SK11 Speaker: Ashton P. Woods

Hello Skepticoners!

Introducing Ashton P. Woods to the Skepticon 11 Speaker Lineup!

About Ashton:

Unapologetically Black, same gender loving, HIV positive & atheist. All of these descriptors speak to the identity of the New Orleans native who at age fifteen took part in the founding of one of the first Gay/straight alliances ever in a New Orleans area high school. That was the genesis of his work as a civil rights activist. He knows what being marginalized looks and feels like which informs his philosophy that Black liberation and justice must be inter-sectional. Ashton’s belief in Black liberation and inter-sectional justice is highlighted by his active involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement, racial justice, feminism, LGBTQ rights and secular activism.

Ashton is currently based in Houston, TX and is The Co – Founder & lead organizer for Black Lives Matter: Houston. When he isn’t organizing, Ashton acts as Co – chair for the Black Humanist Alliance, which is a coalition of secular activists under the American Humanist Association. In the LGBT community Ashton is very involved in the fight for equality and his efforts led to a recent appointment to the City of Houston’s first LGBT advisory board. As the founder of the Strength In Numbers Project and blog he writes about issues affecting the Black community while implementing the tenets set forth in the main project (more info). In addition to his own blog, Ashton writes as a blogger for POZ magazine and has contributed to many publications like The Humanist, The Body, Houston Press, and many others on a myriad of subjects.

Speaker Website, Twitter

We can’t wait to see them on our main stage and hope you’re excited, too!



P.S. — Please consider donating to Skepticon today and help us continue to keep this event FREE!

Where is Skepticon 11?


O. M. G. have we missed you! What have you been up to? Did you do cool things? I certainly hope so.

We’re writing to you today from our hibernation caves to give you a little update on Skepticon 11. As we mentioned at the end of our last conference, we’re moving! While this is certainly exciting (are you ready St. Louis?!) — it’s taking some time. We’re not going to be able to host an event in 2018 so look for updates towards the end of this year regarding SK11 in 2019!

In the meantime our leadership team is going to take a small break and maybe take up knitting or karate or yoga or something. We certainly won’t be too far (after all, we’ve got some fun surprises coming up this summer! JUST YOU WAIT!), and we hope that you won’t wander to far away, either!

If you’re feeling it — send us a love note via Facebook, Twitter, Email, or carrier pigeon. OH, and donations are always welcome (lol lawsuits while lol fundraising).

We’re also always looking for fresh new faces to our leadership team, and if that could be you then drop us a line! We’d love to talk more.

Love always,


#SK10 Schedule Addition: A PANEL!

Hello Skepticon world!

We’re very super a lot excited to announce a last minute addition to our lineup: a panel!

Introducing: Diversifying Atheist Voices


Even after years of work on the problem, the atheist movement is still largely represented by white cishet men. We’ve put together a panel of podcasters whose guest lists are more diverse than the movement as a whole. We’ll talk about how and why they do that and whether it’s difficult in any way.

Say Hello to our Panelists:

Maddy Love

Maddy Love, transwoman living in Minnesota, talks with and about people in the trans, atheism, skepticism, and science communities. Then, since there’s no one to stop her, she talks about anything else she finds interesting or irritating – like podcast hosts writing summaries of themselves in the 3rd person. When not podcasting Maddy may be hosting Atheist Talk on the Minneapolis airwaves 9am, Sunday mornings at AM 950 KTNF. 

Marissa Alexa McCool

Marissa Alexa McCool is an author, podcaster, LGBT activist, and speaker. She graduated the University of Pennsylvania in May 2017 and is the co-founder of the Trans Podcaster Visibility Initiative.


Chris Watson

Chris is the host of The Podunk Polymath, ‘a podcast dedicated to the sentiments of a secular, sarcastic, screwed up Southern SJW and skeptic.’ He wants to promote more diversity in his chosen medium, because the podcast community doesn’t need more cishet White guys.

WOOHOOO! Many thanks to the amazing Stephanie Zvan who will be hosting this awesome panel on Friday night from 9pm–10pm on the main stage.

See you all soon!



SK10 Speaker Topics!

Hello Skepticoners!

I bet you’d like to know what kind of awesome things our speakers are going to be talking about AND BY GOLLY YOU WILL KNOW!

  • Dr. Samantha Montano
    • From Acts of Gods to Disasterology: This presentation will explore the evolution from considering disasters as “Acts of God” to studying them scientifically. For much of human history calamities were viewed as being outside human control. As a scientific understanding of natural hazards like hurricanes and earthquakes developed, a shift towards interpreting disasters as natural phenomena took hold. In ascribing the cause of disasters to God and/ or nature, human responsibility for preventing disasters was removed. A third shift among the scientific community has led us to view disasters as invoking the relationship between nature and society. This understanding, while relatively long held within the scientific community, has begun to permeate to the general public. After disasters like Hurricane Harvey and Irma, we see news stories with titles like “This was no natural disaster” as people begin to make the connections to how human action contributes to disasters. Soon the term “natural disaster” will likely become as obsolete as “Act of God”.
  • Jessica Xiao
    • Fostering online communities/mobilizing them for action.
  • Mandisa Thomas
    • Mandisa Thomas will be explaining why it’s important to effectively manage organizations, and the people in them.
  • Mika McKinnon
    • Pre-Apocalyptic Party Planning: No where is safe from disasters, and it’s only a matter of time before catastrophe strikes. But you don’t need to passively await certain doom! This is a planning guide for hosting parties that enhance g personal preparedness and community resilience while having a good time. (Really!)
  • Randall Jenson
    • Queering Violence
  • Ross Blocher
    • Ross Blocher takes you on a wild journey through his interactions with various religious groups, alternative medical practitioners, fringe scientists and paranormalists. Along the way, learn by example (and counter-example) where you can have effective conversation and when it’s best to cut your losses.
  • Leighann Lord
    • Stand Up Comedy!
  • Laura Thomas
    • Why are some drugs legal and others not? Is strawberry-flavored meth really a thing? Come learn about drugs, people who use drugs, prohibition, and how to be a skeptical consumer of media reports about drugs.
  • Nikki Jane
    • Mental health and the black community: Discussing what suicide/mental illness look like in the black community, and how we can make changes.

Do you guys know a good doctor? Because this LINEUP LOOKS SICK! Can’t wait to see these amazing speakers on stage!

See you all SOOOOON!


Team Skepticon

P.s. Did you know that we rely completely upon donations to keep Skepticon running? Donate today and help make our event happen!

SK10 Schedule!

My goodness! We’ve had a heck of a year trying to get the schedule locked down for Skepticon 10. BUT BY GOODNESS WE ARE READY TO SHARE AND I HOPE YOU ARE, TOO!

Oh and hey — we’re doing a few things different this year. For one, we’ve decided to add more workshops to our lineup. We want to be sure that if you’re coming to Skepticon that you’re not only learning but getting some hands-on experience doing the stuff that you care about. Saturday and Sunday are split in half with part of the day dedicated to awesome hands-on workshops and the other half to our classic main stage speakers.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL! On top of a Skepticon workshop track, we’re teaming up with Secular Woman and Foundation Beyond Belief to offer you three amazing tracks of workshops.

Look at the whole schedule here!


P.s. — Donate to Skepticon and help us keep this amazing event happening each year.

SK10 Speaker: Nikki Jane!

Hello again Skepticon Lovers!

Due to Libby Cowgill needing to step down, we have a lineup update to share and ya’ll…this year is gonna rock our socks.

Please welcome Nikki Jane as to the Skepticon 10 crew! 

Nikki Jane born Jessica Nicole is a activist, artist, and writer currently residing in Kansas City, MO.
Jane is a BLM activist, and spoke on the movement at Skepticon in 2016. Newer to activism she was inspired to speak out against racism after the death of Mike Brown in 2014. Her activism focuses on feminism, racism, mass incarceration, sex worker rights/safety, de-stigmatizing mental illness, and eating disorder awareness.
While living in Joplin, MO she co-founded a local intersectional feminist group, Joplin Intersectional Feminism. During her time there she helped organize and plan film viewing fundraiser of the critically acclaimed 13th for a local black history group. In March she appeared on an episode of Danielle Mustaco’s podcast Resist where she spoke on BLM, sex worker rights, and vegetarianism.
She plans to further her studies at a university in Kansas City next year while studying graphic design and film making.
You can find her on Twitter & Instagram: @blvckberri

We’re so excited to have Nikki join us for our tenth year and we hope you are, too!



P.S. — Please consider donating to Skepticon today and help us make this year amazing!

SK10 Speaker: Jessica Xiao

Hello Skepticon Lovers!

Please welcome Jessica Xiao as the next speaker to the Skepticon 10 lineup!

Jessica Xiao is a Washington, DC-based writer, interested in activist culture, radical vulnerability, feminism, race and identity, mass incarceration, and climate injustice. You can find her work at Everyday Feminism, The Establishment, Huffington Post,, and Medium.

She is the Prison Book Club Coordinator at Free Minds Book Club and Writing Workshop, a nonprofit serving incarcerated youth tried as adults. She is also a grant writer for Artistri Sud, a Montreal-based nonprofit providing social entrepreneurship and leadership development training to Indigenous women artisans.

Previously, she was a Community Facilitator for McGill University’s “Social Learning for Social Impact” GROOC (massive open online course for groups) and the Marketing and Communications Lead for their environmental hackathon “On the Earth, For the Earth” at the 2016 World Social Forum.

From 2015 to 2016, Jessica was the Projects Assistant at the American Humanist Association, Operations Manager at Humanist Press, and Assistant Editor at She is Co-Chair of the Feminist Humanist Alliance.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science in Economics and Psychology from McGill University. You can find her on Twitter @jexxicuh.

We’re so excited to have them join us for our tenth year and we hope you are, too. And hey — this completes our speaker name releases for this year. 10 amazing speakers for our amazing 10th year — how poetic and on theme!



P.S. — Please consider donating to Skepticon today and help us make this year amazing!