Hello friends! This is our first newsletter for the year, and I have several exciting items to share with you.
Hello MEHSitP friends.
Whilst our social pub events are fun, serving as great, pressure-free reminders that you're not the only rational person in Melbourne, I'm thirsty for some more 'structured' skeptical dialogue, and I know some of you are too!
To this end I'm contemplating launching 'MEHSitP Skeptical Perspectives' - a book-club type of get-together at an appropriate cafe venue on one Saturday or Sunday every second month.
My initial thought is to set a reading list of maybe 3 books for the first 6 months, taken from "Podblacks' Booklist", which is Kylie Sturgess & Embiggen Books' front-man Warren Bonett's list of favourite science and critical thinking texts, as presented at a previous MEHSitP / Melbourne Skeptics event.
For me, there's nothing quite as frustrating as not having someone with whom to discuss my most recent read, so at each 'Perspectives' event, we would gather to discuss the particular focus book, sharing our thoughts and allowing the conversation to progress wherever it leads.
So now I want your feedback! Would you be interested in taking part in a recurring event such as this? Do you have suggestions as to a different structure or approach? Do you know of an appropriate venue somewhere near the Eastern hills?
Please reply to share your thoughts, positive or negative, and I'll let you know how this initiative progresses.
As you may already know, several MEHSitP / Melbourne Skeptics members have been working behind the scenes to put together SkeptiCamp Melbourne, a grass-roots skeptical event based on the successful BarCamp conference model in which attendees are the presenters.
The first Australian SkeptiCamp was held in Sydney earlier this year, drawing roughly one hundred attendees who participated in concurrent talks held in two rooms for several hours. This event was hugely successful, prompting several groups around Australia to announce their intention to organise SkeptiCamps in their home towns.
After initially struggling to find a venue (the Sydney organisers were lucky enough to secure theirs for free), we formed an alliance with the University of Melbourne Secular Society who were able to help us secure two lecture theatres at Melbourne University on Saturday 22nd October at a reduced (though still pricey), rate. A call for donations was met by a few generous individuals, and some additional sponsorships enabled us to seal the deal.
We have now opened the ticket booth, and you can book through the SkeptiCamp Melbourne website at http://skepticampmelbourne.com for free.
Now it's over to you! We need your help to spread the word far and wide, inviting anyone you know who likes science, respects rationalism, embraces critical thinking, or considers themselves a skeptic.
Since it's an attendee-driven event, we also need speakers. If you have anything to say about skepticism, complementary and alternative medicines, the state of science journalism, strange beliefs - anything at all which might interest YOU as a topic, there's a very good chance it will interest us too! So nominate yourself as a speaker, put something together which will fit within 25 minutes including questions or discussion, and be a part of Australian Skeptic History!
Our evening with Dr. Leslie Cannold at Embiggen books was a great success, and hopefully the first of many such events.
I know some were unable to make it due to distance, which is understandable. I'm always on the lookout for a venue out East who are happy to host us without charge, so if you have any suggestions please let me know.
Another event which is coming up soon you might be interested in is a public talk by Dr. Ken Harvey about his legal battle with woo-merchants 'Sensaslim', to be hosted by our friends at Mordi Skeptics in the Pub. I won't be able to make it unfortunately, but Scott from Mordi Skeptics has specifically asked me to extend an invitation to you.
Here's Scott's message:
DR KEN HARVEY talks about Sensa Slim, the TGA and SLAPP writs
A NOT TO BE MISSED, MORDI SKEPTICS IN THE PUB SPECIAL EVENT!
Tuesday, August 2, 2011, 7:30 PM, but come for dinner from 6pm.
Pimm Room (upstairs)
Mordialloc Sporting Club (http://www.mordiclub.com/)
528 Main St Mordialloc
$2 donation (in support of Ken's legal costs).
Dr Ken Harvey, the courageous public interest crusader, is coming to the Mordi Skeptics in the Pub to discuss the challenges of lodging complaints about questionable medical products. Ken has been in the news lately as a key player in the Sensa-Slim controversy. After lodging appropriate complaints to public authorities Ken was hit with a defamation lawsuit for $800,000, which has been seen by commentators as a SLAPP writ (strategic litigation against public participation). This is a truly important story and all Skeptics should aim to attend this special event and hear why YOU should ask for change to the Therapeutic Goods Administration procedures. Ken is an Adjunct Senior Lecturer of Public Health at LaTrobe University and we are deeply fortunate to secure his time. For more info on the story, take a look at these articles:
Talk - RSVP Scott Watson (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via the Mordi Skeptics in the Pub website (you have to join the group to see inside, but it's free). Please note numbers are limited to 60 seats.
Dinner - RSVP Scott Watson (email@example.com) and I will make a group booking for Jacks (the restaurant section with a new menu and great prices for seniors - 2 courses under $15). Alternatively you can get a parma or similar in the bar without booking. You'll find tables of skeptics in both areas.
Folks, it has been a huge month, which has spawned many new projects of a skeptical outreach nature.
I've begun discussions with author, senior lecturer, ethicist and social commentator Leslie Cannold, about the possibility of presenting to another combined MEH SitP / Melbourne Skeptics event.
I suspect many of you will be familiar with Leslie's work, particularly her apperances on Channel 10's '7pm Project' or ABC's 'Q & A', her frequent ABC radio appearances, her articles for ABC's 'The Drum' and various newspapers, or maybe just from social media. You can read more about Leslie at her own website.
In order to continue talks with Leslie, I need to survey your interest in attending this talk. I've tentatively proposed some time in July, as there's a gap in both Leslie's and our calendar.
If you're interested, please visit the MEH-SitP Forum Thread to say so, and where possible indicate what you'd be interested to hear her talk about.
Thanks everyone, and please feel free to forward this to anyone you feel may be interested.
Organiser - Melbourne Eastern Hills SitP
There are a few items to mention this time;
As you know, we have a special guest coming to present to us in September - Kylie Sturgess aka. PodBlack, from the Token Skeptic podcast, podblack.com and so-forth.
I have approached the Knox Club about a special room rate (their rooms are normally about $300 per event), and await a response. I'm also considering other options, and would like your feedback.
Please visit our Forum on the website, at http://groupspaces.com/meh-sitp/forum/?bview=thread&thread_id=8899 to comment on the thread. I'm interested in finding out whether you'd be prepared to travel to Clayton, as I have access to conference facilities at my workplace there, and whether you have access to or know of any other conference facilities closer to our normal venue.