Featured Guest: Chris French
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
Gary Bakker is a clinical psychologist in private practice and a Clinical Lecturer with the University of Tasmania. He has been obsessed with evidence-based assessment and psychotherapy for 38 years. He has been skeptical in print and on the dais about psychotherapy fads, the psychology of God, psychoanalysis, psychics, psychokinesis,..... He is a psychoskeptic. (Not a psycho skeptic.)
Gary's books, journal and magazine articles, workshops, and presentations have ranged from hardcore clinical psychological to mainstream skeptical and all points between. His most recent is 'God: A psychological assessment'.
Ian obtained degrees in physics and engineering at Monash University. As an aerospace engineer, he developed complex methodologies for analyzing rocket flights and weapons tests. He created courses and lectured in aerospace engineering at five universities.
Ian has been on the Australian Skeptics committee since 1980, and is a life member. He coordinates The Skeptics’ $100,000 Prize for evidence of a phenomenon lying outside known science. As Chief Investigator, he has reported on many claims of a scientific nature.
Recently Ian has turned the tools of science to the Big Questions facing humanity, such as morality. He is a NSW Ethics teacher, VP of the Secular Party, and on the Humanists committee.
Dr Craig Cormick is a science communicator and award-winning author. He has travelled to all seven continents as a science communicator and is a regular commentator at conferences on public attitudes towards new technologies. He has published fiction and non-fiction books on topics including history, Antarctica and speculative fiction. His writing awards include the ACT Book of the Year and a Queensland Premier's Literary Award.
Rachael Dunlop PhD FSB is a campaigner for science-based medicine in Australia, with a special interest in refuting the claims of the anti-vaccination movement. In her day job, she works as a medical researcher with an interest in motor neurone disease, in particular the role of blue green algae in triggering ALS/MND.
Rachael is a reporter for The Skeptic Zone Podcast and blogs at the Skeptics Book of Pooh Pooh and tweets @DrRachie. She is also a vice president of the Australian Skeptics, and a member of Mystery Investigators science show for children. Her writings on the Australian anti-vaccination movement and alternative medicine have appeared in Fairfax newspapers, Mamamia, Australasian Science, Australian Doctor and the US based blog, Science Based Medicine, amongst others. She has also appeared on The Project, The Drum and Mamamia TV. In 2010, Rachael won the Shorty Award in the Health category for the most interesting health and science information on Twitter. As an ex-graphic designer and copywriter, Rachael enjoys combining her love of science, art and social media as a means of communicating science to the public.
Dr John Golder MB BS FRACGP is a partner in an eleven doctor general practice in Cleveland in S.E. Queensland. Over the past 35 years he has developed a special interest in treating children with enuresis [bedwetting ]. He has written several articles and spoken on community radio and TV in an attempt to dispel the myths that surround this subject, to steer parents away from the alternative medicine brigade, [especially chiropractors! ] and to offer an evidence based cure.
Chris Guest saw his first Australian Skeptics convention in Canberra in 2003. He has been an active member of the Victorian Branch for the past eight years, promoting critical thinking, lobbying governments and using a little consumer advocacy to get the woo off the shelves of some retailers who should know better.
Educated in Mathematics and Philosophy, Chris spends his days coding for his reptoid masters in the fast food industry.
Eran Segev is the Immediate Past President of Australian Skeptics Inc., a team member of the Skeptic Zone podcast, a regular contributor to the Skeptic Magazine, and a public speaker on matters relating to science, skepticism and critical thinking. To pay the bills, Eran works as a senior manager in an IT company. Eran’s main areas of interest in skepticism autism, due to his close personal experience with it and with the quackery that surrounds it ; and education, which he sees as the main driver of change for good in the world. In particular, Eran thinks critical thinking is the core of good education and that children can – and should – easily be trained to think critically from a very young age.
Coran Stow is a regular skeptic who likes using business trips as an excuse to visit a new Skeptics in the Pub. He wanted to be scientist when he grew up, but found computers to be more fun. These days he likes to cheer science on from the sidelines. He has enjoyed a good conspiracy theory ever since discovering alt.conspiracy on Usenet back in his Uni days and has recently developed a habit of volunteering for things he hasn't fully thought through. As a scruffy, long-haired, baby-wearing father of four who has spent many years among 'alternative' parents, he harbours a special contempt for anti-vaccine activists.
Nick Ware worked for 40 years as an electron microscopist and microanalyst dealing mainly with research in the earth sciences. He was a member of Ted Ringwood’s team that developed the Synroc method for nuclear waste disposal and he was associated with several teams engaged in analysing the lunar rocks returned by the Apollo program. As curator of the meteorite collection at the ANU, and listed as such in the periodicals, he had to deal with a steady correspondence of earnest pseudo-science. He enjoys tracking down the origins of scientific woo-woo and specialises in its manifestation in the climate change debate.
