Skepticake! Vol. 1

Hey everyone!

Over here at Skepticon Headquarters we have decided to enact a weekly blogging effort because, well–WE CAN.

So what is skepticake? It’s delicious, it’s sugary, it has zero calories! …Ok, so actually it is what have decided to call our weekly posting of links that we find awesome. Why skepticake? Well why NOT? Let them eat cake–skepticake–we say!

Here are this week’s links:

Have an awesome week, all!

-Lauren

P.s.–want to see your blog or a specific article up here? Send us a link to [email protected]!

SK5 Lineup: Week 2

It’s that time of the week: time to announce three new speakers for SK5! Drum roll, please…

George Hrab

Hrab is a talented musician who often explores themes related to atheism and scientific discovery in his performances. He serves as drummer for the Philadelphia Funk Authority while masterminding for the Geologic Orchestra. His podcast – The Geologic Podcast – is indisputably fantastic.

Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is simply one of the better people you will ever have the good fortune to meet. He’s the founding blogger at Friendly Atheist, a platform he frequently uses to raise funds for charitable causes within the secular movement. He also teaches math, and insists that you need not despise it.

Deborah Hyde

Hyde is the editor in chief of The Skeptic magazine and a prolific writer on superstition and the supernatural – suffice it to say that her writing career is old enough to drink! She blogs at Jourdemayne.

Our fundraising goal this week is $1000! If we get there, we’ll immediately release the next handful of speaker bios. Thanks for all your support!

30 Questions

In response to all of your questions in our recent survey, we wanted to address some things. 

Q: PLEASE bring Teresa MacBain as a speaker this year!! Please, please, please!
A: We already have our (tentative) lineup for this year, but I can assure you she is being added to our speaker database for future Skepticons.

Q: I think after the event it would be great to get a special link or somewhere where we could capture the talks or get the option to get a DVD with them all.
A: Each speech has been uploaded to Youtube by Hambone Productions, but that is a great idea to help us raise money for skepticon.

Q: Need a streamlined check-in/registration process–long lines and waits last year.
A: We are working out the details about registration and hope to have everything working smoothly this year.

Q: For Friday if they do not have speakers will we be able to get our badges and conference items early? Maybe have a special meeting where people could mingle.
A: On Friday we will be having workshops in the afternoon and will start the presentations after dinner. The local skeptics group is planning Skeptics In The Pub for both Friday and Saturday. If our attendees are more interested in something formal, we’re willing to look in to it!

Q: PLEASE no book sale advertisements masquerading as talks. PLEASE.
A: We try to give our speakers the opportunity to speak on the topic of their choice, but we’ll be sure to let your criticisms be known. We’re very appreciative of our speakers, all of whom donate their time and effort to us without any sort of payment.

Q: I would love to see a speaker session where several people who have left various religions discuss their process of leaving that religion. I know as a person who is still trapped in pretending to be religious (mormon), it inspires me to hear how others survived and were able to reach their own independence from religion.
A: That sounds like an interesting topic that might make for a good panel discussion/Q&A session.

Q: Try,try,try to bring in Dan Dennett.
A: He has been added to our database, and maybe in the future you will see him at Skepticon!

Q: I encourage the speakers to submit their topics in advance and that these topics be communicated with the other speakers to limit redundancy.  I appreciate an equal discussion of science and religion mixed in with history.
A: Last year we had a snafu with a couple presentations where it would have made more sense to put them in a different order, and we are going to try to avoid that this year.

Q: Is there any chance of getting Lawrence Krauss to speak?  I appreciate your efforts.  I am sure it will be another great year at Skepticon!
A: He’s in our database, and we do hope to host him in the future!

Q: I’m really excited about the idea of workshops!
A: So are we!

Q: There needs to be a national circuit for this.
A: Maybe one day!

Q: Diversity!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Need more DIVERSITY!
A: We try to invite a wide array of speakers from many different ethnic, experiential, and professional backgrounds. It’s definitely a priority to us!

