Richard Saunders (skeptic)

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Richard Saunders
Richard Saunders 2016.jpg
At New Zealand Skeptics conference in 2016
Born
Known forSkepticism, origami, author, podcaster
Websitehttp://skepticzone.tv/ and http://www.mysteryinvestigators.com

Richard Saunders is an Australian skeptic, podcaster, and professional origamist. He received recognition by the Australian Skeptics with a Life Membership in 2001,[1] and has twice served as their president.[2][3] He founded Sydney Skeptics in the Pub.[4] He has presented on skepticism, represented the Australian Skeptics on television and radio shows, and is the co-host of The Skeptic Zone podcast.

Early life[edit]

Saunders was born in Kurri Kurri, New South Wales, Australia,[1] and lived in Tribune, Saskatchewan in 1968 and 1969, as his father R. H. Saunders, who was a reverend, was posted there.[5] Returning to Australia, Saunders attended a variety of primary schools in Mullumbimby,[citation needed] Lithgow,[citation needed] and graduated from Woy Woy High School in 1984.[citation needed]

Professional career[edit]

Web design[edit]

After graduating from high school, Saunders joined educational publisher Ashton Scholastic and sold educational software for Apple II and Commodore 64 home computers. He also worked as a web designer for The Advance Bank of Australia and Commonwealth Bank[2] and in 1999 was transferred to EDS, where he designed the interface for netBank online banking and worked for two years[citation needed] before joining GreenStone Pty Ltd as a web designer for three years.[citation needed]

Acting[edit]

Saunders works as a part-time actor and a film and TV extra, appearing in the background in such feature films as Superman Returns[6] and Australia[citation needed] as well as in the background in the TV shows All Saints[citation needed] and Home and Away.[7]

In 2013 he was invited to be a member of the "World Competition Jury" at Academia Film Olomouc's 48th International Festival of Science Documentary Films or AFO48 in the Czech Republic.[8] He also gave a lecture on the claims of water divining as part of the "Pseudoscience" block and a lecture and workshops on origami as part of the "Beauty of Numbers" block.[9][10][11]

Origami[edit]

In 1988 Saunders began authoring over twenty books on origami,[12] which subsequently were featured on the Australian children's television program Wombat,[13] The Afternoon Show,[14] and similar programs.

In 2008 Saunders and Gary Clark produced DVD Origami, an instructional DVD with step-by-step instructions on how to fold 20 paper models.[15]

Saunders has used his skills in origami to design an origami Pigasus[16] in honour of the mascot of the James Randi Educational Foundation. He authored instructions for folding the Pigasus and a dragon for Skeptic magazine.[17] He also recorded a YouTube instructional video of the Pigasus.[6]

Professional skeptic[edit]

Saunders speaking to the New Zealand Skeptics 2016

Saunders has over 10 years of experience researching claims of the paranormal.[2] As a teenager he was inspired by Channel 7's Great Mysteries of the World with Scott Lambert; he was surprised at just how easily people could fool themselves, even after being shown evidence that they may be wrong.[18] A TV documentary called James Randi in Australia was another great skeptical influence on Saunders.[6] He joined the committee of the Australian Skeptics in 2001 and has been president and vice president[2] of the organization. He was granted a Life Membership in the organization in recognition of his work on The Great Skeptic CD.[1] He went on to create the Great Water Divining DVD and the "card carrying skeptic card". He founded Sydney Skeptics in the Pub,[4] initiated The Skeptic Tank radio show on Net.FM with Stefan Sojka,[19] produced The Australian Skeptics collection on "Theories of Everything" for TVS local Sydney TV, and created several of the Australians Skeptics convention DVDs. He was the acting artistic director and layout manager for The Skeptic Magazine from Australian Skeptics until Tim Mendham was appointed the new editor in June 2009.

In 2003 Saunders co-founded Mystery Investigators with Alynda Brown and Ian Bryce. The program teaches students to use science and critical thinking to investigate claims of the paranormal, such as water divining, spoon bending, and firewalking.[20] In 2008 Brown left the show and was replaced by biologist Rachael Dunlop. In 2013 the show celebrated 10 years of performing.

