the skepticon blog
The secret we mentioned last week is revealed as (drumroll please…….!) a COSMIC ART SHOW!!!!!! In addition to jewelry and speech-craft at Skepticon 7, “Surly” Amy Davis Roth is organizing the FIRST EVER Planetary Science Art Show, which promises to be SUPER DUPER AMAZING for us artsy & sciency loving attendees!
Amy just put out the official call to artists on her webpage, and details on the exhibit space! We all get to have an educational and inspirational art show just a few feet away from the Main Hall, so there is ZERO reason to miss it if you’re an attendee!!!! Be there or be cosmically square!
If you’re an artist, who would like to participate, please click here for Amy’s regulations and more information about the SUPER COSMIC theme! As always, if you’re excited about the stuff we dream up, please donate so we can make it happen!
Come one, come all, to the speaker spotlight on Dr. David Gorski! The good doctor is a breast cancer surgeon and researcher at Wayne State University in real life. He also serves as the managing editor of the popular blog, Science-Based Medicine where he and his co-bloggers, whose numbers include founder Steve Novella, regularly discuss the interface between science and medicine, as well as how medicine is corrupted by the introduction of pseudoscience. Having gotten his skeptical start battling Holocaust deniers on Usenet back in the late 1990s, Dr. Gorski also maintains his own blog under the pseudonym Orac, where his output is a lot more…insolent.
Insolent or not, he remains bewildered that so many readers want to read his regular blathering and even more bewildered that anyone, much less organizers of a conference as awesome as Skepticon, wants to see him speak in person about his usual topic of how pseudoscience is infiltrating even academic medicine. We know he’s great and wonderful and super cool, and we’re crazy excited!
If you’re as excited as we are, please help us get Dr. David to Springfield, MO so that we can hear him do his thing! As of September 18, we’re only at 54% of the way to our goal! He has agreed to waive any honorariums and fees to speak at Skepticon for free but it will still cost us about $850.00 to pay for his airfare, taxis, and hotel room so that he can speak at Skepticon. Please donate today!!!!!
…if you want to get your free lanyard and badge! As always, our event is free, so every one of you that registers before October 17 will receive their lanyard and SK7 badge when you check in at the event. Register here!
While the event is always free to every attendee, we do need help raising the money to make it happen. If you’re not able to donate immediately, you can still register right away so we know you’re coming and so we can order your badge. You can always donate later through our normal page.
It’s no new news among the Skepticon Community, but JT Eberhard is kind of a big deal these days. We were half tempted to not even worry about doing a speaker spotlight for him, but we didn’t want him to think we don’t love him with all our dark, black hearts…
Known for eating babies and destroying worldviews, JT Eberpants is the co-founder of Skepticon and has since moved on to doing all of the blogging and speaking gigs. JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and much, MUCH more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer, and JT currently maintains a regular speaking schedule, blogging schedule, LoL schedule, and somehow fits in time for his lovely bride.
He’s working on his first book, which promises to be funny, educational, and full of scathing wit. Hopefully he finds more coffee so he can finish it before Skepticon 7. Regardless of the number of books he writes before November, he is known for making everyone cry with his speeches at Skepticon, so remember to bring your hankies!
If you would like your opportunity to participate in a good cry, we’ll have to be able to get JT to Springfield, MO. As of September 16, we’re at only 52% of our fundraising goal. While JT would probably show up for free anyway, we’d feel bad. It will cost us about $850.00 to pay for JT’s airfare, taxis, and hotel room so that he can speak at Skepticon. Pretty please, donate!!!!!
I asked for help and you gave it. A lot. I am so usually overwhelmed with the love and support shown by our wonderful community every day, but this day was more overwhelminger than usual. (A big thank you goes out to the SK7 speakers who took the time to help put the word out for help!) Skepticon 7 had donations come in for all sorts of different amounts, for a total of $1,017.00 just since this morning!!!! That’s almost half as much again as what we made during all of last week!!! We’re up by two percent in just a day! Keep it up! All of you donors who gave amounts in the triple digits are SO appreciated and will make our goal arrive in no time!!!! Thank you!!!!
The donors who gave five or six dollars each are the ones who made me, personally, get a little choked up. I KNOW you read my heartfelt request for help, and I KNOW you dug deep and gave as much as you possibly could, and that means SO MUCH to me. I know that not everyone has much money, myself included, and that’s why I (and my cohorts) work so hard to make running this conference as cheap as humanly possible. My extra special thanks go to you.
Ok… I’m going to stop here because I’m actually getting a LOT choked up as I write this. Again, thank you all, SO VERY MUCH for all you do to make Skepticon 7 a reality.
