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Skepticon success

Some bozo named @RichSandersen on Twitter asserted that

Skepticon att. dropped 1200 to 700. With @PZMyers and @RebeccaWatson there, no wonder people stayed away.

(It’s worth noting that in the twitter thread, DJ Grothe graciously wrote that he’d heard figures of 1600 attendees, and that it was a “great event.”)

Hmm. I was at both Skepticon IV and Skepticon V. @RichSandersen wasn’t. I can tell you that it was a big crowd at both, and the size was a little hard to judge, because this year it moved to a much larger venue, but I had the impression that it was even bigger this year than last — it’s growing steadily.

So I wrote to the organizers and asked them about the attendance figures. Here’s their reply.

Our estimates are 1400-1600 in meatspace. The reason for the variance is that while we know we got a bump in attendance from foot traffic from Meals a Million [a charity convention that was going on next door], but we didn’t have a good metric for tracking them. That said, the live stream was new exciting. We don’t know how many people signed on to it over the course of the event, but during Greta’s talk we had 1,100 people watching. That’s pretty cool.

So @RichSandersen believed that it must have been smaller, since Rebecca Watson and I are so odious, so he decided it was smaller this year, which means that Rebecca Watson and I really are awful horrible people. What a lovely example of confirmation bias!

Since we were going to be responsible if attendance had plummeted, I insist that we now get full credit for the increase in attendance this year. It would only be fair.

Comments

  1. Kris says

    Hm. Weren’t both you an Rebecca at the last two Skepticons, when everybody was talking about the astronomical growth both years? And wasn’t Rebecca one of the most popular speakers both years?

  2. says

    I’ve been at the last 5 Skepticons, and Rebecca at the last 4. We’ve been trying for years to scare everyone away from this con, and they keep coming in increasing numbers despite our raging suckiness.

  3. jose says

    Funny how self-important people can get. To think their personal displeasure towards PZ is so big a deal as to heavily influence attendance to conventions. lol.

  4. iknklast says

    Well, I know I didn’t attend this year. Must be because of PZ and Rebecca. Oh, wait, maybe it was that important meeting I had here at home? No, must have been the odious speakers…

    I did want to go, but my time has become even tighter than last year (which I didn’t think was possible). I’ll probably try to watch some of the video if I can find the time, but, well, sucks to be me.

    PZ, if you bring an octopus next year, I promise I’ll come, no matter what else I have to do. My work never offers up an octopus for us to interact with, so you’d definitely trump any meeting with that draw.

  5. Ogvorbis: ջարդված says

    I, too, boycotted Skepticon because of PZed and Rebecca Watson.

    Well, that and 2 kids in college, work, saving money for solstice trips to Florida and Maine, and catching up on my mortgage, and bad memories of Missouri, and my knee giving me problems, and lots of other stuff, so I guess that PZed and Rebecca Watson were, like, not even in the top 10 reasons. Or even on the list.

  6. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I, too, boycotted Skepticon because of PZed and Rebecca Watson.

    Me too. Well, maybe more to do with the condition of the Redhead, and the Kninja Knitting Kneedle aimed at my spleen…

  7. Ogvorbis: ջարդված says

    C’mon, Nerd, you don’t even really need a spleen. Though it is nice to vent it occasionally . . . .

  8. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I, too, boycotted Skepticon because of PZed and Rebecca Watson.

    ;)

  9. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Dang, meant to wink at Ogvorbis’ #9 with my #10. Time to start the bed process…with the Redhead these days, some assembly required–and subject to change without notice.

  10. MG Myers says

    I was fortunate to attend Skepticon 5 and thought it was incredibly fun and educational. Kudos to the energetic organizers, passionate speakers, generous donors and other volunteers for making the event so successful! If you didn’t catch the presentations live, the online videos should be worth checking out when they are available.

  11. says

    I’m not good at estimating numbers, and then there were people in and out so not all attendees were ever at any one talk. Not even PZ’s…
    I’m not sure it made it up over the 1500 estimated, depending on how it’s counted, but there were definitely more than 700 in the room during at least some of the talks – that’s definitely a gross underestimation.

  12. IslandBrewer says

    Oh, I get it!

    @RichSandersen is like Karl Rove! “This is not the reality I wish it to be, thus I must change it by force of will!” *sounds of constipated-like grunting* “There! Now Skepticon attendance has dropped! And Mitt Romney is President!”

  13. thebookofdave says

    I missed the last five Skepticons, never considering that you and Rebecca were the ones who drove me away. Think I’ll have to go to the next one, and see for myself what makes the both of you so odious as to cause attendance to plummet through the roof.

  14. sharkjack says

    Doesn’t confirmation bias usually entail that there was something actually there, like how when someone gets cured of an illness by medicine (or the body takes care of it on its own) and some person prayed, they believe their prayer had an effect.

