Monday 16 February 2009

Woman arrested over church scuffle
A woman has been arrested over a scuffle outside an Adelaide church.
It is alleged she punched a police officer outside the church at Kilkenny on Sunday.
Police allege the woman had been swearing and behaving in a disorderly manner as parishioners left the morning service and that she turned on police when they tried to calm her down.
The woman, 44, from Woodville Gardens has been granted bail to appear in Port Adelaide Magistrates Court next month.
Map: Kilkenny 5009

Originally posted by Ian Woolf

Thursday 12 February 2009

Critical Mass podcast #4

Critical Mass podcast episode 4 is out now!
This episode is hosted by Ian Woolf, with Alan Conradi, Jason Brown and Dave The Happy Singer.
Topics include:

Tuesday 10 February 2009

Sydney Atheists respond to opinion piece in SMH "Questions Darwinism cannot answer"

Sydney Atheists president, Anthony Englund, has written a letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald in response to the piece "Questions Darwinism cannot answer", SMH Opinion section February 9, 2009.
You can read the piece here, I should note it's by the Professor of Theology at Charles Sturt University, Tom Frame. How does one get a professorship in imaginary friends anyway?
Our response letter was as follows.
Subject: Response to opinion piece "Questions Darwinism cannot answer", SMH Opinion section 9 Feb 2009

On behalf of Sydney Atheists, please publish this in your letters section.

Questions Darwinism cannot answer
Tom Frame is correct to write that evolution doesn't explain everything. But Darwin's theory explains a great deal and gives us a very powerful picture of how the natural world, including us, came to be. It is a mistake to conclude, simply because there are things we don’t yet know, that those "gaps" must be filled in by a supernatural creator. It is also wrong to assume that you need to believe in "spirits" in order to be "spiritual". We are entirely natural creatures. As part of this, we are also conscious beings. We live, love, laugh, hope, are poetic and, at our best, can be both reasonable and compassionate. An understanding of science can help us to find our way. And an understanding of each other can do the rest. Despite what Tom writes, one form of knowledge does not come at the expense of the other and nothing beyond the two is needed to live enlightened, full and meaningful lives.
Anthony Englund
Sydney Atheists Inc.

Sydney Atheists is a non-profit organisation

 Originally posted by Nathan Dunn

Questions Creationists can't answer

I write my personal reponse to the SMH article at Here's Why: 
Today I found a Christian Theologian attacking Richard Dawkins in the Sydney Morning Herald. The article was actually an advertisement for the Creationist's new book. Was it a free ad? Or was he a paid contributor?

 It was no surprise that an article entitled "Questions Darwinism cannot answer" was written by a Creationist. "Darwinism" is a word only used by Creationists. Perhaps the article should have been labelled as the advertisement for his book that it surely was?

 What are these questions for "Darwinism"? After slogging through a personal attack on Richard Dawkins and implying that every atheist is an evil murdering fascist, it turns out they're Christian Apologetic questions and not scientific questions at all. I'll start with the questions and get to the slog afterwards.

The first question was "When does design become domination?" If the Universe is an artificial artifact as Mr Creationist insists, then it emulates a wild natural environment extremely well and we are living in The Matrix. If we are living in The Matrix, then any "Act of God" like a murderous bush fire is an infringement of free will - which is domination. The administrators of fake reality would be cruel and unethical to impose so much suffering without the consent of the free beings who inhabit the fake world.

 This question assumes that that the world we are informed of by our senses, our instruments and each other is fake. If the world is a simulation then its either being run by non-human aliens, or its being run by our post-human descendants as an ancestor simulation. If the persons running the simulation impose suffering and limit choice, then they are dominating.

 "Why did God create human beings, lay a good life out before them and then include the capacity to behave otherwise?" he asks. Again this assumes that the evidence of our senses is faked. Evolution and geology and nuclear physics show that life developed through small changes over very long periods of time. They show that the universe is full of things moving around in random ways, except where humans create artifacts. Humans were not created, they evolved from earlier forms of hominid and the hominids from earlier primates, the primates from earlier mammals, all the way back to the earliest self-replicating molecules that weren't properly alive. However, as a good theologians we should ignore the evidence. If we didn't have free will we'd be zombies who just reacted to stimulus from a pre-programmed script. That answers your second question. If we live in a simulation as Creationists insist, then the persons who run the simulation didn't want zombies. There's no evidence that we live in The Matrix.

