Griffith University Skeptics and Freethinkers

Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

“Why waste your time at gatherings of like-minded skeptics when you could be engaging with people who might actually benefit from what you have to say?”

In Discrimination, Ethics in Schools, GUSSF Events!, Helping our community., Responses to the media, Science, TAM Australia on October 27, 2010 at 5:13 PM

Why not do both?

The following (rant) was written in response to this posting by Alom Shaha on the Guardian Science Blog, and so without first reading Mr Shaha’s article, my response may make little to no sense although I’ll let you be the judge.

Alom,
Where does this plainly false dichotomy come from?

Have you considered that perhaps time spent at gatherings of like-minded skeptics is not a waste of time, or rather has the potential to not be, or that perhaps not all Skeptics in the Pub events are alike?

Have you considered that perhaps the time spent at such events does not equate to time not spent engaging with “the public”, particularly when such events are open, welcoming and/or even appreciated by the public?

Have you considered that I do not self describe as a ‘Skeptic” because I want to show off that I’m super smart and rational (the former couldn’t be further for the truth while the latter is an aim, not a guarantee due to my all too human brain).

I organise a Skeptics in the pub event that does not have a guest speaker as such, but is more of a round table discussion of recent news, activities, tactics, anecdotes, jokes and social drinking.

I assist in other Skeptics in the Pub events that host speakers from an impressively wide range of fields and specialties have extensive and sometimes heated Q & A’s after, and at not one of these events have I left the talk having not learned something new.

I definitely enjoy a few pints at each, but never have I gone home with ‘beliefs’ in how smart and rational I am confirmed or denied, rather I feel the satisfaction of learning something new and anticipate the further questions all new knowledge raises. The more I learn the more there is to learn, as I’m sure you can appreciate.

We have had “celebrities” at our events, such at Professor Ian Frazer, past Australian of the year and creator of the HPV vaccine speaking on the history of opposition to vaccination. I should point out that our events are open to and advertised to and for the public to attend, are informative, educating and entertaining events that would not exist were it not for the dedicated skeptics that volunteer to organize them.

Here in Australia we have one conference per year and this year we are fortunate enough to be hosting TAM Australia in conjunction with the Australian Skeptics Annual convention, and I am greatly looking forward to the talks of every single speaker, not to bolster my own ‘beliefs’ but to learn and share ideas. Between the lectures, I’ll be helping to manage a Freethought University Alliance stall that is being provided free of charge by the organizers of TAM Australia.

In comparing any event/conference/convention to a church, I do not understand what your goal may be or what you believe is achieved by the comparison?

May I humbly suggest that the divisive, misguided and cruel “Skeptic baiting” you refer to is based entirely on your own assumptions and generalizations, is a slap in the face of all the people who have worked bloody hard to organise such events, and is as far from constructive criticism as you can get.

If you see a genuine failure of the UK skeptic movement to fully engage with audiences which might really benefit from being exposed to the kind of ideas about critical thinking that skeptics espouse, don’t insult and complain about the very people to whom you are trying to get your message across!

Isn’t the “skeptic movement” achieving definite and quantifiable results through achievements world wide, growth, and recognition internationally both within our community as well as externally through both the internet and traditional media. Our internal publics are growing, but our external publics are far from forgotten and are actually in some cases aware of our existence.

You met a skeptic who held what I would consider a racist attitude, and you’re not alone in thinking that people from ethnic minorities are under-represented in skeptic groups, however I don’t understand the relevance of these important issues to the “skeptic baiting” proceeding it. You say you “had to bite your tongue’ but the reality is you choose to bite your tongue in response to an ignorant statement that happened to be made by an individual at a Skeptical event. That was your choice, not the one I would have made, and the venue where this discussion took place is irrelevant as I’m sure you must know. Unless you are attempting to imply some sort of implicit or explicit racism within either critical thinking or scientific skepticism, I fail to see your point, assuming of course that there was one.

