FtBCon2: Free Online Conference Next Weekend!

Remember when we had this amazing free online conference one weekend last year, with dozens of talks, panels, and speakers, that people all over the world could watch live? And ask questions in real time. And watch the recorded events ever after on YouTube. Well, get ready. Because we’re doing it again–in precisely one week.

Our complete calendar for the weekend of January 31 to February 2 (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) will be finalized and go live over this weekend. As will our complete list of speakers and panelists (and its huge! and spans the globe!). For both speakers and schedule, bookmark our page on Lanyrd and check it tomorrow night (as a backstage planner, I can tell you that we’ve scheduled over 30 talks and panels throughout the conference, featuring over 80 speakers and panelists altogether). For everything else, bookmark FtBCon.org and also check that Saturday night.

(We will also have a YouTube collection of everything that you can view if you miss the live events, facilitated by our own Miri Mogilevsky; right now over there you can view all of last year’s talks and panels–you can also read up on last year’s event here and peruse its Lanyrd page here. This year will be organized similarly, and have a similar diversity of topics.)

Last year I attended many of the talks and panels as a viewer and it was awesome. I gave one talk myself, on “What the Military Taught Me about Feminism.” This year I’m doing one talk and one panel, and helping facilitate and introduce a few more (including panels featuring members of the Secular Student Alliance, The Black Freethinkers Network, and the Filipino Freethinkers…who will actually be streaming in live from the Philippines!).

I’ll be appearing in two events Sunday (February 2nd):

First, from noon to 1pm (Central Time / GMT-6) I’ll be moderating “Philosophy for Everyone,” a panel featuring myself and three other experts on the subject who have a particularly unusual experience with practical and applied philosophy. We’ll discuss some key points among each other and then take questions from the audience. Here’s the official description:

What is philosophy? What use is it for the average Jane or Joe? How can laypeople learn it, benefit from it, and apply it in their lives? Dan Fincke (philosophy professor at Hofstra andCCNY) and Richard Carrier (author and philosopher, with a Ph.D. in the history of philosophy from Columbia University) are joined by Julia Galef (co-founder and president of the Center for Applied Rationality) and Jess Whittlestone (communications director for 80000hours: High Impact Ethical Careers) to discuss it. Everyone on the panel has real-world experience with practical, applied philosophy, and in the later half we will be taking questions from the audience. This discussion will be aimed at anyone who doesn’t have a Ph.D. in philosophy, and focus on the real-world benefits and applications of philosophy, not its arcane bits. Learn how you can study philosophy in your spare time and use it in your everyday life, your personal development and life goals, your voting and activism, and more. The panelists will also address some myths and negative stereotypes about philosophy. And they will be talking about how they, personally, study and make use of philosophy in their life and work, and how others can, too.

And then from 2pm-3pm (Central Time / GMT-6) I will run my own humorously educational Sunday Bible Study, called “Taking the Bible Seriously as Fiction: A Read-Along.” I won’t be taking questions. But you can bring your bibles and read along with me as I talk about what’s really going on in the Gospels, and what their authors were really trying to say. Here’s the official description:

Read the Bible with a genuine Ivy League biblical scholar, Dr. Richard Carrier, with a bottle of scotch and a pint of scholarly irreverence. Come follow along (even drink along) and explore what it’s like to read the Bible as literature rather than fact. No, really. Actually bring a bible (or several) and read along! Oh yes, Dr. Carrier will do the nativity (War on Christmas!), as well as why Jesus killed an innocent fig tree (War on Trees!), why Paul (didn’t really) tell women to shut up but did give women slut-shaming advice on how to avoid being raped by angels (War on Men…er, Angels…?), why Barabbas was actually the villain of the piece (War on Guns…er, Swords…Catapults? Whatever), why the author of John made Lazarus up…and then cited him as his eyewitness source (War on Fox News?), and more. Some of this will be drawing from Dr. Carrier’s upcoming book On the Historicity of Jesus.

As for the rest of the talks and panels next weekend, which start at 5pm (Central / GMT-6) on Friday the 31st and end at 5pm (Central / GMT-6) on Sunday the 2nd (going off air after midnight until morning the two nights–except for a live Cards Against Humanity game rumored to be planned), what I said about last year applies even more this year:

Many names you’ll recognize and love. Many names you might not know but will be glad to have been introduced to. There will be topics you might not have heard discussed at an atheist conference before. And so many! I’m already sad that I won’t be able to see everything myself, but I’m going to be spending the whole weekend drinking scotch and watching as many sessions as I can.

Speakers this year will include Amy Roth, Aron Ra, Dale McGowan, Dan Fincke, Elyse Anders, Greta Christina, Heina Dadabhoy, Ian Cromwell, Jamila Bey, Julia Galef, Paul Fidalgo, PZ Myers, Robert M. Price, and many, many more. Subjects to be covered range as widely as polyamory, feminism, Cthulhu, zombies, science, creationism, philosophy, utopias, veganism, counter-apologetics, campus atheism, community building and social outreach, godless Judaism, atheism in the Philippines and in the black and Latino communities in America, the issues of women of color in atheism, godless arts and crafts fellowship, godless parenting, coping with spiritual abuse in religious families, the secular support movement, gender theory, trans* atheists, legal advice on investigating sexual harassment claims, the literary study of the bible, and a glaring dose of The Godless Perverts Hour.

Like last year, every Q&A this year will require logging in to the moderated Pharyngula chatroom (e.g. via Mibbit) and posting questions directed at the speaker or panel you want to answer, which you can ask throughout. The best questions will be ferried to the speakers and panelists (or all of the questions, if there is time and they’re all good). Some speakers and panels will have no Q&A. Some will take questions all throughout their aired time. Others will only be reserving a block of time near the end to do so.

For more on how to participate in Q&A (and in other ways) see last year’s advice from Miri. The Twitter hashtag for the event will be #FtBCon.

Miri’s page for last year on how to find and watch the talks and panels live applies this year as well (except you want to go to the Lanyrd page for 2014; that post directs you to the page for 2013).

And like last year, our conference does have an anti-harassment policy. Read it. Follow it.

I’ll blog again when we have the schedule and speakers list completed and online. In the meantime, mark your calendars, stock your liquor cabinet, and plan to hang out with us next weekend.

UPDATE: For a complete and updated list of every talk and panel I’ll be introducing or participating in this weekend see here. You can now also view the complete schedule and speakers list. We now have over a hundred speakers and panelists, and over forty events.