September 19 2016 Skeptics Café
Dr Megan Munsie
“Hype, hope and reality of stem cell science”
Associate Professor Megan Munsie is a scientist, based at The University of Melbourne, where she heads the Education, Ethics, Law & Community Awareness Unit at the Australian Research Council funded Stem Cells Australia initiative. Over the last decade, Megan has co-authored numerous educational resources for the public and health professionals, contributed to the development of policy in Australia and abroad, and collaborated in research projects focused on exploring regulation and community expectation in stem cell science. She is an advisor to several organisations including Chair of the International Society for Stem Cell Research’s ‘Closer Look at Stem Cells’ task force and the Policy, Ethics and Translation Sub-Committee of the Australasian Society for Stem Cell Research.
Megan has a Bachelor of Applied Science from Queensland University of Technology, a Masters in Reproductive Sciences and a PhD from Monash University. During her PhD in 2000, she demonstrate that stem cells could be made from ‘cloned’ mouse embryos – the first proof-of-concept for therapeutic cloning. She has also worked as an embryologist in IVF clinics and for an ASX listed biotechnology company.
August 15 2016 Skeptics Café
Dr Stephen Basser
“Suffer The Little Children – Taking A Look At Paediatric Pseudoscience”
June 20 2016 Skeptics Café
Traditional Chinese Medicine vs. Endangered Species
May 16 2016 Skeptics Café
A variety of speakers on a variety of topics
April 18 2016 Skeptics Café
Dr Peter Thorne
Still Taking the Beads and Mirrors
Australia’s performance in research and discovery is not matched by a corresponding take up of commercialisation of innovation. In fact, we rank last in the OECD countries.
I argue that in attempting to remedy this situation it will be necessary for government to take a more pro-active role: in particular, by improving public sector procurement policies and practices and by strengthening tax enforcement.
Dr Peter Thorne was formerly the Head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Melbourne. He has been a member of Tender Boards for major Government IT projects including the re-equipment of the Australian Tax Office and Australian Customs. He was a member of the National Procurement Board established by the Hawke/Keating Government.
Peter has been retained as an expert in over 100 legal disputes relating to the provision of IT services and systems and intellectual property and has given evidence in a number of landmark cases. Until 2015 he was MD of Computer Forensic Services Pty Ltd.
He is a former board member of AMTEC (Advanced Manufacturing Technology Centre), the CRC for Catchment Hydrology, the CRC for Knowledge based Systems and former Co-Director of the Collaborative Information Technology Research Institute.
Saturday February 27 2016
Surfcoast Skepticamp V
10:00 AM, AIREYS INLET , VICTORIA
(See main article)
March 21 2016 Skeptics Café
Dr David Hawkes
‘That which can be claimed without evidence – Tackling anti-vaccine claims in the scientific literature’
Dr Dave Hawkes has a PhD in virology gained through his research on HIV. He has been involved with Stop the AVN for over five years and has been heavily involved with combating misinformation about vaccination, especially from professional anti-vaccinationists like Meryl Dorey and Sherri Tenpenny. He has appeared as a guest at numerous conferences including the 2015 Future GP conference, the Centre of Research Excellence in Immunology Workshop, and the 2015 Australian Skeptics National Convention. He has also made regular appearances on television, radio and podcasts.
February 12 2016 Darwin Day BYO & BBQ
February 15 2016 Skeptics Café
Science, the scientific method and scientific evidence
What is science? What constitutes scientific evidence?
The testable and contestable nature of science is a key concept in science education, at both school and university levels. It is also a fundamental tenet of the Australian Skeptics. However, there is a common misconception that the nature of science is synonymous with the “scientific method”.
Science and chemistry consist of much more than just the scientific method. For example, chemistry also involves measurement, synthesis and separation among other things. Real-world chemistry includes quality assurance and quality control, manufacture of polymers and pharmaceuticals, and extraction of natural products – yet these do not involve the scientific method.
This talk will discuss some of the key ideas in western science, and the meaning of the testable and contestable nature of science. The talk will address the question, what is evidence in science?
Kieran Lim is an associate professor at Deakin University. He has research interests in science education and forensic science. He is the recipient of a 2014 Australian Award for Teaching Excellence in the Physical Sciences and Related Studies, and the 2011 Fensham Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Chemical Education. In his spare time, Kieran is a volunteer Scout Leader.
January 18 2016 Skeptics Café
Dr Roger Francey
CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Science, Aspendale
Evidence to Challenge Global Carbon Cycle Models
Throughout the 1990s global carbon cycle models were developed sufficiently to achieve consistency between atmospheric CO2 measurements and estimates of anthropogenic, terrestrial and oceanic fluxes. Advice about managing ‘climate-change’ mitigation strategies are largely based on such models, e.g. as in annual the Global Carbon Project reports (www.globalcarbonproject.org/).
Systematic behaviour in high-quality CO2 measurements selected for maximum spatial representation challenge the estimates of fossil emissions (Francey et al., Nature Climate Change, 3/5, 520-524, 2013) and atmospheric transport (Francey and Frederiksen, Biogeosciences Discussion, 11 Sep, 2015) that underpin these models.
December 21 2015 Skeptics Café
Dr Mick Vagg
The Ghost of Christmas Woo
- a light-hearted skeptical look at myths and superstitions in alternative medicine and culture with a seasonal flavor.
Mick Vagg is a consultant in rehabilitation and pain medicine in the Geelong area. He is also a supporter of Friends of Science in Medicine, and a frequent commentator on all things of interest to Skeptics.
Ross Balch BAppSc(MedSc) BAppSc(Microbiol) is a medical researcher, currently studying genetic diversity in dengue virus.
A skeptical activist, Ross is President of the Brisbane Skeptic Society. He is also a Science Populariser, Podcaster, Musician and Photographer.
Vic Skeptics will host Ross at a Dinner where he will speak and perform. His topic will be Emerging Viruses.
