With Skepticamp Alberta nearly a week away we’re putting the final touches on some of our marketing and communication efforts. Please check back in the next few days for news regarding confirmed topics and speakers, presentation tips and revised details within our schedule, including the free lunch. Attendance is capped at 150, so please remember to RSVP.
Want to help us get the word out about Skepticamp? If so please feel free to print out the PDFs of any of the posters below for distribution around your office, school, local pharmacy, etc. We also suggest inviting friends, family, and your best-Twitter-or-Facebook-friends; this event is broad in focus and will appeal to anybody with an interest in science, critical thinking, or with any sort of skeptical inklings (even if they aren’t always so skeptical about some other things.)
*Speaking of helping out: the Skepticamp organizing team would like to thank Rachelle Saunders for putting together these fantastic posters.
Next Tuesday (July 20) the GESS is holding an open Board Meeting followed by a Skeptics in the Pub Drinking Skeptically night.
Location: Elephant and Castle, City Centre Mall
Time: 6:00pm – 8:30pm
Topics of conversation will include the upcoming Alberta SkeptiCamp and stories from the Edmonton skeptics who attended the recent TAM 8 event in Las Vegas.
Check out the Drinking Skeptically Facebook event page to RSVP. Hope to see you there!
Last updated: Wednesday, July 21 @ 1:20 am
Note that I’ve modified the format a bit to group the content better since things were starting to get confusing and long. There are now sections for multi-post recaps, single post recaps, replies to specific talks, and other content like videos, pictures, etc.
For those who couldn’t attend or who did and are trying to catch up. I’ll be updating and adding new links as more content becomes available. If you have one you don’t see on this post, please leave a comment and I’ll make sure it gets added.
- The Friendly Atheist (@hemantmehta on Twitter) has been liveblogging since Friday morning with some help from Blag Hag Jen McCreight and @UAJamie, and has some great running commentary of the speakers and the panel discussions peppered with loads of photos, quotes and even video content.
- From The Skeptical Review:
- The Amazing Meeting 8, Day 1 : “This is my first TAM so I have no basis for comparison. I’m also not much of a conference go’er so I’m not even sure how TAM stacks up against DragonCon or more prosaic conferences database administrators, biochemists, and paper salesmen go to.”
- The Amazing Meeting 8, Day 2: “I sat about six rows back for the live taping of SGU. You kind of munch your food in your seat as you await the start of the SGU taping. The schedule indicated there were two live tapings, one Friday morning and one Saturday morning. At first I assumed they’d be doing two shoes but after Friday’s taping ended without Science or Fiction, I realized they tape the show over two days and then make one show out of it.”
- The Amazing Meeting 8, Day 3: “Massimo is always a compelling speaker owing to his great knowledge from several domains of knowledge and his charming mildly accented voice. Massimo, building on his Nonsense on Stilts book, decided to turn his eye towards skeptics themselves.”
- The Amazing Meeting 8, Day 4: “Sunday is mostly a chill out day at TAM. Various attendees get to present short (15 minute) talks/papers. Again, these tend to be very good.”
- TAM 8 Parting Thoughts: “There was some grousing about this TAM not being live streamed like TAM 7. In one way that was a shame because it was the live streaming that really motivated me to attend TAM 8. There seemed to be a lot of fun and energy. TAM 8 attendance was up 30% (in a down turn that doesn’t look like it’s going to be over anytime this decade) and I’d like to think the live streaming had something to do with that.”
- From Atlanta Skeptics:
- TAM8 — First Thoughts: “It is no small thing for me to be out here. I’m not alone of course, may of the Atlanta Skeptics are out here with me — which is a comfort. My co-hosts to MonsterTalk Ben Radford and Dr. Karen Stollznow are here too, the first time we’ve all been together since starting our podcast.”
- TAM 8 — Thoughts About Day 2: “Friday was really a packed day of intellectual discussions and delightful talks. It’s such a thrill for me to be able to hear these well informed experts get up and talk about big ideas, and to be able to get up after the talk and have post-talk discussions with well informed attendees from around the world.”
