Thursday, June 26, 2008

As you can imagine, the Amazing Meeting was...wait for it... quite simply amazing!

I don’t think that I could summarize it much better than Phil Plait, but here it goes...

* I was geeking out big time during the Thursday evening reception as most of the speakers were present. What a pleasure it was to see science blog writers Phil Plait and PZ Myers in the same room together. Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson made a late showing but proved to be both charming and engaging in person.
* Friday’s lecture schedule was so full that I could have gone home that evening fully satisfied.
* The day started with a live taping of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe… which was very cool.
* Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson… Awesome!!! Truly an inspiring keynote presentation about his own brain droppings (George Carlin would have been proud). His presentation ran long, but we did not want it to end. He received a well deserved standing ovation from my fellow attendees.
* Australian Skeptic Richard Saunders spoke of spoon bending (he is the chief spoon bender of his organization), his invention of the origami Pigasus, and other skeptic ventures from the land down under.
* Penn & Teller – Always fun, but they do tend to get a bit extreme with their Libertarian rants. And yes, Teller does in fact talk.
* Singer, songwriter, George Hrab gave a brief performance.
* PZ Myers spoke about bats.
* The conference day ended with a panel Q&A discussion.
* Dinner with the SGU cast was so crowded that we were forced to sit at a table just outside of the inner circle. They are a great group of folks that made themselves accessible to their fan base. I also got to meet another skeptical podcaster, Brian Dunning and his wife.
* Sacred cow! Saturday was also quite busy.
* The day started with a live taping of the Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe… which was very cool.
* Dr. Michael Shermer managed to keep his Libertarian rants to a minimum while discussing the thesis of an upcoming book which escapes me at the moment – but CT brain scans were involved.
* Sharon Begley, senior editor for Newsweek gave a depressing talk about the science illiteracy in this country and the media’s role with irresponsibly reporting BS pseudoscience (get use to it, she says, it is not going away).
* Derek & Swoopy from Skepticality gave a brief presentation.
* Dr. Steve Novella gave a great talk
* Phil Plait --- Awesome!! He spoke mostly of the things in our own solar system that puzzles Science today. "we don’t know". He is also a lifelong fan of James Randi and takes inspiration from Carl Sagan. I had the pleasure to speak with him a few times during the conference and I can say that he is a super-nice guy.
* Adam Savage has OCD – also a super-nice guy.
* We bent spoons with Dr. Richard Wiseman (the guy behind the color changing card trick). Look for the future youtube video!
* Was out to 4 am at the Flamingo Bar (damn you Jay Novella!)
* Sunday morning was pretty much about recovering (damn you again Jay Novella). But the world of pseudoscience was not far from the conference meeting room. While waiting at the gate for my flight home, I was flipping through the local Sunday newspaper. In an article about the dilemma of dealing with aging zoo animals, it was mentioned that the zoo in San Antonio was treating its arthritic tapir with acupuncture. Ugggg.

Of course, I did get to shake hands with James Randi. Overall, It was pretty much a gush fest for Randi with him receiving two awards during the event. At 79, it us unclear how many more TAMs he has left in him, so it was a pleasure to have the opportunity to thank him for helping to instill a naturalistic world view in me at such an early age.

The conference was sooo much fun. TAM7 dates were announced (07-12 July, 2009) and I can’t wait to attend again. With only 900 attendees this year, TAM7 should easily top 1000! Hope to see you there!


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