A Skeptic’s Guide to Life In the Universe

9 July, 2016

This article first appeared as a Vic Skeptics discussion pamphlet and again here in December 2010.
The full range of our discussion pamphlets can be downloaded from our  USEFUL INFO  page.

 by Peter Barrett, (Canberra Skeptics), updated 2016 by Ken Greatorex

It’s one of the great questions: is there life elsewhere in the universe, apart from the Earth? Skeptics would say, “Almost certainly, but at the moment we don’t know how likely it might be.”

Life thrives on Earth, particularly in the tropical and temperate latitudes. Life exists even in the harsh desert and polar regions. But most importantly, life has been found to exist in places previously thought inhospitable, such as inside rocks in the dry valleys of Antarctica or around geothermal vents, where the water is boiling hot. The fact that life can survive in such unlikely places dramatically increases the range of potential habitats for life elsewhere. So are there places where life could exist elsewhere in our own Solar System?

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July 2016 Puzzles

30 June, 2016

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July’s Picture Puzzles, “Mixed Bag” Questions and a new word puzzle called AddScrabble are at the top of the PUZZLES PAGE 

July 2016 Skeptical Crossword features Famous Skeptics.

July 2016 Logic & Maths Problems is the 48th set in the series. If you’d like to try the other 47, they start in August 2012 – see PUZZLES ARCHIVE 3;

Enjoy!


2016 Australian Skeptics Convention – Latest

29 June, 2016

Aus Skepticon2016 Try booking banner V2 900W (1)
AUSTRALIAN SKEPTICS NATIONAL CONVENTION 2016

is at The Carrillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, University of Melbourne from 25-27 November,

https://maps.unimelb.edu.au/parkville/building/158/carrillo_gantner

with the annual Dinner at

The Leopard Lodge, Melbourne Zoo on Saturday evening 26 November.

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Early-bird ticket sales will cease on June 30.  Read the rest of this entry »


A Skeptic’s Guide to Dowsing

20 June, 2016

This article first appeared as a Vic Skeptics discussion pamphlet and again here in 2010.
The full range of our discussion pamphlets can be downloaded from our  USEFUL INFO page.

Dowsing, (also known as Divining) is widely practised in Australia. Dowsers claim the ability to detect useful substances in the ground using processes which are not able to be explained by current scientific principles.

The most frequently dowsed substance in drought-prone Australia is water. Many Australians can claim a friend or relative who is a water-diviner.

Australian Skeptics have long been interested in dowsing. It clearly lies within the range of paranormal activities which come under scrutiny. Australian Skeptics offer a sum of money, (currently $100,000) to anyone who can demonstrate paranormal ability of any kind. Our only stipulation is that candidates must pass a proper scientific test, the protocols of which have been agreed upon by all parties before the test commences. Most acceptors of this challenge have been water-diviners; probably because they are genuine people who believe in their abilities, and are as interested in being tested as we are to test them.

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2016 Convention latest

1 June, 2016

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AUSTRALIAN SKEPTICS NATIONAL CONVENTION 2016 will be hosted in Melbourne at The Carrillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, University of Melbourne from 25-27 November, with the annual Dinner at The Leopard Lodge, Melbourne Zoo on Saturday evening 26 November.

Early-bird ticket sales commence on-line from the Convention website,

http://convention.skeptics.com.au/

on Saturday 4th June.

Early-bird ticket purchasers will receive a discount and will be able to reserve seats close to the stage.

We can confirm that speakers at the convention will include Lawrence Krauss, Edzard Ernst, Harriet Hall, Michael Marshall, Katie Mack and Mel Thomson, with more great speakers to be announced soon. Nicholas J. Johnson is our M.C. for the annual Dinner. Information about our speakers is available from the Convention website.


June 2016 Puzzles

31 May, 2016

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This month we introduce a new category: a Word Quiz called “CROSSWORD CLUES”.

 JUNE 2016 SKEPTICAL CROSSWORD PUZZLE is about General Skeptical issues and has standard and cryptic clues supplied.

JUNE 2016 LOGIC & MATHS PUZZLES is the 47th in the series. If you’d like to catch up on the ones you’ve missed, they start in August 2012 – see PUZZLES ARCHIVE 3;

and go the PUZZLES PAGE for a new lot of  Picture Puzzles (this month they’re all film titles) 

and “Mixed Bag” Questions (Trivia type Questions) for June.

Enjoy!


Keep on Taking the Beads and Mirrors

26 May, 2016

by Dr Peter Thorne

Dr Peter Thorne was formerly the Head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Melbourne. He has been a member of Tender Boards for major Government IT projects including the re-equipment of the Australian Tax Office and Australian Customs. He was a member of the National Procurement Board established by the Hawke/Keating Government.

peter thorne

Peter Thorne

In the “beads and mirrors game” industrially advanced nations acquire primary products won from the land, or even the land itself, from less industrially advanced nations in return for manufactured goods.
Australia was still an economic colony of Great Britain until the middle of the 20th century. Our principal role in this relationship was as a primary production nation. For the past 50 years transnational corporations have taken over from the UK as our masters in the beads and mirrors game, particularly in the advanced technology business.

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