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Science Speakeasy: Under the Influence

Special ticketed event
Adults (18+)
Thursday 14 March, 8:00pm - 9:45pm
Science Speakeasy banner showing Andrew Tate charicature on mobile phone screen in illustrative style.

We are seeing a rise in the number of self-proclaimed ‘gurus’, who share their theories on everything from business success and sexual prowess to mental wellbeing. 

Andrew Tate is known for his ideology based on misogyny, sexism and violence towards women. Despite, or perhaps because of the controversy, he has gained a huge following. Tate is at the extreme end of a wider trend, where influencers have no shortage of followers despite no firm credentials. 

At this latest Science Speakeasy, a panel of experts will be exploring why individuals such as Tate are resonating with so many people. 

We will explore the psychology and communication strategies employed by these figures, shedding light on the intriguing dynamics at play. 

Terms and conditions

Are social media ‘gurus’ preying on our insecurities?

Ticket prices

Adult (aged 18 and over) £8.00
Carer (please bring proof) FREE

The conversations at Speakeasy events are shaped by audience interaction, but we expect the discussion to cover:

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Why are seemingly sensible people seduced by extreme online ideologies?

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What is it about these influencers that taps into our insecurities and shapes our opinions?

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In an increasingly fast paced world, is seeking a quick fix inevitable?

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How far can our insecurities be leveraged to create a collective mindset?

Confirmed panellists (more to be announced)

Alistair Ford

Dr Alistair Ford (Chair)

Alistair is a lecturer in Geospatial Engineering at Newcastle University, using mapping data and computer models to explore sustainable and resilience cities. He’s particularly interested in the way that land-use and transport planning can be used to adapt our urban areas to climate change. He loves chairing the Science Speakeasy events because he gets to have fascinating discussions with knowledgeable people about subjects he knows nothing about! Alistair’s twitter.

Mike Nicholson is a panellist at our Science Speakeasy debate.

Professor Mike Nicholson

Mike Nicholson is a psychologist and Professor of Strategic Marketing at Durham University.  An authority on influencer and content marketing, he applies insights from the science of persuasion to help influencers, creators and brands maximise the impact of their content and messaging.  Mike has a particular interest in “sinfluencer” marketing and the impact of negative messaging on everyday behaviour.  His research explores how “sinfluencers” craft their persuasive content and the ways in which individuals and brands can inoculate themselves against this darker side of social media.

Madhu Ramankutty is a Principal at Ofcom and a panellist at Life Science Centre's Science Speakeasy.

Madhu Ramankutty

Madhu is a Principal at Ofcom, which is the UK’s online safety regulator. She leads the Trust & Safety Policy team, which develops policies for how services should identify and address harmful content online. Prior to Ofcom, Madhu spent four years at Meta on the content policy and crisis management teams. She holds expertise in how social media platforms can be exploited and the steps those platforms can take to minimize risk of harm to users and wider communities. Madhu also holds a Masters in Socio-Legal Studies from Oxford and a Bachelors in Public Policy from Princeton.

About our Science Speakeasys...

This event is part of Life’s Science Speakeasy’s programme – a series in which important and often controversial topics are debated in a quirky and informal way. No topic is taboo, so these events are not suitable for anyone who is easily offended!

We do, however, ensure that all discussion is based on correct science to avoid the spread of misinformation.


Questions to the panel are encouraged, or you can just sit back and enjoy the event. Limited tickets available. Pay bar available on the evening.

So join us under Gaia – our mesmerising 7 metre recreation of Earth – for a fun evening of lively debate.

‘The speakers were excellent and their collective knowledge of the topic was great. The debate was lively and interesting- enough to keep a non-science novice engaged. The atmosphere was relaxed and there were plenty of opportunities to ask questions.’

‘A very enjoyable event in a relaxed atmosphere. A well informed debate from very knowledgeable guests covering separate but related areas of expertise, without getting too “heavy”. A wide range of audience members provided a number of interesting questions.

‘The whole setup is excellent, and it’s lovely to be able to enjoy a night out that is original and not just another sweaty bar or expensive restaurant. It’s nice to connect with culture and knowledge.’

Getting here

Life is located in Times Square, just a two minute walk from Newcastle Central train and Metro station.

Driving? Times Square Car Park is just around the corner. The sat nav reference for the car park is NE1 4AD (opposite Jurys Inn hotel). Look out for Centre for Life and/or Times Square Car Park signage to direct you.

Times Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4EP

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