Archive for November, 2023

Four Ways of Thinking: Statistical, Interactive, Chaotic and Complex

Posted on: November 30th, 2023 by mlpEditor

What is the best way to think about the world? How often do we consider how our own thinking might impact the way we approach our daily decisions? Could it help or hinder our relationships, our careers or even our health?

Acclaimed mathematician David Sumpter has spent decades studying what we could all learn from the mindsets of scientists. His book Four Ways of Thinking (published August 2023) is the result.

Thinking about thinking is something we rarely do, yet it is something science questions all the time. Rather than being about facts, scientific and mathematic disciplines are, in large part, about finding better ways of reasoning. Our primary mission is to shape our own minds in a way that gets us closer to the truth.

In this recording of a Manchester Lit & Phil talk, David illustrates four ways of thinking (Statistical, Interactive, Chaotic and Complex) through the lives of four mathematical scientists — Ronald Fisher, Alfred Lotka, Margaret Hamilton and Andrej Kolmogorov. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a mathematician to enjoy David’s presentation!

He combines personal experience with practical advice, showing how these tried and tested methods can help us with every conundrum. From how to bicker less with our partners, to pitching to a tough crowd.

Message from our President – December 2023

Posted on: November 30th, 2023 by mlpEditor

December 2023


When I worked in the corporate environment, there was always the milestone of being in a role for 100 days. This time was always used to listen, watch, learn, and get curious. To put forward a vision of the future, and to plan to start moving in that direction.


As I write this, it is 71 days since my election at the AGM, so the other council members, the newly formed operating committee and I are busy pulling a vision and plan together. The next step is to get feedback from the members, refine the plan, and move forward.


And we want to keep you informed. So, we will arrange several online meetings with members, sections, and our broader mailing list to share and listen. The times and dates of these meetings will be communicated in the next few weeks.


This process runs in parallel to the Lit & Phil’s daily business of producing thought-provoking talks and events. Please have a look at the events planned for December; these range from the popular Philosophy Forum, a special Christmas concert, Newsnight’s Ben Chu looking at the recent influx of Chinese migrants from Hong Kong

and our next event focused on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.


2024 – Our Themes


As mentioned last month, we have decided to organise our events around a theme for each term. This approach gives a focus and allows for a multifaceted exploration of a subject. We are also looking to broaden our appeal by leveraging different formats (including debates and workshops), looking at event timings to ensure accessibility to the broadest audience, and attracting challenging, diverse, and inspiring speakers.


From January, our themes are the Environment, Artificial Intelligence (May to August), and in the Autumn, we will focus on our wonderful city, Manchester.


Manchester, the slave trade & the Manchester Lit & Phil 


2023 has been a time of reflection, as the UCLAN report and the supporting events have helped inform our thinking, connect us with community leaders and help the team start mapping our future plans and events.


We have our final event of this year, which will be led by Professor Robert Beckford and will look at the topic of reparations. This event will be informative, insightful, and challenging. I encourage you to attend.


Your Society needs you!


I apologise for paraphrasing the old slogan: Manchester Lit & Phil, values all its members. As many of you know, in a post-pandemic world, many organisations must look at how they operate and what they offer. We are the same, and we need to make sure our programme meets the needs of our current members, attracts new members, and allows us to keep broadening minds for the next 240 years.


With that in mind, please engage with the invitation to suggest themes, events and speakers. Diverse inputs will lead to a diverse program. And that is what will serve our mission most effectively.


Please spread the word, give feedback, volunteer, and invite people to an event. We are aiming to increase our impact and grow our community.


Thank you for your time.



Peter Wright 


Message from our President – November 2023

Posted on: November 1st, 2023 by mlpEditor

November 2023


It’s amazing how time flies when you’re having fun! This perfectly summarizes my first month as President. I had the opportunity to attend multiple events and I enjoyed every single one of them. Each event gave me a new perspective on the subject and allowed me to explore areas I had never considered before. Above all, I had a great time meeting and interacting with our members and guests.


I believe we have a unique offering. I see my role over the next two years as to work with all of you to continue to develop and improve our special contribution to the people of Manchester and beyond. To make sure the society is operating on firm foundations and build awareness of why we’re here and how people can get involved. What we have to offer is too good to keep to ourselves.


Please help me by talking about what we do, and inviting people to events, and for those of you who may not have been to an event in a while, have a look at the program. I am sure you will find something interesting.


The Environment – Our next theme


Following on from a review of our past programs, the trustees and sections have adopted a new framework for developing our event schedule. We will now be choosing a theme for each quarter and planning various events around a core idea.


We will build a series of events, including talks, debates, and visits creating a chance for our audiences to explore an idea more fully, together. We want our events to have broad appeal and core to that principle is the need to ensure we have space for education, exploration, and most of all entertainment.


We are now starting to release events around our current theme of the environment. Our first event will be an online talk on the use of microorganisms to help reduce plastic waste.


Manchester, the slave trade & the Manchester Lit & Phil 


We had our second event in this current series, a guided tour of Manchester, exploring the cities links to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, its industrial expansion and later role in helping support the abolition movement. I was born in Manchester and worked in the mills. After those two hours, I will never look at the city in the same way again.


Our final event of 2023 will take place on the 12th December: Reparations for our slavery links – how might they work?


In parallel, the team behind this series of events is talking to community leaders to develop a plan for our response to the UCLan report and our future activities.

Preparing for the next 240 years

Our monthly newsletter is focused on giving an update to our members and wider mailing list. With that in mind, I have focused on subjects of general interest. There is, however, a huge amount of work required to prepare the society for the future. The trustees have committed to several workstreams to help address the challenges we face.

As this is more internally focused, communication on the details and how we would like members to contribute will be part of a members-centric communication. If you are not a member but would like to help shape the future, please join the Lit & Phil now. We’d love to hear your fresh ideas.


How you can help

This society is important to us all. I want to ask each of you to think about one action that you can do over the next month to help support our activities. They can be as simple as sharing this message, a conversation or attending an event. Every one of these small actions will make a difference.


Thank you for your time.



Peter Wright 


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