Hugs & Kisses,
Rebekah & The Skepticon Team
We’re looking at a week before we have to pay for 17 speaker’s round trip flights, and exactly two months before we have to drop about ten grand on the convention center. We had some Word-Press issues with our website last week, and so our previous begging-for-money-post didn’t get a whole lot of views. #sadface …So we’re updating the numbers from last week and re-posting our heartfelt plea for donor mercy!!!! We’d like to draw your attention to the graph-a-doodle, where we’ve only raised 50% of what we need to pay for Skepticon 7. We need your help to raise $19,885.00 ASAP if we’re going to hit our goal by November. We’re up $738.00 from last week, so we’re chugging along! We think we can, we think we can!
Let me be frank. Surely there’s no doubt in OUR minds that you can raise another $19,885.00, but we need to start extra fundraising as soon as possible to make it happen by November.
“But Frank,” you say, “First off, you’ve really got to stop calling me Shirley. We talked about this last week. Second off, Frank, how are you SO CERTAIN that we can help you raise TWENTY THOUSAND dollars in only TWO months when we only raised $738.00 last week?”
Fine, Not-Shirley, I agree the joke’s not funny anymore. (was it ever?) Anyway, WE KNOW YOU WILL!!! In six years of Skepticons you guys haven’t let us down yet and we can’t imagine it happening this year either. Twenty grand is easy-peasy to do in TWO months if we just start now!
“Yeah, but I’m broke. Part of the reason I love Skepticon is because you guys keep it free to attend. I don’t have a few hundred dollars for a sponsorship or even one hundred for an ad in the program. It’s hopeless!” you retort.
This is far from hopeless!!!!! We’re not even WORRIED yet!!!! We have over 3,500 amazing Facebook fans. If just a fraction of those fans gave us $5.70 sometime within the next two months, we’d exceed our goal. Seriously! Less than six bucks and we’re golden. Think about it, and visit the donate page when you’re ready to make Skepticon 7 a reality.
We are 100% confident in you, and you look nice today!
So, y’all know about SkeptiProm, right? Yep, thatsa gonna be some goooood times. But we here at Skepticon want you to have even MORE FUN. We insist. So we’re having a dino painting contest! See the little pic over there —-> ? Those are the naked dinos. Your job is to make ‘em fancy. Here’s how it will work:
Cost: $20 per dino.
What you get: A little (3″) ceramic dino, acrylic paint, paint brushes, palette.
What you don’t get: Anything else you want to put on your dino to jazz it up. Luckily, there’s a handy-dandy Walmart right down the street from the hotel. We’re sure they have enough glitter, feathers, sequins, and such to make your dino really pop!
Where: We’ll have a table in the vendor area.
When: Sales will be Friday morning, hopefully starting about 8-8:30. It will be first come, first served, so get there early, because we only have 12!
When (part 2): Return your dino Saturday morning so it can be judged (nicely; no trash talking the dinos!)
THIS IS THE PART FOR THE NON-ARTISTS: We will have a fancy voting system set up so you can vote for your favorite dino! We promise no hanging chads or ballot stuffing. Swing by the voting table in the vendor’s area on Saturday, and cast your vote!
Winners will be announced at SkeptiProm (and again on Sunday morning, for those who don’t go to or can’t remember SkeptiProm.)
All dino painters will win a little something, and the winning dino painter(s) will win a little bigger something. Prizes are still being sought out, but a little pterosaur told us they might include Skepticon merchandise, Surly-Ramics, and/or gift certificates. (The pterosaur also told us to tell you that if you have a little something you would like to donate as a prize, email firstname.lastname@example.org!)
We at Skepticon are soooo excited to have this dino painting contest! We can’t wait to see what you come up with!
This activity involves minimal cost, and will actually pay for itself. However, we aren’t so lucky with the rest of the Skepticon events. We are a smidge over 2 months from the opening day, and yet we’re not even at half of our fundraising goal. If we want speakers and a venue, we need more funds. Please click here to donate if you can!
(Picture source: Oriental Trading)
As organizers we’ve had to do some pretty crazy things to make Skepticon happen, but our amazing donors have always pulled through in the nick of time! (we love you!!!!) However, while we’ve waited on donations each year, JT had to take out a loan on his car, Lauren shaved her head for a good cause, and others have had nervous breakdowns and become hermits in Tibet. While we’ve always been able to make Skepticon happen (and hopefully made it look easy, right?) it always happens at the last minute. We really prefer not nearly pooping our pants with stress each year. It gets embarrassing.
