Puzzles for July 2017

30 June, 2017

There’s a General Skeptical Issues  Crossword Puzzle this month, or
[pdf version]
a new set of Logic & Maths Problems or [pdf version]
Picture Puzzles and “Mixed Bag” questions are as usual at the top of the Puzzles Page


Staying Rational in a World of Tweets, Fake News, Alternative Facts and Sound Bites

30 June, 2017

by William P. Hall

( based on a presentation at Vic Skeptics Café, 19 June 2017 at the Clyde Hotel, Carlton, Vic)

Today we are living in a world of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and blogs where anyone (even President Trump) can instantly post their ideas to the world for essentially no cost. We are also living in dangerous times where exploding human populations and technologies are affecting the planet’s climate and natural resources where extreme concentrations of wealth and power, warfare, epidemics, climate extremes, ecological collapses and famine threaten humanity’s survival. Unsurprisingly there are often conflicts between vested interests seeking wealth, power and control versus those concerned with the futures of our descendents and of humanity in general. Both are heavy users of the new media. Read the rest of this entry »

Dr Ken Harvey receives the AM

30 June, 2017

Prominent Vic Skeptic Dr Ken Harvey has been awarded the AM (Member of the Order of Australia) in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Read all about it HERE

More on Dr Ken Harvey

Death of Eric Fiesley

30 June, 2017

We are saddened to report that Eric Fiesley died earlier this month, several weeks after a road accident in Mildura.

A retired TAFE teacher, Eric was well-known to the Skeptical community, as a good friend and as contributor to and administrator of on-line Skeptical and social chat groups, and an enthusiastic supporter of campaigns. We also remember his devotion to caring for his sick wife Pam over many years.

Eric played euphonium with the Mildura and District Brass Band. He was also an administrator of both the Ulysses Social Club (for motorcyclists over the age of 40) , and the Mildura Working Man’s Club.

He will be missed.


Puzzles for June 2017

31 May, 2017

CROSSWORD with Religious Imagery as its theme.

June 2017 Skeptical Crossword Puzzle [HTML Version] OR https://vicskeptics.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/82-june-2017-crossword-religious-imagery.pdf [pdf Version]


June 2017 Logic & Maths Problems [HTML Version] OR https://vicskeptics.files.wordpress.com/2017/05/59-logic-and-maths-puzzles-june-2017.pdf [pdf Version]

PICTURE PUZZLES and “MIXED BAG” questions are at the top of the Puzzles Page


Skepticon 2017

9 May, 2017

Tickets are now available for Skepticon, the 33rd Australian Skeptics National Convention, November 2017

The Skeptical highlight of the year, our 33rd convention is being organised by Think Inc, and will be held on November 18-19, 2017, at the City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney.

This promises to be a great event, with speakers including: science media star Dr Karl; astronomer Prof Alan Duffy; YouTube super-debunker Captain Dissolution; comedian and MC Lawrence Leung; former naturopath and now critic of alt med Britt Hermes; doctor and TV personality Dr Brad McKay; award winning documentary maker Sonya Pemberton; Walkley award-winner journalist Kathy Marks; and doctor-cum-magician Dr Vyom Sharma.

More great speakers will be announced soon.

Tickets HERE

A Skeptic’s Guide to Free Energy Machines

9 May, 2017
This article has been revised and re-posted from August 2011. It first appeared as a Vic Skeptics discussion pamphlet by Peter Barrett of Canberra Skeptics, but it’s up to date: from time to time these machines still get promoted in niche magazines and websites. Vic Skeptics and our interstate colleagues are from time to time called upon to test claims for “Over-parity Engines”, a.k.a Free Energy Machines.
The full range of our discussion pamphlets can be downloaded from the “Useful Info” link at the top of this page.

Imagine you have an ordinary one litre jug. Two things which I’m sure you’d agree with are that you couldn’t pour more than a litre of water into it or empty more than one litre out of it.

Now imagine you had two such jugs, one full to the brim with water and the other empty. Pour the water from one jug to the other and back again. Repeat this process as often as you like. Is there any way you could imagine that you’d end up with more than one litre of water split between the two jugs?

The logical answer is “No.” In fact, due to spillage and evaporation, it’s more likely that you’d end up with less than one litre of water.

This is a fairly accurate representation of one of the most basic principles of physics, known as Conservation of Energy. This principle states that energy can change form, but can’t be destroyed or created. A good example of this is the production of household electricity in Australia. Most electricity in Australia is generated by burning coal. The coal has chemical energy. When it’s burned, it releases heat energy.

This energy heats water to steam, which turns a turbine (kinetic energy). The turbine drives a generator, producing electrical energy. We then use this electrical energy for heating, cooling, running the TV, and so on. Read the rest of this entry »