The Null Device

I just came back from the Atheist Society meeting, where one Dr. Mark Newbrook gave a speech titled Nutters I Have Known. It was most entertaining; Newbrook spoke for just over an hour, and catalogued a long list of various schools of independent thought he had come in contact with; highlights included one P.N. Oak's Vedic history of the world (according to him, the name Australia comes from the Hindi "Astralaya", or "land of missiles"), Ted Holden's particularly eccentric take on neo-Velikovskianism, Reverse Speech, a thornbush in Geelong said to have been descended from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea, Richard Shaver's Deros, Reptoids, and an Australian named Rex Gilroy who claims that there are pyramids and live dinosaurs in the outback. As you can imagine, it was highly entertaining, especially to those interested in matters psychoceramic.

The talk was quite well attended; it was in a smaller room than usual (as the Comedy Festival had apparently taken the usual venue), and the room was full, with people sitting on the floor. At the end, when the time came for questions, one member of the audience (a middle-aged gent who said that he was a qualified electrical engineer and taught himself physics) got up and claimed that quantum physics is itself an insane idea, and one riddled with falsehood and fraud. Apparently he had come up with a thought experiment disproving it, and challenged the physics department at Melbourne University to send someone to debate him at the Speakers' Forum, but the physicists, entrenched in their ivory tower, did not deign to take him up on this. (Or perhaps they were afraid that he would thoroughly discredit them?) Towards the end, he mentioned something about how a supercollider said to be on the verge of discovering a quark was condemned, to be replaced with a new supercollider, and suggesting that this was done to keep the discovery from taking place and not challenge deeply held theories concerning the quark; this, according to him, was standard scientific practice.

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