Welcome to the Queensland Skeptics Association Inc.

Due to covid regulations, we have had to relocate so we are currently meeting on the 2nd Thursday of each month from February through November at the Albion Peace Centre, Albion Rd Windsor (located under the railway overpass near McDonald Rd). Plenty of parking off-road in McDonald Rd or in the hall grounds. Dinner from 5.30pm at the Albion Hotel, 300 Sandgate Rd Albion. Use your QR code on your mobile phone to sign in at the hotel. Speaker will start at 7.30 pm . Members $3.00 entry - Visitors $5.00. Visitors need to check due to limitations on hall numbers. Membership is $10.00 pp per year. 

Thursday 10th June 2021  There is no meeting tonight due to a technical issue.

Thursday 13th May 2021  Guest Speaker Professor Peter M. Gresshoff 

Peter M. Gresshoff, Emeritus Professor, Plant Molecular Genetics, Integrative Legume Research Group, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Discussion Topic: 
We look only at what is in front of our eyes…. or on Facebook or in gossip

I want to venture out into how we, as human or members of Skeptics, make decisions on broader scientific facts. Amazingly we are very primitive. We pretend to be sceptical, but are we??? We listen to news networks (often motivated by viewer numbers and thus profit), “social media’, and even just gossip picked up in the pub, over dinner or on the train. Even documentaries on SBS or analytical articles are prepared with an audience in mind; appeal is a major governing force. I will give some examples, where we ‘know’ the general story, but when one looks deeper, we are just making up intermediate solutions. Well, that is even the way of Science…I myself am guilty of it; one tried to approximate, based on present-day knowledge and data, and hopes that these ‘hypotheses’ grow into established theories overtime.

I will use the following examples:

1)         COVID-19 mortality data (very topical!!!) : dying from or with the virus?

2)         Animal and plant genome (= genetic material and more) size and function

3)         Size of the Universe (galaxies, stars, dark matter, gravity)

The presentation will try to be not too ‘heavy’; indeed I am an expert in this for only one third of the topics! And it’s Thursday night and after dinner!!!

Members $3.00  Visitors  $5.00.  Visitors must book in with me as numbers are limited.

Please join us for dinner at The Albion Hotel, 300 Sandgate Rd which is not that far away so perhaps we could meet there for dinner at 5.30pm as we need to be back at Peace Hall by 7pm for set-up.  Let me know if you are joining us for dinner so I can give numbers to the hotel.  Parking on site at the hotel is free but you need to register your vehicle with the desk and also check in.  If you don’t already have a QR code on your mobile phone, download this App onto your phone:  https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/check-in-qld

Meeting Venue: Peace Hall, Albion Road, Windsor (cnr McDonald Rd)  UBD Map 140 C15  Please arrive around 7pm for 7.30pm start.

There are three ways – you choose!  
1. Albion Railway Station is a few minutes walk away.
2. From Lutwyche Road  –  turn left or right into Albion Road. Just before McDonald Rd, you’ll see the hall on the right. Turn right into the long concrete driveway and park alongside the hall.
3. From Sandgate Road turn either right/left into Albion Road and after going over the overpass turn:  Left into Lane Street, Left into Blackmore, Left into McDonald Road, Left into Albion Rd and left into the 1st driveway. There is also off street parking in McDonald Rd opposite the hall.  Print this out and take it with you as you may need it!
Look forward to seeing you and print this off to find your way!!

Thursday 8th April 2021   Our next guest speaker is Dr Katie Hail-Jares, PhD, who is a lecturer at Griffith University's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. She has written and published extensively on wrongful convictions, sex work, drug use and youth homelessness.  Her talk is entitled: False Rape Allegations and the Innocent Man. 