 Finally, "Would knowing why there is something rather than nothing make a difference to life?" Darwin's answer is that curiosity is a behaviour that promotes the spread of genes, so it was selected for in the random evolution of our ancestors. Most of us want to know the answers of our origins, and we are not satisfied with silly stories about a stork or a dove.

 Mr Creationist claims that evolution cannot explain the origin of life. We have seen self-replicating molecules start replicating from non-living matter. We have found the organic molecules essential for life in distant clouds of interstellar gas. We can scientifically explain the origin of life. He concludes that evolution cannot cast light on life's destiny. Evolution shows us that life doesn't have a destiny, the Watchmaker is blind. Evolutionary processes can build eyes up, or blind them, depending on the environment that animals live and breed in, but the process is random, and the environment changes randomly.

 "Evolutionary theory" does NOT require or imply "continuous creation" Mr Creationist. Evolution doesn't require any intervention by magical persons at all, its the inevitable outcome of mutant survivors of disasters breeding their inheritable traits into the next generation. Mutation and sexual recombination produce variation, predators and changing environment provide the random selection. The inevitable outcome is that some variations will breed more than others and species change over very long periods of time.

 Mr Creationist, quoting notable people is an Argument from Authority. With your high academic station, you surely know that its a logically invalid argument, so why did you use it? "These lines of reasoning do not prove God's existence". Could it be that you simply don't have a valid argument?

Ad Hominem attacks are not valid arguments, either, but this doesn't stop you from personally attacking Richard Dawkins.  Of course the attack is simply a disguise for the same vilification of atheists as mass murdering fascists as used by Toongabbie Anglicans a few weeks ago in their sermon "Does God exist?". Mr Creationist vilifies atheists as supporting "imperialism, genocide, mass deportation, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, forced sterilisations and infanticide." He then admits that reality doesn't match his opinion, because his vilification is false. Instead of apologising and explaining his error, he accuses Richard Dawkins of lacking commitment, courage and philosophical conviction. It looks like a classic case of Freudian projection.

Mr Creationist uses arguments which he admits are invalid, vilification which he admits is invalid, claims of definition which are easily shown to be invalid, and questions which are for his contradictory Creationist cosmology and not validly for Darwin at all. Perhaps Mr Creationist lacks the courage of his own philosophical convictions? Could he have abandoned valid methods of argument and persuasion because he doesn't believe his position can be validly argued? Or is this just the usual request to open your wallet?

Originally posted by Ian Woolf

Friday 6 February 2009

Man in Japan

"Man in Japan" has linked to us from his blog, after visiting us at the Newtown Festival. I love the quote from his wife in the first paragraph, talking about our gong with the sign "Hit the gong if you don't believe in gods!". For her, it was like saying "hit the gong if you think the sky is blue".
I met so many wonderful people that day, I hope I had the chance to shake hands with MIJ and his wife.
Originally posted by Nathan Dunn

Thursday 5 February 2009

Queensland white pages is doing it right

Try searching for a "magic shop" in Queensland in the white pages. Obviously correct for turning wine into blood, and that old magicians favourite, biscuits into flesh. But I'm not sure where you'd go if you wanted to buy equipment to saw a woman in half or pull a rabbit out of a hat.

Originally posted by Nathan Dunn

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Sydney Atheists respond to opinion piece in SMH "Faith no more does little good for society"

Sydney Atheists president, Anthony Englund, has written a letter to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald in response to the piece "Faith No More Does Little Good for Society", SMH Opinion section 3 Feb 2009.
You can read the piece here, I should note it's by Dr John Dickson, director of the Centre for Public Christianity, so don't expect coherence or logic.
Our response letter was as follows.
Subject: Response to opinion piece "Faith No More Does Little Good for Society", SMH Opinion section 3 Feb 2009
It is pleasing to see that John Dickson recognises the contribution that non-religious people make to society. As the Census data makes clear, the number of non-religious people, and the size of their collective contribution, continues to grow. There is a dawning recognition that compassion, charity and service to your fellow human being is not the exclusive province of those who believe in supernatural beings. Rather, it is a responsibility that arises within all of us naturally and that each of us takes to heart consciously. Through the work we do supporting charities and within the community, Sydney Atheists hopes to show that you can be "good without God". Ultimately, it is the results of the work we do that counts, not whether the person who performs it is a believer or not. We think there is plenty of room for all of us to contribute.
Anthony Englund
Sydney Atheists Inc.

