September Event and AGM

Fellow skeptics,

While Canberra is currently COVID-19 free, the environment is still very uncertain and, therefore, we will not be holding any in-person events any time soon. We all hope that we are able to return to some degree of normalcy during 2021.

In the meantime, Canberra Skeptics will continue offering webinars and we would be delighted if you join us for the next one. This is with authour David Dufty, who will be talking about his book ‘Radio Girl: The story of the extraordinary Mrs Mac, pioneering engineer and wartime legend.’ David honoured me by asking me to read a draft of the book, so I can attest just how amazing the story of Violet MacKenzie is. Please join us at 6pm on 15 September on Zoom.

The AGM is going to be held during October. Due to COVID-19, we will not be holding an in-person AGM. Instead it will be done via email over around 2 weeks. Please consider joining the committee as we desperately need to people to help us in 2021. These events don’t organise themselves and the more people who join the committee, the more and better the events will be!

If you have not already done so, please renew your membership. You can do so via our new Online Form.

Stay skeptical,

Kevin Davies

President – Canberra Skeptics

 

Radio Girl: The story of the extraordinary Mrs Mac, pioneering engineer and wartime legend

Date and Time: Tuesday, 15 September 2020, 6:00pm – 7:00pm, AEST

How to join: Login via Zoom registration

(https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_lbEXzgXbSZqutqMaYaEyWA)

Join Canberra Skeptics as we host a webinar with author David Dufty on his book ‘Radio Girl: The story of the extraordinary Mrs Mac, pioneering engineer and wartime legend.’ This book, about Violet MacKenzie, who was ‘a smart girl from a poor mining town who loved to play with her father’s tools, Violet McKenzie became an electrical engineer, a pioneer of radio and a successful businesswoman. As the clouds of war gathered in the 1930s, she defied convention and trained young women in Morse code, foreseeing that their services would soon be sorely needed. Always a champion of women, she was instrumental in getting Australian women into the armed forces.’

(https://allenandunwin.com/browse/books/other-books/Radio-Girl-David-Dufty-9781760876654)

David Dufty has a PhD in psychology and has worked as a statistician and social researcher at the University of Memphis, Newspoll, and the Australian Bureau of Statistics. His book The Secret Code Breakers of Central Bureau won the 2017 Nib Military History Prize.

 

 

Canberra Skeptics Annual General Meeting

Dates – 13 October – 26 October 2020

Canberra Skeptics Inc will be holding its AGM from 13-26 October 2020. Due to the uncertainty caused by COVID-19, it will be conducted via email.

Given the circumstances, all materials will be sent to members on 13 October, who can ask
questions and receive feedback. On 20 October, the contents of the reports and the appointment of the new committee moved.

If you would like to join the committee, please us know at canberraskeptics@gmail.com.

The positions available are:

  • President
  • Vice President
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary
  • Public Officer
  • Member

Only paid members of Canberra Skeptics are able to join the committee or participate in the AGM.

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August Event: Successes and Failures of Science, Skepticism, and Critical Thinking

Canberra Skeptics Proudly Presents:

Successes and Failures of Science, Skepticism, and Critical Thinking

Date and Time: Sunday, 16 August 2020, 10:00am – 11:00am, AEST

How to join: Register via Zoom – https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_5mckiv08Q1-4o8luao_6lg

Events over the last 12 months have demonstrated the vital role science, skepticism, and critical thinking plays in society. Yet, many of these events have also shown that science, skepticism, and critical thinking is failing to effectively counter anti-science attitudes. This panel will provide an opportunity for discussion on precisely why this is and what can be done to rectify the situation. The panel will also look at where science, skepticism, and critical thinking has succeeded and what can be done to ensure that the successes continue.

The panel consists of the following (subject to change):

Host


Richard Saunders – Richard Saunders is the host and producer of The Skeptic Zone Podcast (https://skepticzone.tv), a Life Member of Australian Skeptics Incorporated, and a Committee for Skeptical Inquiry Fellow.

Panellists


Susan Gerbic – Susan Gerbic is the founder and leader of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project, a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and a contributor to Skeptical Inquirer and The Skeptic Zone Podcast.

Dr Steven Novella – Dr. Novella is an academic neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine. In addition to being the host of The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast, he is the president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society.

Jessica Singer – Jessica Singer is the President of Australian Skeptics Incorporated.

Questions for the panel can either be sent via Zoom or emailed to cosmicspoon[at]gmail.com. Questions can be asked during the webinar via the Q&A.

Canberra Skeptics Inc. is a non-profit association incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory for the purpose of promoting critical thinking. For further information about Canberra Skeptics, please visit our website: http://www.canberraskeptics.org.