“Emerging viruses continue to be a significant challenge for health authorities around the world. In this presentation I examine 3 case studies of emerging viruses; Ebola, Dengue and SARS. I will describe the circumstances that contribute to the spread of each virus, what we can do to limit future out break and what features make a virus more likely to be emergent than others. If you would like some more skepticism I can also discuss some of the pseudoscience that has followed these outbreaks.”
Monday 14th December
La Notte Restaurant, 140 Lygon Street Carlton,
The Club Room, 6:30 for 7:00 pm
$10 entry at the door then meal and drinks at normal prices.
You can see and hear Ross at https://www.youtube.com/user/rossbalch
November 16 2015 Skeptics Café
7:15 pm Australian Skeptics (Victorian Branch) AGM
Ross Finlay: Science doesn’t know everything …,
but this talk may save your life
A counter to people who want there to be mystery and magic in “their universe” and choose to believe in Woo because it feels nice. We cover some of the mysteries and “magic” already available in the known science surrounding us that many people are not aware of.
Specifically we cover the amazing story of how we came to know our place in the universe and how a little knowledge of the solar system could indeed save your life.
Ross is an Electronics Engineer originally from Glasgow. He has worked in research & industry in fibreoptic telecoms. He has a business teaching fibreoptics courses for Engineers, Installers or anyone who will pay.
In the last decade he has worked for Marconi, Ericsson & Telstra Learning, has invented a postable fold up water tank and is the proud disorganiser of Rocketfest Melbourne, where he has flown model rockets ranging from 42mm to 10.7m tall.
Currently, he is Quality Manager & Calibration Officer at Vicom Australia, a NATA approved test lab where he has two Rubidium clocks to play with and he is paid to quantify uncertainty.
October 19 2015 Skeptics Café
Dr David Vaux
More Scientists Behaving Badly
‘In the Netherlands, the highest body in charge of research integrity is the National Board for Research Integrity (LOWI). Its members are all members of the Netherlands National Academy of Science. They handle about 30 cases per year, but only those cases that are difficult, where there has been an appeal, or where the institution does not appear to be doing a good job. LOWI has helped manage some high profile cases, such as those of psychologists Diederik Stapel and Jens Forster.
Australia’s population is about 25% greater than the Netherlands’, but we don’t have any national office for research integrity, and the reports of misconduct findings from Australian institutions are very rare. One possible explanation for the difference is that Australian researchers are much more honest than the Dutch. But there are other, less savoury explantations…
In this talk I will provide some examples of why we should learn from other countries, so that we can manage research integrity better.’
Dr Vaux is Assistant Director at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and Head, Cell Signalling and Cell Death Division. He’s also Senior Principal Research Fellow with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
He graduated in medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1984, and after spending an intern year at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, commenced a PhD at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Here he showed that the function of the putative oncogene product Bcl-2 was to inhibit cell death. After obtaining his PhD in 1989, he was a post-doctoral fellow in Irv Weissman’s lab at Stanford, where together with Stuart Kim he made transgenic C. elegans worms that expressed human bcl-2. He returned to Australia in 1993, and has mainly focused on the IAP family of proteins, and their antagonists, such as Smac/Diablo and HtrA2/Omi
Dr Vaux presented Scientists Behaving Badly at Skeptics Café in January 2010. His talk prompted the following article:
Special Event – Susan Gerbic
Thursday 1st October 2015
Affectionately called The Wikipediatrician, Susan Gerbic is the co-founder of Monterey County Skeptics, and a regular contributor to SKEPTICALITY podcast and the founder of the GUERILLA SKEPTICISM on WIKIPEDIA project. She received the “In the Trenches” award at CFI’s 2012 Skeptic’s Toolbox, and the James Randi award for Skepticism in the Public Interest in 2013. Gerbic’s efforts to clean up pseudoscience on Wikipedia and create pages for well-known skeptics has made her a “super villain” in the eyes of the paranormal community. You can contact her at SusanGerbic.com
The Club Room,
La Notte Restaurant 140 Lygon Street Carlton
(Join us for an al fresco meal from 6pm)
September 21 2015 Skeptics Café
Dr Lynne Kelly
A Skeptic Still Tackling Stonehenge
Five years after she first threw her radical new theory about the purpose of Stonehenge at the Victorian Skeptics, Lynne Kelly is back. With the PhD done, the theory has just been published globally. Now she’s adding more including the ‘mystery’ of Easter Island and the Nasca Lines that Von Daniken attributed to aliens. It’s all about indigenous cultures memorising vast amounts of practical knowledge: animals, plants, navigation, seasons, genealogy, geology, astronomy, timekeeping, resource rights, laws … the list goes on and on. Lynne will explain the amazing array of mnemonic technologies used and how you can implement them yourself.
Dr Lynne Kelly is a founding member of the Australian Skeptics. She has published ten books for education, one novel and three popular science titles including ‘The Skeptic’s Guide to the Paranormal’. Lynne Kelly’s latest book, ‘Knowledge and power in prehistoric societies’, is published by Cambridge University Press.
August 17 2015 Skeptics Café
The Devil’s own board game: Satanism, moral panic and Dungeons and Dragons.
Dr David Waldron has been a lecturer in History and Anthropology at Federation University for the past 12 years teaching a wide array of history, sociology and anthropology courses. He also has a research focus on folklore and community identity.
He is the author of:
Sign of the Witch: Modernity and the Pagan Revival
Shock! The Black Dog of Bungay – a Case Study in Local Folklore
Snarls from the Tea-Tree: Victoria’s Big Cat Folklore. [see our review HERE]
He is currently engaged in creating an anthology of Gothic folklore from the Victorian goldfields of the 19th century.
