Past Events 2011

Monday 19th of December, 2011 Skeptics Café


From 6 pm

Monday 21st of November, 2011 Skeptics Café

Nicholas Bruzzese

An Historical and Critical Approach to the Bible

Is the Bible worth the scrolls it’s written on? Should the Bible be categorized with other books such as Mein Kampf? When studied using an “historical critical approach”, the Bible is revealed to be a much more fascinating compendium than most believers and non-believers realise.

In this talk, Nicholas will introduce the tools of biblical scholarship and debunk myths and misconceptions of the Bible that abound in the discourse of believers and non-believers alike.

Nicholas Bruzzese is an up-and-coming Biblical Scholar, born into a Roman Catholic family that (in his teenage years) converted to a fundamentalist Christian church.

By the age of 22 Nicholas found that the standard of evidence had begun to play a crucial role in his formation of beliefs about the world and, a humanist at heart, this led Nicholas to subscribe to an atheistic position.

Nicholas’ study and enthusiasm for the truth behind the Bible however, has only grown.

In his podcast The Skeptics Testament Nicholas discusses the things he finds fascinating about the Bible, and Nicholas hopes to share this knowledge, approach and passion to studying the Bible with fellow skeptics, atheists and Christians alike.

Monday 17th of October, 2011 Skeptics Café


A popular annual event! By popular request, this is in fact the fourth annual Vic Skeptics Video Night.

Your host once again is Peter Bromley.

And Also:

The Blackmores/PGA Deal from a Young Pharmacists Perspective

(Presentation / Discussion)

Monday 19th of September, 2011 Skeptics Café

Ross McKeown

Pseudoscience And The Vulnerable

For over 15 years Ross has sought to discredit the pseudoscientific claims made by a wide range of treatments claiming to cure or lessen the effects of tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Tinnitus sufferers are particularly desperate and vulnerable to such charlatans.

At this point in time there is no cure for tinnitus, although people can learn to successfully manage the condition.

Ross will use tinnitus as a vehicle to examine the claims made by alternative medicine and treatments including homeopathy, ear candling, acupuncture, chiropractic therapy and herbal medicine.

Ross is currently serving his 15th year as president of the Tinnitus Association of Victoria (TAV)

Now retired, Ross worked for 27 years in the Victorian education system as a teacher, teachers’ college lecturer and school principal. He developed severe tinnitus in 1990 and was forced to prematurely end his teaching career.

During his time with the TAV he helped establish a telephone counselling service and has counselled hundreds of people annually with tinnitus. He has also conducted tinnitus management seminars throughout Victoria and Tasmania, in addition to the bi-monthly tinnitus management seminars held at Deaf Children Australia by the Tinnitus Association of Victoria, which are attended by people from throughout Australia.

Ross has conduted tinnitus training presentations for Australian Hearing audiologists, and spoken at the Audiological Society of Australia’s’ professional development conferences, Better Hearing Australia’s 2010 National Conference and professional development sessions for general practicioners.

Ross is a member of the Victorian Skeptics, the Atheist Foundation of Australia and the Humanist Society of Victoria.

Two excellent books for anyone interested are:

Bad Science’ by Ben Goldacre

Trick or Treatment’ by Simon Singh & Edzard Ernest

Saturday 27th of August, 2011

Humanists of Victoria and Vic Skeptics proudly present:

A Public Talk by Leo Igwe
Trades Hall New Council Chambers

Victoria Street / Lygon Street Carlton South

2 pm

$10 at the door ($5 concession)

Thursday 25th of August, 2011

Dinner with Leo Igwe
La Notte Restaurant 140 Lygon Street Carlton
$50 per person
Bookings: 9378 4414 or
Places are limited!

Monday 18th of July, 2011 Skeptics Café

Krissy Wilson

The Psychology Of Suggestibility.

