21 November, 2018
by Dr Ken Harvey, with an introduction by Ken Greatorex
To set the scene for those not familiar with the glacial machinations of Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration: Until recently in Australia we had a complaint process whereby if you wanted to complain about the advertising of a particular listed medicine, you submitted. to the Complaints Resolution Panel. It was woefully under resourced, but it did its job, carried out inquiries then reported established breaches in conduct to the TGA. The TGA acted – sometimes.
Then things changed. Against the urging of such groups as The Australian Skeptics, Friends of Science in Medicine, Choice and other consumer advocates, the TGA became the body which dealt directly with such complaints.
As one who attended and absorbed the excellent review from Professor Harvey and three of his students, the result of this change has been:
- totally predictable
(left to right: Mal Vickers, Kithmini Cooray, Mary Malek, Ken Harvey)
The audience did not agree that the ongoing advertising of ‘Bright Brains’, illustrated by Kithmini, had achieved compliance with the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2015. In short, they disagreed with the TGA outcome statement about this complaint. Read the rest of this entry »
17 July, 2018
Dr Vyom Sharma
After gaining his medical degree in 2008, Vyom Sharma completed specialist training and currently works in Melbourne as a General Practitioner. However alongside his clinical work, he has carved out a career in show business.
As a magician and mentalist, he has performed live stage shows at the Sydney Opera House, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and was a grand finalist on Australia’s Got Talent.
His knowledge of medicine, combined with his experiences with the psychology of deception have afforded him a rare insight into the human experience of truth and persuasion. He explores the neuroscience of deception and beliefs as a regular Guest Lecturer at Monash University’s school of biological sciences.
He has debunked pseudoscientific therapies in the media, including Fairfax newspapers, Triple R radio and medical trade magazines.
Vyom Sharma will be our featured speaker at next Skeptics Café (Monday August 20)
He will also appear at Australian Skeptics Annual Convention in Sydney over the weekend of October 13 & 14
25 May, 2018
We have much pleasure in announcing Sharon Hill as our June Skeptics Café speaker. Sharon is a Pennsylvanian geologist who researches the paranormal, pseudoscience, and anomalous natural phenomena.
As well as being a prolific columnist and speaker she is a co-founder of
and hosts the podcast 15 Credibility Street.
She is the author of Scientifical Americans: The Culture of Amateur Paranormal Researchers.
Skeptics Café is a regular monthly event and members of the public are welcome.
Monday June 18, The Clyde Hotel Carlton, 8pm (or join us for a meal from 6 pm)
22 May, 2018
We’re pleased to have been visited by Dr Pauli Ohukainen from Finland. He’s a cardiovascular research scientist from Finland working in Melbourne (Baker Institute) until June 1st. He’s also an avid skeptical activist with his own blog in Finnish with 7000 followers on Facebook, (which is not too bad in a small country of 5M), and he’s also active on Twitter, which is his international forum: https://twitter.com/POhukainen. He was keen to meet some skeptics while in Melbourne, and took “selfies” at May Skeptics Café with two of our distinguished members, Francesca Folk-Scolaro (L) and Elida Radig (R).
1 April, 2018
Dr Varsha Pilbrow spoke at March’s Skeptics Café. Dr Pilbrow is a Lecturer in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at Melbourne University.
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 »
1 April, 2018
Melbournians are fortunate to have access to many regular events which exist to stimulate inquiry and promote Science, Philosophy and Critical Thinking. These events are open to the public. They are mostly free.
Here are some of them.
ANZAAS Free Public Lectures: Monthly, with weeknight and date as advertised on the website http://www.anzaas.org.au/victoria/
ROYAL SOCIETY of VICTORIA Lecture Program: Fourth Thursday of each Month plus other events as advertised https://rsv.org.au/lecture-program/
UNIVERSITY of MELBOURNE Free Public Lectures: Several each month, weeknights, early evenings as advertised.
Read the rest of this entry »
8 November, 2017
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”.
Read the rest of this entry »