She specializes in the dental morphology of the living apes, and is currently working on international research projects in the study of fossil hominids and in bioarchaeology, studying the physical anthropology of human skeletal remains from archaeological sites at the cross-roads of major human migration routes. Read the rest of this entry »
by Ken Greatorex
Whack-a-Mole was a popular 1970s arcade game which consisted of repeatedly hitting cartoon moles on the head with a cartoon hammer. Moles nevertheless kept cropping up with undiminished energy more or less at random; so the term Whack-a-mole came to signify “a repetitious and futile task.”
Problems with Regulation of Therapeutic Goods
The situation regarding the regulation of therapeutic goods in Australia is unsatisfactory. The complaints process is frustrating, exhausting and often ineffectual. Complaints to the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) must be made against one product or service at a time. Because such complaints are almost invariably made by volunteers, and there is no financial incentive to complain, only a relatively tiny number of questionable products ever get put under the microscope.
An astonishing 87 % of such complaints have historically been upheld. Yet the offending companies rarely receive more than “a slap on the wrists”.
( 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 »
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 »
This article first appeared here in July 2011. You can also download the latest .pdf version here: Scientific Method . Our full range of Skeptics Guides can be accessed using the USEFUL INFO tab at the top of this page.
“Science is best defined as a careful, disciplined, logical search for knowledge about any and all aspects of the universe, obtained by examination of the best available evidence and always subject to correction and improvement upon discovery of better evidence. What’s left is magic.
And it doesn’t work.”
– James Randi
The term “Scientific Method” is used to describe the way scientific research is designed, performed and reviewed. Good science depends on rigour – strict and unfailing adherence to basic principles.
In simple terms, as a scientist, you would:
1. Make some observation about something that is going on in the universe. Read the rest of this entry »
This article first appeared as a Vic Skeptics discussion pamphlet and was first posted here in March 2011.
One of the many amazing stories in the Bible is the story of The Great Flood.
Before The Great Flood Noah was commanded by his God to build an ark (a large boat) and to collect a pair of all the animals on Earth. The Great Flood wiped out all the other animals, including humans, and those on Noah’s Ark repopulated the Earth after the flood subsided.
Given our present knowledge of evolution, genetics, geology, physics and archeology, few people, even practising Christians, believe the story to be literally true. However there are some people who insist that all the Bible stories are literally true. As well as the story of Noah’s Ark they also believe that:
The Earth and all living things on it were created in six 24-hour days.
This occurred about 10,000 years ago.
All present day animals are descended from those on Noah’s Ark.
The theory of evolution is incorrect because it is not consistent with the Bible stories.
These are the fundamental beliefs of Creationism. But why are the religious beliefs of Creationists of concern to scientists? Does it matter if people’s religious beliefs are in disagreement with scientific knowledge?
Dr Lynne Kelly is one of the more interesting people to be encountered among the Australian Skeptical community. She’s a writer, researcher and science educator, as well as being a foundation member of Australian Skeptics.
Lynne tends not to follow stereotypes. Her first tertiary qualification was in Engineering; armed with this, she began a teaching career in government secondary schools. On the way she co-authored a series of Maths text books. She later branched into extension education for gifted children. Her 1994 book Challenging Minds: Thinking Skills and Enrichment Activities is one result of that period.