For the past month, Australia's federal government has been embroiled in a number of sexual assault scandals involving. As more of these allegations are made, the men that they are made against have been coming out to publicly establish their innocence. The implicit suggestion of such press conferences is that moving forward with these investigations could lead to the conviction of an innocent person. But how likely is that to happen? What role do false rape allegations play in wrongful convictions? Using a dataset from the United States, Dr Katie Hail-Jares explored the role of false rape allegations in 207 sexual assault cases that ended in either the indictment or conviction of an innocent person. She found that false rape allegations present in less than five-percent of all cases. And that in statistical modelling, a case that stemmed from a false rape allegations was ten times less likely to end in a conviction.  The resulting paper was published last year in Justice Quarterly, one of the top ranked criminology journals in the field, and has been downloaded over 1,300 times.   Dr Hail-Jares will discuss these results, their application to the current scandal and the present new data on whether the same method can be applied to Australian cases.

Members $3.00  Visitors  $5.00.  Visitors must book in with me as numbers are limited.

Please join us for dinner at The Albion Hotel, 300 Sandgate Rd which is not that far away so perhaps we could meet there for dinner at 5.30pm as we need to be back at Peace Hall by 7pm for set-up.  Let me know if you are joining us for dinner so I can give numbers to the hotel.  Parking on site at the hotel is free but you need to register your vehicle with the desk and also check in.  If you don’t already have a QR code on your mobile phone, download this App onto your phone:  https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/check-in-qld 


Thursday 11th March 2021  Our next Guest Speaker is Dr Andrew Houston who is a retired GP. He makes the point that religious experience consists of a number of play phenomena.  The word  Delusion derives from two Latin words De meaning "from" and Ludere meaning "to play”. He will demonstrate that the Trinity and Death and Resurrection are Play and that, just as children who talk to an imaginary friend are playing, so adults who talk to God are also playing.

Members $3.00  Visitors  $5.00.  Visitors must book in with me as numbers are limited.

Please join us for dinner at The Albion Hotel, 300 Sandgate Rd which is not that far away so perhaps we could meet there for dinner at 5.30pm as we need to be back at Peace Hall by 7pm for set-up.  Let me know if you are joining us for dinner so I can give numbers to the hotel.  Parking on site at the hotel is free but you need to register your vehicle with the desk and also check in.  If you don’t already have a QR code on your mobile phone, download this App onto your phone:  https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/check-in-qld 


Thursday 11th February 2021 Our guest speaker for February is Michael Gutteridge – details below:

I am an Environmental and Political Scientist. I worked for the Department of Natural Resources in the Queensland Government, with my final position being a Senior Scientist in Climate Impacts and Natural Resource Systems. I have worked as a private consultant, editor and writer in the field of Environmental and Social Science. I have lectured at Queensland University of Technology in Sustainability and Land Stewardship. I was recently contracted to write a series of papers on future risk for Queensland Rangelands (http://rangelandsqld.org.au/background-reading/), with a particular focus on future risk, climate change and food security. It was my intention to give a talk to the Sceptics Society that stitched together the various themes that I have worked on over the past decades to create a picture of possible futures for the following few decades. Most biophysical science (or social and economic science) is quite narrowly focused, or is not extended to ask what the findings really mean for humanity. Furthermore, most people accept that there will be climate change, or population pressures, continued habitat destruction, future economic crisis, or even armed conflict. It is just a continuation of history. However, many do not stop to ask what are the consequences when you have so many more people, far greater climate shift, far more lethal weaponry, far more integrated and fragile economies, on a less healthy and resilient planet/ecosystems, and the potential for many or all of the above events to happen simultaneously. When the current state of the world is assessed, and the momentum toward particular futures is taken into account, it is hard to argue that the earth will be supporting 8-10 billion people, indeed it may only support 1-2 billion people within 1-2 generations. In fact there are quite plausible scenarios where there will be no people remaining within a century or two, and this does not require a nuclear war.  Economist, politicians, optimists, and basically anybody who by the necessity for sanity engages in motivated reasoning, will tell you that human ingenuity will solve future problems. The point is though, that human ingenuity has not solved the underlaying problems up to this point, in fact it is accelerating humanity toward the abyss, whilst providing the illusion that life and security is improving; I call this the Doomsday Paradox. There is a solution, but no one want to hear it or believe it. Indeed, as a species we would rather flirt with extinction than make the world a better place for ourselves, our descendants, and for all other species. Some have postulated that it is in fact our intelligence that makes us so stupid. I would argue something a little different, it is elite power that is to blame, always has been, and until elitism is purged from human societies, the whole society remains at risk. And whilst the current structure of elitism exists, efforts to avoid existential crisis for humanity, or large portions of humanity, remains, irrespective of all other government policies and community activities. Some argue that incremental long-wave change is occurring (although the evidence suggests the contrary), however, change is required immediately to avoid catastrophe. Will this change happen within 1 year or 10 or 50, all evidence suggests not, hence, we are in a very bad situation.  


