Travel Grant: Jason

Jason’s Story

I have been a skeptic since a young age, but was reared in a devoutly religious community in the aptly-named Bible Belt. Telling people I was atheist was somehow harder even than coming out as gay. Having been kicked out of my home after high school, I now work to support myself and am trying to put myself through school for a Mathematics degree one course at a time.

Because of my work schedule, I haven’t been able to really spend much time with atheist communities–it feels like they’re worlds away. But I keep trying. And I want to connect to others who, even though they have differing opinions, still apply due scrutiny to beliefs that are unquestioningly considered “truth” by others. Sometimes it feels like I live in some funhouse world where people say and believe nonsensical, contradictory superstitions and force me to pretend to follow their odd sense of logic. So I spend a lot of time on the computer, talking things out with other helpful people around the world, but they still somehow seem so few and far between. Other than that, I have some episodes of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit that I watch regularly, helps keep me sane when everyone around me still thinks I’m some kind of backwards heathen.

It’s difficult to develop relationships with a lot of people when I’m never really free to express my views, opinions, or thoughts with them. It’s like being alone in a crowded room, sometimes. I’d love–LOVE–to have a chance to meet other skeptics and atheists in person and perhaps build some real connections with people. I wanted to go to the Reason Rally for the same reason, but was unable to because what little money I have left over after bills goes straight toward tuition and textbooks.

I’d have to take a hit, monetarily speaking, just to take the few days off to go–those days are all unpaid–much less paying for the expense of the trip. But I’m trying to not let that stop me. I’m trying to scrape together any money I can. I’m holding a garage sale next week, but I don’t have much stuff left to sell. I’m trying to to get there any way I can. :-)


Jason is driving more than 800 miles to make it to Skepticon, and he needs $160 for gas. Please help him get here!

Travel Grant: Anne

[infobox type=”success” clickable=”yes” boldtext=”Thanks, Secular Woman!”]Anne has received a partial grant from Secular Woman for $100![/infobox]

Anne’s Story

I was raised as an atheist and freethinker, and I have been actively involved in the atheist and skeptical communities for about three years. My initial involvement was with the online community and blogs like Pharyngula, Skepchick, and Blag Hag. I attended my first large event, the Oakland Rapture RAM, in May of 2011. I enjoyed the speakers greatly and made friends with Rebecca Watson and Amy Davis Roth of Skepchick and Greta Christina.

In June of 2011 I became involved with the 3rd Annual Atheist Film Festival in San Francisco, the first and oldest film festival of its kind. I originally signed on to help with advertising and promoting the festival but ended up doing a lot more than that. I stuck around for the 4th Annual Atheist Film Festival, which just occurred this past weekend. This year, I managed operations and communications starting in October 2011, helping to curate the film selection, coordinating with visiting directors, soliciting screening rights, courting and following up with sponsors and press, managing ticket sales, and running day-of operations. In short, I did most of the heavy lifting this year, and we pulled off the biggest and best Atheist Film Festival yet.

I attended Skepticon IV last year and was blown away by the programming. I was happy to see friends I had made at previous events and make new ones, but I also learned a lot. Far from being an echo chamber where everyone just patted themselves on the back for being smart, it was an intensely educational experience. Every single speaker taught me something new. David Silverman convinced me to make the trip to DC for the Reason Rally, which I attended with my husband and parents.

Following Skepticon IV, I became a writer for Mad Art Lab, a blog on the Skepchick network that explores the intersection of art, science, skepticism, and geek culture. I mainly write about the science of food and drink. I took my skills off the page and into the public this July at SkepchickCON, a mini con within Minneapolis’ sci-fi and fantasy con CONvergence. I sat on multiple science panels and also performed science-focused cocktail demos at the nightly Skepchick parties.

In the past, I have been thrilled to be able to support these events and other secular and skeptical organizations with my own money, paying full admission and making donations whenever possible. Now, my situation is changing. I am days away from starting a MBA program at Presidio Graduate School here in SF. I work only part-time right now, and I’m spending a lot on books and taking on debt. I hope to use my MBA to work for a national or local skeptical/secular organization, managing operations behind the scenes so that my organization can promote our values and make a difference in the world.