In 2010 he helped organize the first The Amaz!ng Meeting Australia in Sydney. The meeting featured presentations by several high-profile members of the skeptical community, including James Randi, Brian Dunning, and Eugenie Scott.[20]

Public & media appearances[edit]

Saunders has made many appearances on radio and television in his role as a skeptic, including on Today Tonight,[21][22][23] Sunrise, Radio 2GB,[24] Radio 2UE,[4][25][26] Nova 106.9,[27] 702 ABC,[2][28] and the pilot show for Curiosity Aroused.[29] In 2007 he did a recurring segment for the Mike Williams Saturday Night Live radio program called Myths and Mysteries.[30] In 2011 and 2012 he was a regular on The Dirty Disbelievers, a radio program on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio network.[31]

In July and August 2008 (series #1) and in 2011 (series #2), Saunders appeared as the resident skeptic judge on The One, an Australian reality television program on the Seven Network that tested the powers of several alleged psychics.[2][32][33]

Saunders has spoken at many skeptic meetings including the Australian Skeptics National Convention in 2003,[34] 2004,[35] and 2008.[36][37] In the United States he appeared at The Amaz!ng Adventure North to Alaska[16][38] in 2007, and The Amaz!ng Meeting 6[39][40][41] and the Skeptrack at Dragon*Con,[42] both in 2008.

Saunders produced the Vaccination Chronicles in 2014. The film is a 30-minute documentary collects first-hand anecdotes about the horrors faced by parents of recent generations, when many saw their children die from diseases which are now preventable with vaccines.[43]

Podcasting[edit]

Saunders (left) in 2015, on the Podcaster Panel at TAM13

Saunders was producer and host of The Tank Vodcast (aka The Skeptic Tank).[44] In 2008 this podcast became The Skeptic Zone podcast, which released its 500th episode on 19 May 2018.[6] It is produced weekly and is billed as "The Podcast from Australia for Science and Reason".[45] Saunders has produced every episode of The Skeptic Zone podcast.[6]

Saunders has also appeared as a guest on many other podcasts and vodcasts including The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe,[46][47] Skepticality,[48] Dragon*Pod,[49][50][51] The Reason Driven Podcast,[52] The Amateur Scientist Podcast,[53] Bad Psychics TV,[54] and Meet The Skeptics!.[20]

Great Australian Psychic Prediction Project[edit]

In 2020 Saunders assembled an international team of skeptics to help him complete a project he had been working on since at least 2018, dubbed the "Great Australian Psychic Prediction Project". In addition to Saunders, the team includes Adrienne Hill, Michelle Bijkersma, Rob Palmer, Leonard Tramiel, Paula Lauterbach, Louis Hillman, Wendy Hughes, Angie Mattke, Kelly Burke and Susan Gerbic. As of March 21, 2021, the project encompassed 3224 predictions, with approximately 650 yet to be evaluated.[55]

The project's goal is to collect and determine the accuracy of every psychic prediction published in Australia since 2000. Predictions primarily concern Australia, and the topics include politics, scandals, celebrities, natural disasters, real estate trends, sports, and weather patterns. A minority of predictions concern events outside of Australia. Saunders said that the project "has the opportunity to show us that there are indeed some people who can peer into the future". However, reporting on the interim results for one category, horse racing, Saunders reported that "the overall results are not great for those who claim to see into the future and from what we have gathered so far, I wouldn’t be placing any bets based on their mystical advice."[55]

Adrienne Hill also reflected on the absence of any prediction concerning the historic event that transpired on January 6, the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, which the team watched unfold. She wrote, "Isn’t it amazing that this event is nowhere to be found in the ponderings of those who claim to be able to predict the future?"[55]

Apart from Psychics being wrong, it is interesting how many major events were not predicted. These include 9/11 and the COVID-19 Pandemic.[56]

Awards and honours[edit]

List of publications[edit]