Totally disregarding organizer stress level, if we can purchase supplies and such-like in advance we can make your donation money go much farther. As an example, if we pay to print programs and banners on a rush order, it costs about 2x more than if we can order it online a month in advance.
Another time sensitive example: We need about 60 T-Shirt preorders to be able to fund our merchandise order. We want to be able to ship them out at the beginning of November, but if we don’t get enough orders by October we’ll have to pay about 3x more for overnight shipping to get the pre-ordered T-Shirts out before the event. You’ll also get your shirt sooner, so you can wash it, or decorate it with puff paint and glitter before SK7 and still have time for it to dry. Uh, winning!
So if you love us, AND WE KNOW YOU DO, please don’t wait to make your donation. It’ll make your dollar go farther (and therefore the amount we need/goal would actually be lower) and it’ll make the organizers lives easier. It’s hard to put on Skepticon 8 if we’re all herrmits in Tibet by 2015.
If you’ve ever been in the vendor room area of Skepticon, you know Surly Amy’s sweet Surlyramics. You may NOT know how AMAZING of an artist Amy Davis Roth (A.K.A. Surly Amy) is in the larger scheme of things. We are crazy lucky that this year she’s agreed to present on the main stage as an official speaker!!!!
Amy Davis Roth is a 4th generation multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She the creator of Surly-Ramics which are purchased yearly by hoards of Skepticon-goers. Her designer jewelry line is inspired by and encourages science, humanism, atheism, critical thinking, and most years she makes special dino-themed “surleys” for Skepticon. In addition to jewelry and speech-craft, we hear this year she’s also planning something extra in a spare conference room, which promises to be SUPER DUPER AMAZING for us artsy loving attendees!
Not only is she slaving away to make our 7th year the best Skepticon ever, Amy also writes for Skepchick.org and bevegananywhere. She is managing editor for Skepchick’s sister site that deals with the intersection between art, science and skepticism called, Mad Art Lab. She is the founder and organizing leader of the Los Angeles Women’s Atheist and Agnostic Group. Her current project, A Women’s Room Online is making waves on the twitterverse and will be opening up in real life in just a few days! If you can’t go in person, be sure to check it, and all her other projects out on her twitter @ !
If you would like your chance to see Amy talk, buy a surlyramic, and see what her special event is, we’ll have to be able to get her to Springfield, MO somehow. As of September 12, we’re nearly TWENTY THOUSAND dollars short of our goal. Amy has agreed to waive any honorariums and fees to speak at Skepticon for free but it will still cost us about $850.00 to pay for Amy’s airfare, taxis, and hotel room so that she can speak at Skepticon. Pleeeeeeeeease donate!!!!!
One of our very mostest favoritest things in the world is to see someone that’s near and dear to Skepticon’s heart really “make it”. Heina Dadabhoy is one of those people. Heina has been with us for many moons as a workshopper. This year she’s coming back to Skepticon, only this time on the main stage, and nothing but a disaster with the space-time vortex could keep us away!
Heina is a writer/blogger/speaker/woman of many talents. She puts those talents to good use in advocating things near and dear to her heart. We suspect she’s actually a Time Lord. Why? She certainly HAS to have at least two hearts to have so many different topics be that “near and dear” to her heart(s)! Her some of her personal favorites are Islam, feminism, deconversion, and attempting to answer the question of why a good God would permits the manifestation of evil. (that’s called theodicy for those of you looking to build your Scrabble vocabulary)
She just successfully ran a campaign to fund A Skeptic’s Guide to Islam, from Pitchstone Publishing, intending to educate those without a Muslim background on Islam. She actively presents and blogs on socially significant topics such as evolution, Internet trolling, beauty scams, female scientists, gender differences, rape in Dubai, women at geeky conferences (is that about us? are we geeky, Heina???), Time Lord history, and being an ex-Muslim.
Heina has agreed to waive any honorariums and fees to speak at Skepticon for free. Even still, it will cost us about $850.00 to pay for her airfare, taxis, and hotel room so that she can speak at Skepticon, since she doesn’t plan on bringing her TARDIS. As of September 10, 2014 we are only at 49% of our fundraising goal. If you’re excited to see her present, please consider donating to help cover the costs of getting her to Springfield, MO this November.
There’s less 1 month left before we have to pony up the money to pay for 17 speaker’s round trip flights, and less than 9 weeks before we have to drop about ten grand on the convention center. According to our sweet charty graph-a-magig, we’ve only raised 48% of what we need to pay for Skepticon 7. We need your help to raise $20,623.00 as quickly as possible if we’re going to hit our goal by November.