AN EVENING WITH Dr NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON
The return to Australia of astrophysicist, author, celebrity, wrestler, world-recognised badass and one of the very first Think Inc. event guests, Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson
7th August PLENARY MCEC Melbourne
16th August – Brisbane
22nd August – Sydney
23rd August – Canberra
Australian Skeptics are proud co-sponsors of this event
July 20 2015 Skeptics Café
Dr Siobhan Reddel
The limits of skepticism in relation to western and ‘complementary’ therapies
Modern health and medicine are complex areas to negotiate both as a consumer and a practitioner, particularly as there is often significant emotional overlay of transactions, which can increase the power of suggestion both in terms of diagnosis and treatment. These are issues which affect all Western and ‘complementary’ health practitioners. And in the community setting a (cost)effective physician relies on the art as well as the science of their craft. So where does modern ‘evidence’ come into this and how is that related to skepticism? And what of formal placebo as opposed to informal suggestion? Or indeed iatrogenesis – particularly in terms of labelling and creating unnecessary illness?
Siobhan Reddel will explore these topics. Drawing on both research and her clinical experience in different cultures and social milieu, she will discuss areas where application of scientific evidence is straight-forward and essential, and others where it may be better if an understanding of where the evidence ends and a more subtle approach to scepticism is applied.
Siobhan Reddel is a GP, epidemiologist and clinical hypnotist. She has practiced healthcare in a variety of settings in Australia as well as in rural India and Pakistan, Palestine, Vietnam and the Philippines. Currently she works both as a country doctor and an urban custodial (prison) medical officer. Her clinical sub-interests are drug and alcohol and sexual health medicine, as well as the physiological manifestations of chronic emotional trauma. In addition to these areas her research also focuses on the misuse of prescribed psychotropic medications, how humans filter information and mass psychogenic illness.
Thursday July 9 2015 Vic Skeptics Movie Night
“Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief”
The Victorian Skeptics are planning another film night at Nova Cinema Carlton on Thursday July 9th at 6.50pm.
This film has been getting 4 Star reviews.
The Director, Alex Gibney, has made a lot of highly rated and award winning docos in the past.
Scientology has been of particular interest to skeptics because of its cultish nature and betrayal of Science.
We had a great night a few months ago when we went as a group to see The Theory of Everything.
Seeing the early 6.50pm show gives us enough time to pop into a local pub after the show (e.g. The Clyde) and de-brief with food, drinks and deep conversation. Or light hearted conversation.
Please let us know asap if you are coming by booking via email@example.com or text 0438 626107
Payment $15 (normal ticket price is $19.50) can be made:
– by tranfer to BSB 063157 a/c # 010131669 [reference your name + MOVIE]
– “donate” on this website (RH column) using PayPal (if you have a PayPal account).
Thursday June 25 2015
11th Annual Trivia Night
La Notte Restaurant, 140 Lygon Street Carlton
Alfresco dinner from 6pm
Trivia in The Club Room will start at 7:30 sharp (expected finishing time 10 pm)
Lots of great prizes, include:
- Dinner for two to the value of $100 courtesy La Notte Restaurant
- Two Premium Tickets to The Melbourne stage of Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s national tour at The Plenary MCEC on 7th August
$15 per head Bookings will be required.
Book via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1800 666 996 or 9378 4414.
You can come as a team of six, or take pot luck on the night.
June 15 2015 Skeptics Café
Janice Teng: The Science Talent Search
Janice is a secondary science-trained teacher with 10 years school experience, and is now the Science Talent Search Project Officer.
She has been a member of the Science Talent Search committee since 1997, serving 3 years as a Co-Director, and the rest as a Section Co-ordinator for Working Models and Inventions.
Jan Campione and Helen Hiotis: The Science Drama Awards
Helene Hiotis is an Assistant Principal at Canterbury Girls’ Secondary College, who is passionate about engaging students in their learning. She has integrated the arts into the science curriculum through the introduction of the Science Drama Awards where students perform science on stage. Memorable performances include: Mummy my tummy hurts – digestive system; and Rome and Juliet – a love story between Na and Cl. Helene is an accredited de Bono trainer who has led transformational change in schools and has presented at various conferences.
Jan Campione is an Assistant Principal at Pascoe Vale Girls’ Secondary College, who has been the convenor of the Science Drama Awards for a number of years. She is committed to providing an engaging and innovative science program to students across Victoria.
This presentation will outline how the Science Drama Awards were developed to integrate the arts into the science curriculum. Learning science develops thinking skills that allows you to take charge – to set up choices, to make decisions, to consider possibilities, to make things happen. The Science Drama Awards have provided the opportunity for students to learn about science and more importantly how to translate their understanding of scientific concepts using drama. Science Drama Awards requires students to do science by doing!
May 18 2015 Skeptics Café
SOAPBOX: A variety of speakers on a variety of topics
April 20 2015 Skeptics Café
The Pathways Project
Diversity Education for Multicultural Australia
PATHWAYS is a development of a school presentation program commissioned by the Victoria Multicultural Commission in 2010 in response to mistreatment of Indian students in the Northern Region.
March 16 2015 Skeptics Café
Human Subjects Research – a walk through the exploded minefield of Wakefield, Burzynski and more.
“I’m not going to talk about the pseudoscience of Wakefield and Burzynski. I’m specifically going to look at how they failed to meet the standards required of conducting ethical research”.
Joanne is a Clinical Trial Coordinator working in Radiation Oncology. She previously worked as a Clinical Nurse Specialist in Endoscopy and has speciality qualifications in acute care nursing.
Alongside her personal fascination with medical history, since moving to clinical trials and research three years ago she has developed a professional interest in research ethics in health and medicine.
Joanne is a co-Vice President of Australian Skeptics Inc; an Executive member of Friends of Science in Medicine and founder of the Facebook group “Nursing Skeptically”. She was an organising committee member of the 2014 Australian Skeptics Convention in Sydney and is a new arrival to Melbourne.
February 12 2015 Darwin Day Barbecue
Combined event for Melbourne Freethinkers
February 16 2015 Skeptics Café
Dr Meredith Doig – Ugandan Rationalist School
January 19 2015 Skeptics Café
Dr Jason Tye-Din is a gastroenterologist and researcher. He heads the coeliac research program at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute and runs a coeliac clinic at the Royal Melbourne Hospital. Jason completed his medical degree at Melbourne University in 1995 and undertook clinical training at the Royal Melbourne Hospital specialising in gastroenterology. A PhD at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute sparked an interest in research, immunology, and food-related disease, and enabled him to undertake studies into the immunologic basis of gluten toxicity in human coeliac volunteers. This research formed the basis for the design of new diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for coeliac disease now in clinical trials.
