SKEPTICS AUSTRALIA (Tas) Inc.

Skeptics in Tasmania . Seeking the Evidence!


Leyon Parker
President:

Leyon Parker.

Leyon has been a sceptic ever since he attended his first Sunday School class at the Moss Vale Presbyterian Church when he was 6 years old.

He did not fully realise it of course until he was about 14 and gave up attending church to join that other great Australian Sunday tradition, laying on the beach with his mates at his local surf lifesaving club in the southern suburbs of Wollongong.

As a teenager his irreverence for authority extended beyond the ecclesiastical and into the political realm, not that he was successful in getting Gough elected in time to keep him out of Vietnam as a conscript.

Being born with a bent towards rational thinking he eventually graduated in Civil Engineering from the NSW Institute of Technology and a few years later he and his wife Kim traded in the congested lifestyle of Sydney for the mountains and rivers of Tasmania where he has since fathered two Tasmanians.

Leyon has been working for the Hobart City Council since arriving in Hobart in 1982 where he helps to take care of the City's roads, traffic and parking assets.

Leyon is an avid reader of books by free thinkers and identifies Charles Darwin as his most admired man in history.

He rates the book "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors" by Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan as having influenced him more than any other.

When Leyon is not relaxing tasting the delights of the world's best pinot noirs (Tasmanian of course) he can be found at any number of coastal locations along the East Coast of Tasmania diving for his daily quota of Tasmanian abalone which he claims is the real reason he chose to come to Australia's South Island"


Bryan Walpole

Immediate Past President:
Dr Bryan Walpole

Bryan is a most amiable bloke, charming even on a good day. He is unaware of what I have written about him. So, as I do not owe him any money what I have to say is unadorned.

He is a highly skilled surgeon and specialised for years in emergency medicine. Nowadays he has less pressure in his life, but he still patches up the ailing or injured citizens of Hobart who need a little surgical re-arrangement. He also helps to train medical students and does other worthy work.

Bryan has visited all manner of remote places like Pitcairn Island and the North Pole by working Ship's Doctor on various vessels. He has been to more places than anyone I know, except the bloke I met in Moscow who travelled the world laundering money.

Bryan was our President for several years and thus has the emeritus role of Immediate Part President.

Bryan's other skills include being the kind of gourmet cook that most women dream of: and he brews the best home brew I have ever drunk. So we not only get the benefit of his advice and - if we remain lucky - he may keep providing wondrous meals for committee meetings. Bryan is a man of many talents.


Vice-President:

Alan Bottomley

Alan Bottomley was born on VE Day (9 May 1945), (8 May in Europe).

He studied Science at the University of Tasmania, graduating in 1968 (BSc (Hons). Since then he has pursued a career in Electronics, Engineering and Inventing.

Alan is fascinated by science and loves its power to give us an understanding of Nature, the World and the Universe.

He joined the Skeptics in about 1990 as he was increasingly becoming aware of the need for an organisation that could talk sense about the world and counter a lot of very silly beliefs about the paranormal, superstition, UFO's etc.

More recently he has become interested in WHY humans seem to have such a predilection for believing in paranormal things in the face of there being absolutely no solid evidence for anything of the kind!

Alan likes to think that humans, as a species, will gradually overcome this predilection which seems to be a defect that has evolved into our psyche. Possibly one of the best ways to address this problem is to teach critical thinking skills in schools.


Treasurer:

Prof Garth Paltridge

He used to be a physicist until he became corrupted by climate science (sic?). He was conned into the Skeptics after giving a talk to the annual convention in Hobart.

He is treasurer because he is supposed to be able to add up (or is it to take away?).

Garth spent a lot of his life in the CSIRO Atmospheric Research Division flying silly looking instruments on more-or-less anything that flies.

Spent another slab of time with IASOS (what IS that??) at the University of Tasmania trying unsuccessfully to look wise about things Antarctic.

Went mad after retirement and started to take piano lessons. Suffice it to say that electronic pianos with earphones are a boon to the surrounding personnel.

(Doctor Steve who composes the Skeptics Quiz for the magazine should be able to identify the wall which Prof Paltridge is shielding from the effects of AGW. Well, it is in England, near a Cathedral and the sun is shining.)


Committee Member:

Paul Turvey

Paul worked for "The Hydro" for many years before they made the error of deciding to make do without his assistance. Ever since, power prices have continued to increase! So here is a photo from his collection. It shows the first half a dozen wind generators which were installed to produce cleaner, greener, all-natural electricity.

(I have been informed by spies in the Wildness Society that within 50 years "The Hydro" hopes to cover the entire island with wind generators. Pity about the forests, but protecting the environment has to have the occasional small downside, eh?)

For many years the thoughts of Philip Adams, Dick Smith and other skeptics who professed wisdom made sense to Paul. These guys spoke the truth, it was logical and it was easy to follow. If that was what being a skeptic was all about then that's what attracted him to join. His current views are far wider.

