Well here we are, day four, or as they would have said in the world of Logan’s Run, “Last Day.”. If you believe the believers in the “Mayan Apocalypse Prophesy” (or, in my opinion, the dreams, schemes, aspirations, and plans of the FtB/Skepchicks/CFI Axis) this will be the last day of TAM ever.. So SA better enjoy it. I once again got up bright and early to wait in line to get a promo seat. And once again I succeeded.
The breakfast spread, same as every other day at TAM:
A typical SA breakfast at TAM2012:
On to the Sunday Papers;
Martha Keller. CAM in Veterinary Medicine.
AVMA says that treatment should be supported by the scientific method.
There are almost 100,000 vets in the USA.
Acupuncture is done on dogs, cats, turtles, horses.
There is a gallbladder acupuncture point on a horse, even though horses have no gallbladders (they just took human “meridians” and points and applied them to animals).
Wild animals eat what we would consider meat by-products, making “natural pet food” proponents seen ridiculous in complaining against adding these to pet food.
PETA wants cats to go Vegan, which are “obligate carnivore” so it is not a good idea.
Ivan Alvarado. “The Billy Meier Metal Samples.”
Billy Meier is a Swiss UFO claimant, who sent a metal sample to IBM labs, where one scientist claimed to have found unusual properties that our technology can’t reproduce. Skeptics attacked the credentials of the scientist.
Ivan looked at the data/information.
Scientist claimed to have found an unusually large number of elements from the periodic table, a rare element named Thulium was found suggesting an advanced materials synthesis technology.
They reproduced his EDS spectrum results from one-element ultra-pure nickel. The IBM scientist saw an equipment-based artifact.
Thulium EDS signature from IBM
scientist was missing EDS data spikes, suggesting to him some weird manufacturing process. His graph matches an EDS for Aluminum. By playing with settings, you can get computer to say aluminum is thulium.
Jeff Rosky, on Post-Conviction Polygraphs.
Correctional Quackery, interventions that have no empirical evidence, and proponents are dismissive of people that point out that there is no evidence and that they don’t work.
Interesting, inventor of the polygraph, William Marston, phd, was the creator of Wonder Woman and her magic lasso of truth.
Polygraphed sex offenders report more victims, and wider array of offenses.
No evidence that sex-offender polygraph deters behavior, or reduces recidivism.
Christine Shellska spoke on Assessing Intelligent Design From A Communications Perspective.”. Some interesting content, but her boring monotone and reading a pre-prepared text made it seem more like listening to a seventh grade science fair presentation than anything else. I would suggest that she consider talking without notes (other than PowerPoint–PowerPoint should be a speaker’s only notes) at a Skepticamp or local event to develop public speaking skills.
10:00 am. The Panel On “Complimentary Medicine.”. Steve Novella, Harriet Hall, David Gorski, and Rachel Dunlap.
Dr. Dunlap. “Complimentary Medicine that had been shown to work medicine.”
Novella: “Before they came up with marketing terms like “complimentary, alternative, or integrative” medicine used be be called “health fraud.”
An interesting tweet from Elyse Anders: “Sad hearing stories of women leaving #tam2012 early because of how they were treated this year. I guess we can’t have nice things.”. This, I believe, is total and complete bullshit, and is little more than a preliminary attempt by the FtB/Skepchicks/CFI axis to frame the reality of what happened at TAM2012 for their own (in my opinion) nefarious purposes. The only person I have heard leaving early is Amy Roth (aka Surly Amy) who, apparently, considers disagreement to be the same as harassment or mistreatment. But the FtB/Skepchicks/CFI axis will no doubt attempt to frame TAM2012 as an environment that is unfriendly to women, no doubt as a prelude to promoting their own “women-friendly” alternatives. The ploy is so obvious that it is laughable. TAM2012 has been friendly to everyone that did not come here with a FtB/Skepchicks/CFI axis chip on their shoulder.
Great tweet from my favorite satire tweeter, Angry Skeptic Woman:
TAM2012 is responsible for the happiness of EVERY women during the ENTIRE time they are in Vegas, whether actually at a TAM session or not.
Back to the conference, 11:15, George Hrab does his musical intro to Carrie Poppy, Jref’s Communications Director:
Carrie talking about her former belief in homeopathy:
The topic if Carrie’s talk is using “in-group” language. Meaning the language of the social/political/ideological group that a person normally lives in.
In order to convince some people, you need to show them you are “one of their people” before convincing them of anything. This, she said, is how you reach outside of skeptical circles.
On her podcast they don’t call themselves skeptics, don’t tell people they are wrong. She says it gets good results.
Believers often say: “I don’t get this anywhere else.”
Her plea: Remember that humans are tribal animals, and to outreach to them, you have to seem to be a member of their tribe. Interesting observation from Carrie: imagine as a skeptic taking life advice from Sylvia Brown or Depok Chopra, even if they were correct on a issue.
“Truth without compassion makes you right, but makes you lonely.”
I was really impressed with Carrie’s talk. Very deep and considered.
11:45 Brian Dunning. “Your Brain Sucks.”
Big cheer from the crowd for Brian.
Brian using a hand-held mic to walk the stage:
So far, this is an exposition on how bad observation works, how bad people remember things they observed seconds ago.
A lot of this is live demonstration with audience members.
The brain stores the idea of what happens, not so much the specific facts.
Brian is using an iPhone or similar device for notes as he wanders around stage. Very discrete. A nice trick.
1:45. Christopher Dicarlo. An interestingly named talk, “how to be a pain the ass.”
Dicarlo, looking surprisingly like Leonard Nimoy, circa 1967:
Apparently the Socratic method is a big part of it. And feigning ignorance.
Strangely, this talk had become an exploration of Greek philosophical skepticism.
Dicarlo smugly criticizes bumper stickers he sees in the US saying “God Bless America.”
Funny, I guess he has forgotten the words in his own national anthem:
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
He really lost me with his smug sense of superiority over the US based on a stupid bumper-sticker.
2:45 panel on “how not to be a paranormal investigator”
Moderator Carrie Poppy, James Randi, Ben Radford, Banachek, and Matt Baxter.
Matt: “I am probably the only one up here that has read all of their books and not written my own.”
Matt: “Most common mistake that paranormal investigators make is watching TV.”
Ben: “One of the biggest issue is the lack of research.”
Ben is also astounded by “paranormal Investigators who turn out the lights.”
Randi: The media doesn’t care if what they present is true or not, as long as it sells their sponsor’s product. Be very careful of Greeks bearing gifts, so to say.”
Wow, Matt Baxter just called a certain group of TV “paranormal investigators” are “frauds”. Wow. Gutsy.
3:12. Randi announces that whether million dollar challenge goes on this evening is “iffy”. Uh oh.
3:30. At this time it appears to this reporter that about half to 2/3 of TAM attendees are still here. Pretty impressive for this late on a Sunday afternoon.
Matt Baxter, the man with nerves of steel, contemplating calling a group of famous paranormal investigators “frauds”:
Running low on batteries again, so live blogging done for the day. Over and out from Las Vegas . . . for now.