TAM6: Reflections

Alright, it’s been far too long since my last TAM6 post, and I never wrapped things up. I really enjoyed my time in Vegas, although I didn’t meet as many people as I had hoped. I chatted with quite a few, but never really connected with them. I also found that the “lunatic fringe” exists among skeptics just as with any other group. Every once in a while I’d run into people that were a little too certain that they had it all figured out and that skepticism and science were the only way to view the world, “damn the rest.” That’s just silly and condescending. The majority, however, were fun and smart people.

The speakers were pretty much what I expected: the famous people had their message together and presented well (although I got the feeling Shermer was presenting an early draft). The rest either did a decent job or failed catastrophically. Seriously, people: show up with the right version of your slides, and resist the urge to stand there and read them to the audience word-for-word.

At this point I’d call myself 5050 for going next year. I really loved some of the content, and was left flat by other parts of it. Frankly, the core work of Mr. Randi himself has become a bit boring to me. I don’t care as much about debunking “woo-woo” nonsense like astrology, ghosts, or faith healing (though the Sylvia Browne write-up that came after TAM6 is fairly brilliant). I get much more jazzed and happy about actual progressive science and discovery than I do about using science to battle people who are fundamentally unscientific; it’s a nearly pointless and always frustrating argument. I may look for another conference to go to that is more “pure science”, but we’ll see.