December 15 2014 Skeptics Café
Suspicious Minds – The Ethics of Conspiracy Belief
While conspiracy theories have been a part of our cultural landscape for centuries, the internet age has seemingly made them much more visible, if not more prevalent. While History, Cultural Studies and Psychology have all turned their scholarly attention to conspiracy theories, philosophy has had much less to say on the topic, focussing mainly on issues of how we define conspiracy theories and whether they are (always?) irrational. But conspiracy theorising is also something we do, and this raises the question: is this activity ethical? What are the moral implications of conspiracy theorising, and do we have moral obligations to avoid indulging in conspiracy theory?
Patrick Stokes is lecturer in Philosophy at Deakin University.
His research focuses largely on issues of selfhood, subjectivity, time, death, and moral psychology. He is the author of The Naked Self (Oxford, 2015) and Kierkegaard’s Mirrors (Palgrave, 2010) and co-editor of Narrative, Identity, and the Kierkegaardian Self (Edinburgh, 2015, with John Lippitt) and Kierkegaard and Death (Indiana, 2011, with Adam Buben).
He is a regular contributor to The Conversation, Triple R’s Breakfasters, and media commentator on philosophical matters.
December 5 2014
An Evening With James Randi
Melbourne Convention and Entertainment Centre.
Other tour dates:
November 28-30 2014
Australian Skeptics Convention 2014
The Concourse, Chatswood, Sydney NSW
November 17 2014 Skeptics Café
Chiropractors Crack Me Up
October 20 2014 Skeptics Café
Linley has been interested in the story of Frederick Valentich since hearing about the case throughout the 80s.
Did Frederich Valentich experience a UFO or was it pilot error?
Linley has been a committee member of the Victorian Skeptics for the past three years.
She enjoys riding her Triumph, talking to cats, watching mindless telly and has never released a book. She dreams of being a pilot or a train driver in the future and meeting DEVO.
September 15 2014 Skeptics Café
“Skeptivism – Rise up for Reason”
Amanda will be talking about skeptic activism and how we can be involved. This focus will be on the quacks and those who prey on the vulnerable and sick. There will also be an update on Burzynski and how you can help.
Psychics and those who tout spiritual healing and the benefits of homeopathy – especially with the current outbreak of Ebola.
Amanda is Vice President of Canberra Skeptics, Member of the Independent investigations Group in Los Angeles and Skeptic Action. Dedicated to promoting skeptic activism and annoying as many psychics as she can possibly manage.
Dinner with Lawrence Krauss
The Victorian Skeptics are delighted to host a presentation by well known cosmologist and author Lawrence Krauss.
Update – SOLD OUT! If you would like to go on a waiting list in the event of late cancellations, send an email to email@example.com
Lawrence’s presentation is titled:
An update on Cosmology and thoughts on Education
Lawrence is well known for his critical thinking and promotion of science. He has appeared on Q & A among other shows. This event is not to be missed. In addition to the high quality presentation, the ticket price includes a quality three course meal.
Where and when?
The evening will be held at Graduate House Conference Centre, 220 Leicester Street Carlton on Friday 29 August with proceedings beginning at 6:30pm.
The total price for the meal and Lawrence’s presentation at an excellent venue is $100 per person (general admission).
Australian Skeptics Victorian Branch members $90.
All members will be notified of a ‘promotional code’ to obtain the price reduction.
Not sure if you’re already a member? If you are a financial member of the Australian Skeptics Victorian Branch, you will have already received the ‘promotional code’ for this event via email. If you haven’t received the code, that means you’re probably not a member. Unfortunately, simply subscribing to ‘The Skeptic’ or attending any of our talks doesn’t qualify you for membership.
The event is open to everyone however.
Please note that as you go through the booking process you can select seating. However, the seating presented on the TryBooking website is different to the actual layout of seating for Lawence’s talk. Seating will be at round tables for ten people. That means that each row in the TryBooking website for this event, actually represents one table of ten. If you are booking for two people or more and you’d like to be seated at the same table, please ensure you choose seats in the same row.
We look forward to seeing you there.
August 18 2014 Skeptics Café
Back by popular request!
A variety of speakers on a variety of topics
Skepticism in the Terrorist Age
The Devil’s Advocate Is My Guardian Angel
July 21 2014 Skeptics Café
Presenter: Dr Ken Walker, Discovery Centre, Museum of Melbourne
Australia has about 1,700 native bee species and several exotic introduced bees. This talk will discuss some of the pest parasitic mites that attack European honeybees and the problems they cause – fortunately, Australia is the last continent (except Antarctica) that does not have these mites. It is estimated that Australia receives about $5 billion worth of free pollination each year from the European honeybee to anything that affects this eco-service will have major consequences to agriculture. The talk will also introduce the vibrant and diverse Australian native bee fauna.
Ken has been the Curator of Entomology at Museum Victoria for over 34 years. He originally studied at the University of Queensland gaining Bachelor and Masters degrees and then received a PhD in Systematics from LaTrobe University.
Ken curates the Museum Victoria’s insect collection estimated at about 3 million specimens, interacts with the public through Exhibitions (such as the Bugs Alive! exhibition) and answering general public questions and also conducts research into Australia’s native bee fauna.
Ken has described almost 200 new species of native bees and only now are we beginning to know what bees occur in Australia and what plants do they pollinate. With one in every three mouthfuls of food we eat a direct result of pollination, it is no wonder that people have an interest in bees.
