SK11 Fundraising Update and Matching Challenge!

Audit Cat is examining the moneys.
Image by imarksm from Pixabay

Hey there awesome Skeptonites! We’ve been examining our finances, and need your help! With one week to go, we still need to raise about $10,000 between now and August 11th, when the last SK11 attendee floats home on a lovely cloud of post-con bliss.

The good news is that starting today, August 1st, we have a donation matching challenge. Thanks to very generous and very anonymous donors, for every $ donated to Skepticon between now and the 11th, they will match with a $, making $$! They didn’t give us an upper limit, so let’s take ridiculous advantage of these awesome people.

So please donate! Claim your SK 11 Amazeball with a $100 donation! (Maybe even donate to our legal defense fund if you think that speaking out is worth fighting for!)

Help us if you can! This year’s conference will go on no matter what, but if you love Skepticon and want it to continue, we need you.

For the curious and detail-minded of you out there (Us too!), here are some of the gory details of our current moneys:

As of 7/31:

  • Expenses already paid this year (speaker travel, merch, equipment, etc.): $11,411
  • Anticipated venue expenses (space rental, rooms for speakers): $15,300
  • Anticipated conference expenses (captioning, child care, DJ, rentals): $4,900
  • Balance in the conference fund: $9,408
  • Amount needed to cover conference expenses: $10,792

And then the legal defense fund:

  • Amount of legal bills on credit card: $20,754
  • Legal bills unpaid: $8,533
  • Balance in the legal fund: $1,490
  • Net legal bills needing to be covered: $27,797
  • (We’ll be receiving another large bill next week for July. Yay us.)

Don’t Wait! Hotel Deadline for SK11 is Coming!

Hey Skepticoners! Zoooooom! That’s how fast Skepticon 11 is approaching. For those coming from out of town, or just wanting a place to stay overnight after Skeptiprom, you need to nab a hotel room soon. The deadline for our reserved block of rooms at the $109 rate is July 18th, less than four weeks from now.

While you’re doing that, be sure to register. Yes, I know it’s a free event, but registering gives us a better idea of how many of you are going to show up, and we want to prepare for the correct number of badges, programs, and high-fives to hand out. You’ll also have a chance to take home one of the 47 nifty Amazeballs (limited edition!) as a thank-you for a BFF donation.

Will You Be Our BFF?

A Skepticon “Magic” 11 Amazeball can be yours!

Hi Skepticonville! We’re two months away from Skepticon 11! It’s time to reveal the thank-you gifts that we have for our most generous donors, our bestest best friends. Okay, maybe you’re thinking that we’ve never revealed our $100 donor gift ahead of time before. Well, that’s because we sometimes … shopped at the last minute and didn’t know what to get you lovely people.


But this year is different! This year we are giving you a genuine, hand-crafted Skepticon “Magic” 11 Amazeball. We’re making 47 of these beauties that you can take home to astound others with your ability to answer the toughest of yes/no questions.


That’s right, these are fully-functioning 4 inch Oracles of Limited Wisdom. Just like certain other numbered spheres we could mention, a “Magic” 11 Amazeball can divine the future, give critical life advice, and tell you if you should continue to give all your money to Skepticon forever.


To claim your Amazeball, choose the “One Hundred Dollar Skepticon BFF Donation” option when you register for Skepticon.

And if you donate $250 or more before July 1, we’ll make a custom Amazeball with the 20 messages of your choice! (Email your messages. Some size and content restrictions apply – ask us if unsure).


Skepticon 11 – Save the Date!

Hello St. Louis! What Are You Doing on August 9-11, 2019?

Skepticon is pleased to announce that we have found our new home!

Yes, after many months of searching and negotiating, we found this place:

Isn’t it gorgeous?

This is the Red Lion St. Louis City Center Hotel. A few facts to whet your appetite:

  • Originally constructed in 1929 as the Edison Brothers warehouse.
  • Converted to a hotel with 288 rooms in 2001.
  • Conference center is the 13th floor, and we’re taking over the whole thing!
  • Across the street (literally) is the transportation hub for St. Louis, with the MetroRail ($4 from airport), MetroBus, Amtrak, Greyhound, and Downtown Trolley ($2 all day).
  • Oh, and the view’s nice, too.

