I’m back from The Amaz!ng Meeting 9 and Pythagorean Posse meet-up in Vegas and I’m just now catching up on my sleep so excuse me if I’m a little late at getting this post up. I want to start out by thanking some folks, first I want to thank for his amazing generosity J Grothe for his personal generosity and kindness in the midst of being so busy running one heck of a skeptical meeting too. I also want thank Jamie Kilstein of Citizen Radio, who put on on heck of a comedy show. I also want to thank Dave of Pythagorean Crank for many things including making some pretty cool buttons for us. More thanks go out to Shane P. Brady, Michael Lin, and everyone who came to TAM in general.
The Amaz!ng Meeting 9 was a wonderful success. It attracted over 1,600 people, with over 40% women attendees and a mix of ages. There were so many great presentations but I would have to say my favorite was one given by union organizer and Skeptically Speaking host Desiree Schell titled “Out of the Blog and Onto the Streets: What Skepticism Can Learn from Social Movements.” The presentation was I’m sure a bit controversial, activism itself is not always seen in a good light. At one point she even dropped the bomb, “Militancy can help the skeptical movement” to the response of scattered but enthusiastic applause, later adding “I’m not saying we should take up arms to take the homeopathic pigs down…though that would be fun.” She gave a nod to the Ten23 Campaign which engaged in public demonstrations, “overdosing” on homeopathic preparations in front of stores that stock such products. She also spoke of how past movements have had successes because they used a “diversity of tactics” tailored to their situations and that often neither the moderates or militants could get the job done without each other. She gave the example of how some suffragettes wrote letters to housewives inspiring them to stand up for their dignity while other women were chaining themselves to the white house fence (and lets not forget the women in England who torched mailboxes and broke windows to be heard). She was very clear that she was not comparing racial segregation or women’s oppression to homeopathy or chiropractic, just saying that movements can learn from each other. Desiree also moderated the diversity panel in which I was glad to see the issue of ethnic background and class brought along with many other good issues. I personally can not do her presentation or the panel justice in such a short description and would not want to misreport what was said, more TAM videos should be online soon from what I’ve read and I will post them when available.*
Other great presentations included one by James Randi about a hoax on parapsychology researchers called Project Alpha featuring two magicians, Banachek and Michael Edwards, who posed as psychics. It was really interesting hearing the various ways they were able fool the researchers. Richard Dawkins was also quite interesting, setting aside his popular anti-theist rants for some basic science education, he talked about his upcoming book The Magic of Reality which looked like a great gift for children. It was also announced that the Richard Dawkins Foundation would be working to provide child care at future skeptic and science meetings which hopefully will help enable more women to attend. The live recording of the Skeptics Guide to the Universe was also really good, its certainly one of my favorite podcasts. Bill Nye (The Science Guy!) gave a very entertaining presentation. The “Our Future in Space” panel moderated by Phil Plate featuring Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lawrence Krauss, and Pamela Gay was just plain amazing and quite funny, I hope others will get to see the video. Tyson also gave a presentation of his own which was quite good, he is a really engaging speaker. Other presentations and panels included Michael Shermer, Eugenie Scott, Jennifer Michael Hecht, PZ Meyers, Sadie Crabtree, Richard Wiseman, Steven Novella, Sara E. Mayhew, Jennifer Ouellette, Elizabeth Loftus, Susana Martinez-Conde, Stephen Macknik, Harriet Hall, Karen Stollznow, Heidi Anderson, Rachael Dunlop, David Gorski, Jen McCreight, Ben Radford, Jamy Ian Swiss, Ginger Campbell, Elyse Anders, Richard Saunders, Amy Davis Roth, Greta Christina, Joe Nickell, Justin Trottier, Debbie Goddard, Jamila Bey, Sean Faircloth, Mark Crislip, Julia Galef, Hemant Mehta, Carol Tavris, and Maria Walters
I did not attend any of the numerous workshops but I hope to attend some next year. I did however go to some of the after-events such as the ¡SATIRISTAS! comedy show in which Jamie Kilstein performed and killed it! Billy the Mime was also very funny, the best mime act Ive ever seen. I even attended Penn’s Bacon & Donut party and saw his band play a few songs. Don’t worry I had plenty of Ronald’s donuts to tide me over.
The Pythagorean Posse meet-up was awesome. On Saturday we met at one of the casino bars, the Del Mar, before heading out to Atmoic#7 for some great vegan ice cream. I met some great folks and had some good conversations. While everyone else headed back to the hotel Michael and I headed to Yayo taco and I got a really yummy tofu taco platter to take back to Max Maven’s magic show Thinking in Person, he blew my mind and was also quite funny.
Vegas itself was deadly hot, I nearly killed myself on a mile walk in 117 degree heat to get a veggie sub. The hotel didn’t have too much to offer vegans but the beer was quite cheap, I highly suggest they add a tofu pup to their hotdog cart. Once I got my bearings and met some folks with cars I didn’t do too bad on food though I think bringing a hot plate might be a good idea for the future.
Overall I had an Amaz!ng time and I don’t know about you but I’ve already started saving up for next year.