Researchers often refer to the notion of ‘suggestibility’ in relation to susceptibility to different types of misleading information associated with memory research. However, the notion of ‘suggestibility’ encompasses a wide range of areas relating to cognitive, social and personality factors. What is suggestibility? Is it a personality trait, for example? Or perhaps a cognitive bias? Are we all susceptible to suggestion or only a few? In this talk Krissy Wilson will review the nature, mechanism and some of the psychological features of suggestibility.

Dr Krissy Wilson is a lecturer and psychologist. She completed her doctorate at Goldsmiths, University of London in 2007 and then later that year emigrated to Australia taking up a lecturer position at the University of Tasmania, Having been let out on good behaviour she is now settled at Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga. She has published in many journals, given talks at conferences all over the world including most recently in Sydney at TAM Oz and has appeared often on radio and television discussing a variety of paranormal and belief related topics. Her main research areas are the creation of false memories, the psychology of belief and individual differences. Having been an actress, air stewardess and academic she is now seriously considering career number 4. Since arriving in Oz she has tried stand – up, property developing and if you need your bathroom tiled, Krissy’s your girl!

Suggested Reading.

Some may like to look up the work of Richard Wiseman – particularly relating to his studies on suggestibility. His website is excellent source of info and his journal articles are easily accessible online through web of knowledge

Sunday 26th of June, 2011 (Special Event)

Lunch with Rachael Dunlop

La Notte Restaurant, 140 Lygon Street Carlton

$35 per person

Bookings: 9378 4414


Tuesday 21st of June, 2011 (Special Event)

Dave The Happy Singer

Starts 7pm

The Clyde Hotel
385 Cardigan Street Carlton

Cover charge $5

(The blurb below is copied from the event’s Facebook page.)

The incomparable skeptical comedy acoustic musician, songwriter, improviser and podcaster DAVE THE HAPPY SINGER performs a rare live set (his first ever in Victoria!*)

Genre-spanning, hilarious and unpredictable, the unique show includes improvised songs based on audience suggestion and new and old original songs on piano, harmonica, guitar and cheerful vocals!

This unmissable show gets better: the second half of the evening will feature a LIVE recording of the brand-new skepticomical IN VINO VERITAS PODCAST, starring Jason Brown with Dave The Happy Singer. With the audience’s help, Dave and Jason will enjoy wine, banter and laughter at the expense of the irrational and stupid.

DAVE THE HAPPY SINGER AND IN VINO VERITAS LIVE: an unmissable night’s entertainment!

(Not suitable for children, fundamentalists, homeopaths, journalists or Dave’s ex-girlfriends)

*Apart from the other one he did. Thanks, Luke.

Monday 20th of June, 2011 Skeptics Café

Jason Brown

Jason is a skeptical activist, organiser and blogger. You can read Jason’s blog here and check out his aggregator of skeptical web content The “Skepticator“.

Jason has been involved with groups such as No To Pope, Stop The AVN, Sydney Atheists, Australian Skeptics and others.

When not acting as an organiser for Skepticamp Sydney and Sydney Drinking Skeptically he can be found, usually, on the internet.

16th of May, 2011

Vic Skeptics Seventh Annual Trivia Extravaganza

Note the earlier-than usual starting time of 7.30. If you’re joining us for a meal, please arrange to arrive, eat and pay before Trivia kicks off! Organise your own team, or just turn up and we will look after you.

Important Note:

Last year, we were taken to task for using the blunt instrument of Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine the winner of the Golden Bent Wooden Spoon.

(The much-coveted GBWS has been awarded to The Least Trivial Team, i.e. the team accumulating the fewest points, by a convention dating all the way back to 2010)

You can read about the whole messy business here:

Consequently, this year (if neccessary) we will apply the ancient oriental dispute settling technique of Roshambo. . However, we will be applying a sudden-death version, rather than the conventional best-of-thirty-one.

Here are the now-traditional practice questions.