Let me be frank. Surely there’s no doubt in OUR minds that you can raise $20,623.00, but we need to start extra fundraising as soon as possible to make it happen by November.
“But Frank,” you say, “First off, don’t call me Shirley. Second off, Frank, how are you SO CERTAIN that we can help you raise TWENTY THOUSAND dollars in only TWO months?”
Well, NOT-Shirley, because you guys have done it before. In six Skepticons you guys haven’t let us down yet. In November 2013 (right before Skepticon 6), Skepticon attendees raised more than $17,000.00. Nearly $9,000.00 of that was in the WEEK right before SK6 went down. Twenty grand is easy-peasy to do in TWO months.
“Yeah, but I’m broke. Part of the reason I love Skepticon is because you guys keep it free to attend. I don’t have a few hundred dollars for a sponsorship. It’s hopeless!” you retort.
This is far from hopeless!!!!! We’re not even WORRIED yet!!!! (on our minds, yes. worried? no.) We have over 3,500 amazing Facebook fans. (and I’m sure way more of you are lurking around out there) If each Facebook fan gave us $5.90 sometime within the next two months, we’d exceed our goal. Seriously! Less than six bucks and we’re golden. Think about it, and visit the donate page when you’re ready to make Skepticon 7 a reality.
We love every one of you, regardless of how many zeros are in your bank account!
Without delay, here comes the 5th Speaker Spotlight for Skepticon 7! Announcing the stupendous Scott Clifton!
No stranger to the spotlight, the Skepticon 7 curtains are up on Scott Clifton! According to Wikipedia, this actor and vlogger has done some pretty amazing things in just three decades. Some of it is almost difficult to believe!
Scott is only willing to admit to being nominated (and winning) a ton of Daytime Emmys for his work in General Hospital, One Life to Live, and The Bold and the Beautiful. He also fessed up to having a crazy-popular YouTube channel called Theoretical Bullshit, being a shockingly good musician, and cheating in English class. Hopefully Wikipedia got some of those things right, at least. If you want info straight from the source, follow his Twitter feed @CliftonsNotes.
Scott has agreed to waive any honorariums and fees to speak at Skepticon for free. Even still, it will cost us about $850.00 to pay for Scott’s airfare, taxis, and hotel room so that he can speak at Skepticon. If you’re excited to see him present, please consider donating to help cover the costs of getting him to Springfield, MO this November.
By now, you guys should be used to the Speaker Spotlight Series, and our next speaker really should need no introduction! You all are pretty smart cookies, but Greta would be sad if we left her out of the list… so without further ado…
Skepticon is proud to present Greta Christina!!! Greta is the unofficial official favorite speaker at Skepticon (please don’t tell JT), author, blogger, and overall BAMF! Greta Christina will once again be rocking the stage at Skepticon 7. She has been writing professionally since 1989 and even skyped in at Skepticon 5 while in recovery because she is that hardcore. She has given some of her most internet-famous talks at Skepticon, and her past talks are totally worth (re)watching. She just released a new book this spring called Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why. To get more information about all things Greta, check her out on the twittarz @GretaChristina .
Greta has yet again agreed to waive any honorariums and fees to speak at Skepticon for free. Even still, it will cost us about $850.00 to pay for Greta’s airfare, taxis, and hotel room so that she can speak at Skepticon. If you’re excited to see her present, please consider donating to help cover the costs of getting her to Springfield, MO this November.
We’re happy to announce that Camp Quest Oklahoma is going to be hosting a Mini Camp at Skepticon 7 for children aged 6-12.
Check out the amazing schedule of events:
Air rockets? Beautiful math? HOLY CRAPS THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME! Click this link right here to register your children for what sounds like an amazing and educational time.
Please be sure to register your children soon as if we don’t fill the camp, we may have to cancel.
See you soon!
Did you know that there are only about 3 months until Skepticon 7?! AHHHHH!
Skepticon is a conference that is entirely run by volunteers. The Skepticon team is comprised of 8 people. 8 people who work full time jobs, have families and obligations but still donate their time to this conference year-round as a second or even third job.
Skepticon’s speakers donate their time. All of our speakers waive their honorariums and agree to ridiculous flight times in order to keep costs down.
Skepticon relies entirely upon the generous donations of people like yourself to survive from year to year. While we do everything in our power to keep costs down and spend wisely, Skepticon takes about $40,000 to run–an amount we work tirelessly year round to fundraise.
We hope that you can help us make this year’s Skepticon one of the best yet!
