NZ Skeptics Conference 2012

By Grant Jacobs 13/08/2012

Most of my readers should be dyed-in-the-wool skeptics, right?

Here’s the conference for you then – the annual New Zealand Skeptics Conference will be held in Dunedin this year, over Friday 31st August to Sunday September 2nd.

(No, you don’t have to be a skeletal wine-guzzler to attend.)

Broaden your critical thinking to new areas and share your thoughts and experiences with others who care about sound information and improving everyone’s lot.

It’ll be a good crowd.

It’ll also be a good place to meet some of the people who write here! (Assuming we have any fans/groupies…)

Registration is at using the registration form or at the Otago Museum, 6:30pm August 31st.* There is a Saturday-only registration option for those who want a smaller bite of the event.

Speakers so far include two of my sciblogs colleagues (Michael & David):

  • Dr Michael Edmonds tells how to take your favourite** woo-merchant to task via the Advertising Standards Authority – and advertiser’s responses – apparently ranging the spectrum from calm to venomous to being completely bewildered.
  • Professor of Science Communication Jean Fleming has had a lot of experience in the area of communicating controversial issues to non-scientists (including sitting as a commissioner on the Royal Commission on Genetic Engineering). She’ll be communicating about this tricky task.***
  • David Winter will teach the audience what every skeptic ought to know about evolution and some of the problems that occur in evolution/creation “debates”.
  • Nick Barblich takes a look at chronic disease and how it trends from the medical to mumbo-jumbo.
  • International scholar in medical law and ethics Associate Professor Colin Gavaghan will take a look at the thorny issues of patients who go to doctors demanding quack treatments and dodgy claims in peer-reviewed journals.
  • Public policy and practice can take us from wellbeing to woo in fairly short order. Dr Mark Ottley says a healthy dose of skepticism assists avoidance of common pitfalls that arise pursuing wellbeing, whether for individuals or society.
  • New Zealand may often be regarded as a “young” country, but that hasn’t stopped a range of alternative archaeology being developed. Professor Richard Walter will tell us about history with a different bent. (TBC****)
  • David Veart, author of First Catch Your Weka, takes us on a tour of 20th century food fads. (TBC****)
  • Entertainment for the Annual Dinner comes courtesy of Andrew Scott, Scicomm student, stand-up comedian, and presenter of the Bang! show.


I’d offer to speak myself but for all my writing (blogging), I’m not sure what that I could say others would want to hear!

The speaker’s topics are those from the skeptics website, lightly edited with links added.

* Places at the dinner will be based on extrapolating from those who’ve registered online.

** That needs inverted commas, but that’s how it was on the skeptics website.

*** Fraught to those who’ve tried their hand at it. It’s not an easy task to do well.

**** To Be Confirmed. Not that you needed to be told.

Some articles on Code for life , mostly with a critical thinking angle:

Teaching kids critical thinking

How did you learn to critique the scientific literature?

Reviewing Deadly Choices

Should we teach examples of scientists falling for unscientific practices?

A course for all degrees: PHIL 105, Critical Thinking

Science, truth without certainty

What should be taught in science communication courses?

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