We have a place, now we just have to fill it with the very best in Skeptical / Sciencey / Humanisty / Social Justicey / Nerdy / Dino education and fun. And we need one more thing:


(and maybe some donations would be nice)

So, mark down August 9-11, 2019 on your calendar apps, paper calendars, or clay tablets, and get ready to party with us in St. Louis! Click this link here to reserve your swanky hotel room today!

Stay tuned for more announcements….

Help Our Legal Defense Fund, Get Dino Swag

Well, Skepticon fanaroos, here we are, two years into our legal fight with Richard Carrier, and we’re still standing strong for what we believe. But it’s costing us dearly to keep going. Even though we are pooling our resources with the other defendants, our corporate credit card overfloweth, and we will need thousands more $$$ to keep going. (We’d much rather be raising funds for our next conference, so we can see you all, but count on that for next year. We miss all of you amazing people so much!)

So, we’re throwing a fundraiser! (Yay!) And you can choose an amazing and dino-filled, hand-made thank-you gift for your donation. That’s right, each of the fabulous creations on this page were made one at a time by a human Skepticon organizer (okay, except the postcards). The dinos wanted to help, but things came up, and life happened. The usual.

Our penny-pinching ways mean that we were able to keep the material costs for all items to less than 10% of the donation amount on the buttons. So be assured that nearly all of your money will be put directly to work in defending Skepticon and Lauren. We also renew our commitment to use no funds collected for the conference to pay the legal bills. Any leftovers in the legal fund will go to the conference fund, though. Shipping costs to the US are included. If you need international shipping, send us an email and we’ll work it out.

Finally, don’t forget that as a 501(c)(3) organization, funds collected by Skepticon can’t be used for the legal fees for the other defendants. Please also consider donating to the main defense fund.

Select From These Fabulous Thank-You Gifts!

No Thank You, Swag

If you’d just like to send us money and not get anything in return, other than the warm feelings of doing something good in the world, and our heartfelt gratitude, this is the option for you. Picture us doing a happy dance in your honor.

Thank You Postcard

A postcard from our team to you, thanking you for your very welcome donation.

Ask a Dino

A paragraph of no less than 100 words on any topic, from the Skepticon Dino of your choice, posted publicly to our Facebook page. They’ll do their best, but remember that they’re just dinos trying to make a living in this uncertain world of the far future. Some of their knowledge is 65 million years out of date.

Framed Quotes

Quotes on paper, with decorated letters, in 5×7″ wooden frames.

Framed Quote: “You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right.”

Framed Quote: “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe it.”

Framed Quote: “Words actually matter. They’re significant, they can transform and open up our imagination.”

Framed Quote: “Above all don’t fear difficult moments. The best comes from them.”

Framed Quote: “Always be yourself. Unless you can be a dinosaur. Then always be a dinosaur.”


Custom Framed Quote – Got a favorite quote of a reasonable length? For some extra moolah we’ll make one just for you. (We do reserve the right to reject a quote because of what it says, but never because of who you are.)


Approximately 16″ x 16″, with polyester fill.

Rockets and planets design.

Dinosaur silhouette design.

Cartoon dinosaur design.


Tabletop scenes featuring miniature dinosaurs.

Disco dinorama, featuring colorful disco lighting! Boogie on down to Skeptiprom town. Dinorama is approximately 12″ wide 8″ tall, and 7″ deep. Lighting is powered by 3 AA batteries.

Volcano dinorama, featuring glowing lava! (Note: glowing lava is simulated and will not actually melt your face.) Dinorama is approximately 12″ wide 12″ tall, and 12″ deep. Lava is powered by button batteries.

Space dinorama, featuring helmeted dinos in microgravity! Dinorama is approximately 14″ wide 9″ tall, and 8″ deep. Stars are powered by button batteries.

Protest dinorama, featuring resistant dinos taking to the streets! Dinorama is approximately 12″ wide 6″ tall, and 12″ deep.


