Saturday, 27 November 2010

The Amazing Meeting Oz - Day 2

I hate early mornings. One thing going for the Science Fiction community is most of the sessions at Worldcon started at 10am. Here at TAM the first sessions were about 9am. And with Brian Dunning being first up do you think I'd miss it? Rhetorical question by the way but if you do want an answer then, No. No, I wouldn't miss it. However after the previous night's skeptically drinking session I had my doubts.

So, Brian Dunning was first with a session on spooky sounds. When he eventually got started after some amusing technical difficulties (sorted out by Pamela Gay) it was an entertaining session. 30 minutes seemed way too short. But then that is about 3 times longer than his podcast.

Brian Dunning

Loretta Marron talked about Dodgy and Devious Devices and her one person campaign to have these dangerous quack devices banned by the TGA.

Loretta Marron

Dr Krissy Wilson is a psychologist who researches the psychology of belief. Apparently she appeared once on The Bill as a hooker. Today she claimed to be wearing red undies. She wouldn't prove it though. She did prove to be funny.

Dr Krissy Wilson

The G Spot. The convention was held in the Masonic Centre. This is the Grand Hall or Lodge or something. A large letter G hangs from the ceiling by a G string. It was rumoured the G stands for God but Jay Novella said it actually stands for Geometry. Who knows?

Paul Willis interviews James Randi and Dick Smith for the DVD.

After morning tea where you gulp down a couple of cups of coffee and try and pilfer as many Cookie Man cookies as you can take it was time for a conversation with Dick Smith and James Randi or, as MC Paul Willis, put it at chat with Willie, Dick and Randi. Dick was one of the founders of the Australian Skeptics and he and Randi have been friends for 30 years.

Randi, Dick & Willis.

Randi and Dick Smith relate the story of "Carlos".

One of the highlights for me this weekend was always going to be the Skeptics Guide to the Universe Live. It was kind of surreal watching the show live and not as a podcast. Steve started the show with a hilarious slide show of their trip thus far. Alex, or as I call him that damned kid who outbid me*, appeared for the Science or Fiction segment of the show and performed admirably.
* I bid up to $750 and by then there were only me and the Alex's dad bidding. Someone whispered to me that Alex's dad was a dentist. Shit. There was no way I could out bid a dentist. Maybe if I was Dick Smith. Maybe. I threw in one more bid of $850 so they'd have to bid at least $900 and called it quits. It was for charity after all.

The Skeptics Guide to the Universe Down Under. Woohoo.

Jay Novella and Rebecca Watson.

The entire SGU cast - Jay, Steve, Rebecca, Bob and Evan.

One for the conspiracy nuts. The SGU under the logo of the Masons.

Richard Saunders tweeting away while the SGU entertains with Science or Fiction. Guest star 11 year old Alex sitting with Jay and Steve.

Astronomer Dr Fred Watson showed some slides of the secrets of Saturn and her moons.

Dr Fred Watson.

Australian Skeptics Awards.

Dr Rachael Dunlop, Tim Mendham, Eran Segev and Richard Saunders holding up the Oz Skeptics Bent Spoon Award.

An Apple a Day - Science Based Medicine. A panel with Dr Rachie Dunlop, Dr Steven Novella, Prof Ian Harris and Joanne Benhamu. Don't read this next bit mum. Did you know that the risk from dying from knee replacement surgery is not 1 in 100000 or 1 in even 10000? It is something like 1 in 400 and only about 25% or patients are happy they had the surgery a year later. Shit.

Dr Rachie Dunlop, Prof Ian Harris, Joanne Benhamu and Dr Steven Novella.

Dr Paul Willis tore apart a BBQ duck. Birds are dinosaurs and there are thousands of pieces of evidence that point to this fact. Funniest dissection I've ever attended.

Dr Paul Willis and a BBQ duck.

Dr Simon Singh had the last official spot for the day with Alternative Medicine (and me) On Trial. Simon filled us in on the history and successful resolution of the libel action against him by the British Chiropractors Association. Simon is another of these nice guy skeptics. We chatted a bit while we were boarding the boat for the Skeptics Afloat Cruise (see the next post).

Simon Singh.

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