Photos from Auskeptcon14

7 December, 2014

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Recommended – see these photos full screen mode on Flickr.

The photos in the above slide show are from the recent Australian Skeptics National Convention 2014, held in Sydney. A huge thanks to the Sydney based organisers with ASI, they did a fantastic job. The convention featured the likes of, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, Dick Smith, George Hrab, Peter Fitzsimons, Michael Marshall, Dr Rachael Dunlop, Peter Hadfield, Dr Amanda Bauer, the entire Skeptics Guide to the Universe crew and most of the team from ABC’s consumer protection program, The Checkout. A full list of speakers can be found here. Heck – even James Randi dropped in for a cameo!

The convention was held at an excellent venue in The Concourse, Chatswood where everything ran perfectly.  Well done to all involved for an entertaining and inspiring convention.  We look forward to Brisbane next year.

 


Randi Returns to Australia

30 October, 2014

randitour

The Amazing James Randi is returning to Australia. The Think Inc organisation are bringing him out for a whirlwind 5 city tour.

Randi will be in Melbourne on Friday 5th December at the Melbourne Convention and Entertainment Centre.

His other tour dates are:

Adelaide on Monday December 1st at the Science Exchange;

Perth on Wednesday 3rd in Perth at the Octagon Theatre;

Brisbane on Thursday 4th at the BCEC

Sydney on Sunday 7th in at the Enmore Theatre.
Hosted by Richard Saunders and Lawrence Leung, the evenings will have a fireside chat format as well as a screening of the fascinating new documentary of his life and work called “An Honest Liar” plus a Q & A session at the end.

Tickets start from $49 for students, $69 for general admission, $89 for VIP tickets and $169 for Meet and Greet tickets. Further details and tickets sales are available from the Think Inc website.

http://thinkinc.org.au/jamesrandi/

This is a unique opportunity for the general public to see and hear the 86 year old Amazing Randi, the world’s most prominent skeptic, in person.

Think Inc plan to regularly bring to Australia prominent Scientists and Skeptics. The next will be Bill Nye, “the Science Guy, in February 2015.


An On-Air mixture of Whiplash, Acupuncture and Anecdote

14 January, 2013

By Mal Vickers

An interesting discussion took place on radio whilst James Randi was in Australia. It happened on Friday the 30th of November during The Conversation Hour, a kind of group interview session with popular radio host Jon Faine, (ABC Local Melbourne Radio 774). The particular exchange I’d like to highlight took place at the very end of the program.

James Randi

James Randi

Being a skeptic, of course I’m an admirer of the work of James Randi however, being a Melburnian I also regularly listen to ABC 774 and think highly of Jon Faine.

Many times I’ve heard Jon Faine ask some excellent, insightful questions of politicians. He’s sharp, knowledgeable and in my humble opinion, Melbourne’s best talkback radio host.

Jon Faine

Jon Faine

Jon Faine was, I think, the only media commentator willing to strongly criticise self proclaimed US psychic John Edwards when he came to Australia. The stoush between the two made the national media at the time.

Getting back to the 30th  November Conversation Hour broadcast, with James Randi, comedian Stella Young and psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist; whilst discussing the topic of psychics, Faine said the following:

They [psychics] take away the fundamental and unavoidable importance of us being responsible for our own destiny. And that’s a fraud on every individual, that’s a fraud on all of us.

I think most skeptics would Read the rest of this entry »


Post Convention Media

11 December, 2012

Click – Full Size

A stunning image taken by Guy Wolfe Page Taylor at the Gala Dinner of the 2012 National Convention. Guy posted this on FaceBook, he’s kindly allowed us to reproduce it here. Go on, click on the image for the full-screen version.

It’s great to see/hear all the positive media attention after a convention. The podcasts, coverage in the mainstream print media and on mainstream radio are encouraging. Then there’s the photos on this blog, Flickr and on FaceBook – it’s still a buzz.

For those readers who may not have seen/heard everything, here are some links to the Read the rest of this entry »


Auskepcon 2012, Photos, Sunday

10 December, 2012

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Sunday’s Convention Photos

Sunday was another line up of excellent speakers, DJ Grothe, Dr Ken Harvey, Dr Rachael Dunlop, Stephen Mayne, Lawrence Leung, James “The Amazing” Randi and many more. Look carefully in this set of images for a certain life member and secretary of a state branch jamming with Paul Conroy on guitar.


Auskepcon 2012, Photos, Friday and Saturday

9 December, 2012

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Slideshow of the convention from Friday through to Saturday’s Gala Dinner.

To see these and more images of the convention, in higher resolution, please follow these links.

Mark’s images are collected here.

Mal’s photos:

Prior to the convention slideshow.

The fund raising dinner slideshow.

Friday and Saturday slideshow.

Sunday slideshow.

Photo credits: Mal Vickers and Mark Hassed

 


Auskepcon 2012, Photos from the Fund Raising Dinner

8 December, 2012

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The Fund Raising Dinner was a great success. It was held at a place of great significance in Melbourne’s history, the Royal Society of Victoria building. The evening included a tour of the building, the library and lecture theatre being highlights. Guests also got the chance to chat with DJ Grothe, Brian Thompson and Rebecca Watson.

Huge thanks to those willing to come along, be part of this special event and offset the cost of brining James Randi to Australia. James Randi was very generous with his time, in addition to the close-up magic tricks, he agreed to sit for some iconic photographs taken in the library.

Thanks also to the organisers, in particular Matt Kippen.