Every Skeptic event I have hosted, helped with and/or attended has been nothing if not inclusive. I have had members of my university group from all nationalities, ethnicities and backgrounds, but I’ve never considered this as an issue, rather I was pleased to have attendees at all and all our members were pleased to have a venue to speak freely, to discuss, to debate and to share knowledge as equals.
Skepticism (with a K to denote it as scientific skepticism rather than philosophical skepticism) is many things to many people. To me it has become evidence based social justice, activism, investigation, science communication and education, promotion of critical thinking, consumer advocacy and above all a methodological and informed way of thinking based on logic, reason and the scientific method.

Advocacy of quality science education and critical thinking programs in schools is not the exclusive domain of the Skeptical community although I’m sure the majority of members of said community support the application, assessment and improvement of both. For the reasons outlined in Daniel Loxton’s “Where Do We Go From Here” essay, I believe it should not be our primary concern, rather one of many causes we can support.

“If you’re poor or if you’re from a strictly religious family, like many of my students are, then it’s likely that school is the only place you might ever get to listen to and engage with someone like Richard Dawkins in person. So, instead of getting these brilliant people to go and talk in pubs or at conferences, where everybody already knows what they’re going to say, why not get them into schools where they might inspire a new generation of skeptics?”

This assertion that Skeptics in the Pub events are somehow detrimental to school children’s education is patently absurd. As I mentioned, I for one don’t arrogantly assume I know exactly what the speaker at such events is going to say, nor do I believe that holding open, public events aimed at educating members of skeptical groups as well as the wider public is somehow taking away opportunities from school children.
I share your admiration in

“the good work that many skeptics do, for example when they challenge the false advertising of “alternative” medicine and the inappropriate use of NHS funds, and expose the charlatans who make money by lying to the bereaved and desperate.”

However failing to acknowledge that Skeptics in the Pub events serve many functions that aid in creating and strengthening the communities that can co-ordinate to perform “good work” is a massive failing on your part. If you want to be involved, be involved, if you don’t, don’t, but if you really want to influence this movement then lead by example and do it from the inside, starting with self-criticism, a dash of humility and perhaps a helpful suggestion or two, otherwise your petty venting will appear to be just that.

Jayson D Cooke

Evolution vs. Creationism on ABC Southern Queensland

In Creationism/ Intelligent Design, Ethics in Schools, GUSSF Events!, Helping our community., Responses to the media, Science on October 20, 2010 at 11:43 AM

Yesterday an on air discussion was held between ABC Southern Queensland Morning presenter Robert Blackmore, Creation Ministries International’s Dr Don Batten and myself.

The topic was ‘Creation vs. Evolution’ with particular focus on The University of Southern Queensland’s recent decision to cancel a seminar based around this very topic at their Fraser Coast Campus.

The reason I was invited to participate was the letter I sent to academics and staff of the University of Southern Queensland informing them that a CMI event was to take place with what appeared for all intents and purposes to be support and endorsement of USQ.

Over the course of the interview it became apparent that I was being accused of stifling free speech or in someway being undemocratic in voicing my concerns.

As the letter in question clearly states, my concerns were as follows;

• CMI are a religious organisation, not a scientific one, and while their membership does include some scientists, the organisation they represent has no standing in the scientific community and their stated goals are far from the advancement of the scientific enterprise.

• The primary aim of CMI is to promote its particular version of Young Earth Creationism and to undermine the theory of evolution wherever and whenever possible.

• That USQ appeared to be giving implicit endorsement to CMI allowing and encouraging them to distort, misuse and misapply science, to pursue a religious agenda that is both divisive and not representative of mainstream Theology.

Rather than offer my opinions alone, I provided a quotation from former Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane and Governor General of Australia, Peter Hollingworth, in which he stated that growing numbers of theologians and many other thoughtful Christians have found that there is no inevitable conflict between evolutionary theory and the belief that God created and continues with the creation of His universe. I also provided 19 position statements from premier scientific academies and organizations globally, none of which I hold any association with.

