He didn’t care much for my criticism of their advertising copy yesterday, so he sent me an email.
I’m not sure if you [it was cc’ed to several people] want to be kept up on things like this (we try not to get distracted by bloggers who have a habit of taking aim at JREF, RDFRS, CFI or Skeptics Society, etc.) [it’s a “habit” now? And oh, yes, let’s belittle those bloggers. Did he even notice who he was sending it to?], but just in case: PZ did a blog post against TAM today [No, I didn’t. You might have noticed I called it “premium event that brings in professional entertainers and big name celebrities”; that is not a criticism of TAM at all. I criticized their misleading ad.], contra our recent promo email.
I’m not going to respond [What do you call this?], but it is worth noting that our numbers do hold — TAM is actually significantly cheaper than CSICon, NECSS, etc. [Cherry-picking cons now, I see] when factoring in our low hotel costs, included meal’s, etc. — and it is a much higher quality event by many measures [Do CSICon, NECSS, etc. know of DJ’s opinion of their quality?]. Not to mention that it is a full four days, not just two and a half days. And 3-4 times as many presenters on the program. [That’s the first legitimate point he’s made. It is a bigger event…but that does not make it a cheaper event. That’s reason to say TAM is worth the money, not that it is cheaper.] (The cost factor, the value of TAM, was a bullet point in the recent promotional email.)
PZ compares TAM to a free student-run conference in Springfield Missouri. False comparison, obviously. [Oh. TAM is a cheaper conference as long as you don’t include all those conferences which are cheaper. Got it. And is there something wrong with a conference being “student-run”? I’ve found student-run conferences to be among the best experiences.]
A regular TAM attendee and good egg, Jim Lippard, posted this comment on PZ’s blog, which PZ apparently deleted [Say what? I checked everywhere, and nope, Lippard left no comment here. He did leave this same comment on another blog at exactly the same time. How did Grothe copy and paste the comment without noting it wasn’t on Pharyngula at all? A mystery. Put a skeptical investigator to work on it right away.]:
Jim Lippard says:
June 12, 2013 at 2:20 AM
FYI, TAM does include three breakfasts and two lunches with the registration. Your Skepticon comparison is rather location-dependent–for me, I’d have to fly to Skepticon, while I could drive or fly to Vegas for less than the cost to get to Springfield. A round-trip ticket for TAM today would cost me $197, vs. $504 for Springfield with the same dates (according to Google’s ITA Software). The overall costs would be comparable if I wanted to stay at the conference hotel in both cases (the South Point Casino JREF rate was $45/night for Thu, $85/night for Fri, Sat)–TAM $475+$197+$215 = $887, Skepticon free+$504+$417 = $921, without comparing meals (are they included at Skepticon?). [I responded to this elsewhere (like, where he left the comment), but factoring in the momentary vagaries of airline pricing really is a colossal cheat. I’ve had domestic prices to the same destination wander up and down by $400 over the course of a month. But especially when he’s close enough to drive to TAM, while Skepticon is farther away for him…don’t you think that might contribute to the price difference?]
As I said in the previous post:
Again, TAM has a niche, and there’s nothing wrong with filling that niche — but to claim to be the budget conference is thoroughly dishonest.
There was no criticism of TAM at all there — it has a role, it does it well, if you enjoy it and can afford it you should go — but I do think the advertising copy was dishonest and, for a consumer protection organization, they should take a little more responsibility to avoid stretching the truth. I have my doubts that Grothe even read my post, and is instead regurgitating something one of the haters sent to him without verifying its contents…which may be where this claim that Lippard posted it here came from. Also note that the article where Lippard actually commented did a breakdown of costs for him to attend a CSI conference, and it came down cheaper than TAM. Not very skeptical of him, is it?
What is it with these big-name skeptics that they are so thin-skinned about any criticism at all?
Oh, dear. DJ sent me email informing me that the above note was sent to me by mistake…so apparently it’s all my fault now.
Hi PZ — did you miss these emails? I am really surprised you posted the email that I explicitly said I sent to you by mistake, instead seeming to suggest I sent it to you intentionally, and that you actually neglected to mention the correction I immediately sent to you below regarding Lippard. It is a pretty impressive mischaracterization. Does it feel underhanded to you in the least? Do you think you are one of the good guys? It is pretty disappointing, and I wonder if you are able to see why.
No, I didn’t see any other emails until I went searching through the mess in my inbox. And now I see that he didn’t intend for me to receive his sneering dismissal of bloggers and people who criticize skeptics, which explains the rather unhelpful attitude in the first message. It doesn’t explain the continuation of that attitude in the message above, though. Still, it’s good to know how he talks about us behind our backs, I guess.
What mischaracterization? I must be one of the bad guys for pointing out the obvious fact that TAM actually IS a rather expensive conference. Everyone knows it; at TAM London I heard a lot of complaints about the ticket price, compared to other events there; every year I see people experiencing a bit of a shock when they learn how much registration costs. And that’s OK — the JREF organizers could be telling everyone how good it is and pointing out all the talent on display (although, really, this same talent often appears at other cons as well). But claiming that it is the least expensive conference is rather ridiculous, don’t you think?
Apparently, the only greater misrepresentation is to dare to point out that it is so.