All robots are one-of-a-kind sculptures featuring miniature dinos at the controls. They do not move by themselves, but most of them are lighted. If we sell out of robots, we’ll make more and add them here.

We’ll take down the image as soon as we can when a robot is purchased, but it is possible that someone will buy your robot just before you. If that happens, we’ll give you the choice of a refund, another bot, or having us make one as similar to the bot you chose as we can.

Light of Reason Bot

This solid bot is here to help with your toughest reasoning chores. It is lit inside to show you the dinos hard at work.

Doot-Dooer Bot

Inspired by the muppets singing backup to Mahna Mahna (youtube).

Skeptiprom Bot

This graceful dancer is here to help you get your groove on. Bot’s lower half is lit to show the fancy footwork.

Not Tom Servo Bot

They may be related, but this is for sure not the star of MST3K. Tom can talk, but can he light up his globe?

Bottommost Turtle Bot

As we all know, the world is held on the back of a turtle, and from there it’s turtles all the way down. Here is the one at the very bottom, and it’s controlled by dinos, in a well-lit workplace.

Observatory Bot

What, doesn’t everyone have a hovercraft observatory run by dinosaurs? Well, now you don’t have to be the only one missing out. This bot features red light illumination to protect your delicate night vision.

Wise Old Owl Bot

Hard working dinos are here to provide the wisdom of the ages to you from the mouth of this bot. Or such wisdom as was available 65 million years ago. Maybe just “Look out for asteroids!” (This bot is not lighted.)

Safety Dance Bot

Dinos are dancing fools, sure, but with this beauty they’re sure to impress on the dance floor.

Inside Skepticon – Hand Over Your Money and the Dinosaurs Won’t Get Hurt

You can’t spell fundraising without the fun! And we can’t put on an amazebananas free-to-attend Skepticon without the fundraising. Almost all of the money needed for Skepticon comes from donations by wonderful people like you. We also pledge that every penny donated to the conference goes to putting on Skepticon. Raising that money is the responsibility of … The Fundraising Director!

Yeah, I know, not such a creative title, is it? Maybe we should change it to Dinosaur Feeding Director, or Dollar Floodgate Opener Director, or Money Coming At Us … Person. … Maybe we’ll just stick with Fundraising Director.

Anyway, at the beginning of the year we look at how much we’ll need to make Skepticon a reality (mostly based on what it cost the year before), and set a goal to raise that total. This year, we’re looking to raise $30,000. That’s a scary number for us. And it almost always comes down to the wire, or even a bit past the wire. We are usually still trying to meet that goal during the conference. The fingernails, they get bitten around Skepticon town.

About two thirds of that comes from attendee donations. These are usually made during registration, but for an extra special group of humans, donations are made every month. These are the the Dino Club members, they are the awesomest of the awesomest, and you can join them!

The rest of our funding comes from donations made by national sponsors (maybe 10%), fees paid for vendor tables (maybe another 10%), and the rest from merch sales at the conference.

And for our tenth Skepticon, (slogan: The Most Tenth Skepticon Evar!), we have an extra challenge. Yes, it just wasn’t enough that we need to raise funds for the conference this year. We’re also being sued by someone not worth mentioning here, and have to raise money for that, too! Whee. So, we would appreciate any donations you can make to our legal fund.

Here’s the deal with that – we refuse to use any of the conference funds on fighting this alleged individual’s worthless suit. Anything you donate to the conference goes to the conference. Anything donated to our legal fund goes to the legal fund. If there’s any leftover from the legal fund once we’ve won, it will roll into the conference fund.

Have I mentioned that our totally free conference needs your donations? I have? Oh good.

P.S. I know it’s really redundant on this post, but it’s super extra true. Your donations are what make Skepticon 10 possible! And if you really want to lighten our stress levels, please donate to our legal defense fund!


Inside Skepticon – I Like Big Bots!

In this modern age, everything depends on the interwebs, and Skepticon is no exception. We have a resident Tech wizard on the board, and his name is Bart! And do you know how we got Bart? He told Lauren that our website was a giant pile of [censored]. Yes, gentle people of all genders, this is how volunteer organizations work. Tell us that we have failed at something, and you too can be in charge of fixing it!