  • Saunders, Richard; Morris, Campbell; Mackness, Brian (1988). Aussiegami : paperfolding Down Under – just for fun. Melbourne: Lothian Publishing.
  • Saunders, Richard; Mackness, Brian (1989). Prehistoric Aussiegami : paperfolding Down Under dinosaurs ... for fun. Melbourne: Lothian Publishing.
  • Saunders, Richard; Mackness, Brian (1990). Horrorgami: Spooky Paperfolding Just for Fun. Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Lothian Publishing Co. ISBN 0-85091-380-2.
  • Mackness, Brian; Saunders, Richard; Saunders, Geoff (1990). Food Tricks. Crows Nest, NSW, Australia: Barnacle Publishing. ISBN 1-86338-013-2.
  • Mackness, Brian; Saunders, Richard; Saunders, Geoff (1990). Paper Tricks. Crows Nest, NSW, Australia: Barnacle Publishing. ISBN 1-86338-009-4.
  • Saunders, Richard; Mackness, Brian (1990). Boats. Crows Nest, NSW, Australia: Barnacle Publishing. ISBN 1-86338-002-7.
  • Saunders, Richard; Mackness, Brian (1990). Decorations. Crows Nest, NSW, Australia: Barnacle Publishing. ISBN 1-86338-008-6.
  • Saunders, Richard; Mackness, Brian (1990). Games. Crows Nest, NSW, Australia: Barnacle Publishing. ISBN 1-86338-001-9.
  • Saunders, Richard; Mackness, Brian (1990). Hats. Crows Nest, NSW, Australia: Barnacle Publishing. ISBN 1-86338-006-X.
  • Saunders, Richard; Mackness, Brian (1990). Masks. Crows Nest, NSW, Australia: Barnacle Publishing. ISBN 1-86338-005-1.
  • Saunders, Richard; Mackness, Brian (1990). Planes. Crows Nest, NSW, Australia: Barnacle Publishing. ISBN 1-86338-007-8.
  • Saunders, Richard; Mackness, Brian (1990). Toys. Crows Nest, NSW, Australia: Barnacle Publishing. ISBN 1-86338-003-5.
  • Saunders, Richard; Roche, Brad (February 1992). The Eyespy Book of Boredom Busters. Sydney, Australia: Ashton Scholastic. ISBN 0-86896-882-X.
  • Saunders, Richard; Davis, Michael (April 1992). The Eyespy Book of Dinosaur Data. Sydney, Australia: Ashton Scholastic. ISBN 0-86896-887-0.
  • Saunders, Richard; Davis, Michael (July 1992). The Eyespy Book of Aussie Action. Sydney, Australia: Ashton Scholastic. ISBN 0-86896-884-6.
  • Saunders, Richard; Somers, Greg (July 1992). The Eyespy Book of Magic Tricks. Sydney, Australia: Ashton Scholastic. ISBN 0-86896-886-2.
  • Saunders, Richard; Davis, Michael (July 1992). Lucky's Favourite Jokes. Sydney, Australia: Ashton Scholastic. ISBN 0-86896-897-8.
  • Saunders, Richard; Spoor, Mike (September 1992). The Eyespy Book of Animal Disguises. Sydney, Australia: Ashton Scholastic. ISBN 0-86896-881-1.
  • Saunders, Richard; Martin, John (October 1992). The Eyespy Book of Christmas Gifts to Make. Sydney, Australia: Ashton Scholastic. ISBN 0-86896-888-9.
  • Saunders, Richard (1992). Animals. Roseville, NSW, Australia: Lineup. ISBN 0-646-09445-9.
  • Saunders, Richard (1992). Decorations for All Occasions. Roseville, NSW, Australia: Lineup. ISBN 0-646-09446-7.
  • Saunders, Geoff; Saunders, Richard (1992). Surfing. Roseville, NSW, Australia: Lineup. ISBN 0-646-10193-5.
  • Saunders, Geoff; Saunders, Richard; Gamble, Kim (1992). Tennis. Roseville, NSW, Australia: Lineup. ISBN 0-646-10192-7.
  • Alabaster, Jo; Saunders, Richard; Bowditch, Peter; Mendham, Tim (December 2014). "Is anyone there?" (PDF). The Skeptic. Australian Skeptics. 34 (4): 10–14. Retrieved 15 March 2016. Review of the Australian Paranormal & Spiritual Expo, Oct 2014.
  • Bowditch, Peter; Saunders, Richard; Mendham, Tim (December 2014). "Fair's fare : purchasing the paranormal" (PDF). The Skeptic. Australian Skeptics. 34 (4): 15–16. Retrieved 15 March 2016. Review of the Australian Paranormal & Spiritual Expo, Oct 2014.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d e f "The One: Judge – Richard Saunders". Yahoo 7 TV Australia. Archived from the original on 23 July 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  3. ^ "Group Info: New South Wales (Australian Skeptics Inc.)", Australian Skeptics website, Australian Skeptics Inc., retrieved 16 May 2013
  4. ^ a b c "Sydney Skeptics in the Pub". Australian Skeptics. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2 June 2009.
  5. ^ Richard Saunders (28 March 2021). "The Skeptic Zone". The Skeptic Zone (Podcast). Richard Saunders. Event occurs at 1:03:00. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e Palmer, Rob (2 July 2018). "Celebrating 500". skepticalinquirer.org. Archived from the original on 22 March 2021. Retrieved 22 March 2021.
