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 »

Skeptics Café – Change of Venue

20 December, 2016

Twelve years of Vic Skeptics’ tradition came to an end this week when La Notté Restaurant closed indefinitely.

Next January’s Skeptics Café (Monday January 16) will go ahead at The Clyde Hotel, corner of Cardigan and Elgin Streets in Carlton. Some of our readers will already be familiar with The Clyde as the site of our recent Convention Trivia Night.clydelocation

We’ll be in The Lounge. You enter through the beer garden in Cardigan Street. After an optional meal from 6pm with food and drinks at quite reasonable pub prices, Tim Harding will speak on Scientific Skepticism vs Philosophical Skepticism at 8 pm. Those staying on for the talk will be asked to contribute $4.

Street parking can be tight in that area, but tends to open up after six pm. The Eastern Precinct Car Park is very convenient, being next door to the venue in Cardigan Street with a standard $5 fee after 5 pm.

It’s very accessible by public transport: Tram 1 or 8 every 6 minutes stops in Elgin Street at Stop 112.


30 April, 2016

_ _soapbox

This brief article takes note of an auspicious conjunction of events in May. Both Vic Skeptics and our good friends at Mordi Skeptics have a Soapbox evening as our monthly public meeting.

Read the rest of this entry »

Skeptics In the Pubs – How are We Travelling?

8 October, 2011

You’d have to say “very well”.

Victoria has adopted the “Skeptics In The Pub” idea with enthusiasm. If you turn to the back page of your latest Skeptic magazine , you’ll see that of the eight new Australian regional groups listed, six are in Victoria.

We’ve discussed Skeptics in the Pubs before;

Your Very Own Skeptics In the Pub

Great Ocean Road Skeptics

New Skeptics in the Pubs

Here’s a brief look at each group in alphabetical order.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jason Brown on Online Activism

22 July, 2011

Back in June Jason Brown (who will be well known to listeners of the Skeptic Zone podcast) visited the Vic Skeptics Cafe to talk about online activism.

Online communication and social networking has led to a huge spike in our ability to reach out to the community, both in terms of education and in response to social and political issues

Twitter, Facebook and now Google Plus are offering more and more opportunities for us to spread the word that critical thinking and rationality are the way to go.

Here Jason talks about the Australian Christian Lobby’s attempt to remove a safe sex advertising campaign, and social media’s devastating (to them) response.

Read the rest of this entry »

Trivia Night 2011

17 May, 2011

Here are some scenes from The Seventh Annual Vic Skeptics Extravaganza.

Wal’s Warriors prevailed by a point from General Ignorance. 

Dr Bill were declared the Least Trivial Team of 2011, thus snaring the Golden Bent Wooden Spoon.

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Much fun was had by all. Thanks to all who helped out.

Ian Enting talk

23 November, 2010

Ian Enting drew quite a crowd on the 15th of November at La Notte.

Here is the abstract of Ian’s talk:

The science of climate change has come under public attack through what has been described as asymmetric warfare. Public communication has been flooded with a deluge of misinformation. In parallel there have been attempts to distract, intimidate and gag climate scientists. In 2009 Ian Plimer’s book, Heaven + Earth – Global Warming: The Missing Science, claimed to demolish the theory of human-induced global warming due to the release of CO2 and other greenhouse gases. A careful reading of Heaven + Earth reveals extensive examples of fabricating numbers, distorted and misattributed graphics, misrepresentation of the content of cited references and a sprinkling of plagiarism. In spite of its blatant flaws Heaven + Earth has gained considerable political traction in Australia.

The talk was quite an eye-opener.   Ian has done a huge amount of work tracking down the mathematical distortions of those arguing climate change is not man-made.   Ian has kindly made his presentation slides available in PDF form for those that wish to look back through them.

[File size: 1.04MB]

Ian’s home page can be found here.