The Science Talent Search 2018

22 November, 2018

2018 STS bursary winners whose bursaries were funded by the Australian Skeptics

The first Science Talent Search was conducted and sponsored by the Science Teachers Association of Victoria in 1952. A total of seventeen cash bursaries were awarded.

In 2018 the number of bursaries awarded was six hundred and fifty-one, sharing a pool of $36,425.

Still under the aegis of the STAV, the Science Talent Search now receives financial support from a wide variety of sponsors including universities, research institutes, commercial firms, not-for-profit groups like the Australian Skeptics, and an increasing number of private donors. Read the rest of this entry »

Complementary Medicines, Advertising Reform and the TGA

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
  • disappointing


(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 »

Susan Blackmore – Genes, Memes, Tremes from Biology to AI

15 November, 2018

This is Professor Susan Blackmore speaking at the Royal Society of Victoria in October 2018

Thanks to Adam Ford.

Surfcoast Summer Skepticamp

31 October, 2018

Saturday February 23rd 2019 at Aireys Inlet

The Surf Coast Summer Skepticamp (SCSSC) is Australia’s longest running Skepticamp. This year we are celebrating our 7th year.

Skepticamps are designed to give many members the opportunity to briefly (10 – 15 minutes) present on a topic of their choice. Skepticamps have been run in hundreds of locations and many countires since the first one was held in 2017 in Denver. Such is the status of the SCSSC it is even mentioned on the international skepticamp wikipedia site:

So, if you want to share something on a skeptically-related topic in which you are interested, highlight some practices that you see as dubious that need to be bought to the attention of the skeptics community, just something that we might find interesting please offer to share your thoughts. This is a sharing event, where many contributors combine to a great day. Read the rest of this entry »

Puzzles for November 2018

31 October, 2018

Your Skeptical Puzzles Fix

November’s Skeptical Crossword (with standard and cryptic clues} is based on Mythology.

Each month there’s a new set of Picture Puzzles, Mixed Bag Questions (Trivia / General Knowledge) and Logic & Maths Puzzles. Look at the top of the PUZZLES PAGE.

Scroll down the Puzzles Page for monthly puzzles going back to January 2018

Our earlier puzzles, going back to 2010 can be found at:


Puzzles for October 2018

30 September, 2018

Each month we publish a themed Skeptical Crossword (this month on Homeopathy), a set of seven Picture Puzzles, a set of twenty Mixed Bag Questions (Trivia / General Knowledge) and a set of Logic & Maths Puzzles. They can be found, blog-style, at the top of the Puzzles Page.


A bonus three picture Puzzles are shown at left. The solutions can be found HERE.


Our earlier puzzles can be found at:

Homeopathy – a Useless Treatment

16 September, 2018

Homeopath practitioners believe that by diluting a solution of a substance that mimics the effect of a disease the diluted concoction will cure the disease. The solution is usually diluted so many times that chemists calculate there may be no molecules of the original substance left in the final medication.

Homeopathic Dilution: other diluents beside alcohol are water and sugar

Homeopaths claim this doesn’t matter as the water has a “memory” of the dissolved curative substance.
Scientifically this makes no sense whatsoever. Nevertheless homeopathic treatments have been clinically tested to see if they are effective. When tested under rigorous double blind conditions the results show homeopathy is no more effective than a placebo.

The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia recently released a report on homeopathy. After reviewing over 200 research papers that it considered worthy of inclusion (many studies of homeopathy are of such poor quality that their conclusions are unreliable) the NHMRC concluded:

“The review found no good quality, well-designed studies with enough participants to support the idea that homeopathy works better than a placebo, or causes health improvements equal to those of another treatment.” Read the rest of this entry »