NECSS Conference in NYC April 17, 2010
Posted: 15 April 2010 07:08 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Anyone else going?

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Doug

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Posted: 15 April 2010 08:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I should be there.

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Posted: 16 April 2010 04:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Michael De Dora - 15 April 2010 08:14 PM

I should be there.

Great! Hope to see you.

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Posted: 20 April 2010 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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What’d you think of the conference, Doug? I know they’re contemplating some changes next year, for instance, potentially making it a multi-day thing.

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Posted: 20 April 2010 12:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Michael De Dora - 20 April 2010 12:32 PM

What’d you think of the conference, Doug? I know they’re contemplating some changes next year, for instance, potentially making it a multi-day thing.

I thought it was great—I liked the one last fall as well. DJ gave a very interesting keynote about the ethical features of skepticism (arguing that skepticism was a form of humanism) and there were a couple of very good panels, as well as a live broadcast of the SGU podcast.

A multi-day conference would also be a good thing, but it’ll depend on the programming, of course. I did speak to the head of NYC Skeptics (Michael Feldman) afterwards and I know he’s contemplating having some strict science panels as well. I’d find them enjoyable since I love learning about science, but in the event I’d prefer it if they were kept to more directly skeptical topics. I can get plenty of science other places.

It was also great to see and hear Randi, of course.

What did you think?

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Posted: 21 April 2010 03:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I should say about DJ’s keynote: he argued (at least this is my rough take) that what motivates skeptics isn’t so much the epistemological fact that “we’re right and they’re wrong”, but rather the moral imperative that being wrong hurts people.

I think that’s correct.

I’d back that up by saying that atheism is a (form of) humanism as well. I think this is equally important. It’s not simply a negative position, but rather something of real moral weight, at least in its implications.

While I understand the socio-political reasons for de-emphasizing atheism, it seems to me that it is only by making plain the lack of supernatural support for our moral and ethical reasoning, by making plain the bankruptcy of Bible- and religion-based morality, that we can really hope to advance a skeptical approach to the world generally.

The other great panel was attacking so called “quackademic medicine”, run by people from the Science Based Medicine blog. That one was rather depressing, since it seems that this kind of woo is invading all sorts of academic hospitals under the guise of “patient centered care”, etc.

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Posted: 21 April 2010 06:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I am not sure if I understand, Doug, but didn’t the communists show us that being an atheist doesn’t necessarily make you a humanist?

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Posted: 21 April 2010 07:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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George - 21 April 2010 06:33 PM

I am not sure if I understand, Doug, but didn’t the communists show us that being an atheist doesn’t necessarily make you a humanist?

Right, good point. I’m not saying that atheism necessarily leads to humanism, any more than skepticism does. But I think DJ’s point and mine is that the contemporary skeptical/atheist movements are motivated by a certain sort of ethical impulse, basically akin to humanism.

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