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2020

Fellow skeptics,
 
In light of the increasing spread of COVID-19, and the need to practice social distancing, I have hereby decided to cancel all Canberra Skeptics events for the foreseeable future. Once it is deemed safe to do so, we will resume the talks at the earliest possible time.
 
This is incredibly disappointing but there is no other safe decision. You can still get your skeptical fix from the many wonderful skeptical podcasts available and I encourage you to share as many of these as possible. 
 
Already scammers and cranks are beginning to emerge from their vile swamp, so please rely on reputable sources for information regarding COVID-19 such as the Department of Health (https://www.health.gov.au/).

 
Stay skeptical, stay safe, stay healthy,
Kevin
President – Canberra Skeptics 

 

For further information about Canberra Skeptics, please visit our website: http://www.canberraskeptics.org

Social Media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CanberraSkeptics/
Twitter: @cbrskeptics

Event announcements:
Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/en-AU/SocialSkepticsCanberra/
Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/o/canberra-skeptics-18628458762

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March Event

**CANCELLATION**

Fellow skeptics,

It is with great regret that I must inform you that, due to the growing threat presented by COVID-19, I have decided to cancel the upcoming Friday, 13th March talk.

I did not make this decision lightly, but I did so out an abundance of caution as the safety of all participants at our talks is paramount.

I will endeavour to reschedule Mick Cook’s talk for later in the year. His podcasts can be found here – https://www.thedeadprussian.com/

At this stage, we will continue with the 11 April talk, but I will provide further advice regarding it prior to the talk.

I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause, but this a highly unusual situation.

Stay skeptical,

Kevin 

President – Canberra Skeptics

Canberra Skeptics proudly presents:

Winning Westeros: How Game of Thrones Explains Modern Military Conflict

Date: Friday, 13 March 2020
Time: 6:00 to 7:30pm
Speaker: Mick Cook
Venue: Room 2, Belconnen Community Service, 26 Chandler Street, Belconnen ACT 2616
Cost: Free

Set in the fictitious world of Westeros, the hit television series Game of Thrones chronicles the bitter and violent struggle between the realm’s noble dynasties for control of the Seven Kingdoms. But this beloved fantasy drama has just as much to say about the successful strategies and real-life warfare waged in our own time and place. Winning Westeros brings together more than thirty of today’s top military and strategic experts, including generals and admirals, policy advisors, counterinsurgency tacticians, science fiction and fantasy writers, and groundlevel military officers, to explain the strategy and art of war by way of the Game of Thrones saga.

Each chapter of Winning Westeros provides a relatable, outsidethebox way to simplify and clarify the complexities of modern military conflict. A chapter on the doomed butcher’s boy whom Arya Stark befriends by World War Z author Max Brooks poignantly reminds us of the cruel fate that civilians face during times of war. Another chapter on Jaqen H’ghar and the faceless men of Bravos explores the pivotal roles that stealth and intelligence play in battle. Whether considering the diplomatic prowess of Tyrion Lannister, the defiant leadership style of Daenerys Targaryen, the Battle of the Bastards and the importance of reserves, Brienne of Tarth and the increased role of women in combat, or dragons as weapons of mass destruction, Winning Westeros gives fans of Game of Thrones and aspiring military minds alike an inspiring and entertaining means of understanding the many facets of modern warfare. It is a book as captivating and enthralling as Game of Thrones itself.
Mick Cook is an Australian writer and digital content producer. He is passionate about strategic communication and connecting people with information. He started Mick Cook Strategic Communication to help organisations connect with their audience and establish meaningful relationships.

Mick’s creative work focuses professional development for military personnel and public servants. He is a non-resident fellow at the Modern War Institute at West Point, in this role he is using strategic communication theory to support self-guided learning programs.

In 2019 Mick won the Futuro Sessional Academic award for teaching in the undergraduate program at the University of Canberra. Mick taught on the Credible Communication course that provided students with an understanding of the theory behind media production as well as practical experience in producing news media.

Mick spent 18 years in the Australian Regular Army. During his time in service he fulfilled roles in information warfare, strategic communication and sensitive issue management.

Dinner will follow the lecture (venue TBC). To RSVP for the dinner, please email canberraskeptics@gmail.com.
Canberra Skeptics Inc. is a non-profit association incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory for the purpose of promoting critical thinking. For further information about Canberra Skeptics, please visit our website: http://www.canberraskeptics.org
Social Media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CanberraSkeptics/
Twitter: @cbrskeptics

Event announcements:
Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/en-AU/SocialSkepticsCanberra/
Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/o/canberra-skeptics-18628458762

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February Event

Canberra Skeptics proudly presents:

A contemporary look at scams in Australia

Date: Thursday, 13 February 2020

Time: 6:00 to 7:30pm

Speaker: Alex Meaney

Venue: Room 2, Belconnen Community Service, 26 Chandler Street, Belconnen ACT 2616

Cost: Free

 

Scamwatch, run by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), receives around 500 reports of scams from the public every day. 
Alex Meaney will provide an overview of what scams are affected Australians the most in 2019 (and are affecting Australians in early 2020), how they work, and how scams can be detected. There will be a Q&A, discussion of some of the strangest scams we’ve seen reported, and an explanation of the government’s latest measures to stop scams.