June 16 2014 Skeptics Café
Don Hyatt: Why Education Matters Australia’s educational leaning tower of PISA Australian Education – Going, going Gonski? Pyning for a better education in Australia. The educational framework within which students begin their educational lives sets their views on how they see society and how they might reach their potential, subsequently making a valuable contribution to society. It is vital that Australia has a high quality education system that serves our needs and enables the future generation to take us to the country we want to be. A quality education for all students would seem to be the best investment for any country’s long term future. Exactly how that might be achieved is very much a political issue and open to interpretation. Skeptics need to be informed, actively interested and involved in the educational debate with a view to ensuring that the public is properly informed and politicians make decisions for the right reasons and in the interests of everyone. In this talk Don will look at the results of the PISA study released in November 2013 and what they mean to Australia. We will also look at how the Gonski Review may or may not address what reforms are needed. Layered on top of this is the current implementation of the National Curriculum and the recently released Pyne Review of Education. Where is all this going? Oh, and there are students to be considered. Don Hyatt is a well known Victorian Skeptic having served on the Victorian Committee and convened the Australian Skeptics National Convention in 2012. He founded the Skeptic Groups of Victoria which he still convenes. Don taught and occupied a variety of educational roles for over 30 years in Victorian schools where he was actively involved in curriculum development with particular interest in science education. He spent time in Curriculum & Research Branch of the Education Department and as Education Officer at the CSIRO Science Education Centre. He was the Foundation National Director of Australian Science in Schools Weeks, now National Science Week. He is a past President of the Science Teachers’ Association of Victoria, co-author of several chemistry texts and sat on the national body developing the principles for the determination of Highly Accomplished Teachers of Science. He holds an M. Ed from Melbourne University on learning development in the transition from Child Science to Teacher Science. In his spare time he is currently Victorian Chairman of the Australian Shareholders Association. $4 entry
May 19 2014 Skeptics Café
Tenth Annual Vic Skeptics Trivia Extravaganza
*May bring healthy balance to your cerebral synapses *May cause mirth and hilarity. *May cure scrofula and Night Starvation *May 19 – Be there or be a right-angled rhombus! Great prizes include signed copies of books by Simon Singh, Lynne Kelly, Warren Bonnet and Chris French. Special early starting time of 7.30 pm Bring your team (maximum of six) or come on your own. Want to get some practice in? Try some of our “Mixed Bag” Questions on the Puzzles Page or Puzzles Archives. (New $4 entry applies)
(click above to download full size poster)
Cosmology has been front page news all over the world this year — “Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun” said the New York Times.
Come and ask theoretical cosmologists and particle physicists
Professor Richard Easther (University of Auckland, @reasther) and
Dr Katherine (Katie) Mack (University of Melbourne, @astrokatie) what this means, what happens now, and what we are doing about in Australasia!
Wednesday May 7 2014
La Notte Restaurant
140 Lygon Street Carlton
(Al Fresco Dinner From 6pm)
$10 entry to the presentation
April 21 2014 Skeptics Café
Speaker: Chris Guest Topic: The Jesus Myth
March 17 2014 Skeptics Café
Video: The Vaccine War
[Description of the video:
There will be a discussion session after the video conducted by Paul Gallagher
February 11 & 12 2014 Darwin Day Celebrations
- On Tuesday February 11 from 5 pm at the Unitarian Church at 110 Grey Street East Melbourne (Melways 2G D2). Barbecue (BYO everything) followed by an 8 pm talk by Rick Barker of the Philosophy Forum.
- On Wednesday February 12, The Humanist Society’s celebration of Charles Darwin Day is at Studley Park on Wednesday 12/2/14 from 5 pm. Anybody is welcome to join in. Barbecue; BYO everything.
February 17 2014 Skeptics Café
Kelvin Thomson MHR:
A Skeptical Look at Rapid Population Growth
In the last fifteen years Australia has ratcheted up its rate of population growth. According to our political, business and media elite this a very good thing. But I am a population skeptic. I believe rapid population growth underpins pretty much all the problems facing both the world and Australia – from climate change, war and terrorism to species extinctions, housing unaffordability, job insecurity and traffic congestion.
In 1996 I was elected to the Federal Parliament as the Member for Wills. From 1998 to 2007 I served in a range of Shadow Ministries, including Assistant Treasurer, Environment and Heritage, Regional Development, Roads and Housing, Public Accountability, Human Services and Attorney General.
From 2007 to 2013 I was Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties and from early 2013 until the election I was Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and then Parliamentary Secretary for Schools.
I was not a candidate for the Opposition frontbench after the 2013 election. It is my experience that being a Shadow Minister brings with it obligations not to speak outside your portfolio. For me this limitation is simply too great in a world and an Australia which I believe is facing massive challenges, including, among other issues, rapid population growth.
In 2009 I released a 14 Point Plan for Population Reform, and in December 2013 I launched an NGO, Victoria First, to further raise awareness of the consequences of rapid population growth.
January 20 2014 Skeptics Café
Soap Box night -quick talks on interesting topics. Always a fun and surprising evening.
A Bass Straight UFO mystery, the fun and games of renaming the AVN, the elusive quest for critical reasoning on the Middle East, how to have a rational disagreement and the hidden maths in ‘The Simpsons’ will be some of the topics discussed.
December 16 2013 Skeptics Café
Frank Burden was formerly an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Monash University and is currently an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He has published 140 papers on chemistry and related themes and is still publishing with the CSIRO Materials Science and Engineering Division as a consultant.
Free Energy has a wide range of meanings from the strict definition of the chemical sciences to the everyday meanings of free petrol, electricity etc. However there is misunderstood science, as well many scams, that try to persuade people that they can obtain free energy to run their heating, motors, transport and to create perpetual motion machines. Some websites use confusing terms and muddled thinking and some try and sell products that will produce free energy for life. A range of these will be discussed and analysed.
November 18 2013 Skeptics Café
Professor Chris French is the Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London.
He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, as well as being a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association and a member of the Scientific and Professional Advisory Board of the British False Memory Society.
He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims, as well as writing for the Guardian and The Skeptic magazine which, for more than a decade, he also edited.
