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Sceptics Listen To Bond Professors

The Dean of the faculty of Health Sciences at Bond University , Chris Del Mar is the opening speaker at the upcoming Skeptics convention on the 13 and 14 of August, at Bond University .

The Australian Sceptics investigate pseudoscience and paranormal from a responsible scientific view point, and the Australian convention boasts a stellar line up of some of Australia 's most critical and well known thinkers.

Professor Del Mar's address is titled “The Teaching and Practise of Evidence-based Medicine”. What convention attendees can expect to hear will be both instructional and a call to action for better practise and procedure in examining and assessing facts.

Evidence based medicine is about gathering hard evidence to support clinical decisions, and although EBM is specifically related to medical practise, the principles apply to all critical thinking and deduction. Professor Del Mar said “There are four components to EBM, we call them the ‘4 A's', being ask; access; assess; appraise. With EBM we teach students how to ask a question, how to access and search for information and data, how to assess that information critically and appraise it for validity, and finally how to apply all of this information for the patient's best care”.

Professor Del Mar pointed out that “medical practitioners in particular, have to deal with vast amounts of information, much of it conflicting. EBM helps clarify this. For instance there may be several contradictory research articles regarding the use of a certain drug and its patient application. Using EBM a practitioner acquires the skills to sift through the research and find important facts like the strength of effect. Hard evidence is essential for clinical decisions and to support best practise care of a patient. EBM teaches how to apply strict criteria for the quality and validity of research. Practising clinicians assess the clinical relevance of the best studies.”

Also speaking at the conference will be Associate Professor Jeff Brand, from faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. The title of Dr Brand's paper is “The Potential for Harm in the Media” and in particular, looks at some cultural misconceptions that we have regarding violent video.

It is a popularly held concept that watching violent videos, especially by younger people, leads to violent and antisocial behaviour. “Not so” says Dr Brand “the research evidence is poor on this issue, and we need to keep a sceptical eye on claims by social researchers in the media about the effect of violent media, in particular videos, on the audience.”

Dr Brand went on to explain “I have done extensive research for the Office of Film and Literature Classification, and that showed a particularly conservative view about the impact of violent media on society. But in reality we know from international crime victim surveys from over 50 countries, that crime is actually dropping, and has done so steadily since the introduction of violent video games in the 1990's. These surveys are also supported by Australian Bureau of Statistics figures. In short, we need to rigorously examine any of these types of claims in the media because when legally challenged in the Courts their assertions can be upheld”.

The Skeptics convention website can be viewed at www.skeptics.com.au.

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