Special Event, Brian Dunning and Rebecca Watson

Excellent news: shortly after TAM Oz, two of the world’s most prominent Skeptics will be in Melbourne and have agreed to speak to us: Brian Dunning and Rebecca Watson.

For those who missed out on TAM Oz tickets, or simply couldn’t afford the time or money to travel to Sydney, this is an evening you shouldn’t miss.

Hopefully you already know of Brian and Rebecca; if that’s the case, why are you reading this?  Just skip to the end of this post, read the details and book in for the event.

For those who want to know something of Brian and Rebecca, read on.

Brian Dunning

Cast your mind back to our video night in 2009.  You may recall that Peter Bromley showed us a video called Here be Dragons.  It was an excellent 40 minute presentation of skeptical/critical thinking.  The writer and producer of that video was Brian Dunning.

I know there are many current and retired science teachers among the Vic Skeptics.  As you could probably gather from this video, Brian is one of the world’s best communicators when it comes to Critical Thinking.

Brian is a tireless producer of podcasts on all kinds of topics: the skeptoid series.  At the time of writing, he’s produced 229 episodes.  Each episode is well researched, factual, and straight-talking.

An example of the wide range of topics covered:
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Real or Imagined?
Aliens in Roswell
King Tut’s Curse!
Beware the Bilderberg Group!
Boost Your Immune System (or Not)

Then there is Episode 150 of Skeptoid, Screwed!, a brilliant theatrical address to the conspiracy theorists of the world. Naturally, it’s done in the style of a grand conspiracy theory – a must listen (and see – “The Making of Screwed” can also be found on YouTube: I’ll paste the video link at the end of this post.)

Brian’s Skeptoid podcasts are very popular, with more than 100,000 listeners per week.  Brian is based in California and considers himself to be a science journalist. He’s also an author of two books based on his podcast, Skeptoid and Skeptoid II.

Brian has also appeared on many US radio shows and television documentaries.

Rebecca Watson

I’ll admit it, I’m a fan of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe (SGU) podcast on which Rebecca appears (if that’s the right term for a podcast).  SGU is a weekly podcast hosted by Steven Novella, with cast: Jay Novella, Bob Novella, Evan Bernstein and of course, Rebecca Watson.  It’s also hugely popular, with approximately 60,000 listeners per week.

I’ve been an SGU listener since February 2009. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to keep up with world skeptical news and events.

The cast of SGU don’t take themselves too seriously; at times it sounds as if you’re listening to a pleasant, skeptically oriented banter among friends.

Rebecca easily holds her own with the other guys; she’s witty, smart and well spoken.

Rebecca recently moved to London, and is also a co-host of the Little Atoms radio show (also available as a podcast).

Rebecca also founded the Skepchick blog and is a regular contributor.  Rebecca describes Skepchick as being run by

a team of skeptical female activists.

It’s another excellent project with Rebecca’s involvement.  There’s a great community feel to the blog, with the comments sometimes being just as good to read as the articles.

As an example of the Skepchick’s work and activism: they recently organised a vaccine clinic (whooping cough booster vaccine) at the recent DragonCon (US, Atlanta) convention.  This was to help raise public awareness of the need to get a booster vaccine to counter the current rise in cases of whooping cough in the US. You can read about it here.

The Skepchicks also have a YouTube channel where you can see many of Rebecca’s videos.  The video where Rebecca discusses the threats she’s received from various religious fundamentalists is particularly poignant. (I’ll paste the video link below.)

Rebecca also has an asteroid named in her honour.


I’m sure it will be a great evening; it’s the Vic Skeptics special event for the year.  I hope all Victorian TAM Oz attendees will have recovered from jet lag and post-conference blues by the Thursday.  If not, I guess it will be like taking a shot of brandy to get over a hangover.

The $45 dollar total price includes a La Notte smorgasbord dinner.  I’ve seen La Notte’s list of the smorgasbord food on offer, it looks excellent.

Both Brian and Rebecca will be coming to Melbourne at a financial loss to themselves.  Realistically, we can’t hope to cover their travel expenses with what we can raise at this dinner; we’re just hoping to make it less painful financially for them.  Why are they doing it? It’s mainly because they’re generous people and they’d like to meet up with Australian Skeptical groups.  So please, show Brian and Rebecca some Melbourne hospitality; come along and support the dinner and talk.

A few other housekeeping notices:
If you have special dietary requirements, please let us know when you book.
We’re sorry you can’t walk up to the talk and skip the dinner, as you can with our regular third Monday events; this is a special event for which you will need to pre-book, places are limited.

Drinks are extra: La Notte is licensed.

I expect this event will sell out, so please book early.

Now booked out.

How to book?
Email: vic@skeptics.com.au
Phone: 1800 666 996

La Notte Restaurant, 140 Lygon Street, Carlton
Starts 6pm, Thursday the 2nd of December

Amuchzit? $45

If you have a question about the dinner; please ask in the comment section below.



(Wed 10 November)

Sorry, this event is now booked out.

9 Responses to Special Event, Brian Dunning and Rebecca Watson

  1. This will be a real treat. I’m a fan of both Skeptoid and SGU, and regularly inflict these podcasts upon friends and colleagues I trap in my vehicle on commutes here or there.

    Exposure to these podcasts inevitably results in some mind-opening conversation, and I’ve led a couple of individuals to skepticism and critical thinking this way.

    I can’t wait – what a great way to wrap up Skeptember (Skeptical November), which now spills into December!

    • malvickers says:

      Hi Lucas,

      How do you tell Skeptember (Skeptical September) from Skeptember (Skeptical November)? We’ve got to get this Skalendar figured out before Skanuary. (Ok I’ll stop now before someone hits me.)

      One question, if you actually had Brian Dunning in your car, would you turn off Skeptoid?

      • Mal – LOL

        It all works out fine in my head :)

        If Brian were in the car, I’d subject him to endless questions about the process of making Skeptoid episodes, and would occasionally stop and ask him who he is, so I’d here him say:

        “I’m Brian Dunning, from Skeptoid dot com.”


      • …that previous reply should have said ‘hear’, not ‘here’. Stupid brain!

    • Les says:

      Hey Lucas, good reply. Only nitpicking here, but Skeptember is Skeptical September. Skeptober is Skeptical October and Skepvember is Skeptical November….
      I will see you at the show and shake your hand on 2/12/2010. (I think I have pushed the bourdaries far enough now :)

  2. Ben Finney says:

    I’ve been told by Ken Greatorex that this event is sold out (I don’t know when the last place was sold).

    But the advertising doesn’t show that. Could we please update the banners to indicate that, and advise other websites to update theirs?

  3. malvickers says:

    Hi Ben,

    You’re right and Ken confirms it. Sorry about the delay in getting the artwork updated to indicate the talk/dinner is now booked out. It should all be fixed up now.

  4. I am really looking forward to these events on the 1st and 2nd. I will be attending both of them.

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