His most recent books are Why Statues Weep: The Best of The Skeptic, co-edited with Wendy Grossman (2010, London: The Philosophy Press) and Anomalistic Psychology, co-authored with Nicola Holt, Christine Simmonds-Moore, and David Luke (2012, London: Palgrave).
Follow him on Twitter: @chriscfrench
October 21 2013 Skeptics Café
Water Fluoridation: Facts and Furphies
Water fluoridation first commenced in Australian at Beaconsfield, Tasmania in 1953.
Most capital cities and larger regional centres fluoridated their water supplies over the next 2 decades, with Melbourne finally switching on in 1977.
Brisbane and much of Queensland remained unfluoridated until relatively recently, with Brisbane finally implementing fluoridation in 2008. However, recently some Queensland towns have begun to question fluoridation, and are switching their fluoridation facilities off.
This talk will look at some of the evidence to support the continuation of what the US Centre for Disease Control called one of the top 10 public health measures of 1900-1999, and also explore some of the controversies surrounding water fluoridation.
September 16 2013 Skeptics Café
Skepticism and Teenagehood: Unicorns, the Universe and Youth
With a single talent for loudness, Elizabeth, known as Liz or affectionately as Wiz, intends to relay what the standard of inquiry really is and whether the youngn’s are really a rowdy bunch, whether there aren’t any girls in science and what sort of growth has happened to scepticism and what this means for the bearded ones.
With kind regards, she also wishes to hide her secret agenda of sapping the wisdom of the elder about what sort of career requires her the most.
Despite having the single qualification of a semi-complete Year 10 highschool education, she aims to convince that the standard of wisdom and knowledge is not dropping in scepticism from Nobel Laureate Victorian Skeptics speakers to minors small in stature, but is just being given a fresh perspective. There are only so many times you can stare at a grey beard for an hour or two, so why not liven your month with a bit of youth lost that gets lost with time and find out what the future of this beloved movement is.
August 19, 2013 Skeptics Café
Professor David Karoly
Lies, damn lies and “climate change sceptics”:
What is really happening with climate change and where are we heading?
There appears to be a robust scientific debate on climate change, if you read some media or web sites. David Karoly will discuss some of the common arguments and misinformation that question the role of human activity, particularly increasing concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases, as the main cause of recently observed global warming. David will also
discuss the best available projections of future global warming due to increasing greenhouse gases, and what society must do to meet the internationally agreed target of limiting global warming to only 2C above pre-industrial temperatures.
David Karoly is a Professor of Climate Science in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Melbourne and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science.
He is an internationally recognised expert in climate change and climate variability, including greenhouse climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion and inter-annual climate variations due to El Niño-Southern Oscillation. He was heavily involved in preparation of the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released in 2007, in several different roles.
Professor Karoly is a member of the new Climate Change Authority in Australia. He is also a member of the Science Advisory Panel to the Australian Climate Commission, the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, and the National Committee for Earth System Science of the Australian Academy of Science.
Professor Karoly joined the School of Earth Sciences in May 2007 as an ARC Federation Fellow funded by the Australian government. From 2003, he held the Williams Chair in the School of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. During 2001-2002, he was Professor of Meteorology and Head of the School of Mathematical Sciences at Monash University. From August 1995, he was Director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Southern Hemisphere Meteorology at Monash University until it closed in June 2000.
Monday 15 July, 2013 Skeptics Café
Dr Louis Roller
Vitamins: a panacea for all ills?
-organic substances or groups of related substances
-found in some foods
-substances with specific biochemical functions in the human body
-not made in the body (or not in sufficient quantity)
-required in very small amounts
On the basis that very small amounts of vitamins prevent potentially life-threatening
deficiency diseases, it is a common belief that larger and even heroic doses of vitamins are going to cure all sorts of diseases, are sources of energy, vitality and strength.
Some fifty percent of the Australian population take some sort of vitamin supplement.
This talk will look at the uses and abuses of vitamins and the evidence for and against claims made.
Associate Professor Louis Roller has been an academic at Monash University for 48 years where he “humanised” the pharmacy program by the introduction of the first-ever course in psychosocial sciences in a pharmacy course in Australasia and emphasising the patient over the product. He also has taught in the areas of therapeutics, microbiology, pharmaceutics and a myriad other areas. He was on the Pharmacy Board of Victoria for 22 years, has significantly contributed to many editions of various pharmaceutical compendia and is the author of hundreds of scientific and professional articles. He has a passion for evidence-based knowledge and this is reflected in his teachings in all aspects of therapeutics to a range of health-care professional undergraduates and practitioners.
This will be his second presentation at Skeptics Café.
Monday 17 June, 2013 Skeptics Café
Martin S Pribble: Skepticism and Hyper-Skepticism
American-born but raised in Australia, Martin believes in the importance of preserving human rights in the face of anything – either flawed thinking or the misguided policies it creates – that may infringe on them. A skeptic and atheist, Martin has some public speaking experience having been a teacher for adults for several years. Martin writes on topics of religion, politics, skepticism, feminism and equality, environment and philosophy at http://www.martinspribble.com.
One thing that set me on this path was my skepticism. Once upon a time I was willing to believe all I had been told; This was called childhood. As I grew older I learned about the way people manipulate information to suit their own needs; This was my adolescence. As a man of forty, I now have a very good idea of how much we are told is worthy of being called “truth”, and how much seems dubious from the outset; This is an adult brain with a healthy dose of skeptical inquiry.
The hyper-skeptical line of questioning, however, comes from a level of inquiry that debases all knowledge, for there is always another question to be asked, which raises more questions, which again raise questions, and so on ad absurdum. Hyper-skepticism is skeptical inquiry gone off-the-rails, and becomes a pseudo-intellectual form of denial
Monday 20 May, 2013 Skeptics Café
Who will achieve the Golden Bent Wooden Spoon in 2013
Commence your quest
singly, or with your own merry band of compatriots
at the earlier-than-usual time of 7.30 pm,
following the same-as-usual repast from 6:00 pm
Monday 15 April, 2013 Skeptics Café
Speaker: Tony Pitman – Host of the weekly radio show ‘Reality Check’ on JOY 94.9 FM
One of the most effective ways to bring about change in the world is by spreading your message through the mainstream media. To do this, you need to know how the media works and how to exploit it to achieve your aims. In other words, it’s not simply enough to be an expert in your field (skepticism), you also need to be media savvy!