- From Phil Ferguson at Skeptic Money:
- From Encyclopaedia Billtannica:
- Intro to TAM8: “I also want to comment on the effect of Twitter as a live commenting medium throughout TAM8 and how tweets formed the basis of a lot of analysis of the speeches by those who weren’t there. This is turning out to be an unexpected development to me and it has had some positive and some negative effects on the discourse of the skeptical community at large, in my opinion.”
- The TAM8 Watershed: “There was a theme that developed over the weekend in some of the speeches that I think will be remembered as an overall tone for the conference and perhaps as a watershed moment in the skepticism movement. Although Carol Tavris and Steve Cuno had similar things to say, I am referring most to Phil Plait’s speech, in which he implored us, all of us, to craft our message with the goal of effectively promoting skepticism, not just expressing ourselves.”
- From 4.5 Billion Years of Wonder:
- TAM 8 in quick review: “As always, the SGU dinner was a highlight of my TAM. I even wore a dress for it this year, and I never wear dresses. And of course the two hours of live SGU in the morning were definitely worth dragging myself out of bed earlier than I ever get up for work these days.”
- The Diversity of Skeptical Thought: “I think the most important point in this underlying theme was actually made by someone who did not have a formal speech — Hal Bidlack, the MC. At the beginning of TAM, he said that this would be his last one. Later, I managed to catch him in one of his rare five seconds of standing still, and asked him if he meant as MC or just in general. He said it would probably be his last TAM ever. And when I asked him why, he said “Creative differences”.:
- From Dylan Keenberg at Woo Fighters:
- TAM 8 Summary — Thursday: “Thursday programming of The Amazing Meeting primarily consists of optional workshops up to the event’s opening reception in the evening. This year’s offerings did not interest me enough to pay additional fees for them, but while there were not a lot of events to participate in there were still a number of notable experiences.”
- TAM 8 Summary — Friday (Part 1): “The experiences that I obtained through Friday’s offerings can be categorized no more acutely than inspirational. The day’s talks covered a number of topics and were given by experts in a variety of fields, each tethered to the sturdy foundation of critical thinking. The diversity of subjects made each segment intriguing and that the topics are kept from attendees beforehand provided a welcome anticipation.”
- TAM 8 Summary — Friday (Part 2): “After Simon Singh, Joe Nickell took to the stage to discuss his experiences of going undercover to investigate paranormal claims. Nickell, called by Paul Kurtz “the modern Sherlock Holmes”, creates false personas and then takes part in alleged supernatural rituals. He discussed debunking mediums at Camp Chesterfield, infiltrating the religious camp of Johnny God, being “cured” of made up illnesses by Benny Hinn, and counter-investigating the psychic investigation work of Phil Jordan.”
- TAM 8 Summary — Saturday (Part 1): “Saturday proved to be another rousing conference of diverse minds and varied expertise, beginning with further perspectives on the state and position of skepticism movement, drifting into talks of aliens and paranormal investigations, and concluding with an interview of one of the world’s most famous atheists. There was even some humor thrown in amongst the heady talks, so I felt that Saturday was a real treat!”
- From Bad Engineering:
- Report from TAM 8 (part 1): “The Amazing Meeting 8 is being held right now in Las Vegas and I am here with 1300 other skeptics and luminaries from the skeptic world. Notable presentations from yesterday include…”
- Report from TAM 8 (part 2): “I was looking forward to this speech and I wasn’t disappointed. Jennifer Michael Hecht is the author of several books … and her background in humanities was a breath of fresh air in the room and her passion and interest in the subject of the history of science and faith was infectious.”
- From Blag Hag:
- TAM8 Part 1 — Fangirling: “The Amaz!ng Meeting was, well, amasing. It can be succinctly summarized as a four day long skeptical orgasm… And by that I mean an orgasm due to geeking out about skepticism, not that you’re skeptical of your orgasm. Because the latter wouldn’t be that amazing.”
- TAM8 Part 2 — More Fangirling: “At one point during the conferences Eugenie Scott from the National Center for Science Education made a guest appearance! She had just finished hiking in the Grand Canyon and stopped by TAM before her flight. I did a little evolution fangirl flail and ran off to go meet her.”