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  10. ^ "Souboj vědy s mýtem na AFO48 rozsoudí Richard Saunders" [Clash of science toll on AFO48 judge Richard Saunders] (in Czech). Olomouc, Czech Republic: Academia Film Olomouc. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  11. ^ Academia Film Olomouc (2013), "48th International Festival of Science Documentary Films" (PDF), catalog, Olomouc, Czech Republic: Profi-Tisk Group s.r.o., pp. 86, 91, ISBN 9788024434629, archived from the original (PDF) on 10 August 2013, retrieved 16 May 2013
  12. ^ "Books by Richard Saunders (authored and co-authored)". Mystery Investigators. Archived from the original on 19 November 2006. Retrieved 5 May 2009.
  13. ^ "Origami – Richard Saunders 1988 – Wombat – Ch. 7". YouTube. Archived from the original on 14 April 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
  14. ^ "Origami – Richard Saunders 1989 – Afternoon Show ABC TV". YouTube. Archived from the original on 25 July 2019. Retrieved 7 May 2009.
  15. ^ DVD Origami (online vendor site), Maximedia, retrieved 12 May 2013
  16. ^ a b Randi, James (14 September 2007). "Our Recent Adventure" (blog). SWIFT. James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  17. ^ Saunders, Richard. "How to Fold Origami Pigasus". YouTube. Archived from the original on 8 March 2008. Retrieved 5 December 2008.
  18. ^ Saunders, Richard (June 2015). "Birth of a Nation". The Skeptic. 35 (2): 53.
  19. ^ Saunders, Richard (Summer 2001). "Take an Internet Dip in The Skeptic Tank" (PDF). The Skeptic. New South Wales, Australia: Australian Skeptics Inc. 21 (4): 65. ISSN 0726-9897. OCLC 173343236. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 February 2014.
  20. ^ a b c Brown, Christopher. "Meet Richard Saunders". Meet the Skeptics! Podcast. Archived from the original on 13 January 2014. Retrieved 12 January 2014.
  21. ^ "Ghost (spider) on the stairs", Today Tonight, Seven Network, 19 September 2006, archived from the original on 8 April 2016, retrieved 12 December 2008
  22. ^ Pangallo, Frank (22 December 2009). "Bracelet claims put to the test". Today Tonight. Seven Network. Retrieved 16 May 2013. Is it a mind blowing scientific marvel or merely the mind playing games with reality?
  23. ^ Pangallo, Frank (27 July 2011). "Homeopathy put to the test". Today Tonight. Seven Network. Retrieved 16 May 2013. A scientist is out to bust myths about staying healthy, popping pills by the handful to show what works, and what doesn't.
  24. ^ "The Skeptic Zone #127" (podcast), The Skeptic Zone, New South Wales, Australia: Australian Skeptics Inc., 25 March 2011, retrieved 16 May 2013
  25. ^ "Richard Saunders on Radio 2UE". YouTube. 14 July 2007. Archived from the original on 12 April 2016. Retrieved 11 December 2008.
  26. ^ "The Skeptic Zone #92" (podcast), The Skeptic Zone, New South Wales, Australia: Australian Skeptics Inc., 23 July 2010, retrieved 16 May 2013
  27. ^ "Richard Saunders on NOVA Radio". YouTube. 5 August 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
  28. ^ PM. 15 August 2008. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Bigfoot still out there, despite hoax video.
  29. ^ Watson, Rebecca (host) (16 December 2007), "Curiosity, Aroused: The Pilot" (podcast), Curiosity, Aroused, WordPress, retrieved 12 December 2008
  30. ^ "Myths and Mysteries with Richard Saunders". Mystery Investigators. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  31. ^ Maynard (23 January 2012), The Dirty Disbelievers, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, retrieved 16 May 2013, Take the red pill AND the blue pill on ABC Digital Radio across Australia
  32. ^ Ellliot, Tim (7 July 2008), "Just act paranormal", The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia: Fairfax Digital, Fairfax Media, OCLC 226369741
  33. ^ Robson, Lou (3 July 2008). "Witches brave the fires of scepticism". Green Guide. The Age. Victoria, Australia.
  34. ^ "Report: Convention Roundup" (PDF). The Skeptic. Australian Skeptics Inc. 23 (3): 9–10. Spring 2003. ISSN 0726-9897. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