Monday 30th March 2020   -   MEETING CANCELLED.  I am cancelling the March meeting of the Qld Skeptics for the following reasons:  It would appear that Covid-19 sufferers can transmit the disease before they show any symptoms. In the confined space of our meeting room, any cough would disseminate widely. Our venue being a popular meeting public space is at greater risk of having a sufferer accidentally infect the premises. Our members have a greater risk as many of us are in the older demographic with greater risk of complications.  Regards  Robert Backhouse, President.

Monday 24th February 2020  -  Alison Courtice is spokesperson for Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools a grassroots movement of parents who believe Queensland state schools need to be inclusive and welcoming places for all children, regardless of their religion, race or culture. We believe that the current provision of Religious Instruction (RI) in state schools, for which children are segregated according to their religion, does not foster the inclusiveness and respect for diversity needed in our multi-faith and multicultural society. In addition, we believe that requiring chaplains to profess a religious belief in order to provide a supporting role to state school students contradicts the Education Department’s own policy of respecting “the background and beliefs of all students and staff by not promoting, or being perceived as promoting, any particular set of beliefs in preference to another.

Monday 25th November 2019  Dr Peter Ellerton - Critical Thinking. One of the most critical concerns about critical thinking is how it can be taught. There are a number of people who claim that critical thinking skills are not transferable. These same people claim that because of this it is difficult to teach critical thinking. This view ignores a very large body of research and practice that shows critical thinking can be taught and that it has benefits in terms of cognitive gains that extend for years beyond training. In this talk, I will outline how critical thinking can be taught, why it is a transferable skill and how we can improve the educational experience for students in terms of teaching thinking.  

Peter Ellerton is a lecturer in Critical Thinking at the University of Queensland and is the founding Director of the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project. He is a former Head of Experimental Sciences at the Queensland Academy of Science, Mathematics and Technology. Peter is also an advisor to the International Baccalaureate Organisation on the development of the new Nature of Science subject and has advised on the structure of all the new science syllabus materials. Peter is currently working with the European Commission Joint research Centre on the public understanding of science.  Peter is a Queensland Curriclum And Assessment Authority syllabus writer and Chief Examiner for External Physics in Queensland

Monday 28th October 2019 Adj Assoc Prof. Geraldine Moses BPharm DClinPharm Adv.Prac.Pharm  will give a talk on Compounding Pharmacies.

Dr Geraldine Moses is a hospital pharmacist specialised in medicines information. She holds a Doctorate in Clinical Pharmacy and works part-time at the Mater Public Hospital in Brisbane, holds the position of Adjunct Associate Professor in the University of Queensland’s School of Pharmacy, and provides a national drug information and advisory service for the Australian Dental Association (ADA) called “Pharma-Advice”. She consults to organisations such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, NPS MedicineWise, and the New Zealand Dental Association. Geraldine has received many honours and awards including the Pharmaceutical Society’s Pharmacist of the Year in 2002 and the Dental Association’s Award of Merit in 2013. She was recognised in 2019 Australia Day awards as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for her significant service to medicine and the community as a pharmacist, through her advisory and educational roles.