On a personal note, I'd like to point out another SMH article This piece contains the wonderful quote Those of us who thought the shop up the road was all about helping the poor stand corrected. "The primary function of the society," said St Vincent de Paul's lawyers, "is to inculcate the Catholic faith in its members." This article from 2nd Jan is well worth a read and heartily disproves the theory that religious people contribute to charity because they care. It's all about new converts!

Originally posted by Nathan Dunn

Monday 2 February 2009

Darwin in the Botanical Gardens 2009

Darwin Exhibitions and Public Programs 2009

2009 will commemorate two significant anniversaries of Charles Darwin’s life and work - the bicentenary of his birth and 150 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species - his controversial theory outlining the evolution of life-forms through the process of natural selection.
Darwin collected and studied plants throughout his life, and he spent his last forty years experimenting with plants in his home garden. His life’s work continues to inform our scientific research and inspire our education programs.
Hopefully our collective legacy will be to inspire a passion and appreciation for nature, fostering budding naturalists and the next generation of scientists.

11 February

Dining with Darwin: Evolution and extinction, adaptation and climate change

Join compere Jennifer Byrne and a panel of experts for an evening of lively discussion and debate. This event is a partnership between the Botanic Gardens Trust and the Australian Museum.
When: 11 February, 6.30 – 10.30 pm
Where: The Pavilion, 1 Art Gallery Road
Cost: $150 pp incl three course dinner + wine
Bookings: 9320 6389

12 February

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

Join Dr Tim Entwisle and scientists of the Botanic Gardens Trust for birthday cupcakes in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth.
This event will also launch the Trust's new landscape installation reflecting Darwin’s contribution to our current understanding of biodiversity and the evolution of life.
When: 12 February 10.30 am
Where: Myrtales Bed, Royal Botanic Gardens (Click here to view map)
RSVP: 9231 8134

12 February - 24 November

DARWIN installation

Visit the spectacular garden display reflecting Charles Darwin’s contribution to our current understanding of the diversity and evolution of life.
When: 12 February to 24 November, 7 am to sunset every day
Where: Lawn 44, Map ref L7

24 March

Darwin's Greenhouse: soot, steam and passion flowers

Author and lecturer Dr Jim Endersby explores Charles Darwin’s botanical research and its relation to industrialisation and empire.
When: 24 March 6-7.30 pm
Where: Maiden Theatre
Cost: $15 pp incl light refreshments
Bookings: 9231 8134

14-17 and 20-24 April

Charlie D and the Great Seed Mystery

Children aged 6-12 explore the gardens to solve the mystery of seed dispersal, create seed transporters and play games with seeds in motion, guided by our experienced educators.
When: 14-17 and 20-24 April, 10.30 am-12 noon & 1.00-2.30 pm
Where: Community Education, via Woolloomooloo Gate
Cost: $15 pp
Bookings: 9231 8134

21 May

Musings on Mr Darwin’s Shooter

Join acclaimed author Roger McDonald for discussion and readings from his award-winning book. A Sydney Writers Festival event.
When: 21 May, 6-7.30 pm
Where: Maiden Theatre
Cost: $15 pp incl light refreshments
Bookings: 9231 8134

1 August-24 November

Darwin and the Trees of Life

An exhibition showcasing Trust Scientists’ work in the field and the lab.
When: 1 August to 24 November, 10 am-4 pm weekdays
Where: Red Box Gallery, National Herbarium of NSW
Enquiries: 9231 8111

16 August

Darwin’s Legacy at the Royal Botanic Gardens: Open Day

Meet Botanic Gardens Trust scientists and come behind the scenes with herbarium, plant pathology and DNA lab tours, demonstration, guided tours of the Gardens and more.
When: 16 August 10 am-4 pm
Where: Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
Enquiries: 9231 8331

10 September, 10 October and 3 November

Darwin - Special interest walk

Plants have evolved to thrive in diverse and extreme environments. Explore some of their fascinating adaptations and cooperative evolutionary partnerships with animals and insects.
When: 10 September, 10 October and 3 November, 10-11.30 am
Where: Leaves from the Palm Grove Centre
Cost: $28 pp
Bookings: 9231 8134

Public lecture by Trust Scientist Dr Peter Weston

Folow this link to listen to Trust Scientist Peter Weston’s talk published on the Australian Academy of Science website:

Originally posted by Ian Woolf

Darwin's Birthday 12th February 2009

Darwin’s 200th birthday is next week on Thursday 12 February.
The menu for his birthday dinner was released today – from the primordial ocean to dinosaur drumettes.
Also, this Sunday the Archbishop of Melbourne joins us in celebrating Darwin’s contributions to humanity.
And in Sydney and Melbourne UK geneticist Steve Jones asks if evolution is over? This is the first in a series of speakers talking about Darwin and his relevance over the next two weeks.