- TAM8 Part 3 — One Last Fangirling: “The real story from Saturday night was the Skepchick Bordello party. I didn’t really have a costume, so I just wore a low cut shirt to fit in with the Bordello theme. Thankfully a reader stumbled into me and gave me an extra Sheriff pin he had, so I was all set.”
- Women and Feminism at TAM8: “I do want to comment on women and feminism at TAM8, especially since this was a bit of an issue last year. Keep in mind this is just my experience from a single TAM, since it was my first time going. Even though I remember all the blog posts from last year, I can’t fairly compare it to past events.”
Single Post Recaps:
- At TAM 8, Having Great Time, Wish You Were Here from Steven Novella at NeuroLogica: “I am having a great time meeting people who listen to the SGU or read NeuroLogica or SBM regularly — putting faces to some commenter pseudonyms. But I am also very busy. Yesterday I held two SBM workshops (the room was packed for both).”
- Monitoring things from the Amazing Meeting 8 from Orac at Respectful Insolence: “My wife and I are here at TAM8, and so far things have been a blast. The Science-Based Medicine Workshops yesterday when quite well, and I’m told that my talk actually wasn’t half-bad.”
- Babbler Infiltrates The Amazing Meeting 8 from The Bolingbrook Babbler: A humourous recap of TAM, as only the Babbler can provide. “Minutes after disrupting Adam Savage’s speech, and arguing with skeptics in the hallway, Dischum, an alien skeptic, abducted the two moon landing deniers.”
- TAM 8, July 8-11 2010 from The Next Generation Skeptics: “As my fifth TAM and eighth event with the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), the organization that created TAM, I must say that TAM 8 was one of the best events I have ever had the privilege to attend.”
- The Amazing Meeting 8: Skepticism 2.1 (reboot) from ICBS Everywhere: “Wow. Someone hit the “reset” button on the community’s culture. There were a few — very few — dark spots in it for me, but these were grossly overshadowed by positives.”
- TAM 8 pt 1 from Fledgeling Skeptic: “My favorite personal moment: I got to meet Adam Savage and talk to him for a few minutes. He was a very sweet man and very attentive to what everyone was saying to him. He was engaging and very much present to everyone he spoke with.”
- TAM Takeaway — I Heart You Guys from Doubtful: “Certain moments I’ll keep forever: the musk sticks tasting party, the girfriends discussion in the corner of the bar, the ‘what’s your favourite monster’ roundtable dinner, hot tub soup, helping out as a JREF volunteer, cruising the strip in a convertible with rocking tunes, running into the Australian skeptics downtown, people stopping to say ‘hi’ because they knew my name or picture, telling my favourite high profile skeptics how much I appreciate them…”
- I’m Back (from TAM8) from mymatedave: Mostly pictures. “The Amazing Meeting 8 was, well, amazing. I met a lot of new people I’ve only known online, saw a lot of people I met last year and had a terrific time seeing all speakers. The first picture is the one I’m happiest about, because not only did I get to have a picture taken with this very amazing, witty old guy, I also had a very cool chat with him and the President of the Singularity Institute about the technology, politics and social impact of the Singularity in the hotel bar.”
- The Amazing Meeting 8 Roundup from The Jewmanist: “I only paid for Saturday’s events and got sick early on Thursday. It lasted right on through ’til Sunday so I missed even more events that I originally planned on. I know a lot of people got sick as well after their stay at South Point but mine came prior.”
Responses to Specific Talks/Events:
- TAM 8: Thoughts from The Angry Atheist Geek: “Do I agree with Phil on a lot of levels? Yeah, I hate to admit it, but I really do. I suppose we shouldn’t be jerks most of the time and that it really doesn’t help… however, I’ll go one step further and simply say ‘Everyone is different,’ and that there actually is a ‘logical’ place for people being dicks in this world.”
