This spring on Saturday, April 9 the Greater Edmonton Skeptic Society partnered with the Telus World of Science – Edmonton to organize LogiCON 2011, a day long, all-ages conference promoting science and critical thinking.
Featuring a keynote from author/illustrator Daniel Loxton, the lineup included presentations from over 20 speakers both local and international on topics ranging from cognitive bias and correlation versus causation to vaccination and climate change. Attended by over 150 people, LogiCON’s inaugural event was declared a success by all who participated: the feedback we’ve received has been wonderful, and GESS is already thinking about how to make LogiCON 2012 bigger and better!
Daniel Loxton, Photo by Rodrigo de la Jara
Inspired by our tag line “Critical Thinking for Everyone”, LogiCON was split into three simultaneous but separate tracks: an advanced track, a beginner track, and a kids’ track. By providing content that spanned these three tracks, we hoped to engage a wider and more diverse audience.
Presentations during the day included lectures, panels and workshops. Our speakers and panelists came from diverse backgrounds, including several university professors, a science journalist, science communicators, healthcare professionals, a radio host, a photographer, and two magicians among others. For a complete list of speakers and topics, visit the LogiCON Schedule and Sessions page, and stay tuned for the videos of select presentations over the next few weeks and months.
The highlight of the day was Daniel Loxton’s Keynote presentation titled “The Reasonableness of Weird Things”, given in the Telus World of Science’s Star Dome space. Augmented by a backdrop of his beautifully constructed slideshow projected against the star dome above the audience, Daniel reminded us how much skeptic and science enthusiasts have in common with people who believe in strange things. In the end the search for the truth drives us both: it is our methods — not our intentions — that differ. Daniel used his own personal narrative to enrich his talk, taking us through his own transition from believer to skeptic.
Daniel Loxton, Photo by Marc-Julien Objois
The kids track took place in various public spaces around the Telus World of Science and was designed to engage the families visiting that day. Michael Snyder created two walk-up demonstrations: the first, a demo on brains with real brains on display; second, an interactive water taste test where participants discovered how easily our minds and opinions can be fooled.
Paul Hinman brought a geiger counter and gave fantastic walk-up demos on radiation, helping kids understand the difference behind good and bad radiation.
Paul Hinman's Radiation Table, Photo by Rodrigo de la Jara
GESS photographer Marc-Julien Objois gave a presentation on how perfectly normal tricks of light can produce strange looking results in photographs, and then helped the kids create their very own ghost photos using a double exposure effect, with them as the “ghost”.
Later that afternoon, local magician Sheldon Casavant took the stage in the Telus World of Science Star Dome theatre to help kids understand some of the methods behind the apparently magical, and revealed the secret behind a magic trick they could use to astound their family and friends.
GESS would like to extend our thanks to everyone who presented and participated in panel discussions: without your enthusiasm, LogiCON would not have been nearly as successful.
We would also like to extend our gratitude to all those who volunteered and were instrumental in putting LogiCON together: from day-of registration volunteers to the committee who took on coordinating the event back in September, everyone came together to create a five-star event.
LogiCON 2011 Volunteers, Photo by Marc-Julien Objois
Thank you to our sponsors for this event, including the James Randi Educational Foundation, which came through with financial support that allowed us to create a truly excellent event.
GESS also wishes to thank those who supported us by lending their expertise, meeting space, and airwaves. A very special thank you to Desiree Schell and K.O. Myers of local Edmonton science radio show Skeptically Speaking, and to the University of Alberta Business and Beyond Toastmasters Club.
Stay tuned for news of LogiCON 2012 and a brand new website rollout in the coming weeks. The LogiCON committee is already hard at work creating plans for next year, and we hope to see you all there.
Read more news, responses and recaps to LogiCON: