While much of my work has been published on such sites as the Griffith University Society for Skeptics and Freethinkers blog and the Young Australian Skeptics blog, this page is dedicated to work that may not necessarily fit the mandate of either.
Ahoy hoy, my name’s Jayson. I’m swiftly approaching 31 years of age (which I’m assured is the new 25 by sincere seeming students) and am the parent of 2 beautiful girls and one less beautiful but significantly furrier cat, all of whom I share with my partner.
I’m nearing the completion of a Bachelor of Communication with a double major in Journalism and Public Relations, developing skills which I’m determined to use for good rather than the more financially tempting evil, although all offers of evil will be considered.
Along the way to finally finding my tertiary niche, I completed a good portion of a Bachelor of Behavioral Science, enough to know what your thinking anyway, several classes in Health Science, and some great philosophy and ethics classes. The common theme in all of these was the use of research and critical thinking to sift through data and/or B.S. to uncover the core elements of each topic, something I truly revel in!
It was this enjoyment of investigation and critical thinking that led to the creation of the Griffith University Skeptics and Freethinkers which I was a founding member of and have been tenacious enough to have held the role of President of since 2007.
My efforts with what became known as the GUSF played no small part in my being nominated for and later awarded the runner-up Australian Skeptics Prize for Critical Thinking in 2007 and a (some) expenses paid trip to prestigious Wagga Wagga, New South Wales to give a talk at the first ever Colloquium of Australian Skeptics in 2008.
Since then I’ve become something of a go-to-guy for weird
shit stuff, having encountered/exposed/confronted climate change deniers, historical revisionists (holocaust deniers), young earth creationists & intelligent design advocates (evolution deniers), ‘faith healers’ who for a fee take advantage of the sick and disabled, U.F.O proponents, white supremacists, vaccine deniers, and a shocking variety of fraudulent and/or misleading health related products and practitioners.
These experiences (and the above list is farrrr from complete) have led to my being interviewed on local ABC Coast FM, 4zzz, and the Token Skeptic podcast, being a guest on ABC Brisbane’s Evenings with Katrina Davidson, featuring on ABC Southern Queensland with Robert Blackmore, and along with Dr Martin Bridgstock, being featured articles in the Courier Mail. I’ve had work published in Skeptic magazine, in particular relating to attempts by Creation Ministries International to hold a full day of presentations under the banner of a Queensland University, presentations that were swiftly cancelled following my investigation.
I have written on topics as diverse as same-sex adoption in NSW, the role of public relations in journalism, local measles outbreaks, the dangers of trial-by-media, the dangerous claims of a local chiropractor and the preventable death of 9 and half month old Gloria Thomas from eczema, treated solely with homeopathic ‘treatments’.
The last story stayed with me and was a strong motivator for my taking the dual role of organiser and media liaison for the 2011 Queensland “10:23 Homeopathy, there’s nothing in it“, awareness campaign. Participants in 70 cities, across 30 countries distributed information regarding the complete lack of quality evidence that homeopathic remedies are any more effective than a placebo, all the while consuming literally hundreds of homeopathic sleeping pills without so much as yawning.
My passion for following the evidence of any claim and relying on the scientific methodology of critical thinking have greatly enhanced my studies in communication, particularly in respect to my journalistic aspirations and understanding of the public relations industry. I would love to be able to take the skills I’m developing and enter the journalism industry. In the meantime I’m busily juggling my family commitments, tertiary study and several exciting projects which I’ll have more to say about very soon!
Jayson D Cooke