NZ Skeptics Conference

December 4, 2016

Categories: Skepticism , Tags: Events, NZSkeptics

Here are my notes from this year's NZ Skeptics conference:

# Awards

# Skeptic of the Year

Siouxsie Wiles

# Bent Spoon

NZ Herald

# Speakers

# Loretta Marron

Cancer quacks. Talked about some of the worst

# Richard Saunders

Energy devices. He talked about a new device that is meant to use mystical energy to dry out buildings. Apparently government departments have spent a lot of money buying these devices, even though there's no evidence they work and the internal wires have no plausible way that they would be able to remove water.

# Susan Gerbic

GSoW. Susan runs a project called Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia. The members of the team put a lot of effort into editing wikipedia to add a skeptical angle where it's needed. Apparently the homeopathy page gets around a quarter of a million views per month. Given that so many people use Wikipedia as their first place to learn about new topics, including journalists, having a skeptical viewpoint is important. Given that skepticism is about evidence, and Wikipedia requires evidence, the two go hand in hand.

In the past Susan has found out in advance that topics such as cupping are about to become big news (from the Olympics), and quickly check the Wikipedia page. If the page does not have a skeptical lede - the first paragraph - she will quickly update it with referenced quotes about how the practice is pseudoscientific.

Susan also talked to us about her efforts to show that psychics are fakes, and she calls them "grief vampires" because they feed on others' grief. She talked about how she would raise money to afford to go to a psychic's show, and then see if they were cold reading or hot reading.

One of her targets was a psychic called Tyler Henry, the Hollywood Medium. She managed to get skeptics to write articles about the Tyler before the TV show started, and this allowed her to reference those articles on the Wikipedia page, with quotes saying that the show is "a fabric of lies", and that people like Henry "prey on the poor and disaffected."

# Tania Lineham

Science teaching. Talked about how too many kids drop out of science early.

# Mark Hanna


# Catherine Low

Effective Altruism