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Please Help Spread the Word about
the Skeptics Society’s Origins Conference…

We could use your help in getting the word out about the terrific line up we have scheduled for this year’s Skeptics Conference at Caltech by passing on to your friends and colleagues the link to our conference website, where they can get all the information they need. We encourage you to download the complete four-page conference flyer or to download a one page flyer to post or give out to your students or coworkers.

Now that school is back in session, we especially encourage professors to get the word out to your departments. We offer a student discount. Call for an additional group discount for ten or more students registering together (626-794-3119).

With much appreciation,
Michael Shermer


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Shermer in Australia

I recently returned from a two-week tour of Australia sponsored by the Australian government for their annual National Science Week. I flew from the states to Sydney to Melbourne to Perth to Sydney to Darwin to Sydney and back to the states. Don’t ask how that itinerary came about (at least I accumulated lots of frequent flyer miles), but let’s just say I got to know Sydney fairly well. As proof that I was there (for you super hardcore skeptics), here are two cell-phone camera pics of the two most iconic places in this magnificent city, the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. They were snapped by my host for that day, a gentleman named Eron who kindly drove me around to see a few sites before taking me to the lunch with Barry Williams and the Australian Skeptics — a cook-it-yourself steak- on-the-barbie. Ummm. Good food, good beer, good company. A good time was had by all.

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Perth was a wonderful city as well, and Geoffrey Dean and the skeptics there took very good care of me and showed me around their famous botanical gardens at King’s Park. It was winter in Australia so I was mostly cold, but Darwin is on the north shore close to Southeast Asia, so it was tropical hot and muggy. There I got to give my lecture on “Why Darwin Matters,” which at that venue (the convention center in Darwin) gave it double meaning! I also ate raw oysters, drank great beer, listened in on a tarot-card reading at a faire, watched the sunset on the beach with my host Simon France, and bought my daughter some pearls that were harvested nearby from an old bloke who ran an ancient aquarium in which he gave personal tours to identify by name (species and personal) of each critter in the tanks. In Melbourne I met a really interesting woman named Lynn Kelly, who decided years ago to deal with her arachnophobia by becoming one of the world’s leading experts on spiders! She invited me back to her home to have dinner with her and her husband … and hundreds of friendly pet spiders. I also got to see up close some roos and wombats. Very cool. But they didn’t have beer, so I settled for an Australian wine, which was excellent.

–Michael Shermer

Links to Stories about Shermer in Australia

Skepticality: The Official Podcast of Skeptic Magazine

Skeptics Invade Dragon*Con 2008

The hosts of Skepticality are recovering from their spectacularly successful “Skeptrack” events at Dragon*Con 2008: four days of lively discussion featuring guests from some of the most prominent skeptical organizations around the world. Included were James Randi and Dr. Phil Plait from the JREF, Dr. Michael Shermer of the Skeptics Society, Benjamin Radford and D.J. Grothe from the Center for Inquiry, and Richard Saunders and crew from the Australian Skeptics — to name only a few.

For those who participated in this groundbreaking weekend, we look forward to hearing your stories. For those who could not attend, Skepticality brings you the first of several recordings from last week’s panel discussions, beginning with James Randi and D.J. Grothe discussing “Why Magic is Important.” This in-depth discussion of the entwined histories of magic and skepticism reveals how creating illusions can illuminate the truth.

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