- “Don’t be a dick”? Sometimes we need to… from the Atheist Climber: Response to the Twitter conversation during/after Phil Plait’s talk. “There is a time and a place for ridicule. Some people only respond when they have their faith in irrationality shattered. And some people need to be publicly humiliated before their peers before they can see just how ridiculous their viewpoints may actually be. But keep in mind, this will not change the mind of the individual being ridiculed. What it can do is change the minds of those who listen to the irrational person, people seeing both sides of the debate can evaluate both sides of an argument and come to a conclusion for themselves.”
- The Million Ghost March from Skeptorcism: “After posting this information on Twitter, some things became obviously clear. First, there were people who still disagreed with me on this issue, stating that it could just be a measure to do damage control. Secondly, assumptions based upon prior experiences, rather than evidence, are heavily at play here.”
- Scientists Doing Science from The Sunny Skeptic: “Why does this seem like such an odd idea to people? I overheard a girl here at TAM complaining: ‘Everyone says they like Massimo, but I don’t. Why should he get to say that only scientists should do scientific statistical analysis?’ Really? Why? He told you — you’re not trained or educated in it, and even if you are in one form of science, that does not guarantee you will be able to form valid conclusions regarding any other form.”
- A Short Note on Dawkins and Anti-Fantasy Reading for Children Sentiments at #TAM8 from Kylie Sturgess of PodBlack Cat: “Should the censorship of fantasy be a goal, in order to promote critical thinking? I’d say no. And I’d say that for those who rubbish the genre fantasy, to come up with any kind of justification based upon research that will back that up, beyond ‘Oh, but I HEARD that Harry Potter has set back literacy levels!‘ As Dr Gay herself alluded to on Twitter… isn’t the removal of Harry Potter what the extremist fundamentalist religions do?”
- Find the Missing Kidney (and heal my arm) from dangblog: “Ikonen wasn’t the only person claiming special powers. During one panel discussion a man stood up and asked James Randi if he could apply for the prize. He said he could reduce or eliminate both pain and numbness in the skin of an injured person. He mentioned mastectomy wounds in particular. Since I have a numb area where my arm was operated on twice, I found this man during a break and asked him to restore the feeling. He said he mainly works on the abdominal area of a woman, but he’d give it a try.”
- CAM and Animal-Based Research from Dr. Ray Greek at Opposting Views: “David Gorski, MD, PhD spoke on the topic of CAM and while I strongly disagree with Dr Gorski on the predictive value of animals in research, I agree with his position on CAM and would like to briefly address some points that he made.”
- The “Don’t Be A Dick” Heard Round the World from Epsilon Clue: “Undoubtedly the most controversial, most thought-provoking talk at TAM 8 was Phil Plait’s “Don’t be a dick” talk, in which he decried what he sees as the rise of incivility in the skeptical blogosphere.”He wrote it down ahead of time so as not to ad lib and accidentally say something he didn’t mean, and since I have a recording of it, I should really quote him (slightly cleaned up) and not paraphrase, so as not to distort his meaning.
- Physics of Board Breaking & Karate at The Amazing Meeting 8 from The Skeptical Teacher: “Last year I performed the bed of nails demonstration and explained the physics involved, but this year I decided to do the hitting, so I gave another skeptical physics lesson — this time on karate and board breaking.”
- Feminism & Skepticism Panel at The Amazing Meeting 8: “I decided to attend partly because I am a board member on the Women Thinking Free Foundation, and also because I’m curious to see skeptical things from a female perspective. I transcribed what I could of the discussion, and I include it below for your edification.”
- Play Nice, Skeptics: “Seems like a primary theme at TAM 8 was about how, if you want to change someone’s mind, it’s probably not effective to call that person a moron. That was Phil Plait’s talk. That was the thrust of Carol Tavris’ talk, and also a theme of the Sunday morning presentation by Steve Cuno. An astronomer, a social psychologist, and a marketing professional — who can argue with that team?.”
- Some More on Not Being a Dick from Epsilon Clue: “After all, we talk and write for all sorts of different reasons. Not all of us can, or want to be, teachers. Nor is that all that our readers want to read. FSM knows I enjoy reading Phil Plait and Ed Yong, but I’d go spare if those were the only voices on my side on the Internet. I also want there to be George Hrabs, Roy Zimmermans, Christopher Hitchenses, Hunters, and so on. And let’s face it: a good rant is fun to read.”