Bart was definitely up to the task, and now we have this awesome website you see all around you! (Note to readers on the Facebox® and Twittars®: we do not own these websites. There are some limits to the powers of Bart. Go to, that’s where the real magic happens.)

Most of the year the Tech role is pretty laid back. But during the conference, it is a very busy time. Bart is in charge of making all of the live video and audio work, including livestreaming and closed captioning. We also need to give a big shout out to Rob for literally putting his butt on the line every year doing the camera work. We salute your aching glutes, Rob!

In addition to the website and work at the conference, the Tech role is responsible for the safe and secure storage of our documents and passwords, and the configuration of team communications apps. We use Google Apps for our shared documents. Google gives us free access to the apps (nice) since we are a non-profit. Our passwords are stored and updated via an online password management system and/or a shoebox under Bart’s bed.

For talking at each other and sharing more gifs than you could ever imagine, we use Slack. And this is where the bots come in. The Skepticon slack channels are filled with all the great behind-the-scenes info we need to put on the show. To liven things up, Bart has added several chat bots. One, named Doug, is primarily there to post memes at anyone who says “don’t know” or “no idea”:

Troweling doggo has no idea what they're doing.

This doogo has no idea. Thanks, Doug.

Another bot is not interactive. It just posts “Cat Facts”, like:

Cat Fact 16: Similarly, the frequency of a domestic cat’s purr is the same at which muscles and bones repair themselves.

I don’t know what this even means. Muscles and bones repair themselves at a frequency? What sort of woo is this?

Cat Fact 34: In the 15th century, Pope Innocent VIII began ordering the killing of cats, pronouncing them demonic.

Lauren may agree with Pope Innie, but I had to respond to this outrage.

Human Fact 34: Despite numerous attempts to clean it dating back to the early 16th century, Pope Innocent VIII’s grave smells strongly of cat pee.

Take that, Cat Facts!

P.S. Your donations are what make Skepticon 10 and giant robots possible! And if you really want to lighten our stress levels, please donate to our legal defense fund!

Inside Skepticon – So, The Thing About Corporations

The thing about corporations is that they have certain rules, and even little non-profits based in Missouri and secretly run by dinosaurs need to follow them. The rules aren’t terribly burdensome. They’re there to protect shareholders, and consumers, and to ensure that someone can be found who is responsible for doing the adult things like responding to legal paperwork. Ahem.

Anyhoo, one of the things to do is have an Annual Meeting. At that meeting we have to do one very important thing. We have to elect our corporate officers. In order to keep operating, we need to have a President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Other offices are optional. Another rule is that the President cannot also be the Treasurer. This is to prevent certain types of funny business with the books.

The problems are that we have to do this by the end of June, we need people willing to take on the rather unglamorous work for free, and we have to have a quorum (at least half) of the board members present. You think that’s easy, right? That’s adorable! You’ve never worked for a tiny all-volunteer non-profit before, have you? What actually happens is that people have lives, and their lives are filled with jobs that actually pay them, medical issues, family members, and certain TV shows that have long-awaited premiers. So, we do eventually get the job done, but it usually takes a few postponements. You learn to roll with it.

But I know that what you’re really here for is the spine-tingling election results, so here you go:

  • President: Lauren Lane
  • Treasurer: Rebecca Hammond
  • Secretary: Rebecca Hammond
  • Vice President in Charge of Sno-Cones™: John Notadinosaur
  • Secretary without Portfolio: Tetra Pawed
  • Wizard in Chief: Tim
  • Conference Chair Alignment Engineer: “Nudge” Elderberry

P.S. Your donations are what make Skepticon 10 possible, so help us make our bank account quorum! And if you really want to lighten our stress levels, please donate to our legal defense fund!

Inside Skepticon – Meetings and Policies and 990s, Oh My!

… and that is how a new bylaw is made!

Oh, hello, I didn’t hear you come in. I was just teaching my kid all about the fascinating world of non-profit corporate governance. They’re asleep with joy!