Tony Pitman grew up in Gippsland and studied science, law and philosophy at the University of Melbourne, the University of British Columbia (Canada) and the Sorbonne University in Paris. He has lived in Paris, London, Vienna, Vancouver, Mexico City and Lagos, Nigeria and has travelled widely, having visited 70 countries so far. His media experience comes from both sides of the media divide, from years of campaigning with Amnesty International and with Australian Marriage Equality and from work as a television actor and radio presenter. He is currently writing a sci-fi/horror screenplay destined to become a major Hollywood motion picture, he hopes …
Monday 18 of March, 2013 Skeptics Café
Professor Peter Doherty will present to the Victorian Skeptics on Monday 18 March 2013. The talk is titled Scepticism, Denial and Ignorance: There is a Difference.
Born Peter Charles Doherty in Brisbane he obtained his PhD from the University of Edinburgh and completed his prize-winning research at the John Curtin School of Medical Research in Canberra. He currently has his own research laboratory at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne, as well as a laboratory at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.
Professor Doherty is also a veterinarian and author. His published titles include The Beginner’s Guide to Winning the Nobel Prize (autobiographical), A Light History of Hot Air and most recently, Sentinel Chickens: What Birds Tell Us about Our Health and the World (2012).
He is one of a handful of Australian scientists to have been awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine. He was awarded the prize jointly with Rolf Zinkernagel in 1996. His Nobel Prize winning research contributed to our understanding of the immune system and in particular how our cells recognise viral infections.
Professor Doherty was named Australian of the Year in 1997.
Over many years, skeptics have had run-ins with the anti-vaccine lobby; Professor Doherty’s area of research should therefore be of particular interest. His Nobel Prize for research in immunology is in an area of science that the anti-vaccine lobby disputes.
We are honoured to have a Nobel Prize winner at Skeptics Café for the first time.
Monday 18 February, 2013 Skeptics Café
Skeptics Soapbox – Short Talks
Lost a Cessna in Bass Straight? Found a meteorite in the Gibson Desert? Want to use statistics to get away with murder? Or are you more than a little skeptical about social media campaigns?
Speaking slots are full for this event but we are always interested in short talks for future events.
The Speaker line up is: Chris Guest, Alastair Tait, Matt Kippen and Paul Gallagher.
Tuesday 12 February, 2013 Darwin Day Barbecue
Unitarian Church, 110 Grey Street
(Opposite the old Mercy Hospital), East Melbourne
An Invitation from the Atheists, Humanists, Rationalists, Skeptics, scientists and many more.
Barbecue from 5pm to 7.30 pm. Free BBQ facilities are available. BYO food and drinks
Lecture at 8pm:
Rick Barker from the Philosophy Forum: Neanderthals, Denisovans, Hobbits and Homo saiens – the Origin and Evolution of the Genus Homo
Children are welcome and there will be activities provided for them
An RSVP is not required but would be appreciated: YES, NO or MAYBE with numbers to Andrew on 9894 1443 or SMS to 0438 043 050
Monday 21 January, 2013 Skeptics Café
Dr. David Waldron: Snarls from the Tea-Tree: The folklore of Big Cats in the Victorian Bush
Dr. David Waldron is an anthropologist and historian at the University of Ballarat and father of two. When he is not busy with teaching, home and family he is a researcher and writer on folklore and history.
He is particularly interested in the development of folklore over time as a response to social issues, community trauma and crisis. Specifically his research entails the critical investigation of urban legends and popular representations of the past through historical and anthropological analysis..
He has published three books on folklore, history and social movements as well as a large number of journal articles, book chapters, public lectures and academic papers. His books so far include, Sign of the Witch: Modernity and the Pagan Revival, Shock! the Black Dog of Bungay: A Case Study in Local Folklore and Snarls from the Tea-Tree: Victoria’s Big Cat Folklore along with numerous other journal articles and papers on related topics. Most recently he has been interested in the folklore of Big Cats in the Victorian bush.
Big Cat scares have been a feature of rural Victorian folklore since the mid-19th century. Centred around claims of mysterious stock losses, sightings and tracks the phenomena shares many similarities with related stories of cryptids around the globe. However, in the Australian context the myth is interwoven by entanglement with panics surrounding Dingo and Wild Dog predation as well as prominent historical issues such as the disasters wrought by acclimatization, deforestation, drought, fire and floods. The fact that the descriptions mostly relate to known animals, albeit out of their natural habitat, with a history of escapees and nefarious individuals using the belief as cover for stock theft has further complicated the issue.
This talk will examine the history of Victoria’s Big Cat folklore in relation to its historical and cultural context with a particular focus on Anglo-Australian engagement with the landscape and why the mythology is so strongly entrenched in Victorian folk culture.
Monday 17th of December, 2012 Skeptics Café
The Dark Ages
Was there really a ‘Dark Age’ in post-Roman Europe? If so, what were its most likely causes? Are we in danger of regressing into a new Dark Age?
The term ‘Dark Ages’ refers to the Early Middle Ages, which was the period of European history lasting from the 5th century to approximately 1000 CE. The Early Middle Ages followed the decline of the Western Roman Empire and preceded the High Middle Ages (c. 1001–1300 CE). The period saw a continuation of trends begun during late classical antiquity, including population decline, especially in urban centres, a decline of trade, and increased immigration. The period has been labelled the ‘Dark Ages’, a characterization highlighting the relative paucity of scientific, literary, artistic and cultural output from this time, especially in Western Europe. Historians suggest that there were several causes of this decline, including the rise of Christianity. Reference will also be made to an earlier ‘Dark Age’ in Ancient Greece from around 1100 to 800 BCE.