Dr Batten advised listeners that my assertion in the letter that

“neither of the speakers advertised have any professional credentials in Biology, Evolutionary Biology or Theology”

was untrue, yet on the CMI website, Dr Batten’s qualifications are listed as:
• 1969–72: B.Sc.Agr.(First Class Honours)—University of Sydney
• 1973–76: Ph.D.—University of Sydney, Department of Agronomy and Horticultural Science.
Thesis: Induction of adventitious root formation in mung bean (Vigna radiata (L.) Wilczek)

While his co-speaker at the event, Dr Tas Walker has the following qualifications listed:
• Bachelor of Engineering with first class honours (University of Queensland)
• Doctorate in mechanical engineering (U of Qld)
• Bachelor of Science majoring in Earth Science, followed by First Class Honours in 1998 (U of Qld)

So it is true that I could have been clearer that Dr Batten has studied specific aspects of plant biology, I was taking a broader view of biology. In hindsight I should have written:

“It may concern you to know that neither of the speakers advertised have any professional credentials in Evolutionary Biology or Theology. While Dr Batten has studied and consequently researched specific aspects of plant biology, his work with CMI extends beyond his professional specialization.”

It’s also important to note that at no time over the course of the interview did Dr Batten advise listeners that the event was still going ahead, now in the more appropriate venue of Fraser Coast Baptist Church. I encourage readers to inquire of Dr Batten himself why this seemingly important detail was emitted.

Despite the somewhat ironic labeling of a member of the public voicing legitimate concern in the form of a letter “un-democratic”, of equal concern was the uncritical acceptance of the tactic:

“Teach the controversy”

As has been written many times time before, equivalent arguments can and have been made by other fringe groups such as Holocaust deniers, Aids deniers, Flat Earth proponents, Anti-vaccination groups such as the Australian Vaccination Network, the list goes on. What all these groups have in common with Evolution deniers is that they do not work within scientific channels, using recognized scientific methods to accumulate evidence, make predictions or provide any testable and/or falsifiable hypothesis.

In other words they don’t ‘do’ science and any claim that despite lacking these essential attributes of any scientific enterprise, proponents of such fringe groups are performing ‘science’, is simply false.

In Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, a six week trial in which it was established that teaching “Intelligent Design”(a re-branding of Creationism), constituted teaching religion in public schools, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones ruled that what Dr Batten refers to as ‘science’;

“violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation”; it relies on “flawed and illogical” arguments; and its attacks on evolution “have been refuted by the scientific community.”

Judge Jones, himself a man of faith and churchgoer also stated:

“It is ironic that several of these individuals, who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the ID Policy.”

Judge Jones ruling matches my own thoughts on this issue and is mentioned for being established on the best available evidence.

I do not ‘believe’ in evolution as much as I accept the overwhelming evidence from an overwhelmingly diverse range of disciplines, all confirming the scientific validity of evolution by natural selection.

It is for this very reason alone that I and the overwhelming majority of experts do not accept CMI’s brand of pseudoscience, not due to any atheistic agenda as Dr Batten states during the interview.

Jayson D Cooke

Griffith University Skeptics and Freethinkers

The NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing revokes the anti-vaccination group AVN’s charitable status:

In Helping our community., Human Rights, Responses to the media, Science, Superheroes, TAM Australia on October 14, 2010 at 5:12 PM

Just hours ago the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) president Meryl Dorey issued a media release advising that the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) are revoking the AVN’s charitable status as of Wednesday, October 20th 2010.

The media statement claims to reproduce the reasons listed by the OLGR, yet curiously the reproduction seen below does not seem complete,

(a) that any fundraising appeal conducted by the holder of the authority has not been conducted in good faith for charitable purposes
The Organisation has failed to publish a disclaimer on its website as
recommended by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC).
This has resulted in an unacceptable risk of potential donors to the
Organisation being misled when making a decision whether or not to
make a donation, which has led to appeals not being conducted in good
faith.