Eat your way through 4 billion years of evolution

Melbourne will host a unique dinner to celebrate Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday on 12 February at Melbourne Museum. Guests will eat their way through the evolutionary tree – from primordial soup, to the first life on Earth, to the mammals.
The menu was developed by John Long, one of Australia’s leading palaeontologists, and head of science at Melbourne Museum.The birthday party is open to the public and will include evolution themed entertainment.“We’ll start with crusty arancini symbolising the earth’s crust. Four billion years ago the Earth was young and lifeless,” says John.
“Algae appeared in the oceans three billion years ago. We’ll be eating algae – as sushi wrapped with nori,” he says.
“The oceans thickened to form a primordial soup – represented by shots of seafood bisque – and filled with invertebrate life – represented by scallops, prawns and oysters.
“480 million years ago fish appeared. Then life spread from the oceans to the land, the dinosaurs, birds and the mammals appeared. All will appear on the menu."
 “The killer asteroid that ended the age of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago is the theme for desert. It’s marked with meteorites of churros with a lava centre."
And then Chris Darwin, Charles’ great great grandson, will cut a unique 200th birthday cake modelled on an Aldabra Island tortoise from the Museum’s collection. These tortoises grow to over a metre and can live for more than 100 years. They demonstrate the gigantism that Darwin saw on the Galapagos Islands.
“There dinner concludes. The rise of the primates is off the menu."
Entertainment will be provided by the National Institute of Circus arts and their spectacular Whale Evolution show, IMAX film features, and the museum’s own exhibits.
Tickets are available for $150.
Details and bookings at
Darwin’s birthday party is just one of a series of events marking Darwin’s work and ideas. Melbourne’s celebrations commence with a church service at St Paul’s Cathedral on Sunday 8 February.
Interviews: please contact Penny Underwood, (03) 9818-8540,

Celebrating Darwin at St Paul’s

A church service is probably the last thing you would expect to kick off a year-long celebration of evolution - but that’s exactly what’s happening at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Melbourne at 2pm on Sunday 8 February.
Entitled Science and Faith: The Intersection the service will be the first official event of Evolution – the Festival, a public celebration of 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin and 150 years since the publication of the book in which he set out his theory of evolution by natural selection, On the Origin of Species.
2009 is also the International Year of Astronomy, celebrating 400 years since Galileo first pointed a telescope at the sky.
Given that many Christian groups still dispute the idea of evolution by natural selection, and that the Roman Catholic Church placed Galileo under house arrest for his view that the Earth revolved around the Sun, the service sets out to explore whether faith and science can be harmonised as different paths to truth.
“I have never believed science and faith to be at odds,” says Prof Phil Batterham, a committed Baptist, who is associate Dean of Science at Melbourne University and a speaker at the service.
“There is much common ground between the pursuits of faith and science. Both search for truth.”
Batterham is chair of the organising committee for Evolution – The Experience, a major conference on the impact of Darwin to be held in the Melbourne Convention Centre from 9 February to 13 February.
He will be providing his views at the service, along with the Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, the Most Revd Dr Philip Freier, whose first degree was in biological science, and emeritus Professor of Physics at Monash University, Prof John Pilbrow, who is current president of the Institute for the Study of Christianity in an Age of Science and Technology (ISCAST).
More at:

Is Human Evolution Over?

Steve Jones is speaking at the University of Sydney this Thursday, and in Melbourne on Monday 9 February
Jones is a leading evolutionary thinker and great talent.
He can talk about Darwin’s work, its importance today and the future evolution of the human race.
His lecture is on the future of human evolution.
“Many people are concerned about what the future might bring and, from Thomas More's Utopia of 1516 to the latest science fiction fantasy, they have made lurid models of what may be to come.
Evolution is all about understanding the past; but I will argue that we now know so much about our own biological history that it is possible to make some informed guesses about the Darwinian future.
Everything we see around us suggests that, at least for the time being and at least in the modern world, the agents that lead to genetic change - mutation, natural selection, and geographic isolation - are losing their ability to do so and that human evolution is more or less over. There is, as a result, no need to worry what Utopia might be like, for we are living in it now.”
For interviews contact me on 0417 131 977or
For public information go to:
Time: 6:30pm
Location: Eastern Avenue Auditorium, University of Sydney
Cost: Free
Contact: Sam Solomon
Phone: (02) 9036 9926

Evolution speakers

And next week there are a host of speakers attending a Darwin conference in Melbourne.
Here’s a list and brief summary.