As a growing lad he often assisted his grandfather, a conjurer and magician, as he entertained and mystified audiences. It was this privilege of seeing how easily people were conned into believing what could not possibly be true that convinced Paul that no matter what you see or hear, "It ain't necessarily so"!

The search for the reason why things work the way they do and a suspicion of fortune tellers, clairvoyants and other purveyors of wisdom has been answered by the opportunity to congregate with the wise members of the Tasmanian Skeptics. At last, life has meaning!

When not sending out invitations to 'Skeptics In The Pub' evenings or looking for the truth on the internet, Paul is active in the Hobart Computer Users Group, West Hobart Neighbourhood Watch and obeying the wishes of his wonderful wife, Vicki.


Committee Member for the North:

Douglas Beath

A retired engineer of Scottish provenance. He now resides in the Burnie region. No other information has penetrated the North-South divide.


Committee Member:

Graham Hyland

Graham is a raspberry farmer in the southern part of the Land of the Two Headed People (Tasmania).

 

He is a believer in objective science and supports the concept that Reason is man’s only legitimate means of knowledge. He believes that Faith is the enemy of Reason and that the respect for Individual Rights – as opposed to Collective Rights – is the only way that the human race can flourish.

 

Graham’s major ticket items on his wish list are:

  • That all Dictatorships be abolished and,
  • That the initiation of force be banned from human relationships.

Graham thinks he is lucky to be married to the adorable Jane, and is eternally grateful that their son, Callum, gets his brains from his mother. He loves watching almost all forms of top level sport but is particularly ordinary himself.

 

Graham is a sometime professional sportsman with interests and high achievements in badminton, cricket, golf and real tennis. (Note: he has been forced to admit this by the committee on pain of scragging.)   He reckons that the love of and support for critical thinking is his main interest.


Committee Member:

George Mellefont

George is an ex Queenslander and was born in Longreach in 1940 and spent most of his childhood and teenage years in Bundaberg being educated at the local State Primary, Intermediate and High schools. He studied Medicine at the University of Qld from 1959 to 1964.

His association with Tassie began in 1965  when he took a position as a Junior Resident Medical Officer at the Royal Hobart Hospital. Here he was lucky to work with some great mentors who awakened and encouraged my latent scepticism. 

His father was a school teacher who is really the person who sowed the seeds of critical thinking in his brain. He had studied philosophy as part of his external  BA  degree course and amongst many things he taught his children to remember a shortened version of Nietzche's writing on tolerance-" This is my way, what is your way, the way doesn't exist".

There were many other pearls cast towards them and and on reflection this was the beginning of his personal scepticism.

On the night of his graduation ceremony George passed his degree certificate to his father for safe keeping prior to his departure to a very long graduation party - he said to George "Congratulations, but remember this bit of paper won"t be much use to you if you fail to use and to continue to develop your common sense". Always the school teacher!

George's mates were astounded! After a great year at the Royal he left for a five year stint with the Dept of Public Health in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea and worked in various locations. This was a formative time for George. As a result of this time he has always believed that if all young people had the opportunity to have a transcultural experience in thier formative years then world harmony would advance.

To practise medicine in New Guinea really made George question whether some western medical and social practices and principles were actually really valid.

After 1970 he has always  worked in General Practice firstly in in Huonville, then with his family, he moved to the Gold Coast for six years and finally in I977  he returned to Tassie with his young family and started my solo General Practice in Geeveston.

George describes myself as a "Refugee from the Gold Coast" The last 30 years of his working life were in that location. He joined Australian Skeptics in the early 1980's after reading in the newspaper that Philip Adams, Dick Smith and others had formed the organisation. He wrote a letter "I am not too sure about you lot but would like to join AS" and he has been a member ever since.

George's motivation for becoming involved in AS was to learn more about the developing field of paranormal medicine-known usally as alternative medicine. It seemed to him that some of the disciplines that were striving to attain a legitiimate place along side convential medicine bore a striking resemblance to the witch doctors of Papua New Guinea.  

George's other interests are in Geology and Astromomy and Sociology - i.e. all the atomic and molecular arrangements configurations and interactions that he can observe outside of his own self.

After 40 odd years of medicine he retired permanently in November 2007.

You should be aware he is a casual skeptic, atheist, cynic and retiree and that he attended the last AGM of Australian Skeptics in Tasmania, fell for the manoeuvre of himself standing still whilst everyone else stepped back when committee nominations were called. He won't get caught a second time.

You will notice that no photograph accompanies this CV. Though he considers himself a completely rational human being he long ago ceased to believe in and to associate with cameras, scales,mirrors and fashion. George is really not interested in how the outside world views his clothed unique molecular conglomeration- that is for others to worry about.