If you are not totally exhausted from Friday at The Amazing Meeting 2013, and even if you are, Saturday at TAM may be even better. Here is SA’s preview of day three of TAM 2013.
8:00-8:30, Richard Saunders: Looking into the mind of true believers. Richard has appeared at TAM many times and is a good speaker, and this topic has a lot of potential. At the same time, there will be a lot of tired people in the audience. SA Rating 14.5/18.
8:30-9:00, Barbara Drescher: Why MENSA will never eliminate world hunger. I am not really sure what this will be about. Does it refer to MENSA as a group or the individual members? The group certainly won’t solve any problems and, looking at a list of famous members, I don’t think any of them will solve world hunger either. Will there be a dig at MENSA for being a bunch of reprobate navel-gazers? If so, then it would be a combination of attacking an easy target and picking low-hanging fruit, so . . . meh. Will the point be that problems are not solved by thinkers, but doers? Maybe that would be interesting. Maybe. Hopefully the point of this talk will be something else entirely.
9:00-9:30. Sandal Edamaruku: Indian gurus, from flying fakirs and starving saints. Sandal should be a hero to all skeptics. He has faced more in the face of the type of idiocy that skeptics tackle than almost anyone I can think of (and because of this, he will no doubt face a future boycott by Ms. Rebecca Watson and her merry band of sycophantic acolytes because that is the only badge of honor that he has not yet attained, as far as I can see). I am going to go out a limb here and say this will be the best talk of TAM. SA Rating 100/18.
9:30-10:30 PANEL • SKEPTICISM AND PHILOSOPHY–PANELISTS INCLUDE RUSSELL BLACKFORD, PETER BOGHOSSIAN, MASSIMO PIGLIUCCI, AND SUSAN HAACK. MODERATED BY D.J. GROTHE. Ugh. As far as I can see, “philosophy,” especially since it was supplanted by science, has become the academic discipline of using complicated language to talk about absolutely nothing. In SA’s opinion, “philosophy” has nothing to contribute to a conference on critical thinking (and I realize that this is totally a personal bias of mine, but, well, it’s my freaking blog so I will let my personal bias control). I cannot think of a more boring opportunity to watch self-styled “philosophers” pontificate about nothing than this panel. The worst thing about this panel is that is too early to use as a convenient nap break. SA Rating 0/18.
10:45-11:15. Jamy Ian Swiss: Credit the con man. Jamy is one amazing speaker. His talk last year was probably one of the top three memorable talks in all the TAMs that I have been to. He could make a talk about the history of cardboard boxes interesting, and this topic in particular seems right up his alley. Do not miss this talk. Just don’t. SA Rating 18/18.
11:15-11:45 Michael Mann: The hockey stick and the climate wars. When I first saw this on the agenda, I thought that DJ had brought in some Hollywood star power and booked the man responsible for such 1980s TV series as Miami Vice and Crime Story, not to mention movies like The Aviator, The Insider, and Manhunter. It turns out that this is a different guy named Michael Mann, this one being the guy associated with the climate email controversy. This Michael Mann was the victim of one of the most vicious smear campaigns against a scientist that I can remember, and he should have a lot to contribute to a conversation about critical thinking. Still, I have no idea how good a speaker he will be. SA Rating 16/18.
11:45-12:45. Skeptics Guide To The Universe Panel, with the Novella Brothers, Evan Bernstein, and a giant elephant representing the absence of Ms. Rebecca Watson. Remember, Gentle Reader, Ms. Watson is a central member of the SGU cabal, for that is exactly what the SGU became the moment Becky started launching boycotts and smear campaigns against other skeptics with increasing regularity. Becky, one of the “Skeptical Rogues” (and hasn’t that term become unintentionally ironic in light of Becky’s antics), is publicly boycotting this event, the JREF, and the leadership of the JREF. Frankly, I can’t see how the rest of the Rogues have the gall to show their faces at TAM as long as they have their close association with Becky. There would be only one thing that they could say or do that would make this a worthwhile panel–and that would be publicly announcing the removal of Becky from the SGU podcast, but Steve Novella doesn’t have anything close to the guts needed to make that happen. SA Rating: None, out of protest.
12:45-2:00 pm. Lunch.
2:00-2:20 David Gorski: Why we fight (Part I): Stanislaw Burzynski versus science-based medicine. The issue of the Burzunski clinic is one of intense interest to the skeptic community. This is the best kind of topic for a TAM talk. SA Rating: 14.5/18.
2:20-2:40. Robert Blaskiewicz: Why we fight (Part II) It’s all about the patients. I would rather they extend the first part about the Burzynski clinic, but I can see the need to tie their efforts to the actual people effected. SA Rating 13/18.
2:40-3:30. Panel-MEDICAL CRANKS AND QUACKS. PANELISTS INCLUDE ROBERT BLASKIEWICZ, MARK CRISLIP, DAVID GORSKI, AND HARRIET HALL. MODERATED BY STEVEN NOVELLA. That’s right – moderated by Steve Novella, a Rebecca Watson sycophant and enabler. Because of the association with Ms. Watson, nothing further to be said of this panel. Out of protest, no SA rating.
3:45-4:15. Jerry Coyne: Faith is not a virtue, the incompatibility of science and religion. Talk about a topic that has been done to death. They might as well name this talk “Beating a dead horse.” SA Rating 5/18.
4:15-4:45 Susan Haack: Credulity and its consequences. I hate to sound like a broken record, but this really sounds like a re-tred of a hundred other talks at a hundred sundry conferences. Meh. SA Rating 5/18.
4:45-5:15. Talk–Dan Ariely. Yup, just “talk.” No topic listed. If Dan can’t figure out a topic, I can’t figure out a reason to go. SA Rating 0/18.
5:15-6:15. Saturday Keynote–James Randi, Fighting The Fakers. I, for one, can’t get enough James Randi. His talks are always a highlight of TAM (except for that incident a few years ago where he and Jamy Ian Swiss spent half the time fast-forwarding through a South Korean TV show recording). SA Rating 18/18.
9:30-11:00. Magic, Mayhem, and Mentalism! The evening magic shows at TAM are always excellent. This has a wide variety of performers and looks possibly to be the best TAM evening magic show ever. SA Rating 17/18.