Sorting wheat from the chaff
To ‘‘take something with a pinch of salt,’’ is a signal for skepticism. The warning carries considerably more weight today thanks to social media and the often suspect information on the internet.
Underlining the need for doubt, ‘Take it With a Pinch of Salt’, is the title of a five-lecture seminar series hosted by U3A (University of the Third Age) .
Beginning Wednesday, October 14, the first seminar covers public interest in vaccines, fluoridation, GMOs and diets.
Discerning the validity or otherwise of such information clouds our ability to make informed choices. Is it weird and wonderful or credible science? Trying to bring some clarity to the issue is Dr Doug Ashwell, Massey School of Communication, Journalism and Marketing.
Deception happens in the animal kingdom also. On October 21, retired entomologist, Jim Esson, will reveal deception as a means to survival, with animals such as butterflies displaying fierce ‘eyes’ on their wings, and using strategies like camouflage.
Caveat emptor, like the pinch of salt, is a warning over copies, fakes, forgeries and similar deceptions. On October 28 presenter, Dr Gina Salapata, Senior lecturer and programme co-ordinator of Massey’s Classical Studies, explains how fakes are fascinating only because nobody, especially experts claiming infallibility, wants to be associated with them. She will reveal great classical deceptions, their manufacturing techniques and detections in this illustrated talk.
‘Crete – knowledge, truth, blame’ takes a Kiwi slant on the adage that truth is the first casualty of war. This November 4 talk by Dr Rachael Bell, a lecturer at Massey’s School of Humanities about the 1941 Battle for Crete, traces how New Zealand’s War History Branch determined the responsibility for the crucial withdrawal from Maleme Airfield, and the effect of that on our history.
Who said statistics are dull? The final lecture on November 11 shows how statistics are essential in the search for scientific truth. Statistician, Professor Martin Hazelton at Massey’s Institute of Fundamental Sciences, will examine a scientific scandal unearthed by a statistical detective.
Seminars are at All Saints Community Centre from 2.15pm to 4pm. Admission is free with a gold coin for refreshments.