Q: I would like to see Valerie Tarico and/or Marlene Winell at the next Skepticon, if at all possible.  :)
A: Added to our database – maybe in the future!

Q: Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson . That is all.
A: …Can you repeat that?… I am not sure I quite understood you…

Q: Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson Neil deGrasse Tyson . That is all.
A: Okay, okay! Yes, Tyson would be a great addition to Skepticon… but is Skepticon ready for Neil deGrass Tyson?

Q: If you start things on Friday evening, I’d like to see a debate.
A: We have other plans for Friday. =D

Q: Please contact Amy Roth to set up a community art project.
A: Not a bad Idea – how many people want to see a public sculpture of the FSM? Maybe that’s the next step after our billboard…

Q: Food drive-I think it’s great that it’s a free conference, but if you do a food drive for a local pantry or a diaper drive for planned parenthood for “suggested admission”.  and if everyone brought one thing it would add up so fast and be a cool way to support the community.
A: Not a bad Idea! After we’re set with the event planning, we’ll definitely be interested in setting our sights on that sort of endeavor.

Q: need more cowbell.
A: Babies, when we’re done here, y’all are going to be wearing gold plated diapers!

Q: We needed more time and/or a later lunch to accommodate those restaurants not being available or open to us.  Also I really do think the dinner breaks should be longer–I missed a speaker Saturday evening because we were waiting so long for food at a busy restaurant.
A: No problem, All lunch and dinner breaks have been increased to 1.5 hours.

Q: Increased representation of women, people of color, LGBTQ populations among the speakers/presenters.
A: Definitely a priority for us.

Q: I can’t wait to attend my first Skepticon!
A: WOO!

Q: It would be nice if there were some sort of free or low-cost childcare provided. I know a lot of parents who have wanted to attend for the past couple years, but could not find/afford childcare while they were at the event. Helping out skeptic parents helps them raise better skeptic kids!
A: This year we will have childcare available! We’re still working out the details.

Q: I needed coffee last year!  It would have been great to have it provided at the venue, even for a price.  Maybe have a group donate to run a coffee cart?
A: We’ll see what we can do!

Q: Keep the “skeptics” branding. Don’t make it turn into another exclusively atheist anti-God event.
A: Skepticon has never shied away from applying critical thinking and skepticism to religion, and we don’t plan to start.

Q: there’s a guy on the news a lot lately named Jerry DeWitt, he’s a former pastor and now runs a group called Recovering From Religion He spoke at the AA convention in DC and was soooooooo AWESOME. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE get him.
A: Maybe next year!

Q: Where are thinking of having it this year?
A: Downtown Springfield – details are coming soon!

Q: MORE PIRACY
A: Lauren… is that you?

Q: Are you ready for Skepticon 5?
A: Damn right we are! Skepticon 5: bigger, more skeptical, and the most fifth annual Skepticon yet.

Skepticon Giving Back

 

Thanks to our speakers for allowing us to put their recordings online Skepticon has received around $125 from online support. In accordance with our promise we wanted to give this money back.

We decided to put the funds into individual loans through Kiva. “Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world.” www.kiva.org

For more information on who Skepticon has been supporting, take a look at the links below.

Eufemia Margarita

Azhar

Fazilat

Bothina

Halima

Also i want to give a special thanks to our Media Production Team for making all of this happen.

Become a Volunteer!

Now is your chance to sign up, Skepticon Needs Volunteers!

I could sit here and tell you how much your contribution means to us at Skepticon, and I will! You are the ones that allow us to put on this event; it is all thanks to your donated time and effort that lets us make the decisions that keep Skepticon going, but when it comes down to it, you volunteer because you want to. Also, getting to spend time with the speakers is an added bonus.

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Local Support

Tons of local businesses went out of their way to serve HUGE Skepticon crowds on short notice. Farmer’s Gastropub was AMAZING! Jimmy John’s and Pickleman’s showed us lots of love! Trolley’s opened early for us & made us a special express menu! If you had a positive experience with a local restaurant, please give a nice review!