This morning brings you the third installment of our Speaker Spotlight Series. For those of you who have been attending Skepticon since the beginning, you’ll find some fresh new faces to get you all excited. For those of you who discovered Skepticon recently because your favorite speaker will be presenting with us, check out some of our “tenured” speakers and see what all the fuss is about. You can view any past Skepticon video on our website.
Drumroll, please! Melanie Brewster is the Assistant Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University, and earned her Ph.D from the University of Florida. Her research focuses on marginalized groups and examines how experiences of discrimination and stigma may shape the mental health of minority group members (e.g., LGBTQ individuals, atheists, people of color). She also examines potential resilience factors, such as bicultural self-efficacy and cognitive flexibility, that may promote the mental health of minority individuals. Her first book, Atheists in America, was published June 2014 by Columbia University Press. For more information on what Melanie is up to, check out her Twitter at @melysebrewster .
Melanie has agreed to waive any honorariums and fees to speak at Skepticon for free. Even still, it will cost us about $850.00 to pay for Melanie’s airfare, taxis, and hotel room so that she can speak at Skepticon. If you’re excited to see her present, please consider donating to help cover the costs of getting her to Springfield, MO this November.
We just found out some news here at Skepticon HQ: A friend of ours recently passed away. Dr Victor Stenger was one of the first presenters that we reached out to when all of this started. Dr Stenger had a sharper approach to atheism than many inside the movement, and gave a voice to many people looking for an outlet.
He pushed us to new heights and urged us take our scientific understanding to a new level. Victor not only wanted to prove that people who believed in religion were misguided, he also wanted to educate them and try to give them an outlet to start to understand the world around them.
Victor will be missed and our thoughts go out to his wife.
Here is Victor’s talk from Skepticon 2:
For More information on Victor, our good friend Hemant Mehta, The Friendly Atheist, wrote an article where he reached out to some of the people that knew him the best.
Good Bye Victor, Thank you for believing in us even before we understood what we were doing.
T-shirt pre-orders are here, get ‘em while they’re hot! What’s the advantage to pre-ordering, you ask? In order of importance: you’ll have your clothes for the first day of Skepticon already picked out, your shirt should ship at the beginning of November, and the cost for a shirt will go up from $20.00 when the event starts November 21st.
So show your never-ending love for Skepticon by ordering an official Skepticon 7 t-shirt! This shirt is a special 3-in-one deal! You get to clothe yourself, show off your SK7 swag, and help fund Skepticon! All profits on this super teal t-shirt go right back in to funding Skepticon! It doesn’t get much better than that, my lovely skepti-friends!
BUT WAIT, IT DOES!!! We’re doing a special bundle!!!!! Pre-order the SK7 shirt and get an SK6 shirt for only $5 bucks more! When you check out, please let us know the size and style you want in the comment section. We’ll do our best to accommodate your request with the remaining inventory we have! If you missed out on getting a Skepticon 6 shirt, this may be your last chance to cherish your lovely SK6 memories in shirt form!
I see you’re convinced. Here’s the link! Buy it now!
The design was created by artist Valentino Zamarripa and is printed locally in Springfield, MO by Swagbot. The high quality shirt itself is produced by Bella + Canvas LA. It’s a high quality 100% combed and ring-spun cotton in a lovely teal color. This shirt comes in unisex and fitted styles. If you need a size that isn’t listed on the website, please contact us at email@example.com.
Today is the second installment of our Speaker Spotlight. For those of you who have been attending Skepticon since the beginning, you’ll find some fresh new faces to get you all excited. For those of you who discovered Skepticon recently because your favorite speaker will be presenting with us, check out some of our “tenured” speakers and see what all the fuss is about. You can view any past Skepticon video on our website.
Skepticon is proud to present Ben Blanchard! Ben “SweaterVest” Blanchard is kind of a bad ass. Not the “Ben will meet you in the parking lot if you piss him off” kind of a bad ass. He’s more of the “world-traveling, child-educating, malaria-defeating, English-teaching, SSA-engaging as-he-looks-classy” kind of bad ass.
Ben is an activist who literally changes lives on a daily basis by working with the Student Secular Alliance stateside and the Pathfinders Project internationally. Ben has been all over the globe from Cambodia to Guatemala with Pathfinders, tutoring English and working with residents to develop low-impact environmental processes by encouraging respect for nature. Ben helps the SSA crew to empower students for a secular future. Go science!
Ben has agreed to waive any honorariums and fees to speak at Skepticon for free. Even still, it will cost us about $850.00 to pay for Ben’s airfare, taxis, and hotel room so that he can speak at Skepticon. If you’re excited to see him present, please consider donating to help cover the costs of getting him to Springfield, MO this November.