Alex is an Assistant Director in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Scamwatch). He has a Bachelor of Laws and Master of Information Technology (Information Systems). Alex has been working against scams for 5 years across two government agencies, first as a cybercrime intelligence analyst and now in an education and awareness role in the ACCC’s Scamwatch team. He has been scammed once (fake concert tickets), very nearly twice (a seemingly legitimate investment opportunity), during that time period, despite his day job.

Dinner will follow the lecture (venue TBC). To RSVP for the dinner, please email canberraskeptics@gmail.com.

Canberra Skeptics Inc. is a non-profit association incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory for the purpose of promoting critical thinking. For further information about Canberra Skeptics, please visit our website: http://www.canberraskeptics.org

Social Media:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CanberraSkeptics/
Twitter: @cbrskeptics

Event announcements: 
Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/en-AU/SocialSkepticsCanberra/
Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/o/canberra-skeptics-18628458762

 

 

 

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January Event: Social BBQ (and AGM 2.0)

Canberra Skeptics is excited to look forward to 2020 and we can’t wait to bring you some great events this year!

We’ll be starting, as always, with our annual barbecue!

Canberra Skeptics Inc. invites you to come enjoy a BBQ and games with your fellow skeptics! There are picnic tables available, but feel free to bring camp chairs or blankets! This is a BYO event, so don’t forget sausages and drinks!

We will also be holding our AGM at 12.30pm, so please come and join in our AGM and check out some of the behind the scenes!

When: 12.00 pm, Sunday January 19, 2020

Where: Barbecues outside Questacon

Can’t wait to see you all there!

**If it is too smokey to be outside, we will post an alternate venue on our Twitter and Facebook. Please check our social media before you come down**

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Dec 10: Skeptics vs Grief Vampires

Canberra Skeptics proudly presents: Skeptics vs Grief Vampires

Date: December 10

Time: 6:00 to 7:30pm

Speaker: Susan Gerbic and Mark Edward

Venue: Room 2, Belconnen Community Service, 26 Chandler Street, Belconnen ACT 2616

Cost: Free

Susan Gerbic and her partner Mark Edward made the New York Times magazine last February in a report about their investigations into celebrity psychics, who they call “Grief Vampires.” Gerbic has run a number of stings and investigations under names like “Operation Pizza Roll” and “Operation Peach Pit.” Her goal with these stings is to uncover how the psychics ply their trade and then to get this information out beyond the skeptics’ community and into the public and to those who are grieving and being scammed. She will discuss her recent stings, focusing on how to have a real effect on the Medium.

Gerbic, affectionately called the Wikipediatrician, is the founder of the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia (GSoW) project and is a self-proclaimed skeptical junkie. She is a frequent contributor to Skeptical Inquirer magazine and the Skepticality podcast, and is a CSI Fellow. She is the 2012 winner of the “In the Trenches Award,” the 2013 James Randi Award for “Skepticism in Public Interest,” and the 2017 James Randi Prize.

Mark Edward is a magician and author of “Psychic Blues: Confessions of a Conflicted Medium.” He “has worked as a 900-number psychic, ghost hunter, and Hollywood Magic Castle medium. He has also worked vigorously to debunk psychic frauds and currently works on the editorial board of Skeptic magazine.”

For more information about Gerbic’s work see:

Dinner will follow the lecture (venue TBC). To RSVP for the dinner, please email canberraskeptics@gmail.com.

Canberra Skeptics Inc. is a non-profit association incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory for the purpose of promoting critical thinking. For further information about Canberra Skeptics, please visit our website: http://www.canberraskeptics.org

Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CanberraSkeptics/

Twitter: @cbrskeptics

Event announcements:

Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/en-AU/SocialSkepticsCanberra/

Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/o/canberra-skeptics-18628458762

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November Event: Effective Altruism

Canberra Skeptics proudly presents:

Effective Altruism: How to do the most good

Date: Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Time: 6:00 to 7:30pm

Speaker: Nick Anyos and Huon Porteous

Venue: Room 2, Belconnen Community Service, 26 Chandler Street, Belconnen ACT 2616

Cost: Free

Effective altruism is a philosophy and social movement that uses evidence and reasoning to determine the most effective ways to benefit others. Effective altruism encourages individuals to consider all causes and actions and to act in a way that brings about the greatest positive impact, based upon their values. This talk will introduce the core motivations behind EA, key concepts such as cause neutrality and counterfactual reasoning, and present an overview of that interventions and causes that many effective altruists think are the most important to work on.