(c) that any fundraising appeal conducted by virtue of the authority has been improperly administered

The Organisation’s website is misleading in that it may lead people
making donations to believe that they are donating to a cause which
promotes vaccination whereas the Organisation adopts an anti-vaccination
position. When requested by the HCCC to publish a disclaimer on its website the Organisation failed to do so.

(f) in the public interest, the authority should be revoked.

The failure of the Organisation to comply with the HCCC recommendation resulted in the Commission publishing a Public Warning on 26 July 2010 advising that this failure “poses a risk to public health and safety”. In this circumstance it is in the public interest to not permit the Organisation to conduct fund raising appeals under the Act.

Unfortunately the full list of reasons (including those numbered b, d, and e) are not yet publicly available, but it’s not unreasonable to surmise they contain information the AVN have decided not to disclose for a reason.

It’s also not unreasonable to consider 2010 to be the most successful year for organised “skeptical activism” in history with overwhelmingly positive results.

The attention given to the AVN’s misleading, deceptive and dangerous claims and activities has been inspirational to say the least. Many the world over who share our concern for the dangers inherent in the dissemination of patently false pseudoscience, have new examples of skeptical activism at work, examples that show that there is always something we can do to help inform, educate and protect those most vulnerable, in addition to traditional skeptical activities.

Each and every one of you are heroes, candles in the dark.
From the extraordinarily brave and resilient parents of Pertussis victim Dana McCaffery, Ken McLeod and fellow Stop the AVN Group Members , Peter Bowditch, the Australian Skeptics Inc , Kylie Sturgess, Dr Rachael Dunlop, ABC journalist Steve Cannane, and here, Luke Weston and the Young Australian Skeptics, Sean the Blogonaut, Jason Brown, Mia Freedman, Dick Smith,the Skeptic Zone team, Dan Buzzard, and the many contributors and editors of the AVN Wikipedia entry.

The tremendous dangers that the misinformation and ignorance spouted by this group caused are incalculable, but without a doubt your individual and collective contributions will save lives.

Australia owes you a debt of gratitude for your hard work, persistant investigation, and determination to inform the public, media and regulatory bodies of what what the AVN is,does and stands for.

If there is anyone I have missed please do let me know and I will edit this page as soon as I’m made aware.

Jayson D Cooke

Climate ‘Sceptics’ contributed nothing but confusion and annoyance to Skeptics and the public.

In Creationism/ Intelligent Design, GUSSF Events!, Helping our community., Science, Uncategorized on October 13, 2010 at 1:40 AM

I was fortunate enough to attend a talk by Professor Tim Flannery tonight, hosted by my local public library. The only downside to a great presentation launching Professor Flannery’s latest book “Here On Earth“, were a couple of rude, incoherent  climate ‘sceptics’. During the Q and A following the presentation, they drew attention to themselves by raising their voices unnecessarily, not relinquishing the microphone and speaking over the top of other audience members as well as the guest speaker.

When my time came to ask a question and I introduced myself as a representative of the Griffith University Skeptics and Freethinkers, many in the audience groaned and it was clear visibly and audibly that they were wary of more of the same rudeness and intolerance.

I calmly explained that in my opinion the evidence supporting human caused climate change was overwhelming and freely available to anyone willing to look, however my question related to the social habits of certain ant species (namely democratic process in some Ant colonies, you really had to be there). I hope at least some of the large audience now have less cause to equate the term “skeptic” with rude, flailing, oddball denier, but I know with certainty that I tried to get this point across.

I point this out because the embarrassing ‘sceptics’ in the audience were clearly not looking to evaluate evidence or discuss findings; they seemed to just want to be heard and to be believed/correct, regardless of the answers given. The evidence for human caused climate change, is there to be evaluated, accepting it or dismissing it is each of our prerogatives, as is establishing personal standards of proof, however what was witnessed tonight was just the latest in a long line of noise masquerading (transparently this time) as real scientific debate.

