for Belief: Can issues of religious Faith or metaphysics be explored through science?
JulyAssertive, aggressive or wimp?: Putting across your views and personality in groups.
AugustOld As You Feel: Is Age more than a number? Is growing older growing up? Social concepts of ageing.
SeptemberYou Are What You Think?: What is the power of our thoughts in forming us and our experience of life?
OctoberWhat’s Right in the future? Ethics evolve with time and knowledge. What will the next big issues be?
NovemberFate or Fluke: What maintains superstition and belief in luck, ‘signs’ and coincidences? Is it real?
DecemberMerry Commercialism: Have religious festivals become meaningless in a secular and material society? (No file)

Topics in 2008

JanuaryCrime and Punishment: Forgiveness, an eye for an eye or rehabilitation?
(No file)
FebruaryTrue Love: Romantic fantasy? Lust? Hormonal aberration? How do we know if it’s the real thing?
MarchMadness, Genius or Eccentricity: Where are the lines drawn? And what is normality anyway?
AprilThe Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth: Is Honesty always the best policy?
MayThe Pleasure Principle: If it harms no one, should we be free to pursue whatever gives us pleasure?
JuneFree Will: Is all the world a stage and are we merely actors? Can we really make choices?
JulyEveryone’s a Victim: All ‘rights’ without ‘responsibilities’? Do we still have a ‘duty’ to society?
AugustEuthanasia: Is termination of life to end suffering justifiable? Should we be able to choose?
SeptemberWar: Can we live without enemies? Is war an inevitable outcome of human nature?
OctoberIt’s Good To Talk: Or is it? Does talk help resolve emotional problems? Should we just endure them?
NovemberPlay to win: Why do we emphasise competition rather than co-operation? In games and in life?
DecemberWho am I?: What makes identity? Appearance? Memories? Personality? What if they’re lost or changed?

Topics in 2007 – No files in this initial year – some topics reappeared later

JanuarySetting up the Group
FebruaryGood and Evil?
MarchHow do I know what is real?
AprilYou are what you choose to be: individuality and free will in a chaotic (existentialist) universe?
MaySex and (Im)morality?
JuneScience versus Faith?
July‘Til Death Us Do Part?’: relationships in the 21st Century
AugustWhat makes Authentic Happiness?: Wealth? Health? Love? Karma? Should we expect to be happy anyway?
SeptemberPerception: the world is how I see it!… or is it how you see it? Sharing perspectives (or not!)
OctoberAddiction: you can’t live without it… or can you? Personality, physical, psychological?
NovemberWith constant pressure to be positive and optimistic, are we missing some advantages of pessimism?
DecemberFestive Season Social
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