My Skyped-In Talk at Skepticon 5, or, Greta’s Giant Floating Wizard of Oz Head Speaks!


In an entertainingly weird form of meta-technology, here is a YouTube video of my Skyped-in talk at Skepticon 5. I had to cancel my scheduled talk at Skepticon 5, which was sad and frustrating and drove me up a fucking tree. In fact, when I was talking with my oncologist about scheduling my hysterectomy, for about three nanoseconds I considered postponing it until after Skepticon. I love Skepticon, it’s one of my favorite events on the atheist calendar, and I hated that I had to miss it.

But the Skepticon organizers set it up so that I could make an appearance anyway, via the wonders of 21st century technology. So here is the YouTube video of me giving my talk, and taking questions, in the form of a giant floating head on the video screen, Skyped-in remotely from San Francisco to Missouri. I am the great and powerful Oz!

My topic… well, I didn’t bother give this talk a title, since it was pretty specific to these circumstances and I’m unlikely to repeat it. But if I were to give it one, it would probably be, “How Atheism and Skepticism Help in a Shitstorm.” In it, I talk about how atheism, humanism, materialism, naturalism, and skepticism have helped me through the difficulties of the last couple of months… and why I think these comforts and supports are stronger and more powerful than the false ones offered by religion. Ingrid also makes a brief appearance, as does Houdini.

It was a deeply weird experience: I couldn’t see or hear anything that was happening on the Missouri end of things, so from my end it just felt like a very long-winded Skype call. It’s weird giving a talk when you can’t see or hear your audience, and so can’t gauge their reactions and adjust your talk accordingly. Also, some people were watching it live through streaming, which added yet another layer of techno-meta to the proceedings. Also, I was hopped up on Vicodin. Watching it now, I’m kind of amazed that I managed to be that coherent. But as weird as it was, I’m very glad I was able to do it, and am deeply grateful to the Skepticon organizers and technicians who made it happen. Enjoy!

Comments

  1. Kate Donovan says

    Are you interested in the transcript for this? I’ve a copy, though I wasn’t the one who did it, just coordinated.

  2. BradC says

    Be assured that we laughed and applauded in all the right places!

    Very nice talk, it was weird but still wonderful. Thank you also for sending signed bookplate stickers!

  3. baal says

    I kind of like the great head of Oz effect. It would be bad for an entire conference but as a one off, it’s pretty entertaining.

  4. jamesbalter says

    Yay pro-science at Skepticon. Boo anti-science and science denial at Skepticon. And even if your mind has tricked you into buying into the intellectually dishonest rationalizations of the latter and the ad hominem attacks on Ed Clint for his careful and scientific critique of that talk, I still admire you and your careful thoughtfulness, Greta.

  5. Greta Christina says

    Jamesbalter @ #6: My energy levels and patience are both very thin right now, and I am unwilling to let my blog be irrelevantly hijacked. If you want to spew about how a critique of some of the ways science commonly plays out is somehow “anti-scIence,” do it somewhere else. I am not interested in hosting it, and I do not take kindly to a post about managing serious illness and grief being used as a place for you to grind your axe. Take it somewhere else. Thank you.

  6. says

    One of the things you missed by not being at Skepticon proper was returning from dinner just in time for your talk. All of the restaurants in that little area of Springfield were disgorging patrons at the same time. At the intersections, we flowed together into larger and larger masses, all headed for the same place.

    I think people maybe wanted to see you. :)

  7. catlover says

    I am very glad you are doing better, Greta. I was quite surprised and pleased to see this latest blog. :) (And some virtual hugs, if you want them.) Please take all the time you need to recuperate.

    I, too, would love a transcript of your talk.

  8. godlesspanther says

    Greta, I’m sure that not being able to see or hear the audience did make things a bit difficult — but the audience reaction was splendid, nonetheless.

    Great job, as always!

  9. Uncle Ebeneezer says

    Great talk Greta. I particularly liked the fact that you noted the great comfort that comes from confronting reality during difficult times. While mourning my mom’s death, I’ve been experiencing much the same. The same sneaky allure of the various mental biases that so naturally try to pull us all away from facing the harsh reality of life. And the same sense of joy when I realize what is happening and not fall prey to them. Anyways, glad to see you back in action. Wish I had been in the audience so I could have asked your thoughts on Dimitry winning Project Runway (you know the important stuff!)

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