It is incorrect that there are two sides of a scientific controversy regarding the validity of Climate Change and/or Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). There are the overwhelming majority of the scientists in the field who are gathering, analysing and verifying evidence, publishing their research in peer reviewed journals and getting on with their work. They are sharply contrasted with the fringe groups that contribute nothing more than empty rhetoric, threats and denial.

I believe the same rejection of evidence applies within the AGW denial community as does it does with those who deny the evidence that dinosaurs became extinct millions of years before humans existed. There are strong evidential reasons to accept the science in both cases, and in both cases it is being illogically overlooked, ignored, mocked and derided by those whose ideological agenda permits if not demands such behavior.

Now to be really, clear I do not mean every single person who harbors questions and/or doubts (AGW agnostics for instance). I mean the loud public voices of dissent like Ian Plimer and those who cherry pick the research rather than actually following the many converging lines of evidence, from diverse and varied fields, diverse and varied institutions and diverse and varied scientists.

For example it’s really worth checking out the great resources NASA has available here, here,
and for more details and the most up to the minute data, here.
Some good detail on the A in AGW can be found here.

On face value I understand people’s reluctance to put stock in scientific consensus, knowing full well that science while being many things, is not a democratic process. Therefore it’s easy to reject a consensus as something put forward in lieu of evidence, but there would need to be evidence in favor of the assumption that this was indeed what was occurring too!

The very idea of a scientific consensus being supplied to the media and governments to the world is unusual and I can only recall one other time that it has been deemed necessary by the academies of science to issue such a thing; in defense of science from Creation Science and ID. The scientific community in general is not accustomed to having to engage in political public debate, rather expecting the evidence to speak for itself.

The idea of a consensus did not impress me at all, until I considered what it actually was and meant in this case. That these organisations and individuals in the tens of thousands are willing to stake their academic reputations on this topic, what could possibly compel them to do that?

For instance the 2005 position statement from the National Academy of Sciences begins

“Climate Change is real”

and is endorsed by no less than the National Academy of Sciences, United States of America (obviously), the Chinese Academy of Sciences-China, the Royal Society-United Kingdom, the Russian Academy of Sciences-Russia, the Academia Brasiliera de Ciências- Brazil, the Royal Society of Canada-Canada, Academié des Sciences-France, Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher-Germany, Indian National Science Academy-India, Accademia dei Lincei-Italy and the Science Council of Japan.

Not to be outdone, the Royal Society (UK) released a statement declaring

“The work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) represents the consensus of the international scientific community on climate change science. We recognise IPCC as the world’s most reliable source of information on climate change and its causes”.

This one was endorsed by Australian Academy of Sciences, Royal Flemish Academy of Belgium for Sciences and the Arts, Brazilian Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of Canada, Caribbean Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, German Academy of Natural Scientists : Leopoldina, Indian National Science Academy, the Indonesian Academy of Sciences, Royal Irish Academy, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Italy), Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Academy Council of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and of course the Royal Society (UK).

Of course this in no-way counts as evidence on its own, it merely represents an overwhelming certainty amongst the best and brightest scientific minds of all time.

As we all know the gold standard of scientific credibility is the peer review journal.
Now if there was a genuine (by which I mean verifiable, evidence based) rejection of the vast evidence for AGW, peer reviewed journals would be where this would take place right?

While I didn’t have time to trawl through a database search myself, Naomi Oreskes from the Department of History and Science Studies Program, University of California at San Diego did!
Naomi performed an ISI database search with the keyword phrase “global climate change” and surveyed the abstracts she found that had been published between 1993 and 2003 in refereed scientific journals.
She then divided the 928 papers she found into six categories:

1. Explicit endorsement of the consensus position (Earth’s climate is being affected by human activities)

2. Evaluation of impacts

3. Mitigation proposals

4. Methods

5. Paleoclimate analysis

6. Rejection of the consensus position (Earth’s climate is being affected by human activities)

Naomi found that none of the papers fell into the last category while 75% fell into the first three. I should also point out that the start date of the analysis was prior to the 1995 IPCC report, let alone the more recent IPCC reports.

