The conference was awesome! I hope it’s even bigger next year!
Anything particularly interesting or noteworthy to recount?
Mostly, it was just awesome to have a skeptical conference in my ‘back yard’. Eugenie Scott was gracious enough to squeeze in time to give a lecture on Science and Skepticism, just before hoping on a plane to fly to Wash DC to accept another award for her work. Brian Dunning gave a recount of his latest podcast of the ‘Virgin of Guadalupe’, which it turns out that most of us had already listened to, but he had some things to add that he’d not put on the podcast, plus of course the Q&A. He gave away some of his books by having us answer questions about previous podcasts (I lost, of course!). Kiki Sanford gave a session on Skepticism and the Media, but it was audience driven, whereas I would have rather have more input from her. I would have gone to the LHC conference instead. David Morrison of NASA gave an awesome talk on 2012 and the emails he has received from panicked people who believe the end of the earth is coming. I was not aware of the (I think) irresponsible commercial the creators of the movie 2012 put out, just before the release of the movie. I have family members who believe the 2012 nonsense, so I shall send a copy of his you tube video explaining that it is a hoax. David actually receives emails from youngsters contemplating suicide, and parents considering killing their children and themselves because of this hoax. I think it was his talk which impacted me the most. My relatives have gotten to the point of “we’ll see”, none are contemplating suicide, and it was not something I had considered might be a problem. Wallace Sampson gave an informative, albeit boring rendition of CAM frauds and scams he has helped to expose, such as laetrile, giving us insight into the genesis of the scams and the personalities of the people involved. A lawyer by the name of Chris Hoofnagle talked about denialism and the tools people used to justify behavior and beliefs. He used the tobacco company’s denial that smoking causes lung cancer as an example.
For the most part, the conference stayed away from religion and focused on Skepticism. I plan to go again next year. The organizers said that they had put it together on rather short notice, and only had room for 180 people, because of the size of the venue the were able to rent. They hope to be able to rent rooms at a larger site next year. My son provided free samples of his excellent cheesecake, and was thanked at the end of the conference to much applause. We hope to be able to do the same next year (they did not know he was going to do this, they were gracious enough to allow it).