Hey, this stuff is actually very important! If we don’t do the things that the state and federal government expect of a small non-profit secretly run by dinosaurs, they could take away our 501(c)(3) status, or suspend our corporation, or even make us extinct!

At Skepticon, this is the job of the Corporate role. They make sure that all the bureaucratic ‘i’s are dotted, the ‘t’s are crossed, and the spongiform zorblats have winky emoji in their upper left quadrants. The actual work will mostly be done by the corporate officers (President, Treasurer, and Vice President in Charge of Making Sno-Cones™), but the director in the Corporate role is the one responsible for checking that it gets done right, and on time.

The expectation is that the President of Skepticon will be the one to take on this role. So in other words, we make Lauren do the boring bits. What else is new?

Besides government paperwork, what needs to be done to have a functioning corporation? We’re not completely sure, ourselves, but this is what we do:

  • Hold regular and annual board meetings where a quorum must be sober at all times
  • Write down all the things that the board votes on doing
  • Make sure that someone actually does the things that the board votes to do
  • Check that we still have money. Do we still have money? Oh good.
  • Keep track of which sofa cushions all that money is hiding under
  • Post all the info on where the money came from and went to on the website
  • Make our vendors do right by us, and check that we do right by them
  • Buy event liability insurance, because stuff happens around dinosaurs
  • Produce the aforementioned Sno-Cones™

And that’s really about it. See, not so bad after all. And your reward for reading all the way to the bottom of this post? We’re giving you all free tickets to Skepticon 10! Just use code ZORBLATEMOJI17 when registering. See you all there!

P.S. Your donations are what make Skepticon 10, and all those glorious Sno-Cones™ possible! And if you really want to lighten our stress levels, please donate to our legal defense fund!

Inside Skepticon – This One’s All About You!

At Skepticon we have a dedicated ally, a person whose job is specifically to advocate for the needs of the lovely humans who visit us. That’s you! You are coming to Skepticon this year, aren’t you? Of course you are, and we can’t wait to see you.

You’re quite a diverse bunch, and it’s the sworn duty of the person in the Attendees role to see to it that you have the bestest Skepticon ever. From the job description:

They will work to ensure that attendees are safe, and will feel that way. They will advocate for speaker and workshop choices of interest to, and representative of all communities Skepticon wants to attract. They will advocate for accommodations needed to allow all attendees to be comfortable and able to participate at Skepticon. To do all this, they will seek the advice of expert members of these communities, and produce and analyze surveys of attendees and potential attendees. Major projects for the Attendee role include maintaining the conduct policies and conducting surveys both before and after the event.

One question you might have here is just what “communities” of people do we want to encourage to come to Skepticon? To begin with, there’s Skeptics (undoubtedly), and Secularists (naturally), and Humanists (whole heartedly), and Freethinkers (dogmatically), and Atheists (faithfully), and Agnostics (indubitably). But this is just par for the course with skeptic events, and only covers the philosophical ground.

Skepticon realizes that people of many marginalized groups don’t attend skeptospheric cons for a variety of reasons. Maybe no one on stage looks like them, or speaks to their interests. Maybe they’re skeptical that the con will have their backs if they have a problem with a speaker or organizer or another attendee. Maybe a disability prevents them from attending, participating, or enjoying. Maybe they simply can’t afford the outrageous prices that cons charge just to get in the door.

Skepticon is committed to battling these obstacles and more in any way that we can. We look to represent the widest range of views and interests, and have people of all backgrounds on our stage. We also work to have:

  • Red lanyards for those who do not want their images shared publicly
  • Closed captioning or sign language interpreters for deaf and hearing-impaired Skepticoneers
  • Child care, either cooperatively among parents, or from an organization like Camp Quest
  • Fidgits available at the registration tables
  • Communication preference stickers
  • A food pantry so that no one has to go hungry to attend Skepticon
  • Ear plugs to help those sensitive to noise to come to Skeptiprom
  • Quiet rooms, for when it’s all just too much

And the best part is that Skepticon is FREE to attend! That’s a big relief to any budget.

P.S. Your donations are what make Skepticon 10 possible, so it really is all about you! And if you really want to lighten our stress levels, please donate to our legal defense fund!