Graham Wilson served 26 years in the Australian Regular Army, retiring in 1996 as a Warrant Officer Intelligence Analyst. Following five years as a civilian intelligence officer in the Department of Defence, he transferred to the Defence Department’s Directorate of Honours and Awards where he worked for 10 years in the support and policy areas.
Graham is active in a number of a number of historical and militaria societies, is a prolific author of historical articles and has received a number of awards for military history writing. Published in 2012, his book Bully Beef and Balderdash: Some Myths of the AIF Examined and Debunked, examines a number of aspects of history of the Australian Imperial Force, some well-known, some quite obscure, which are widely accepted as historically accurate but, when examined forensically, turn out not to be the case. Dust Donkeys and Delusions: The Myth of Simpson and the Donkey Exposed, tests perhaps the most well-known story of the AIF at Gallipoli and finds the story to be largely fabricated.
RiAus Director Dr Paul Willis is well-known as a science broadcaster with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, presenting and producing on ABC television science shows including Quantum and Catalyst. Recently Paul has narrated and appeared in the series Monster Bug Wars on SBS TV for Beyond Production.
Paul is passionate about informing, educating and amusing people of all ages and backgrounds about science and is keen to seize the opportunity to talk about science in a variety of public forums. He was rewarded for his passion in 2000 when he was joint recipient of the Eureka Prize for Science Communication.
Dr Willis brings a solid research career in vertebrate palaeontology to his work as a science communicator and now as Director of RiAus. He has produced many academic reports and papers, has authored or co-authored seven books on dinosaurs, rocks and fossils, and has written many popular science articles for a variety of publications.
Paul was the resident palaeontologist on seven Antarctic expeditions and brings this enthusiasm and keen sense of adventure to his role as Director of RiAus. He is ready and willing to engage with non- scientists and to stimulate community conversations about science, life, and everything.
Poet-In-Residence: Shelley Stocken
Brought up with a passion for words and very few aspirations, Shelley Stocken undertook a degree in English literature as a good excuse to read beautiful books. After a long and mostly exhausting stint in the music industry, she realised that writing for a living was what she wanted to do, and has spent most of her 14-year freelance career creating training programs for insurance companies, technical manuals for software developers and marketing copy for various clients.
Away from the day job, Shelley is a magazine columnist, blogger and social media tragic. She occupies a secluded part of the internet, writing rhyming verse with a skeptical flavour and a strong Australian accent.
Paul Berchtold is a qualified social worker specialising in supporting children and adults with intellectual and physical disabilities in the community. His interest in scepticism and researching paranormal beliefs stemmed from observing the alternative beliefs and new age health practices highly stressed families sometimes adopt in an effort to cope. These can sometimes have serious consequences. He has an honours degree in social work from the University of Sydney and is currently completing his psychology honours dissertation under the supervision of Dr Krissy Wilson at Charles Sturt University.
Peter is a writer, IT consultant, TAFE teacher, journalist and general all-round polymath. Despite degrees in psychology and business management he claims some knowledge of science and how it is done. He is a regular writer for several publications including Australasian Science, The Skeptic and some online outlets, including his own web site at Ratbags.com. As evidence of the breadth of his interests he has been taken to court by a cancer quack, a pyramid scheme operator and an anti-vaccination activist, all of whom were upset by hearing the truth about themselves. He has been on the committee of Australian Skeptics Inc for a long time and was even the President for a couple of years. Peter lives in the Blue Mountains, where he has to have food with gluten and GMOs in it delivered by anonymous white vans and has the only car in his street without a "Magic Happens" sticker.
Amanda Devaus is a member of Australian Skeptics, Canberra Skeptics and the Independent Investigation Group based in Los Angeles. Growing up around True Believers made her realise very early on she was a skeptic and a lover of the magic of science. She has been a skeptic ever since she could remember and has annoyed True Believers for just as long.
She was once an illuminati acolyte until a rather disturbing confrontation over who would fill the coffee machine at secret meetings. She currently splits her time between being a paid government shill working for Big Pharma and studying for a degree in criminology and counter-terrorism.
She is interested in the psychology of belief and is on a quest to discover why people get taken in by woo-woo. She believes in taking action and likes to attend psychic expos in an ongoing experiment to see how many tarot readers she can make cry by the end of the day.
Shane Greenup graduated from the University of NSW with a degree in Science, majoring in Molecular Biology (hons), and Arts, double majoring in Philosophy and the History and Philosophy of Science. After graduating he founded his own internet business and has been operating that and spending his time working on interesting projects ever since.
