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 TAM6: Here I go again...
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2008 :  06:41:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, Phil Plait is here. I have met him. So far this year we haven't spoken.

And Mab, you did come up in the most complementary terms during a conversation that I had with Swoopy and Susan last night. I will be sure to say hi from you.

Neil deGrasse Tyson will be the keynote speaker this year. I can't wait to hear his address...

Oh, darn, I left out of last night that I met PZ Myers. (Got a picture with him too). I told him that while I don't comment on this blog, we often link to it and that our Expelled thread is very popular. I think I detected a slight wince at the mention of Expelled. I said, "well you know, we also linked to the e coli blog too." He smiled...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26013 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2008 :  06:56:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Chippewa

Phil Plait the "Bad Astronomer" is there too. If you get a chance, let us know if you meet him.


They met two years ago

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2008 :  07:16:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

Originally posted by Chippewa

Phil Plait the "Bad Astronomer" is there too. If you get a chance, let us know if you meet him.


They met two years ago

Yup. Actually we have met a few times. The first time was at the CFI West. And last year, he took the picture I have of me with Rebecca Watson.

We have exchanged glances so far this year.


Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26013 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2008 :  07:24:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

And last year, he took the picture I have of me with Rebecca Watson.
The picture that few people have seen...

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/20/2008 :  22:29:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I should probably stop mentioning this but because of the way TAM6 is set up, there is a lot of walking that must be done. For example, the halls set up for our meals are not very close to the main event hall. And every move seems to involve walking through the casino. Hmmmm…

Lost as usual, I found some TAM attendees who guided me to the continental breakfast; the same place lunch was served. As always, the fair was sweet rolls, fresh fruit and coffee.
the only protein came in the form of cream in your coffee if that was your preference. I like my coffee black. Oh well. Minor complaints.

I'm gonna skip over some stuff because this isn't a kil report and I want to get to bed early tonight, just so's ya know. Also, I may have slept through some things, which is why I will be going to sleep early tonight.

Hal Bidlack was MC again. He welcomed everyone to TAM6. He was his usual charming and funny self. Then came Randi who was also his usual and charming self. The highlight of the morning was the keynote speech by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Hi was enthusiastic, funny and informative. He went over some of the claims that have dogged him since becoming a scientist. Many of the same claims that dog skeptics pretty much. He blew each one of them away with a few well-chosen words.

I have to tell you, the guy is so charismatic, he could have been reading the constitution word for word and he still would have had us in the palm of his hand. Fantastic.

Anyhow, there was a talk about homeopathics and pseudo medical practices in general.

Before lunch I cornered Penn and asked him if he thought there should be a default politic for skeptics. His answer was short and sweet. “No.”
I thanked him…

The question was on my mind because like last years inclusion of “Reason Magazine," a libertarian reader, there was included in our packet a book called “An Objectivist Secular Reader” published by the atlas society.

(I had planned to ask Michael Shermer the same question later.)



More on this later. I need to get some sleep…

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Chippewa
SFN Regular

USA
1496 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2008 :  14:06:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Chippewa's Homepage Send Chippewa a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Neil DeGrasse Tyson on How to Deflect a Killer Asteroid. This is not from TAM6 but Kil's cool descriptions of him reminded me of this clip.

Diversity, independence, innovation and imagination are progressive concepts ultimately alien to the conservative mind.

"TAX AND SPEND" IS GOOD! (TAX: Wealthy corporations who won't go poor even after taxes. SPEND: On public works programs, education, the environment, improvements.)
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/21/2008 :  21:31:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Okay, today was amazing. I just finished having dinner with PZ Myers and a group of JREFers and others. (I now take back that cliquish remark I made about the jref forum members. That was an early impression and it was wrong. Thing is, Michelle was always there at past TAMs and I was not forced to put myself out there, if you know what I mean.) I am going over to Caesars to check on the forum party and the scotch party. I may be back in time to write something, or not. If not, I will have to finish writing about today at home I guess... Needless to say, it's been interesting and fun. (Really, I am kind of torn about going to the party, but Michelle talked me into it.) So there it is...

Edited.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/22/2008 :  17:59:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm home. I am also in a bit of a daze. Four days spent with 900 skeptics and then, you know, home again. I feel the need to decompress but there is also a lot to report on.

After dinner last night I trudged off to the forum party. I forgot my camera, but there were a number of people taking pictures, and I was invited to cull through them to find one to use. They are not online yet, however. But just to give you an idea of what it was like being at the party, I found this footage that pretty much conveys the friendly ambiance of this particular event. Rebeca's forum party, as done by some actors...

I had a nice talk with Robert Lancaster about davidmabus before I gave up on the party, which was sweltering. I moved on to another party in another tower (apparently before security showed up at the forum party) and partook in some single malt scotch and some more good conversation. I woke up with a hangover, but since I left by one, it was manageable.

I am now at a crossroad in this writing. Should I make this a Kil Report or just keep rambling on in here?

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Simon
SFN Regular

USA
1992 Posts

Posted - 06/22/2008 :  18:54:06   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Simon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Glad you enjoyed it.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan - 1996
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 06/22/2008 :  21:50:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Kil asked:
Should I make this a Kil Report or just keep rambling on in here?

I'd say write a Kil Report... but then you'd never get it done!