Monday 30th September 2019 - Guest Speaker Professor John Quiggin, VC Senior Research Fellow, School of Economics, University of Queensland. 

Zombie Economics - Why did economists get the Global Financial Crisis so wrong, and have they learned anything since? John Quiggin will describe the life cycle of the economic ideas that led to the crisis from birth to their death in the GFC and their resurrection in zombie form over the last decade. Copies of John's two books will be for sale: Zombie Economics for $35, and Economics in Two Lessons for $30.

Monday 26th August 2019  Guest Speaker Greg Cudmore - The Elephants in Our Classrooms

We will endeavour to myth-bust some common myths surrounding our education system. After retiring in 2014 after 45 years at the chalk face, I have been enjoying the freedom to indulge in my first love which is writing.  I have written two books: The Elephants in Our Classrooms and To Alpha From Omega. Both available as paperback or kindle books on amazon.com. I am a columnist in an Australia-wide educational magazine.  I also teach courses at U3A Brisbane and Redlands, including a popular Mythbusters course which exposes many prevalent myths in our society. In  many ways a skeptic is a mythbuster and I am hoping my presentation will strike a familiar chord with your group. Both books will be for sale on the night for $15.00 each. 

Monday 29th July 2019 Guest Speaker Andrew Perry - The Challenges of Tackling Australian and Global Carbon Emissions

At 22 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year, Australia has the highest per capita emission footprint of The West. Despite this, Australia easily beat its first Kyoto target without having to take any action on fossil fuel efficiency or consumption mix. But even with reductions in some jurisdictions, there has been no discernible effect on the exponential rise of global emissions over the Kyoto Protocol years. This talk explains why, and examines the significant engineering and political challenges we face to make any impact on both local and global emissions.

Bio: Andrew Perry (CEng  MIChemE  RPEQ) is a chartered chemical engineer with extensive experience in both the upstream and downstream petroleum industries. He recently published the book ‘The Carbon Collision Course: Australia’s Emissions and Energy Policy Crisis’. This independent work explains the facts about energy consumption, industrial activity and emissions without bias. It provides a new perspective on the global emissions debate. The book will be available for sale on the night for $25.00 cash. 


Monday 24th June 2019  Guest Speaker Phil Ormerod - Consultant Well Engineer

 "How oil and gas wells are drilled / A working life spent drilling for oil & gas around the world …. or what the degree course doesn't teach you about the oil patch". 

Bio: Phil has worked in the drilling and completions domain both in field supervisory roles and office based engineering assignments including onshore and offshore projects in North Africa, West Africa, the Middle East and SE Asia. During his career he has been involved in the planning and execution of exploration drilling campaigns, development drilling projects, workovers and interventions including stimulation treatments and artificial lift installations and well testing operations.

Sunday 9th June 2019 Skepticamp is happening again this year at The Sideshow, 349 Montague Rd West End 10am - 5pm. Entry by donation. This is a free event where members of our community (you!) get to present whatever topic you are passionate about. More info coming up on how to register to speak. Register here to attend:  https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/skepticamp-2019-tickets-60661983626

Monday 27th May 2019 - Cane Toad Challenge by Professor Rob Capon

This presentation provides a brief account of the discovery, development and science behind an innovative cane toad tadpole trapping technology that uses a natural toad pheromone to lure toad tadpoles into a trap. It also provides an account of the Cane Toad Challenge, a community engagement and citizen science initiative dedicated to making this technology freely available to the public, as well as volunteer and community groups, businesses, and local, state and federal government agencies.