I can’t recommend highly enough this excellent talk given by Peter Ellerton (winner of the 2008 Australian Skeptics prize for Critical Thinking) on the Climate Change debate. You’re encouraged to examine the way in which the debate is being run and scrutinise your own convictions as to why you may have taken the position you hold, if any!

Personally I would much prefer Climate Change and AGW to be an error, a hoax, a conspiracy, or any one of the mundane explanations put forward by others that would also prefer it not to be true, however I’m unable to be intellectually honest and do that on the balance of the copious evidence available.  As the Australian Skeptics position statement on “climate change skeptics” says:

It has always been the Australian Skeptics’ position that people should make up their minds based on the evidence. This position becomes even more important when what should be a completely scientific issue is used by politically-motivated groups to further their causes, often in the face of contradictory evidence.

People who are not experts in fields related to climate science should seek the best available evidence, as judged by those who are experts in relevant fields. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, not everyone is entitled to be taken seriously. On the very important and very complex questions of climate change and its causes, only the carefully formed opinions of relevantly qualified experts should be taken seriously.

As in all fields of science, expertise emerges out of experience and through the peer-review process, not through media appearances or political connections.

Jayson D Cooke

A Current Affair, Today Tonight and Skeptical Activism.

In GUSSF Events!, Helping our community., Responses to the media, Uncategorized on October 10, 2010 at 7:27 AM

The question of whether we as Skeptics should utilise television programs such as A Current Affair and Today Tonight as a medium for investigations and/or consumer advocacy has recently arisen.

While I personally only watch these shows for a laugh, jokingly referring to them as “news”, the reality is that they each draw a more than significant share of Australia’s viewing public.

The bottom line for me then is that they will continue to exist, being viewed by millions of people, whether they run the occasional story we agree with, collaborate on, and or get a mention in, or not.

For me what is comes down to is getting our message of consumer advocacy, an often over looked and/or under recognized part of skeptical activism, to a wider audience. Potentially the very audience that is most likely to benefit from such stories.

This will never stop me personally from criticizing such shows when I deem it necessary, as many can attest I do ad nauseum, let alone encouraging others to do so. Not coincidently my favorite Australian television show has for years been Media Watch (which is itself not immune to criticism, no sacred cows and all that).

Advocacy groups and their reps including but not limited to CHOICE’s  Christopher Zinn, take advantage of the outreach opportunity such shows provide, and I have to agree that the potential for positive outcomes through utilising such mediums outweighs the discomfort.

Unfortunately as viewers of the programs will readily attest, the opportunity for free publicity and promotion combined with often credulous reporting can and often does result in the promotion of products and claims that are unproven, disproven and/or are ineffective at best. To me this is all the more reason to be vigilant, to maximize any opportunity to educate and inform both journalists and the public of evidentiary standards, scientific testing as well as to try and combat the negative stereotypes that skeptics often face.

The following is taken from an article on the great resource for emerging journalists (emerging from what I don’t want to know), UPSTART sums it up for me.

“Do you have a service or product to sell and need to get the word out, but only have a miniscule advertising budget?
You may think that your options are limited to taking out a small display ad in the local community newspaper.
That may be so, but, what if there was another way; a way for you to reach a national prime time television audience with your product or service?
Sounds farfetched doesn’t it? But there is such a way. It’s called A Current Affair and it’s in Channel 9 every weeknight.”

Jayson D Cooke

Related Posts:

PodBlack Cat:

The ‘Child Psychic’ – Dr Krissy Wilson Speaks Out On Today Tonight.

