Skeptics National Convention 2008
11–12 October 2008
The Norwood Concert Hall, Adelaide South Australia
Now, it’s all over... In coming days this page will be expanded, with links to presentations and other material. All the conference presentations were recorded on video, and a DVD will shortly be available from Australian Skeptics.
Opening speaker was Debra Panizzon, the Deputy Director for the newly established Flinders Centre for Science Education in the 21st Century, whose topic was ‘Engaging Students in Science Education: A role for all in “stemming the tide”’.
Kylie Sturgess, a former high-school teacher turned educational researcher currently working on a survey with Dr Martin Bridgstock on paranormal, pseudoscientific and conspiracy theory beliefs: ‘On Sex, Smarts and Where The SkepGrrls At: An Investigation into Gender Differences and Belief In Weird Things’. Kylie’s blog is at <podblack.com>
‘Brain Gym: A Cautionary Tale’ Was the title of Margaret Kittson’s talk, based on her experience as a teacher and librarian in a range of government and private schools, predominantly in Queensland.
Mike McRae’s topic was ‘Thinking for Sale: Creating a Critical Culture’.
The Saturday afternoon session began with ‘Earth Air, Fire and Water: the Elements of Energy’, a reunion of Curiosity Show by Rob Morrison and Deane Hutton, with some younger members of the audience joining in.
Above: Deane and a glass of water held in place by air pressure. Above right: Rob flares some cornflour. Right: A tabletop earthquake.
Richard Saunders, now known to many through The One spoke on ‘Mystery Investigators’. Richard also spoke at the dinner, describing some of his experiences with The One. (Can you see black spots in the image on the screen?)
Three presentations were made at the dinner, although the first was made without the presence of the award itself, the Bent Spoon, and its recipient for 2008, Dr Kerryn Phelps. Barry Williams made the ‘presentation’.
The 2008 Australian Skeptics Prize for Critical Thinking was presented to Peter Ellerton, seen here making his acceptance remarks.
Barry Williams is retiring (that is, leaving his position with Aus Skeptics: he is an outgoing personality), and received a gift to mark the occasion from Martin Hadley.
Entertainment for the evening was by Nicholas Tweedy, seen here mangling some glassware with Loretta Marron.
Drawcard on the Sunday morning was the Climate Change Debate, with professors Ian Plimer and Barry Brook, both of the University of Adelaide. Each spoke to his own position, and then answered questions from the audience. To Ian, human-induced climate change was ‘a load of hot air’, while Barry holds a contrary view, as he promotes in his blog BraveNewClimate.com.
Nigel Dobson-Keeffe examined thinking processes in ‘Rational Irrationality: the retreat of reason?’, explaining that most of our decision making ability might not really be well constructed.
Psychologist Glen Smith demonstrated a range of illusions, leading to ‘errors’ in what we see and hear and understand in his talk entitled ‘We are all Human: Perception’.
The final speaker was Loretta Marron, known as the ‘Jelly Bean Lady’, relating her recent experiences tackling the Theraputic Goods Administration, pharmacies, supermarkets... in ‘Jelly Beans and other drugs’. Loretta’s Web site, (www.healthinformation.com.au), is now a major health information directory.