- The Little Dude from the Moon at TAM 8 from Depleted Cranium: “At least one conspiracy-obsessed heckler did attend, and attempted repeatedly to heckle Phil Plait and Adam Savage. Jarrah White is about as committed to the belief that the Apollo moon landings were faked as one can be. He’s already produced (at last count) 393 YouTube videos on the subject — all of them absolutely stunning in thir lack of technical and scientific knowledge.”
- I did not enjoy TAM 8… here’s why from Godless Grad Student about the lack of accessibility at the South Point Hotel and Casino: “TAM 8 was held in the South Point Hotel and Casino. Prior to getting on the plane, I called to make a reservation for the shuttle. At that time, I was told that all of their shuttles (airport and mall) were accessible. I also spent a good deal of time online reading about how Las Vegas (casinos) have ‘treated the disabled as first class citizens even before the ADA’ so I was looking forward to getting out and enjoying the city… In the past seven years I have used a wheelchair, I’ve stayed in a number of hotels; South Point was, by far, the least accessible.”
- Skepticulous from The Man Version: “So The Amaz!ng Meeting 8 (or TAM) is over. It’s always a lot of fun, especially since they moved it to the hottest part of the summer in Las Vegas. But the camaraderie, the parties, the Vegas kitsch, and the arguments about whether you can be a Real Skeptic if you’re not also an atheist make this the most anticipated weekend of the year for a lot of us.”
- The Dick Delusion from PZ Myers at Pharynula: “I’ve been getting slapped upside the head with this ‘dick’ meme that’s roaring through the skeptic community lately, largely because it seems that any time someone makes a generic criticism of rude, abrasive, confrontational critics of foolishness, the audience all things of the life-size poster of PZ Myers they’ve got hanging on their bedroom door back home.”
- Don’t be a Dick? from The Atheist Experience: “I’ve been asked what I thought about Phil’s comments. To be clear, I have no reason to think that Phil has any idea who I am and I have no idea who he’s talking about (partially because he’s not very specific about that) … but I suspect that, on more than one occasion, I might qualify as a ‘dick’ by his definition or that of other people. Fortunately, the evidence about the impact of the much reviled ‘new atheists’ isn’t good for the ‘harming our cause’ doom sayers.”
- Teacher Workshop — “Skepticism in the Classroom” — at The Amazing Meeting 8 from The Skeptical Teacher: “First off was Daniel Loxton, author of the new children’s book called ‘Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be’, where he spoke about using evolutionary science as a good vehicle to get kids to think more critically at a younger age. I especially like Daniel’s references to using a Scooby Doo kind of format to get kids thinking about things…”
Videos, Pictures, Petitions, Resources, Interviews and Transcripts:
In two days hundreds of skeptics and critical thinkers from around the world flock to Las Vegas for The Amaz!ng Meeting 8, also known as TAM. If you’re new to Skepticism, TAM is a yearly conference where skeptics, scientists and athiests gather together to learn, share and celebrate skepticism. This year’s schedule is packed with fantastic workshops and speakers, from James Randi himself to other well known skeptics like Richard Dawkins, Phil Plait, Adam Savage, and the cast of Skeptics Guide to the Universe. You can see a full list of TAM8 speakers and their bios at the official TAM website.
Edmonton will be well represented at this yearly Skeptic conference, and if you’re stuck here at home you can keep up with some of the Edmonton contingent via Twitter by following @yegskeptics members list. You can also follow the latest from TAM using @porlob’s TAM8 list or by searching the official TAM hashtag, #TAM8.
Also, keep an ear out for a joint live podcast on Thursday night for Virtual Drinking Skeptically called Skeptically Speaking Beyond BS, hosted by Robynn “Swoopy” McCarthy from Skepticality, Heidi Anderson of Fat One in the Middle and She Thought, Barb Dresher from ICBS Everywhere, and Edmonton’s own Desiree Schell from CJSR’s Skeptically Speaking.
Have a great TAM Edmonton Skeptics!