The Sceptics’ Book of Pooh Pooh:

Quack fined $12,000; ordered to stop selling fake cancer treatment.

PodBlack Cat:

Loretta Marron, Health Hero, On Australia’s A Current Affair

When there’s cons and scams in your neighborhood, who you gonna call? SCAMwatch!

In Helping our community., Human Rights, Responses to the media, Science on October 7, 2010 at 11:53 AM

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has a great online resource aptly named SCAM Watch, providing awareness of what to look out for in terms of common scams, cons and deceptions. Their website also advises where to turn if you or someone you know falls victim to such unscrupulous trickery.

Please let the authorities know through the report a scam section of SCAMwatch. You can also lodge complaints about miracle cure advertisements with the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Many victims feel embarrassed and so do not report such activities, but remember, if you don’t report it, others will also suffer the same fate if not worse.

If you or someone you know has had contact with what may be perceived a dubious practices along these lines, let us at the Griffith Skeptics and Freethinkers know, and we’ll endeavor to do all we can to help.

Jayson D Cooke

Griffith Uni student defends Bond University from disgruntled 1st year Bond student.

In Discrimination, Equality, Ethics in Schools, Responses to the media on October 6, 2010 at 7:20 AM

Sometimes the rivalries between closely situated Universities has to be overlooked (however briefly).

This article published in Bond University’s Scope Magazine has now been picked up by the mainstream media.

I couldn’t help but respond:

Hi Lauren,

While I am a student of Griffith University (Gold Coast and Nathan campuses), many of my closest friends are graduates of Bond University and not surprisingly do not fit the caricature you are clumsily attempting to promulgate.

Your first paragraph is meaningless without proper contextual reference points, and the remainder of your article appears to be nothing more than the crude, rude and extremely petty ad hominum attacks of the last kid picked for the team.

I have to ask, what is your basis of comparison here exactly? It doesn’t sound like you have studied at of Bond for long, but what other tertiary institutions have you attended? By the same token, how long have you been a resident of the Gold Coast?

Having spent the majority of my 30 years on this planet living on the Gold Coast, I can assure you that your description of Surfers Paradise at night sounds accurate to me, but Jupiter’s Casino and Surfers Paradise are not solely frequented by Bond students, as surely you must realise.

“Two diametrically opposed absolutes face each other at Bond-Drinking in Excess, or being a social outcast.”

This is clearly a false dichotomy that smacks of excuse making to me. As your diatribe suggests that you do not drink in excess, your logic dictates that you must be a social outcast. Is it possible this may be for reasons not related to alcohol and/or “Bondie” culture?

Your surprise at what you refer to as “the constant slander of Griffith University” further suggests your inexperience with higher education institutions. I would be very surprised if there was a University in Australia that did not engage in the same behavior you call slander, particularly aimed at institutions closely situated geographically. I’m not justifying or lending credence to it, but it is far from exclusively a Bond phenomenon.

Also what possible bearing does the name of the University have on its merit?

You suggest that others who may feel disillusioned by what you refer to as a “Bondie culture’ should join a club that doesn’t revolve around drinking; I’d suggest you check out the forty one clubs on offer (as well as your Christian group). That is unless the Cycling club, Badminton Club, Capoeira Club, Field Hockey Club, Horse Riding Club, Kung Fu Club, and all the others actually do revolve around drinking, which is something I would pay money to watch!

“when is joining the Christian group the worst thing possible to do? Since I enrolled at Bond University so it seems.”

Read a history book or even your own Bible and I’m sure you’ll find that less self righteous, sanctimonious and bitter folk than yourself who professed to be Christians, were persecuted more than you have been, and you may be surprised to discover it was before Bond University existed.

Jayson D Cooke

Queensland Skeptics President Bob Bruce joins the “Paranormal Panel” tonight!

In Helping our community., Responses to the media, Science, Uncategorized on October 5, 2010 at 8:11 PM

Qskeptics President Bob Bruce is a regular voice of reason on Radio 4BC 116’s Paranormal Panel.

