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Get off that Armchair and Change the World! – Skeptical Activism in Action

By canberra_skeptics - 14 October 2011 14

Richard Saunders will give an overview of some of the recent success achieved by skeptical activism, including the downfall of the Power Balance company in Australia and the battle against the anti-vaccination movement. The talk will include a demonstration of the four major body tricks used by those selling magic bracelets that even fool the peddlers themselves. There may even be spoon bending!

Richard Saunders is a vice president and Life Member of Australian Skeptics, a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a co-founder of the Mystery Investigators science show. He is the host and producer of The Skeptic Zone podcast and appears regularly as a skeptical commentator on television and as ‘the skeptical judge’ on TV’s ‘The One’.  He is additionally known internationally as a children’s book author.

Dinner will follow the lecture (venue tbc).  To RSVP for dinner please email: mail@canberraskeptics.com.au

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

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14 Responses to
Get off that Armchair and Change the World! – Skeptical Activism in Action
I-filed 6:08 pm 14 Oct 11

While I endorse what this Richard guy stands for – I’m surprised at the focus on the kind of two-bit charlatinism that sucks in people who will never encounter the Skeptics Society’s bulletins. Instead of sad little showmen and Mrs Charnwood with her ouija board, how about targeting Big Pharma & Blackmores, and the multibillion dollar – and utterly useless – vitamin trade? And while you’re about it, if you have lies about health benefits front-of-mind, how about hassling the meat-industry-skewed and largely fallacious CSIRO diet? Or the CSIRO “barley super food” quackery and rip-off?

LootenPlunder 4:17 pm 14 Oct 11

I just don’t see the need to ram a particular message down kids’ throats. They’re kids… let them enjoy it. Whatever happened to simple books where the moral of the story is a relevant, applicable lesson like ‘don’t lie’, ‘don’t steal’… ‘don’t attempt to debate a point after midday on a Friday’. :\

Origami ones, meh… as long as it kept them occupied.

Gungahlin Al 2:53 pm 14 Oct 11

Nothing wrong with taking a sceptical look at what we are told by various vested interests and seeing what is actually true. A whole swathe of internet hoaxes would never keep going round and round if people just thought twice before accepting what they are told (PS: it must be time again for Mars to be so close that it will look bigger than the moon?)

I recommend taking a few minutes to listen to this guy expose some “bad science”: http://www.ted.com/talks/ben_goldacre_battling_bad_science.html

I think his best line is: “…it’s so easy to contrive. This is somebody called Dr. Gillian McKeith Ph.D, or, to give her full medical title, Gillian McKeith.” But it’s a great clip. Really gets you thinking.

I think some of the climate sceptics have given sceptics a bad name lately. But proper sceptics have been scathing about the claims made by the likes of Monkton et al: http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

Thoroughly Smashed 2:45 pm 14 Oct 11

Thoroughly Smashed said :

LootenPlunder said :

And I sure as s**t wouldn’t be reading this dude’s books to my (albeit hypothetical) kidlets.

I guess if you want to shelter your kids from ideas that would allow them to mentally separate fact from fiction, that’s your call.

Err… or origami?

Henry82 2:33 pm 14 Oct 11

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpLt0oUWfOk&t=0m50s

Shows the secret on how they work. Quite clever actually.

Thoroughly Smashed 2:24 pm 14 Oct 11

LootenPlunder said :

And I sure as s**t wouldn’t be reading this dude’s books to my (albeit hypothetical) kidlets.

I guess if you want to shelter your kids from ideas that would allow them to mentally separate fact from fiction, that’s your call.

Stevian 12:56 pm 14 Oct 11

LootenPlunder said :

.

And I sure as s**t wouldn’t be reading this dude’s books to my (albeit hypothetical) kidlets.

Why not?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Saunders_(skeptic)#Selected_bibliography
Seems like harmless fun to me. Admittedly I only own Horrorgami (how can you pass up a title like that).

LootenPlunder 12:39 pm 14 Oct 11

“Richard Saunders is a vice president and Life Member of Australian Skeptics, a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and a co-founder of the Mystery Investigators science show. He is the host and producer of The Skeptic Zone podcast and appears regularly as a skeptical commentator on television and as ‘the skeptical judge’ on TV’s ‘The One’. He is additionally known internationally as a children’s book author.”

Wait… what…!? Hmm… I’m skeptical about this.

And I sure as s**t wouldn’t be reading this dude’s books to my (albeit hypothetical) kidlets.

Thumper 12:21 pm 14 Oct 11

I already know what will was said….

Classified 12:02 pm 14 Oct 11

I’ll interstate, but I’ll astral travel in and hover for a bit.

rebcart 11:58 am 14 Oct 11

Grail said :

If the “body tricks” even fool the peddlers themselves, doesn’t that mean it’s working? Paint me skeptical here, but dismissing something as “placebo effect” doesn’t mean it’s not working, it just means you don’t understand the placebo effect.

The tricks used to convince people are exactly that, magician’s tricks (illusions, but used to con, not entertain), and physically done by the seller. The placebo effect happens after the item has been bought, and is done mentally by the purchaser alone. Two entirely separate and different events, usually with non-overlapping time frames.

Erg0 10:50 am 14 Oct 11

I can’t make the lecture, but I was curious to see what these tests actually were. The following page has a pretty good writeup, including a mention of a Today Tonight test which included the abovementioned Richard Saunders:

http://www.devicewatch.org/reports/power_balance.shtml

When you can’t even get your quackery a good run on TT, it might be time to pack it in…

Stevian 10:35 am 14 Oct 11

Grail said :

Though sadly Mondays are my regular Reiki night. I can’t take time out to attend a skeptics lecture.

Sarcasm, right? You had me going there for a second.

Grail 10:14 am 14 Oct 11

If the “body tricks” even fool the peddlers themselves, doesn’t that mean it’s working? Paint me skeptical here, but dismissing something as “placebo effect” doesn’t mean it’s not working, it just means you don’t understand the placebo effect.

I’ll follow these guys anywhere, even if only out of morbid curiosity.

Though sadly Mondays are my regular Reiki night. I can’t take time out to attend a skeptics lecture.

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