Prof. Steve Jones, University College London

Without variation we'd have no genetics and no evolution - still no one really knows why it's there. This is just one of the many big questions Professor Steve Jones explores through his work, along with sex, variation, race, and inherited disease.
His book, In the Blood, explores, confirms and debunks some commonly held beliefs about inheritance and genetics. Topics explored include issues as diverse as "lost tribes", European royal families and haemophilia.

Prof. Jonathan Marks, University of North Carolina

Prof. Marks' research interests focus on primate/human evolution, race, molecular genetics and evolution, general physical anthropology, history of studies of human evolution and variation, anthropology of science, critical studies in human genetics, and general anthropology.

Prof. Michael Ruse, Florida State University

As one of the most prolific and well known philosophers and historians of Darwinism, Prof. Ruse has authored and edited many classic books including:
The Philosophy of Biology, Sociobiology: Sense or Nonsense?, The Darwinian Revolution, Is Science Sexist?, Taking Darwin Seriously, Homosexuality: A Philosophical Inquiry, Mystery of Mysteries: Is Evolution a Social Construction?, Can a Darwinian be a Christian?, Cloning, Genetically Modified Foods, Stem Cell Research, Debating Design: Darwin to DNA, Darwin and Design: Does Evolution have a Purpose?, The Evolution/Creation Struggle, and Charles Darwin.

Dr Robert T. Bakker, Tate Museum

Bakker was the first man who hypothesized that dinosaurs may have been warm-blooded, and was the scientist who believed that diseases caused the demise of the terrible lizards. He is also the author of the famous book The Dinosaur Heresies.

Prof. Alan Dixson, Victoria University, Wellington

Prof. Dixson’s lecture will deal with the origins of human mating systems and sexual behaviour as illuminated by comparative studies of the reproductive anatomy and behaviour of extant primates.

Prof. Tim Flannery, Macquarie University

An internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer and conservationist, Tim Flannery has published more than 130 peer-reviewed scientific papers. His books include the landmark works The Future Eaters and The Weather Makers.

Prof. Douglas J. Futuyma, Stony Brook University, NY                                  

Douglas J. Futuyma is a Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolution at Stony Brook University.
He is the author of the textbooks Evolutionary Biology (3 editions) and Evolution (2005), and of Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution (1982, 1995), which concerned the conflict between science and creationism.

Prof. Jenny Graves, Australian National University

Jenny Graves is a geneticist who works on Australian animals - kangaroos and platypus are a specialty, but devils (Tasmanian) and dragons (lizards) and even frogs are fair game.
Her laboratory is famous for using this unique perspective to explore the origin, function and (dismal) fate of human sex chromosomes, and even to discover novel human genes.

Prof. Randolph Nesse, University of Michigan

Randolph Nesse's primary current research focus is on how selection shapes mechanisms that regulate defences such as pain, fever, anxiety and low mood. His work emphasises the utility of negative emotions, and how a signal detection analysis (the "smoke detector principle") explains why defence expression so often seems excessive.
He notes that low mood is useful to disengage effort from unreachable goals, and failure to disengage often leads to depression. Closely related is his work on how social selection for relationship partners can shape human capacities for altruism, empathy and complex sociality.

Prof. Neil Shubin, University of Chicago

Neil Shubin has been one of the major forces behind a new evolutionary synthesis of expeditionary palaeontology, developmental genetics, and genomics.
He has found new fossils that change the way we think about many of the key transitions in evolution: from the reptile-mammal transition and the water-land transformation, to the origin of frogs, salamanders, turtles and flying reptiles.

Prof. John H. Vandermeer, University of Michigan

John is one of the great names in ecology having undertaken an extraordinary professional journey throughout his career: from population theory to sustainable agriculture and the role of ecologists as potential agents of social and political change.

Prof. Margo Wilson and Prof. Martin Daly, McMaster University

What does evolution tell us about homicide? Trained in the study of nonhuman animal behaviour, Margo Wilson and Martin Daly have brought a Darwinian perspective to bear on human social behaviour, including interpersonal conflict as manifested in homicide and nonlethal violence.