The show has featured topics as varied as Ouija boards, the Azaria Chamberlain case, ghost-busting, psychics and conspiracy theories, and the list of topics will never be exhausted.

The show is streamed live each and every Tuesday Night from 9pm Australian EST and audience participation is appreciated!Bob is not surprisingly outnumbered more often than not, so feel free to interact on 131332 or (07) 3908 8800 if outside of Queensland.

The Amazing Meeting Australia: You may not have missed out just yet!

In GUSSF Events!, Science, TAM Australia, Uncategorized on October 4, 2010 at 4:42 PM

For those that were unable to secure a ticket to the inaugural TAM Australia event to be held from November 26-28 this year in Sydney, you may be in luck as it’s been announced that a small number of additional full-priced ($445) tickets will be made available very soon!

Due to the high demand, the tickets will be allocated by lottery. Applicants will need to send an email using this link by midnight Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time on the 8th of October. The organizers ask that all details be provided and the lottery will take place by the 15th of October. One ticket will be allocated to each winning application with winners to be notified promptly as they will need to pay in full within two business days.

Any tickets not paid for after that time will be reallocated so make sure you get in quick.

Just in case you are not aware of the stellar line up, here are some of the many speakers/attendees:

Steve Cannane – multi award winning journalist with ABC TV

Nicholas Cowdery, QC – NSW Director of Public Prosecutions

Dr Rachael Dunlop – reporter on The Skeptic Zone, medical researcher, winner of the 2010 Shorty Award for Health and Australian Skeptics Inc vice president

Brian Dunning– science journalist and host and producer of the podcast Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena

D.J. Grothe – writer, public speaker and president of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF)

George Hrab – musician, author and podcaster on the Geologic Universe

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki – scientist, broadcaster and prolific author of books on science real and bogus, past Skeptic of the Year

Catharine Lumby – the Director of the Journalism and Media Research at the University of NSW, author of seven books and numerous book chapters and journal articles

Loretta Marron – premier investigator of cancer cures and past Skeptic of the Year

Dr Rob Morrison – Professorial Fellow at Flinders University and noted science communicator and award winning presenter (including the Order of Australia)

Julian Morrow – co-founder of the Chaser and now part of the Chaser creative team and its Managing Director

James Randi – the Amazing Randi is the number-one icon of the Skeptical movement in the world – co-founder of CSICOP, and founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation, researcher, investigator and magician, Randi’s reputation for Skeptical thinking and action are second to none

Dr Eugenie Scott – physical anthropologist and executive director of the National Center for Science Education

Dr Simon Singh – scientist, author and campaigner against bogus medical treatments

The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe – the entire crew:
Dr Steve Novella – academic neurologist at Yale University and president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society
Bob Novella – co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society
Rebecca Watson – founder of Skepchick
Evan Bernstein – television production specialist and technical adviser for official New England Skeptical Society investigations
Jay Novella – skeptical satirist who also creates and maintains the internet technology for NESS and SGU.

Dick Smith – business man, philanthropist, aviator, CSI fellow and co-founder of Australian Skeptics

John Smyrk – management consultant and management lecturer at ANU

Simon Taylor – award winning illusionist

Dr Fred Watson – astronomer-in-charge of the Anglo Australian Observatory in Coonabarabran and internationally-noted and awarded science communicator

Dr Paul Willis – paleontologist and host of Catalyst on ABC television

Dr Krissy Wilson – psychologist, entertainer, cricket fanatic and a member of the Australian Skeptics Inc committee.

Oh and I’ll be there with a contingent of Queensland’s best and brightest, attempting to attend as many of the official and unofficial ‘side events‘ as possible. I’ve already committed to the Skeptics Open Mic night so please keep in mind I am willing to exchange congenial ‘high five’s” for each beverage purchased on my behalf.

Jayson D Cooke