Sign up for news and updates!






Enter word seen below
Visually impaired? Click here to have an audio challenge played.  You will then need to enter the code that is spelled out.
Change image

CAPTCHA image
Please leave this field empty

Login Form



Report from Phoenix Skepticamp PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Jeff Wagg   

Don Lacey, known to chat room and forumites as AZAtheist, recently attended the Phoenix SkeptiCamp. I'll let him tell the story:

The meeting was held in Discovery Hall on the Arizona State University Campus with about 20 people attending. This was the fifth SkeptiCamp based on a conference concept called BarCamp which Reed Esau adopted for Skeptics. Obviously, Jim had put a lot of work into making this SkeptiCamp happen. Due to the sponsorship from Skeptics Society/Skeptic magazine, James Randi Educational Foundation, and Center for Skeptical Inquiry/Skeptical Inquirer magazine, the cost was free. Actually, it was better than free. In addition to the free T-shirts, there were books and magazines available for all the participants.

Jim Lippard began by talking about SkeptiCamp. The first rule of SkeptiCamp is that you talk about SkeptiCamp. BarCamp has 8 rules and the skeptics' version adds 9th rule: "Prepare to back up all stated claims."

There was a live blog being recorded by Tony Barnhart (Magic Tony); replay it and catch all the comments from the Blogosphere that occurred during the meeting.

Notable attendees included: Michael A. Stackpole of the Phoenix Skeptics on "Practical Techniques for Street Skepticism," John Lynch on "Academic Freedom and Intelligent Design," and Tony Barnhart on "Methods of the Pseudo-Psychic."

Briefly, the presentations included:

  • Skeptics for Dummies-an introduction to skepticism.
  • Teaching Small Children-Comparison of an example of how a preschool was doing the right things with a second grade public school class.
  • Street Skepticism-Mike Stackpole relayed how best to keep engaged with non-skeptics.
  • The Difference Between Skepticism and Denial
  • Some Words Important to Skepticism-Skeptic, Critical Thinking, Cynic, Observation, Theory and Paradigm.
  • A Discussion on Skeptical Dating-Desirable characteristics of a dating partner and what might be considered "deal breakers".
  • The Positive Side of Misinformation-an attempt to show how bad information might be beneficial.
  • A Review of Thinking as a Science by Henry Hazlitt
  • Academic Freedom and Intelligent Design-John Lynch compared and contrasted the approaches of Evolution Science and Intelligence Design.
  • Methods of the Pseudo-Psychic-Tony Barnhart talked about the techniques used by psychics such as cold reading.
  • Why I Am a Skeptic-referenced "A New Kind of Science" by Stephen Wolfram
  • Pleasure and Happiness Model-Creating Skeptical Happiness

This was a great crowd and the discussions were lively, educational, and entertaining. I was impressed that the age of the group tended to be, on average, in the recent graduate/graduate student range (with a few outliers like me). It was a great way to spend an afternoon.

Thanks for the report Don! Grassroots meetings like this are springing up all over the place, and from all reports, people are having a great time. If you have an event you'd like to promote, drop me a line at jeff@randi.org.