The Vic Skeptics were honoured to have Professor Peter Doherty, scientist, author and Nobel prize winner deliver a talk at one of our regular ‘Third Monday’ events. Peter Doherty spoke on Skepticism, Denial and Ignorance: There is a Difference in March 2013. I should, of course, extend a kind thanks to Adam Ford for producing the video and allowing it to be posted here.
Watch and re-live an excellent evening. Peter touches on subjects like climate change, vaccination, citizen science, viruses and natural medicine. The video includes an engaging Q & A session.
Some great quotes from Professor Peter Doherty during his talk:
“No good scientist isn’t a skeptic”
“But, if you’re a scientist and you’re a skeptic, you should be as keen to see new data and new evidence and new arguments as someone who’s really working on the subject… a skeptic, a genuine skeptic, will change their position and will moderate in some ways.”
[On denial in the climate change debate.]
“But I think that to me, the difference between a skeptic and a denier; the denier is always absolutely certain, there’s no movement.”
[On alternative medicine]
“If you take the whole natural medicine thing …the stuff in the drug stores and the pharmacies… you know, it says such-and-such improves your immune system …I mean, I’ve been doing immunology all my life, I don’t know of anything that improves your immune system – apart from A vaccination and B having a decent diet.”
“Social contract, yeah, I think it has broken down to a very substantial extent.”
“With respect to the vaccination thing, there is a lot of stuff on the web; there is a lot of misinformation.”
[On placebo and the use of controls]
“We have ‘controls’. If fact, when I used to work with sheep, it’s great to have controls because we could eat them. But…we were very poor and living in Scotland.”
[On homeopathy and iridology in Universities *Peter hides his head in his hands, chuckles from the audience*]
“I don’t know, it’s difficult, we don’t have it at University of Melbourne and we will not. But the question is; is it better to have the homeopaths in the universities where they are actually getting some academic training and they are learning some physiology and some medicine, hopefully? Or is it better to have them in some shop front? There is a lot of concern about chiropractors who are telling people not to vaccinate their kids, it’s a minority, but they are not qualified to comment on any of it and they’re doing it.”