Bio: Rob Capon is a Professorial Research Fellow and Group Leader at the University of Queensland, Institute for Molecular Bioscience. An organic chemist, Rob leads a multidisciplinary research team that specializes in the study of chemicals found in Nature. The aim of this research is to detect, isolate and identify valuable chemicals, to understand how and why they are made, to better understand of their influence on living systems, to inspire solutions for important scientific and societal challenges. Key challenges include new pharmaceutics for infectious and neurodegenerative diseases, pain and cancer, new agrochemicals to treat livestock and crop infections and new natural solutions for pest control and environmental protection.

Monday 29th April 2019  -  Military Hits and Myths by Win Fowles

Military history is written by the winners but does not necessarily cover the loser’s hits and the winner’s misses, or either side’s myths.  Win Fowles will present unusual or little-known cases, some serious and some humorous.

Bio:  Colonel Win Fowles (Retired).  Born in Sydney and raised in Sydney, Brisbane and Mooloolaba, Win graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 1966. He served in most Australian states as well as the UK, the US and South Vietnam.  His final full time military appointment before a civilian career was Director of Movement & Transport – Army.  Win is also a graduate of the Royal Military College of Science (UK), the US Army Logistic Management College (where he was later a faculty member) and the Australian Staff College. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport, and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management.

Monday 25th March 2019

Guest speaker Dr. Jane O'Sullivan of Sustainable Population Australia will debunk the Ageing Crisis, and explain why we should welcome an ageing society. 

Daily, we are bombarded with news items decrying the ageing of our population. Yet this should be a welcome development, as the culmination of modern progress to ensure that most people born lead long and healthy lives. Instead, it is treated as a calamity which must be redressed by aggressive increases in population growth, through either births or immigration. The claimed problems of ageing (including a shrinking workforce, a ballooning pension bill, and skyrocketing health and aged care needs) are poorly supported in evidence, and the cure is much worse than the disease. This talk will unpack some of the myths and truths about demographic ageing and discuss the benefits of declining populations containing more older people.

Dr. Jane O’Sullivan is a former senior researcher at the University of Queensland’s School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, where she led research programs on agricultural intensification of subsistence crops in the Pacific and South East Asia. She subsequently turned attention to the demographic pressures on food security, economic development and environmental sustainability. She has published ground-breaking work on the economic impacts of population growth, population aging and the use of population projections in relation to projecting climate change. She is an executive member of Sustainable Population Australia and has represented that organisation at United Nations climate change meetings.


Monday 25th February 2019 Our guest speakers are members Julie & Harald Berents who will give a talk on Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia (GSoW)

Julie and Harald are members of the GSoW team. They will describe the work the team does, the work they each do, why they do it and how they benefit as individuals. The Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia (GSoW) editing team aims to improve content on Wikipedia. We do this by writing or improving skepticism and science related articles, as well as the biographical articles of notable people involved in science, medicine and the skeptical movement. We add valid material and citations, and remove unsourced claims from paranormal and pseudo-scientific related articles. Wikipedia is the 4th most visited website in the English-speaking world behind Google, YouTube, and Facebook. As both Google and YouTube point their users to Wikipedia, valid, evidence-based information is absolutely critical. GSoW is an international team of 100+ volunteers working in many languages.

Sunday 10th Feb 2019 - Celebrating Darwin Day with the Gold Coast Skeptics.

Venue: Parkwood Tavern – cnr Olsen Ave & Wintergreen Dr, Parkwood (Kids eat free on a Sunday) https://www.parkwoodtavern.com.au/

3.30 - 5.00pm mingle

5.00 - 5.30pm Mr Jake Clark PhD Candidate, Centre for Astrophysics

Topic: exoplanets/astrobiology 101 https://theconversation.com/profiles/jake-clark-391989/articles

5.30 - 6pm Dr Renaud Joannes-Boyau (PhD), SCU EMCR representative, Australian Academy of Science, School Director HDR Southern cross GeoScience, Head of Geoarchaeology and Archaeometry Research Group (GARG) Topic: New findings in human evolution

6.00 – 6.30pm Q&A

6.30 – 7.00pm Wrap up