Canberra Skeptics Lecture: Doctor Who: science win, or science fail?

Speaker: Dr Lindy Orthia

Date: Saturday, 4 May 2013

Time: 1:30 – 3:00pm

Location: Lecture Theatre, CSIRO Discovery, Clunies Ross Street, Acton, ACT

Free Admission

2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the first broadcast of the British science fiction television series Doctor Who, a program that has often grappled with science-related themes during its illustrious history. The immense popularity of Doctor Who‘s new series, as rebooted in 2005, has prompted a number of science communicators in the 21st century to publish books or organise events on ‘the science of Doctor Who‘, examining the accuracy of the program’s science or the plausibility of its fanciful technologies.

Yet there is much more to science in Doctor Who than facts and gadgets. Doctor Who has frequently engaged with ethical dilemmas in science, has featured more than 200 scientist characters of varying moral status, and many of its stories position science in a political, social and economic context. In other words Doctor Who is rich with depictions of the place of science in society, and presents particular ideological frames for the relationship between science, rationality, ethics and democracy. In this lecture Dr Lindy Orthia will review some of these representations of science, and will discuss whether Doctor Who could be considered ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for science. The lecture will draw examples from throughout both the original series (1963-1989) and the new series (2005-continuing).

Lindy Orthia is an award-winning lecturer in science communication at the Australian National University. Her PhD thesis was entitled ‘Enlightenment was the choice: Doctor Who and the Democratisation of Science’, and she has published or presented numerous papers about science in Doctor Who since completing it. She is the editor of a forthcoming volume entitled Doctor Who and Race, which includes three essays looking at the nexus of race and science in Doctor Who. Lindy’s ongoing teaching and research interests include representations of science in popular fiction, and the place of ideologies of science in public discourse.


Canberra Skeptics Incorporated is a non-profit association incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory for the purpose of promoting critical thinking. For further information about us, including our podcast “The Hansard – Canberra Skeptics Record of Reason,” please visit our website

There will be a networking function following the lecture.  This will be held in King O’Malley’s Irish Pub, 131 City Walk, Civic.