1. What do Lord Cardigan, Lord Nolan and Lord Fury have in common?

2. In on-line bulletin boards and chat rooms many acronyms are in use. One good one, probably not used enough is PEBKAC. What does it mean?

3. Where are Australia’s two active volcanos?

4. Where would you find the Channel Islands in the PACIFIC ocean?

5. How old was Anna Mary “Grandma” Moses when she began to paint?

6. What three kinds of animal are depicted on the Tasmanian Coat of Arms?

7. What were the two biggest crazes associated with the Wham-O Toy Company of America?

8. Which consecutive Prime Ministers of Australia were both educated at Wesley College?

9. What is the reason for using ten pins in ten pin bowling, which derived from skittles, a game which only uses nine pins?

10. Who is Yensid, who appeared in a 1940 movie?

Answers here:

18th of April, 2011

Martin Plowman PhD (Ufology)

I (Don’t) Want to Believe!

Martin Plowman is a Melbourne based writer and researcher. Holding dual degrees in both Arts and Science (majoring in physics, no less), in 2008 he completed his PhD in Cultural Studies at the University of Melbourne. A cultural history of the worldwide belief in UFOs, his thesis garnered international media attention and earned him the disappointingly unoriginal nickname of “Dr Who.” After a further two-and-a-half years of writing and travel gathering more material, Dr Plowman released his first book in February 2011 with publishers Allen & Unwin. Based loosely on his PhD research, The UFO Diaries: Travels in the Weird World of High Strangeness combined travelogue and personal memoir as it looked at the strange and enduring attraction UFOs hold for the modern world. How do you talk about something that’s identified as “unidentified”? Why are the best UFO photos always blurry? And do dolphins have buttocks?

Dr Plowman is also a regular commentator in the national media on science and culture issues (and UFO sightings, of course). However, it must be said: he’s never seen a UFO himself, and nor does he expect to.


21st of March, 2011

Dr Stephen Basser

Mummy, Can I Be a Skeptic Too?

Many budding skeptics are concerned about how knowledgeable you have to be to be a ‘real’ skeptic. They read articles with lots of footnotes and worry they may never be able to debate on skeptical matters without a high level of specific expertise. They fear looking foolish when asked about some specific thing, such as a day and date UFO sighting.

Fear not! Though guilty of producing my own fair share of footnotes over the years I believe that we can develop a sound logical approach to skepticism that helps to address such situations, as well as help others to understand the skeptical way of looking at the world.

At my talk on 21 March 2011 I will demonstrate such a logical framework, using examples from beyond my area of expertise, as well as within.

Dr Basser is a Melbourne suburban GP who has contributed to debate on medical issues in many forums, including this website, the national website and The Skeptic Magazine. In this case, Steve has chosen to make his topic more general in its ambit. He has also spoken at a number of Australian Skeptics conventions. This is a return speaking visit to Skeptics Café.

21st of February, 2011

Bernie Joyce & Doug McCann

Bernie Joyce and Doug McCann

The Scientific Results of the Burke and Wills Expeditions

Bernie Joyce and Doug McCann are both senior academics of the University of Melbourne’s Earth Sciences Faculty who share a strong interest in Heritage issues. This presentation was prompted by the 150th Anniversary of the Burke and Wills Expedition in 2010. Although often called ” ill-fated”, the Expedition has left some lasting legacies.

Refresh your memory of the Burke and Wills Expedition here:

12th of February, 2011

Darwin Day Barbecue

12 noon to 4.30 pm


An Invitation from the Atheists, Humanists, Rationalists & Skeptics to celebrate

Charles Darwin’s birthday

For details, go here:

17th of January, 2011

Steve Roberts
Hoaxes, forgeries and illusions.

Steve Roberts is the Renaissance Man* of the Victorian Skeptical scene. He makes a welcome return to the speaker’s podium.

*(a man of any period who has a broad range of intellectual interests – Collins English Dictionary)

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