Shane founded rbutr early in 2012 and has dedicated his time ever since then to bringing rbutr to the world, and changing the internet from its current passive information delivery nature in to a system which teaches people how to be skeptical of the information they find online, and how to critically analyse that information.
Shane is a skeptic, a transhumanist, an entrepreneur, a lover of science and philosophy, an extreme sports enthusiast and a world traveler.
Ketan Joshi studied neuroscience and psychology at Sydney University, and has been a skeptic since his high school scripture teacher told him the universe came from a really big egg. He joined a renewable energy company in 2010 and helped establish a 24/7 operations and control centre for several wind farms across Australia. After working as an analyst for two years, Ketan now focuses on communicating accurate and scientifically defensible information about wind energy to the public, including examining and researching the recent phenomenon of claimed health effects from wind turbines, and the shadowy lobby groups that spread pseudoscience about renewable energy. He has written commentary on renewable energy issues for ABC environment, Climate Spectator and Renew Economy. He co-founded (and now co-curates) The Yeah Sessions, a Sydney-based talks night covering science, technology and art. He tweets @ArghJoshi and loves watching irate climate skeptics misspell his name.
Richard Saunders is best known as an international expert on skepticism and one of the stars of the top rating paranormal TV show "The ONE", where he takes the role as the 'Skeptical Judge'. He is a life member and President of Australian Skeptics Inc., a fellow of the Center for Inquiry USA, and a past judge for the 'Eureka Prizes', Australia's top science awards and a member of the world jury at the International Festival of Science Documentary Films 'Academia Film Olomouc' in the Czech Republic.
A podcaster since 2005, Richard is the producer and host of 'The Skeptic Zone' with thousands of listeners world-wide. He also produces science documentaries and TV shows, notably 'The Mighty Mitta Muster Water Divining Test' in 2002 and episodes of 'Theories of Everything' for community television. An author and origami expert with many books and 1 DVD published, he is also the creator of 'Origami Pigasus' for James Randi and enjoys being an amateur magician. Richard is also founding member of the 'Mystery Investigators' live science show for schools.
Patrick Stokes is lecturer in philosophy at Deakin University in Melbourne. He has previously held research positions in the UK, Denmark and the USA. His research interests include personal identity, moral psychology, the philosophy of death, immortality in the digital age, philosophy of religion, and the work of Søren Kierkegaard on whom he has published extensively. Stokes is a frequent contributor to The Conversation and Radio National, a media commentator on philosophical topics, and spends way too much time arguing with people on the internet.
Trystan Swale is a folklorist and host of Fortean Radio, a show examining anomalous events in the world around us. Skeptics may remember him though as the founder and host of the Righteous Indignation podcast.
Drawing from his lengthy past as a Fortean researcher and investigator, Trystan has engaged, angered, amused (and even been threatened by) audiences across the spectrum of beliefs: from hardcore paranormalists to fundamentalist non-believers. These include appearances at QED Con (2011), Seriously Strange (2012, booked for 2013) and various Skeptics in the Pub events. He has spoken on a range of subjects including 'ghosts and the people who hunt them', conspiracy theories, ufos, 'the art of the liar', birdmen, crop circles and, most recently, the Highgate Cemetery vampire.
Trystan will be speaking via video link.
Krissy Wilson completed her PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London. She emigrated to Australia in 2007 to take up a position at the University of Tasmania. Since 2011 she has been a psychology lecturer at Charles Sturt University and in 2012 she set up a new research unit, the Science of Anomalistic Phenomena (SOAP) at CSU, at the Albury-Wodonga campus. Her main areas of interest are in the psychology of belief, individual differences and belief in the paranormal and the creation of false memories. She has published her work in peer reviewed journals and is an award-winning presenter at national and international conferences. She appears regularly on both radio and television providing a sceptical view on a range of issues concerning belief in extraordinary phenomena.
Master of Ceremonies: Andrew Gould
Educated and raised in Canberra, Andrew's interest in conspiracies began when he joined the Illuminati in 1983. The son of a Freemason, he quickly rose through the ranks to become Esoteric Grand Master of the Order of Thor by his thirtieth birthday. Obsessed with the Law of Fives and the number 23, his secret activities are a matter of public record.
He is a regular poster on the James Randi Educational Foundational forum, the Skeptics Guide to the Universe forum and the Australasian Skeptics Forum, where he makes a habit of misrepresenting arguments, failing to support his assertions, and making single posts then not responding to the many legitimate questions these posts raise. The David Icke forum is just too crazy even for him.
Though he was born with a complete lack of fear of public speaking, he is not sure whether this is a blessing or a curse. He lives in fear of the day that the Men In Black come and take him away to an unknown fate.