  35. ^ "Convention Roundup" (PDF). The Skeptic. Australian Skeptics Inc. 24 (4): 6–9. Summer 2004. ISSN 0726-9897. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  36. ^ "News: Convention Roundup" (PDF). The Skeptic. Australian Skeptics Inc. 28 (4): 38. Summer 2008. ISSN 0726-9897. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  37. ^ "Skeptics National Convention 2008". Skeptics SA. Archived from the original on 14 September 2008. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
  38. ^ "Richard Saunders on the Amazing Adventure 2". YouTube. 11 September 2007. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016. Retrieved 11 December 2008.
  39. ^ Randi, James (4 July 2008), "Saunders is in Action!" (blog), SWIFT, James Randi Educational Foundation, retrieved 5 December 2008
  40. ^ Richard Saunders at TAM 6 on Bringing Critical Thinking to Schools on YouTube uploaded 23 January 2012 by James Randi Foundation. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  41. ^ "TAM 6 DVD Set (Disk 2)". James Randi Educational Foundation. 7 November 2008. Archived from the original on 25 April 2009. Retrieved 11 December 2008.
  42. ^ "About: Archive: Past Guests". Dragon*Con website. Dragon*Con. Retrieved 16 May 2013.
  43. ^ Susan Gerbic (24 August 2017). "Enter the Skeptic Zone: An Interview with CSICon Speaker, Richard Saunders". Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  44. ^ "The Tank: Skeptics on the radio". Australian Skeptics website. Australian Skeptics Inc. April 2009. Archived from the original on 24 April 2009. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  45. ^ "Skeptical Podcasts from Australia: The Skeptic Zone", Australian Skeptics website, Australian Skeptics Inc., 12 July 2009, retrieved 16 May 2013, The Podcast from Australia for Science and Reason
  46. ^ Novella, Steven; Watson, Rebecca; Novella, Jay; Novella, Robert; Bernstein, Evan (hosts) (27 September 2007), "Episode #114", The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, New England Skeptical Society, archived from the original (podcast) on 12 October 2007, retrieved 6 December 2008
  47. ^ Novella, Steven; Watson, Rebecca; Novella, Jay; Novella, Robert; Bernstein, Evan (hosts) (26 August 2008). Episode #162. The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. New England Skeptical Society. Archived from the original (podcast) on 14 September 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2008.
  48. ^ McCarthy, Robynn; Colanduno, Derek (2 November 2005), "Episode #22: The Australian Skeptic – Interview: Richard Saunders", Skepticality, Skeptic Magazine, retrieved 27 November 2011
  49. ^ "Panel 2 – Videocasting 101", Dragon*Pod, Dragon*Con, 8 September 2008, retrieved 6 December 2008
  50. ^ "Panel 4 – Podcasting United Nations", Dragon*Pod, Dragon*Con, 8 September 2008, retrieved 6 December 2008
  51. ^ "Panel 9 – PodSci, Science Podcasters Roundtable", Dragon*Pod, Dragon*Con, 8 September 2008, retrieved 6 December 2008
  52. ^ Schade, Danny; Lockwood, Mikyle (hosts) (January 2008), "Episode 12 – Providence and Superstition", The Reason Driven Podcast, retrieved 6 December 2008
  53. ^ Episode 42. The Amateur Scientist Podcast. AmateurScientist.org. 10 September 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2008. (audio of show available as mp3 here)
  54. ^ Brougham, William (10 December 2008), "BPTV: William Brougham Interviews Australian Skeptic Richard Saunders" (video), BadPsychics.blogspot.com, retrieved 11 December 2008[dead YouTube link]
  55. ^ a b c Hill, Adrienne; Saunders, Richard (21 March 2021). "Psychic Scams: Not for Prophet" (PDF). Skeptics.com.au. Australian Skeptics. Archived (PDF) from the original on 23 March 2021. Retrieved 23 March 2021. With this new understanding of the potential damage that psychics can bring to people emotionally and financially, I looked forward to the opportunity of helping with Richard's project.
  56. ^ Palmer, Rob (17 December 2021). "Pondering the Published Predictions of Prominent Psychics". Skeptical Inquirer. Archived from the original on 20 December 2021. Retrieved 20 December 2021. Failing to predict a single one of the over 210 items like this we recorded should be downright embarrassing to people claiming clairvoyance.
  57. ^ Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (7 February 2011), CSI announces new Fellows (press release), Amherst, NY, retrieved 7 August 2011

External links[edit]