Auskepcon 2012, Photos From Events Before the Convention

6 December, 2012

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Some images of events before the convention.

James Randi joined the convention organising committee and made fools of us with his card tricks – Tuesday, 27 November.

DJ Grothe, Brian Thompson and Randi took a trip to Healesville Sanctuary to see just a little of Australian nature whilst they were here – Wednesday, 28 November.

Richard Saunders, Maynard, our international guests, and others chill out at ‘The Penny Black’ pub in Brunswick – Thursday, 29 November.


James Randi returns to Australia in 2012

18 March, 2012

James “The Amazing”  Randi is returning to Australia to speak at the National Convention. Most readers would be familiar with the life and activities of James Randi, arguably the world’s most prominent skeptic.

The Convention will be held in Melbourne starting on Friday the 30th of November.

The Convention’s organising committee represents several skeptical groups in Victoria. Collectively they are very grateful that Randi has agreed to visit Australia once again.

The most up to date information about the 2012 National Convention, can be found here.

Other news is that there is a project under way to make a documentary about Randi’s life, headed by the well regarded and experienced Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom. The producers are asking for contributions to help get the project under way. Details can be found here.

The trailer for the documentary.


TAM Australia wrap up

1 December, 2010

The post conference high is beginning to wear off and life starts to get back to a normal routine again.

For those Victorian Skeptics lucky enough to go to The Amazing Meeting the experience was quite amazing – and as a skeptic; it’s not easy to say that.

(If you’d just like to see a nice slide show of photos from TAM Oz and you don’t much care to read a summary – skip to here)

Expectations were high: so many big name skeptics where on the bill. Would it work?  Such a lot happened it’s difficult to summarize.  I’ll just mention some highlights in no particular order.

My favorite session was one that had to be put together quickly to fill in for a speaker who couldn’t make it – the twitter quiz.  Rebecca Watson quickly researched some questions. A panel of experts, mainly from the SGU, were pitted against the audience in a race to give the correct answer first.  The panel had the advantage of being able to answer directly into the microphones whilst the audience had to post the answer to twitter using the #TAMQuiz hashtag.  Audience answers were displayed real-time on the big screens.  What ensued was glorious, hilarious mayhem that left the audience with sore stomach muscles from laughing.  For instance, in answer Read the rest of this entry »


A Skeptic’s Guide to Dowsing

20 October, 2010

This article first appeared as a Vic Skeptics discussion pamphlet.
The full range of our discussion pamphlets can be downloaded here: http://www.skeptics.com.au/resources/educational/

or by clicking on the “Useful Info” link at the top of this page.

Dowsing, (also known as Divining) is widely practised in Australia. Dowsers claim the ability to detect useful substances in the ground using processes which are not able to be explained by current scientific principles.

The most frequently dowsed substance in drought-prone Australia is water. Many Australians can claim a friend or relative who is a water-diviner.

Australian Skeptics have long been interested in dowsing. It clearly lies within the range of paranormal activities which come under scrutiny. We offer a sum of money, (currently $100,000) to anyone who can demonstrate paranormal ability of any kind. Our only stipulation is that candidates must pass a proper scientific test, the protocols of which have been agreed upon by all parties before the test commences. Most acceptors of this challenge have been water-diviners; probably because they are genuine people who believe in their abilities, and are as interested in being tested as we are to test them.

Read the rest of this entry »


Superheros Are Amongst Us!

20 September, 2010

by Lucas Randall (aka Codenix)

I used to think superheros were the domain of fiction, existing only in comic-books and on film, their powers limited to battling their super-villain foe, equally the domain of fiction. I didn’t realise superheros and super-villains are actually real, living amongst us and affecting our lives in very real ways. Read the rest of this entry »


Video fest: the Power Balance wrist band and the arm press

16 August, 2010

It appears that some dubious marketing tools are being employed in the sale of the Power Balance wrist band.

First is the use of celebrity endorsement.  This practice is unfortunately all too common.  Celebrities don’t appear to be any better at critical thinking than your average Joe (or Jo) in the street.

The second dubious practice is the use of physical tests that aren’t objective.  The method of pressing down on someone’s arm to test muscle strength can easily be manipulated (either deliberately or mistakenly) by the person doing the pressing.  This methodology has been around for quite some time and is known as “Applied Kinesiology”.  This is rather difficult to describe in writing.  Fortunately Richard Saunders has put together an excellent video that shows you everything you need to know.


Now, check out this uncritical video review of the Power Balance wrist band.  In this video a Read the rest of this entry »


Vale Martin Gardner

25 May, 2010

As James Randi so magnificently wrote:  “My World is a little darker… Martin Gardner has died.”  James knew Martin personally; I only dearly wish I did…

I became aware of Martin Gardner when I was a brand new Mathematics teacher at Irymple Technical School in 1974.  I quickly befriended the Physics teacher and it was he who showed me some of Martin’s books.  Those which I still have are Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions, More Mathematical Puzzles and Diversions and The Annotated Alice.  I have read these books many, many times over the years.

I would now credit Martin as being the main character in giving me my attitude to mathematics – in that it is my favourite hobby and has been since the mid 70’s.

I’m pleased he lived as long as he did.  It still pains me that he is no more.  He will live on through his prolific published works and I will treasure what he gave me – and he didn’t even know me.  This last sentiment reminds me of how many times over the years I have yearned to meet him – ah well, I’m still so very grateful.

Eric Fiesley


James Randi on TED

25 April, 2010

Yes, I know just about every other Skeptical blog site on the planet is showing this, with good reason.

Mal.