Canberra Skeptics lecture: Thinking outside the box: how blue green algae, coconut bat soup and the jungles of Guam provide clues to the causes of motor neuron disease

Speaker: Dr Rachael Dunlop PhD FSB

Date: Saturday, 17 August 2013

Time: 3:00 – 4:30pm

Location: Questacon, King Edward Terrace, Parkes, ACT

Free Admission

Science is proud of its ability to self-correct and change position when new evidence is presented, but what about when this doesn’t happen? And why does it take so long for science to accept changes in dogma and what are the consequences in such cases? In this talk, Dr Rachael Dunlop describes an unorthodox approach to the problem of motor neuron disease and how her research done in collaboration with a handpicked consortium of scientists has uncovered clues to the causes of motor neuron disease. The search begins in the jungles of Guam, heads to the deserts of the Middle East, crosses to baseball pitches in the US and finally arrives in a lab in Sydney. This is a tale of blue green algae, dementia, Hollywood, coconut fruit bat soup and how holding a skeptical eye up to the causes of motor neuron disease can lead to a breakthrough.

Rachael Dunlop PhD FSB, a post-doctoral fellow in the School of Medical and Molecular Biosciences UTS, is a campaigner for science-based medicine in Australia, with a special interest in refuting the claims of the anti-vaccination movement. In her day job, she works as a medical researcher with an interest in motor neurone disease, in particular the role of blue green algae in triggering ALS/MND.

Rachael is a reporter for The Skeptic Zone Podcast and blogs at the Skeptics Book of Pooh Pooh and tweets @DrRachie. She is also a vice president of the Australian Skeptics, and a member of Mystery Investigators science show for children. Her writings on the Australian anti-vaccination movement and alternative medicine have appeared in Fairfax newspapers, Mamamia, Australasian Science, Australian Doctor and the US based blog, Science Based Medicine, amongst others. She has also appeared on The Project, The Drum and Mamamia TV. In 2010, Rachael won the Shorty Award in the Health category for the most interesting health and science information on Twitter. As an ex-graphic designer and copywriter, Rachael enjoys combining her love of science, art and social media as a means of communicating science to the public

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

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

This Inspiring Australia initiative is supported by the Australian Government as part of National Science Week.