Tim Harding is a long-term member of the Australian Skeptics and a co-organiser of MORDI SKEPTICS IN THE PUB. His background is in the biological sciences and as a conservation manager for the Victorian Government. He now works as a regulatory consultant to various governments specialising in conservation, agriculture, animal welfare and public safety. He is also studying history and philosophy part-time at Monash University – hence his interest in the Dark Ages.
Friday 30th of November to Sunday 2nd of December 2012
Australian Skeptics National Convention 2012
James “The Amazing” Randi, DJ Grothe (President of the James Randi Foundation), Brian Thompson (Outreach Coordinator of JREF), Rebecca Watson (SGU blogger), Lawrence “Unbelievable” Leung (as seen on TV!), Dr. Rachael Dunlop, Richard Saunders, Lynne Kelly, Dr. Krissy Wilson, Dr. Ken Harvey (Choice Magazine Consumer of the Year Award), Adam vanLangenberg, Dr Cameron Martin (from Friends of Science in Medicine), Meredith Doig, Stephen Mayne (media commentator and shareholder activist), plus many others.
Monday 19th of November, 2012 Skeptics Café
with Peter Bromley
Monday 15th of October, 2012 Skeptics Café
Is the time coming when publishing blatant misinformation will have to be stopped? Should freedom of speech protect this right? Would any attempt to censor BS create more problems than solutions.
*Note: Warren’s talk will also cure cancer; power perpetual motion machines; put you in touch with your dead loved ones; massage your aura; boost your immune system and clear up acne.
*RESULTS MAY VARY
Monday 17th of September, 2012 Skeptics Café
Dr Louis Roller
History of Science, medicine and pharmacy
Associate professor Louis Roller has been an academic at Monash University for 48 years where he “humanised” the pharmacy program by the introduction of the first-ever course in psychosocial sciences in a pharmacy course in Australasia and emphasising the patient over the product. He also has taught in the areas of therapeutics, microbiology, pharmaceutics and a myriad other areas. He was on the Pharmacy Board of Victoria for 22 years, has significantly contributed to many editions of various pharmaceutical compendia and is the author of hundreds of scientific and professional articles. He has a passion for evidence-based knowledge and this is reflected in his teachings in all aspects of therapeutics to a range of health-care professional undergraduates and practitioners.
– – – –
The doctrines of Science, Medicine and Pharmacy are intimately entwined. This is a romp through thousands of years of human development in science, medicine and pharmacy; the successes, failures and battles with ignorance and superstition and where we are today
Monday 20th of August, 2012 Skeptics Café
How to run a high school sceptical society (as far as I know) –
After running a high school sceptical society for over a year I’ll be talking about how it got started, what the response has been and what I think I’ve learnt from the experience.
– – –
Adam vanLangenberg is a mathematics teacher and organiser of the McKinnon Secondary Sceptical Society. He has been featured in OzTeacher Magazine, The Age and appeared on channel Ten’s “The Circle“.
Monday 16th of July, 2012 Skeptics Café
What’s My Ism?- A skeptic’s view on the spectrum of belief & non-belief
Skepticism intersects with issues on religion & has a strong following on non-believers, atheists, agnostics etc.
Being new to the Skeptical movement, research on the belief systems drew me to sizing up the different camps in a few different ways.
Who represents these groups, what do they stand for, how do they rate in skepticism, strength in numbers, or as interesting dinner guests?
A spectrum from militant atheism through to religious extremists & most flavours in between was the result.
– – –
Brad Kendall grew up in Mandurah, south of Perth WA
He has worked in Technology for NAB for 22 years, and currently has a portfolio in Customer Services
Actively Skeptical since 2010, he is co-organiser for MORDI SKEPTICS IN THE PUB.
Monday 18th of June, 2012 Skeptics Café
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Russell Kelly is retired from a successful defence and aerospace business and lives in Victoria’s Northeast. He has been flying aeroplanes most of his life and operates Mitta Mitta International Airport. A keen musician and amateur historian, he sees himself as a rabid existentialist and devotee to the exposure of fraudulent altmed practitioners. As well as seeding the Borderline Skeptics group in NE Victoria, Russell is a Justice of the Peace, Bail Justice and a volunteer paramedic.
Monday 21st of May, 2012 Skeptics Café
VIC SKEPTICS EIGHTH ANNUAL TRIVIA NIGHT
Practice Questions: Why not skim the hundreds of Mixed Bag Questions in our Puzzles section and puzzles archives? https://vicskeptics.wordpress.com/puzzles/
Monday 16th of April, 2012 Skeptics Café
Dr Eugenie Scott
Executive Director, National Centre for Science Education (NCSE) (USA)
Creationism du jour
A talk for the Victorian Skeptics. After the failure of creation science and intelligent design to survive legal tests of their constitutionality, the creationist movement evolved new strategies. These call for teaching the “strengths and weaknesses of evolution” or the “critical analysis of evolution” which are creationism in disguise. In lieu of policies promoting the teaching of creation science or Intelligent Design, modern creationists try to change state science education standards or pass state legislation to promote these “softer” and less-obvious approaches. Such “Academic Freedom Act” legislation has popped up in several states already, and reflects the creationism du jour.
Monday 19th of March, 2012 Skeptics Café
Education in Victoria – Pursuing a Secular Approach
Over the past few months the AEU has taken stances against the Chaplaincy in Schools Program and Schools Religious Instruction provided by Access Ministries. Justin will explain the AEU’s position in detail and expand on the AEU view on the National Curriculum and the state of funding of government schools.
Sunday 12th of February – Darwin Day Barbecue
Monday 20th of February, 2012 Skeptics Café
Dr Ken Harvey:
TGA Reform: the Impact of Civil Society Activism
Saturday 21st of January – Surfcoast Summer Skepticamp
Airey’s Inlet Community Centre
10am – 5pm, followed by BBQ and Paranormal Winetasting
Entry FREE but limited places so book
Info and Bookings via http://www.summerskepticamp.eventbrite.com
Brought to you by Great Ocean Road Skeptics