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/23/2008 :  08:58:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Tonight I will be attending the IIG Awards at the CFI West. Randi will be the recipient of the Houdini award, and will be there to receive it.

A special honor bestowed by the IIG for exceptional ongoing achievement by an individual in educating the public through entertainment is the induction of that individual into the "Houdini Hall of Honor". This year's inductee is James "The Amazing" Randi: magician, entertainer, author, and founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) and its one million dollar prize for proof of the paranormal or supernatural. His name joins Harry Houdini and Carl Sagan.


This will make Randi the first living person to receive the award!

Also, and hopefully, Randi's acceptance puts us on the road to patching up some old wounds between Randi and the CFI. (Randi was one of the founders of CSISOP and the CFI but left over differences he had with the handling of the Geller affair. (Even as a member of the CFI and the JREF, I think Randi owns the high ground on that one.) In short, his coming to the CFI can only help the larger skeptical community by bringing an end to any animosity between these two great organizations.

Anyhow, I'm going. So this amazing week is not completely over for me yet. I am also hoping to see a few JREF friends there. Depends on how tired they are after driving back from Las Vegas.

More on that later…

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Lorriedjn
New Member

3 Posts

Posted - 06/23/2008 :  10:01:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Lorriedjn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
This was my first TAM also and was very intrigued to see 900 people in the same place that did not prostrate themselves to a "spirit in the sky". Great speakers and interesting conversations.
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 06/23/2008 :  10:52:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Lorriedjn

This was my first TAM also and was very intrigued to see 900 people in the same place that did not prostrate themselves to a "spirit in the sky". Great speakers and interesting conversations.
Oh darn, I wish we had met. (For all I know, we did.) TAM really is something to experience. All of those skeptics in one place at one time. For at least those four days, it is the center of the skeptical communities universe...

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Ed Hudgins
New Member

USA
6 Posts

Posted - 06/23/2008 :  20:24:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ed Hudgins a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil


Before lunch I cornered Penn and asked him if he thought there should be a default politic for skeptics. His answer was short and sweet. “No.”
I thanked him…

The question was on my mind because like last years inclusion of “Reason Magazine," a libertarian reader, there was included in our packet a book called “An Objectivist Secular Reader” published by the atlas society.

(I had planned to ask Michael Shermer the same question later.)




As the guy who edited/distributed An Objectivist Secular Reader at TAM-6 (name's Ed Hudgins), I suggest you might read the interview in that book that I did with Michael Shermer. Also read my account of TAM-4 in my collection. Quick summary: I loved it!

Further, consider what Shermer said in his TAM-6 about the danger of considering government to be a god-like entity. Also note that in his new book, The Mind of the Market, he makes the same argument that I make in the chapter of my book on “What Are Creationists Afraid Of?” Conservatives on the political right who are often religious and who understand that a god-like government is not necessary for order in the market should also understand that a god-creator is not necessary for order in nature. Similarly, secularists on the political left who reject religion and understand that no god-creator is necessary for order in nature should also understand how order in the market does not require a god-like government.

In his Market book as well as The Science of Good and Evil Shermer acknowledges his agreement with parts of Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy why disagreeing with parts of the philosophy. Also Penn mentioned Rand and Atlas Shrugged as well as his libertarian beliefs in his Q&A session.

I would say this about politics. Most skeptics and secularists understand that there is an objective reality; that human reason and critical thinking can understand the nature of the world and ourselves; that individuals should be free to think freely without asking permission from governments, churches, neighbors or anyone else; and that at least in our sex lives and other personal matters we should be free to follow our own paths and deal with one another based on mutual consent. I would suggest that a logical extention—you call it a default position—of these understandings is that all of our dealings with others, including our economic dealing, should be based on mutual consent rather than the initiation of force. While I would need to much more time to expand on these implications—-many othters have done so and are cited in the book—-I hope you can appreciated why this might be the case.

TAM-6 was great and I plan to be at TAM-7!
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26013 Posts

Posted - 06/23/2008 :  20:50:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Welcome to the SFN!
Originally posted by Ed Hudgins

I would say this about politics. Most skeptics and secularists understand that there is an objective reality; that human reason and critical thinking can understand the nature of the world and ourselves; that individuals should be free to think freely without asking permission from governments, churches, neighbors or anyone else; and that at least in our sex lives and other personal matters we should be free to follow our own paths and deal with one another based on mutual consent. I would suggest that a logical extention—you call it a default position—of these understandings is that all of our dealings with others, including our economic dealing, should be based on mutual consent rather than the initiation of force.
I understand where you're coming from, but I've been arguing for years that it's idealistic. There are far too many bullies and doormats in the world, neither of whom use reason or critical thought to reach decisions. The system appears to depend upon everybody acting with "enlightened self-interest," and that's simply not going to happen, as most will act with brutish self-interest, and many will act from an ideological basis with no self-interest at all in the equation (witness the southern middle- and lower-class support for economic policies which will hurt the middle- and lower-class in the long term).

The term "default position" refers to the idea that all skeptics should be Libertarians, simply for the alleged fact that Libertarianism is logically the "best" form of governance. I, and not a few other skeptics (Kil included), are skeptical of that idea.

On a side note, I've wondered for a long time whether a truly free market has ever occured outside of a simulation or exercise, and what happened to it. I agree in principle that free markets should be capable of functioning as envisioned, but so far it seems that empirically, we have a sample size of zero.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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