Nick Anyos and Huon Porteous are members of the Effective Altruism Student Society at ANU. They both study math and computer science and hope to use their careers to improve the world as much as possible.

Dinner will follow the lecture (venue TBC). To RSVP for the dinner, please email canberraskeptics@gmail.com.

Canberra Skeptics Inc. is a non-profit association incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory for the purpose of promoting critical thinking. For further information about Canberra Skeptics, please visit our website: http://www.canberraskeptics.org

Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CanberraSkeptics/

Twitter: @cbrskeptics

Event announcements:

Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/en-AU/SocialSkepticsCanberra/

Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/o/canberra-skeptics-18628458762

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September: Understanding the Online Manosphere

Canberra Skeptics proudly presents:

Understanding the Online Manosphere

Date: Tuesday, 10th September 2019

Time: 6:00 to 7:30pm

Speaker: Simon Copland

Venue: Room 2, Belconnen Community Service, 26 Chandler Street, Belconnen ACT 2615

Cost: Free

In April 2018 Alek Minassian sped a van through Toronto, Canada, killing ten and injuring sixteen others. Minassian belonged to an online community called ‘incels’ (involuntary celibates), comprised of men who blame women for their inability to gain sexual relationships. Incels speak disparagingly of ‘Chads’ and ‘Stacys’, nicknames used for sexually active men and women. Prior to the attack Miassian wrote a Facebook post stating “The Incel Rebellion has already begun! We will overthrow all the Chads and Stacys!”

The Toronto attack highlighted a form of extremism related to online men spaces occurring in websites such as 4chan and Reddit. While men’s rights has a historical basis in feminism, groups have increasingly become anti-feminist, adopting misogynistic and violent language. The online ‘manosphere’ in particular has sprouted new communities such as ‘Incels’, ‘Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW)’ and ‘The Red Pill’.

In this talk Simon Copland will conduct an in depth examination the online manosphere on the social news and sharing website ‘Reddit’. Through examining three manosphere subreddits, Copland will study online community structure and development as well as the discourse of the sphere.

In doing so he will argue that current debates about the manosphere are shallow and often technologically deterministic, ignoring the complex social circumstances that have led to the growth of the sphere, as well as the misogyny and extremism that occurs within.

It is these complex social circumstances we must address if we wish to limit the extremism of the space. This talk is based on research that forms Copland’s PhD thesis.

Bio

Simon Copland is a PhD candidate in Sociology at the Australian National University (ANU), studying online men’s communities called the ‘manosphere’. He has a Masters in Science Communication.

Simon is a freelance writer, and the co-editor of Green Agenda, an online publishing space for green ideas. He has been published in The Guardian, BBC Online and Overland Journal, amongst others. He co-produces the podcast ‘Queers’, a fortnightly discussion on queer politics and culture. He had a chapter in the books Queer Stories and Going Postal in 2018.

Simon is a David Bowie and rugby union fanatic.

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August Event: Womens’ Woo: Pseudo-Science and Women’s Health

Date: Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Time: 6:00 to 7:30pm

Speaker: Trish Hann

Venue: Law Lecture Theatre, Law School Building #5, Fellows Road, ANU

Cost: Free

This talk is a tour through the world of women’s woo. There’s probably more of it than you realise, and it’s often weirder than you expect. There are the obvious ones which are skewed towards women, but technically gender-neutral, such as essential oils, naturopathy, psychics, mediums, etc, which generally have more female customers than male, but not necessarily by design. In this talk, you’ll hear about nonsense therapies and treatments that most of the men here will never have heard about, and probably a fair few women will learn something new too.

Trish Hann is a Clinical Educator in Diagnostic Radiology at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, and Vice President of the Australian Skeptics. She has a keen interest in empowerment through information and a particular focus on women’s woo. Before moving to Australia she was a co-founder of Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub and a regular attendee at many of the UK’s various Skeptical events.

This event will contain content that may not be suitable for small children.

Dinner will follow the lecture (venue TBC). To RSVP for the dinner please email canberraskeptics@gmail.com.

Canberra Skeptics Inc. is a non-profit association incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory for the purpose of promoting critical thinking.

For further information about Canberra Skeptics, please visit our website: http://www.canberraskeptics.org

Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CanberraSkeptics/

Twitter: @cbrskeptics

Event announcements:

Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/en-AU/SocialSkepticsCanberra/

Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com.au/o/canberra-skeptics-18628458762

This Inspiring Australia initiative is supported by the Australian Government as part of National Science Week

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