Prof. Jim Chisholm, University of Western Australia

Prof. Chisholm uses the principles of evolutionary ecology, life history theory, sexual selection theory and parental investment theory to investigate the role of early psychosocial stress and attachment history in the evolution and development of theory of mind, the capacity for culture and the development of alternative reproductive strategies and their implications for health and health inequalities.

Prof. Ross Crozier, James Cook University

What can ants tell us about evolution?
Ross Crozier's interest in biology began from watching ants and termites in South East Asia as a child.
He's explored many aspects of the evolution and genetics of social insects, for example how do they recognise and estimate relatedness?

A/Prof. Jonathan Foster, University of Western Australia

He has combined a career in the UK and Australia as a senior international researcher in cognitive neuroscience with a role as consultant neuropsychologist in clinical practice. Foster's research has focused on the key mechanisms underpinning the changes that occur in neurocognitive functioning across the lifespan.

Prof. Peter Gluckman, University of Auckland

Peter's research encompasses the hormonal regulation of fetal and postnatal growth, developmental neuroscience and neuroprotection, and comparative aspects of the evolutionary-developmental biology interface.

Prof. Michael Goddard, University of Melbourne

Since his PhD on genetics of guide-dogs for the blind (1973-77), Michael Goddard has worked on research into the genetic improvement of livestock. This concentrates on the utilisation of molecular genetics in livestock improvement. For instance, he helped develop the concept of "genomic selection" and is now applying this to dairy and beef cattle.

Prof. David Green, Monash University

David's proof of the universality of networks in 1992 showed that networks (nodes linked by edges) are inherent in both the structure and behaviour of all complex systems. It also established a link between evolution and self-organisation in general.

Prof. Colin Groves, Australian National University

Colin Groves’ has worked for 40 years on the taxonomy and phylogeny of primates (including humans) and other mammals.
This research has involved work in museums, fieldwork in Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia, and much writing and lecturing on evolution and in opposition to creationist fantasies.

Prof. Brian Hall, Dalhousie University

Prof. Hall trained as an experimental embryologist at the University of New England (UNE), Armidale (NSW), and is an expert on skeletal development. He has played a major role in integrating evolutionary and developmental biology into the discipline now known as Evolutionary Developmental Biology (evo-devo).

Prof. Ary Hoffmann, University of Melbourne

Ary Hoffmann has shown how natural populations evolve in response to environmental stresses, initially using Drosophila as a model system and later applying the same approaches to beneficials and pest organisms.
His research has led to major advances in understanding how stressful periods influence evolutionary rates, how insects adapt to overcome stressful conditions, and when evolutionary limits occur.

Dr John Long, Museum Victoria

John's research work has focussed on the early evolution of fishes in Australia and other parts of Gondwana. He has collected fossils throughout Australia, Thailand, Vietnam, South Africa, and has been on two expeditions to Antarctica. He has become well-known for his discoveries of well-preserved Devonian age fish fossils from Gogo, in the Kimberley (including his discovery of Mcnamaraspis, the state fossil emblem of Western Australia), and of dinosaurs and marine reptile fossils in Western Australia.

Prof. Rick Shine, University of Sydney

Rick's studies on sexual selection in snakes and lizards have provided some of the first and most detailed information on topics such as sperm competition, cryptic female choice, and sexual conflict.
His recent studies on invasive cane toads have documented remarkably rapid evolutionary responses both in the toads and in the Australian species with which they interact, suggesting that an evolutionary perspective can play a critical role in formulating solutions to conservation issues.

Dr Suzanne Sadedin, Monash University and University of Tennessee

Fortunately, a flirtation with computer science provided Suzanne with an avenue into theoretical evolution.
Her recent work includes investigations of cultural evolution, social networks, landscape genetics and the evolution of complexity.

Dr Thomas Suddendorf, University of Queensland

Thomas' research interests include the cognitive abilities of primates and young children and the evolution of the human mind. Of particular interest to him are representational capacities such as those related to understanding of self, time and mind.

Read about the conference at
And the other events at
Further details on evolution story opportunities later this week.
Niall Byrne
Science in Public
Full contact details at

Originally posted by Ian Woolf

Sunday 1 February 2009

people declaring no denomination has nearly trebled from 6.7 per cent to 18.7 per cent

"Since the 1971 census, when the "no religion" option was included for the first time, the number of people declaring no denomination has nearly trebled from 6.7 per cent to 18.7 per cent."
Please see for statistical proof that we are growing :)

Originally posted by Nathan Dunn