A travel grant would allow me to stay involved while I develop my skills and further my education to help further our goals.

Anne needs $330 to get to Skepticon. Help her out?

Travel Grant: Sheri

Sheri’s Story

I have come out of the closet to my family and, as a result, have experienced a great deal of Christian sermonizing. Whenever possible, I challenge Christians concerning their faith. I’ve attended Skepticon in the past and know first-hand what a wonderful event it is. Now that I’ve moved back to Mt. Vernon, it is no longer practical for me to attend Skeptics events. My atheist friends are all in Springfield. I feel like the Lone Ranger here; standing up for atheistic non-belief in the existence of God, spirituality, and the soul.

I am disabled and live on a very meager Social Security Disability. I have no money left even for something as important to me as Skepticon. It is truly motivation and inspiration I need. In the past, Skepticon has assisted me in my arguments attempting to persuading Christians to at least question their faith. Most of them are Christians simply because they grew up in a Christian home. Some have had a spiritual experience; speakers at Skepticon are helpful to me in do a better job debunking their experiences.

I also need the reprieve. Any more sermons against atheism and I may become sick to my stomach!

Sheri needs just $40.00 to get to Skepticon. Donate today!

Skepticake Vol. 2

It’s that time again! Here are this week’s links:

Hate these links? Send us better ones at [email protected]


Camp Quest


Hello! Once again we have more information for you this time its about Child Care! Skepticon Welcomes Camp Quest to Skepticon 5. They have decided to offer childcare options for this upcoming conference. We appreciate their effort and think that this could be a great cooperation.

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!


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

Sponsor Highlight: Secular Woman

Secular Woman: Skepticon Sponsor

“Skepticon is a natural partner for Secular Woman’s first disbursement of travel grants. We’ll be able to help more women atheists and skeptics experience a major secular event, thanks to Skepticon’s free registration and its track record of high attendance and engaging speakers.”

– Kim Rippere
President, Secular Woman

In conjunction with our new travel grants program, Secular Woman is pledging to help at least ten women make it to Skepticon 5. We couldn’t be more pleased! Together, we’re making SK5 the most accessible Skepticon event yet.

Please help us show our gratitude to this fantastic new organization!

Interested in getting a travel grant? Stay tuned! Details will be available when registration launches on July 31st.

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!

SK5 Lineup: Week 1

It’s a good one, guys.

I can’t even express how pleased I am to be announcing this Skepticon’s lineup. It’s really something else this year! To keep you all on the edge of your seats, we’re releasing our speaker list over the next few weeks – a few new names (and maybe a couple familiar ones…) every Monday. As always, we’re depending on you to help us fund our event – and if we can meet our weekly donation goal (this one’s $1500!) we’ll post the next bunch of speakers immediately. Please consider donating – the vast majority of our funding comes from individuals who want to see Skepticon succeed!

Alright, enough of my fundraise-y talk – let’s get to the names!

Jessica Ahlquist

We’ve been following this “evil little thing” since she started her battle with her public high school to have an unconstitutional prayer banner removed from its auditorium. Ahlquist has since won her case and become a prominent atheist activist, despite receiving innumerable threats from within her Rhode Island community. Jessica is a remarkably gifted speaker, and we’re very pleased to have her at SK5!

Greta Christina

If we’d failed to invite Greta back, we would’ve been due a revolt. Greta Christina’s SK4 talk has been viewed nearly 100,000 times on Youtube, making it the most popular Skepticon presentation of all time. If you don’t yet know who Greta Christina is, you’ve clearly been in cryogenic freeze – and now it’s time to defrost and read up.

Sean Carroll

A Harvard-educated theoretical cosmologist, Carroll specializes in dark energy and general relativity. He is a talented cosmologist and science educator, occasionally making guest appearances on the History Channel’s The Universe, the Science Channel’s Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, and Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.. Take a look at his homepage or his blog.

Julia Galef

Another familiar face! Julia’s SK4 talk tackled the frequent straw-manning of rationalists in the media. A prolific skeptic, Galef writes for Measure of Doubt and Rationally Speaking and produces the Rationally Speaking podcast with co-host Massimo Pigliucci. She is currently in the process of launching a new non-profit organization dedicated to the teaching of rationality skills.