Regarding the ‘Q&A’ with Mark Schierbecker

Regarding the ‘Q&A’ with Mark Schierbecker

Skepticon would like to apologize to Concerned Student 1950, our attendees, and others affected by recent events at the University of Missouri. We hosted an event over lunch today that was billed as a onstage interview and audience Q&A with Mark Schierbecker about his clash with protestors. The release we published quoted Schierbecker as saying, “I want to answer questions about what happened to me, and about speech codes, to make sure at the end of the day, we are working on addressing racism.”

Ultimately, this was not the event we delivered. The event we put on stage did not represent the concerns of student protestors and did not focus on the very real threat posed by racism on campus. Instead, we presented an event about racism that only reflected the views of white people and particularly focused on the concerns of one white person who was a figure of controversy at Mizzou.

Skepticon takes responsibility for this failure. In our eagerness to contribute to a better understanding of these important events, we did not leave ourselves time to ensure we offered the event we meant to offer. As a consequence, we have done harm where we meant to do good.

In the future, we will make sure we don’t repeat this failure. As a skeptic conference, it’s important to us that we present the best information available on the topics we address. As a humanist conference, it’s important to us that we don’t harm the people we mean to help. If we don’t have the time to do that, we pledge not to address a topic at all. We will do better than this.

We also extend our thanks to the audience members who insisted that the event, billed as a Q&A, include audience questions as well as concerns about racism and press responses to racist threats and violence. Thank you for holding Skepticon to its promises.

We’re working on releasing full video of the entire session as soon as possible, including the spontaneous, extended Q&A afterwards. We commend our attendees for standing up and adding their voices to the conversation.


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