[ASC-list] The man who killed Pluto; Skeptical Shermer and one of the world’s bravest women - in Melbourne on Sunday

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Mon Sep 12 01:48:42 UTC 2011


Next Sunday 18 September, Melbourne is hosting a remarkable collection of people for a one day public conference at the Melbourne Convention Centre. The organisers are offering ASC members 15% off.

Speakers include:

·         Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the astrophysicist who ‘dumped Pluto’, advises Presidents on space policy, and who will present the sequel to Cosmos, the epic TV documentary by Carl Sagan.

·         Michael Shermer has exposed fallacies behind intelligent design, 9/11 conspiracies, the low-carb craze and alien sightings. Shermer believes that we can understand our world better only by matching good theory with good science and makes the case in his new book The Believing Brain.


·         Ayaan Hirsi has been described as one of the bravest women in the world. Born in Somali and subjected to genital mutilation, her experience in Africa, Holland and now America have made her a passionate defender of the rights of women from oppression justified by religion and culture. She lives with round-the-clock security and will speak by video.



The other speakers are:

·         Tim Flannery

·         Christopher Hitchens (by video)

·         Father Bob Maguire

·         Cristina Rad, an outspoken atheist, and rationalist from Romania using YouTube (ZOMGitsCriss) for her ideas

·         Shane Koyczan, a Canadian Poetry SLAM champion whose work was featured in the opening ceremony of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

·         Josh Thomas will m/c the day.

The organisers are offering the science community including all ASC members a 15% discount.

Just visit their site: http://thinkinc.org.au<http://thinkinc.org.au/>, click the "Tickets Now On Sale" banner and when asked for a discount code, enter: SCIENCEISSEXY.

Please note: we’re not involved in organising this event – so any questions please to Sean Kwan, kwan at crispent.com<mailto:kwan at crispent.com>

Here’s more about Tyson, Shermer and Hirsi.



Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is perhaps the most influential astrophysicist of his generation.

He is director of New York City's Hayden Planetarium and was arguably the man most responsible for Pluto losing its planetary status. He argues that the word planet has no real meaning anyway.

He is the inheritor of Carl Sagan’s legacy – he starts production soon on the sequel to Sagan’s Cosmos TV series (the most widely watched PBS series ever).

Tyson's professional research interests include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way. Tyson obtains his data from the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as from telescopes in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and in the Andes Mountains of Chile.

He was appointed by President GW Bush to commissions advising on space exploration (Moon, Mars and Beyond); and on the future of the US aerospace industry. And in 2006 NASA appointed him to their advisory council.

Michael Shermer

Michael Shermer is a campaigner for rational thinking. He founded Skeptic magazine and has published widely. He has exposed fallacies behind intelligent design, 9/11 conspiracies, the low-carb craze and alien sightings. Shermer believes that we can understand our world better only by matching good theory with good science.

In May he published The Believing Brain with his theory on how beliefs are born, formed, nourished, reinforced, challenged, changed, and extinguished. This book synthesizes Shermer’s 30 years of research to answer the questions of how and why we believe what we do in all aspects of our lives, from our suspicions and superstitions to our politics, economics, and social beliefs.

He is interested in more than just why people believe weird things, or why people believe this or that claim, but in why people believe anything at all.

Over the years he’s taken on the irrational – from intelligent design to the stock markets.

He’s also a fierce libertarian. He spoke at the Redback in 2008 on his last book and had some interesting views on personal choice and society. He’s not a fan of socialised medicine. He acknowledges that the US health system is broken but doesn’t think the government can fix it. I think he should get out of the US more.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Born in Somali and subjected to genital mutilation, her experience in Africa, Holland and now America have made her a passionate defender of the rights of women from oppression justified by religion and culture.

She recently said for example that the provisions of Sharia are incompatible with modern Western individual rights, particularly the equal rights of women.

She lives with round-the-clock security and will speak by video.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1969. The daughter of a political opponent of the Somali dictatorship, Ayaan Hirsi Ali grew up in exile, moving from Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia then Kenya.

As a young child, she was subjected to female genital mutilation. As she grew up, she embraced Islam and strove to live as a devout Muslim. But she began to question aspects of her faith. One day, while listening to a sermon on the many ways women should be obedient to their husbands, she couldn't resist asking, "Must our husbands obey us too?"

In 1992 Ayaan was married off by her father to a distant cousin who lived in Canada. In order to escape this marriage, she fled to the Netherlands where she was given asylum, and in time citizenship. She was elected to the Dutch parliament from 2003 to 2006. While in parliament, she focused on furthering the integration of non-Western immigrants into Dutch society, and on defending the rights of Muslim women.

In 2004 Ayaan gained international attention following the murder of Theo van Gogh. Van Gogh had directed her short film Submission, a film about the oppression of women under Islam. The assassin, a radical Muslim, left a death threat for her pinned to Van Gogh's chest.

In 2006, Ayaan had to resign from parliament when the then Dutch minister for Immigration decided to revoke Ayaan's Dutch citizenship, arguing that Ayaan had mislead the authorities at the time of her asylum application. However, the Dutch courts confirmed that Ayaan was indeed a legitimate Dutch citizen, leading to the fall of the government. Disillusioned with the Netherlands, she subsequently moved to the United States.

A visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, Ayaan is currently researching the relationship between the West and Islam. She has to live with round-the-clock security. Her willingness to speak out and her abandonment of the Muslim faith have made her a target for violence by Islamic extremists.


________

Niall Byrne

Creative Director
Science in Public

82 Hudsons Road, Spotswood  Vic  3015
(PO Box 2076 Spotswood VIC 3015)
03 9398-1416, 03 9078-5398, 0417 131 977

niall at scienceinpublic.com.au<mailto:niall at scienceinpublic.com.au>
Twitter scienceinpublic
www.scienceinpublic.com.au<http://www.scienceinpublic.com.au/>

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