Darcy Cowan

Although Darcy has a keen interest in science,his base level of activity is vigorous procrastination. As such a career in academia was not for him. But he has had the good fortune to work at Hill Laboratories, an environmental testing laboratory, for over 10 years. A few years ago he became interested in advocating science and rationality beyond simply his small circle of friends, this started out as a short column in his workplace news letter. Later came a blog and that has lead him here. I hope that adding my voice to those gathered here will have an impact on how science is consumed in New Zealand and will help add to the number of interested and engaged individuals in our community.

The Importance of Not Being a Dick - Skepticon

Dec 02, 2014

Several years ago Phil Plait gave a talk at TAM that has become known as the “Don’t be a Dick” speech. There he was mainly talking about online skepticism and how to tailor our message so that it is effective rather than off-putting. In that talk the goal was better evangelising (for lack of a better term) skepticism so that the hearers of the message would be more receptive. With many of us celebrating holidays and gathering with loved ones in the coming weeks I want to make the same plea but narrow the focus to friends and family. How often do we run into a colleague, friend or family member whom we thought believed as we do but it turns out there’s this one thing they hold on to we can’t abide? … Read More

The Anti-Vax Group Formerly Known as AVN - Skepticon

Mar 11, 2014

Those in the loop may already know that the long awaited name change for the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN), the anti-vaccine mouth piece of Meryl Dorey, ordered in late 2012 has recently occurred. The new moniker for the group is Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network, I assume the hyphenation is present so that the group might reasonably continue [&hellip

Elves Stop Construction - Skepticon

Dec 24, 2013

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about Taniwha and whether their alleged presence should constitute a stop sign for construction projects. At the time I was responding to an article which proposed just that on the grounds that the Taniwha claims could represent indigenous knowledge of the area relevant to construction. I [&hellip

Vaccines Vs Pneumonia - Skepticon

Jul 29, 2013

One of the linchpins of the anti-vaccine movement is the attempt to muddy the issue with regard to vaccine efficacy. From this point various others follow; if vaccines are ineffective then large risks need not be shown – any risk at all makes being vaccinated an unwise choice. If vaccines do not perform their role [&hellip

It’s Not Robots, It’s You! - Skepticon

Jun 13, 2013

The above words were said by my not-quite-three-year-old son to his slightly bemused mother this morning. This exchange followed a conversation I had had with my son earlier while getting him dressed which went something like this: [a noise outside very much like a car door slamming] Son: What was that noise? Me: Sounds like [&hellip

The Scientific Method On TV - Skepticon

Apr 29, 2013

Last week Michael Edmonds asked “Which TV Show Best Demonstrates the Scientific Method?” Various shows where suggested such as CSI and NCIS. Bones made an appearance in the comments as one show that exhibits a fair amount of pseudoscience along with it’s “real” science. House was praised for it’s attention to hypothesis generation and testing. [&hellip

Science Literacy Test Initial Follow-up - Skepticon

Jan 23, 2013

Yesterday’s post about the Science Literacy test has gotten some good responses. Thought I’d put up a couple of initial thoughts/feed-back on the testing: First off it’s becoming clear that some of the questions are ambiguously worded. This is especially obvious in the results for questions 12 and 14. Question 12, looking at categorizing sources, [&hellip

Test your Science Literacy Skills - Skepticon

Jan 22, 2013

Last week an interesting paper was published outlining the development of a test designed to evaluate science literacy. The basic idea of the test is to examine a number of different skills that are involved in evaluating scientific claims and facts. I liked this idea so much I decided to put together an online version [&hellip