    At least then the effect is actually there. This is more like confirmation delusion, where the actual event is not even taken into consideration, because why check when you already know the outcome right? Some might even call it lying.

  15. says

    jose

    Funny how self-important people can get. To think their personal displeasure towards PZ is so big a deal as to heavily influence attendance to conventions.

    It’s part of a wider phenomenon. Most of these obsessive Tweeters are infatuated with the idea that the vast majority of atheists agree with them.

  16. abelundercity says

    Not terribly skeptical of him, is it, to make an assertion without checking the numbers?

  17. Wowbagger, Antipodean Dervish says

    Rich Sandersen is a pissant of the highest order; a whiny, petulant creep who has even less charm and wit than the odious Justin Vacula. I don’t know for a fact that he’s a Slymepit denizen (I wouldn’t trudge into that crapfest on a bet) but it certainly wouldn’t surprise me.

    So yeah, don’t expect anything he says to have been thought through beforehand.

  18. says

    Yeah, I only ever see him pop up when he’s raving about #FtBullies or #atheismplus, two hashtags that have most amusingly drawn out the worst of the obsessed morons.

  19. says

    (It’s worth noting that in the twitter thread, DJ Grothe graciously wrote that he’d heard figures of 1600 attendees, and that it was a “great event.”)

    I imagine Grothe’s a little sensitive about the use of (in this case incorrect) claims of declining meeting attendance in attempts to assess of the relative standing of feminism and antifeminism in the community, what with his organization’s event actually seeing a substantial decline in attendance* in the wake of his blockheaded PR.

    *I notice the 2012 number still isn’t recorded on the WP entry.

  20. esmith4102 says

    We have great bloggers, unfortunately the “blog” experience can be trying because of the insidious trolls – the Mr. Hydes of cyberspace stalking the corridors of the Internet, hoping to find catharsis by unleashing their anger with misinterpretations, prevarications, and misdirections. It is a pity!

  21. says

    It would be terrible if the misogynistic assholes didn’t attend in as great a number.

    That.

    Seriously, it kinda seems to me that anyone who doesn’t want to show up at a conference just ‘cos PZ or Rebecca’s there, well…

    … well, listen, I expect I’m actually kinda more likely to enjoy that conference myself.

    So, angry hater dudes, I guess, umm…

    Well, you know. Door. Ass. Don’t let it bruise you or nothin’ (or bruise you much, I guess*), is all.

    (*/Okay, full disclosure, I kinda vaguely hope vis à vis swinging door-inflicted injuries that you actually have to visit emerge and therein have to convince the triage people and the attending physician that honestly it’s not some S&M-related mishap involving you forgetting a safeword or somethin’, but hey, whatever, again: my point is, it’s all good if you’re not there.)

  22. says

    SC (Salty Current)

    I imagine Grothe’s a little sensitive about the use of (in this case incorrect) claims of declining meeting attendance in attempts to assess of the relative standing of feminism and antifeminism in the community, what with his organization’s event actually seeing a substantial decline in attendance* in the wake of his blockheaded PR.

    I don’t think many attributed the entire decline to Grothe. What they pointed out was that female attendance declined a lot more than male attendance.

  23. plutoanimus says

    To Rich Sanderson and his vile, hateful ilk:

    Get the fuck out of our movement, assholes!

    This movement is for good people of conscience, not misogynistic, fascist garbage like you.

    Why don’t you start your own movement? You can call it Godless Morons for Behaving Like Assholes. Or Maybe Godless Assholes for Behaving Like Morons.

    Consider those possible names my gift to you.

  24. cicely says

    Obviously, the massive decline in attendance is attributable not to PZ’s and Rebecca Watson’s presence(s), but to my absence.
    </deadpan>
    -

  25. says

    I also don’t think that Skepticon tries to be judged by the quantity of people attending; it’s a FREE conference, you know, so anyone can just wander in off the street and take a seat. They only track approximate numbers so they can estimate the size of the venue they need. Last year it was a little cramped in the theater they booked; this year, the convention center was well filled, but there’s still a little room for expansion.

  26. LicoriceAllsort says

    This reminds me vaguely of a story I heard recently about something that happened in the US. There was this one group of people acting like inflamed assholes, see, and they made up numbers that demonstrated their wide base of support, and those numbers were so convincing to themselves that, over time, they actually came to believe them. And, in the meantime, their shitty behavior inspired a bunch of people to show up–for the opposition.

    But fuck if I can remember how that story ended.

  27. says

    If I hadn’t been a poor student, you and Rebecca would have been a good reason to come, not stay at home. I’ve heard you both at conferences before, and you’re both excellent speakers with interesting stuff to say.