The Pro’s Guide To TAM 2013 Day Four (Sunday)

Sunday, July 13, is the last day of The Amazing Meeting 2013.  More than any previous TAM, this is a jam-packed full day.  Sunday used to have a tacked-on feel, with a few paper presentations in the morning and then everyone bugging out to McCarran for the flight home.  Now, for two years in a row (and sort-of for the third year in a row), the Sunday at TAM is a full-fledged conference day.  Now, if you do not stay until Monday, you are missing out on a lot.

So here is SA’s Sunday preview:

8:00-10:00.  Papers. In many ways, this is my favorite part of TAM.  The papers are an opportunity for people from the skeptical community to speak in front of a large audience, and an opportunity for TAM attendees to get exposed to subjects that are outside the mainstream of what you might hear at the main talks.  So, let’s take a look at this year’s paper presentations.

  • Purpose Driven Life: A Psychiatrist’s Evolutionary Perspective on Human Motivation
    Dr. Ralph Lewis
  • Accessible Skepticism through Comics
    Jeffrey Weston
  • The Marblehead UFO:  What You Can Find from Your Armchair
    Andrew Hansford
  • And That’s Why They’re Going to Hell: Teaching Literature in the Creationist Classroom
    Eve Siebert, Ph.D.
  • The Great Global Debate
    Shane Greenup
  • Friends of Science in Medicine: Standing up for Science in Australia
    Joanne Benhamu BN, RN

The penultimate one, “The Great Global Debate” seems a little nebulous to me, but I have high hopes that the particular debate that Mr. Greenup intends to talk about will be very interesting.  This may be the best group of paper presentations that I have seen on the agenda in many years.  SA’s Rating: 16/18.

10:00-10:30. JOE SCHWARCZ: THE WORMS IN MY BLOOD VESSELS.  I have become a big fan of Dr. Schwarcz of late, after never having heard of him before he was added to the agenda.  His books and articles are well written and illuminating.  He will be, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the best Canadian speaker at TAM 2013 (although, to be fair, considering that the only other Canadian speaker that I know of is bound to be awful beyond description, that’s not saying a lot, so let’s just say that Dr. Joe is bound to be one of the best TAM 2013 speakers, period).  I don’t really know what this topic will be, but it doesn’t sound like bland philosophical navel gazing.  SA Rating 17.5/18.

10:30-10:45 Break.

10:45-11:45.  PANEL • BIGFOOT SKEPTICS: ABOMINABLE SCIENCE!  PANELISTS INCLUDE SHARON HILL, DANIEL LOXTON, DONALD PROTHERO, AND KAREN STOLLZNOW. MODERATED BY BLAKE SMITH.  This sounds like a great panel, with a group of great skeptics (I know that Sharon Hill is mad at me for my preview of her plenary talk, but I will not let that impact my judgment in this preview; in my opinion this is the perfect opportunity for her to shine).  This is my favorite type of subject, a brass tacks talk about a particular subject.  SA Rating 16.8/18.

11:45-12:15 TALK • SARA MAYHEW  SKEPTICISM FOR EVERYONE: POPULARIZING SKEPTICISM WITH ENTERTAINMENT.  Yeah, this is the other Canadian I was referring to when I was discussing Joe Schwarcz.  I have seen her at, I think, two TAMS.  She is a horrible TAM speaker.  Horrible.  The worst ever (at least in the six TAMS I have been to).  As far as I have been able to discern, she has done nothing for skepticism except for putting out some manga comic books that may have skeptical themes, and producing what is perhaps the worst web series in the history of  Youtube.  In the TAM talks I have seen, she has nothing to say and does a bad job saying it.  I cannot fathom why the event organizers keep inviting her back year after year.  She is really that bad.  SA Rating negative several million/18.

12:15-12:45 EDWINA ROGERS.  THE TRUTH BEHIND WASHINGTON.  I have enormous respect for Ms. Rogers, and the fact that the has been subjected to smear campaigns because she has unorthodox views within the secular community.  I have high hopes for her talk, but then again, since she follows what is perhaps the worst speaker in the history of TAM, an afternoon of sitting in the DMV waiting to get your tags renewed would seem like a welcome reprieve. SA Rating 17/18.

12:45-2:00  LUNCH.

2:00-3:00  PANEL • MAGICIANS VS. PSYCHICS.  PANELISTS INCLUDE BANACHEK, MARK EDWARD, MAX MAVEN, JAMES RANDI, AND JAMY IAN SWISS. MODERATED BY D.J. GROTHE.  There you go.  Skepticism in a nutshell, as far as I am concerned, going back all the way to Harry Houdini.  SA Rating.  17.9/18.

3:00-3:30.  HARRIET HALL: A SKEPTICAL LOOK AT SCREENING TESTS.  A physician giving a brass tacks talk about a medical issue from a skeptical perspective.  What could be better?  Not much.  SA Rating 16.9/18.

3:45-4:15.  Faye Flam: “Talk.”  Another “talk.”  Once again, if you can’t figure out what you are going to say, I can’t figure out a reason to go.

4:45-5:15 PETER BOGHOSSIAN: AUTHENTICITY.  Peter Boghossian is a professor of philosophy at Portland State University.  Philosophy.  I hate philosophy.  SA Rating 5/18.

5:15-5:45.  MASSIMO POLIDORO  GOTCHA! OR: HOW I LEARNED FROM THE AMAZING RANDI TO FIGHT THE FAKERS AND LIVE MY DREAMS.  Sounds interesting, maybe even inspiring.  SA Rating 14.5/18.

5:45-6:00 Closing Remarks by James Randi and D.J. Grothe.  Not much more to say, and no SA rating for closing remarks.

6:00-7:30.  Dinner on your own.

7:30-9:00 SPECIAL EVENT • LIVE MILLION DOLLAR PARANORMAL CHALLENGE.  Always a highlight, although it depends on the particular challenge.  Last year’s, for instance, was very interesting, but seemed to drag on forever.  SA Rating:  Who knows.

And that’s it.  A LONG day, at the end of a bunch of long days.  It looks to be a great conference overall.  You may see me there, but not if I see you first.



  • Astro

    Lovely rating for Mayhew. 🙂