This was my first day at Convergence 2013.
We started with travel and manual labor: we drove from Morris to Bloomington in two cars loaded to the gills with people and material, and then parked way way out in the crowded lot and hauled stuff armload by armload to our party room. We also got registered, an arduous task that was taking some people 3-5 hours (hey, Convergence admins: make fixing that your top priority for next year. I met people in the parking lot who were discouraged by the lines and left.)
First panel: Evolutionary Psychology, with Stephanie Zvan moderating, and Greg Laden (a biological anthropologist), me (neuroscience by training, evo devo by occupation), and Indre Viskontas (neuroscience) (and who I met for the first time, and who was on a panel at an SF con for the first time…she’s good). My main point: Developmental plasticity is all. The fundamental premises of evo psych are false.
Second panel: Worldbusters, in which we confronted bad science in SF stories. It was moderated by Jason Thibeault, and in attendance were me, Laura Okagaki, and Siouxsie Wiles…all biologists! My take home here was that everything biological is going to obey the laws of thermodynamics, and bioenergetics is important: most SF aliens do things that require absurd energy consumption. Don’t do that.
I attended the War on Science panel. They didn’t know anything about the ongoing conflict with creationism, were largely accommodationist, and the end devolved into a defense of…religion. Bleh.
Third panel, Prometheus Debunked. Rebecca Watson compiled clips of the very worst moments in that awful movie, while Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett provided the running gags, while I played the curmudgeonly scientist who grumbled bitterly in the corner. And spilled Kevin Murphy’s beer. It was hilarious. Rebecca and I agreed on the best scene in the movie, because it was pro-abortion and had an alien squid baby.
The Party Room! I missed most of it, because all my panels were scheduled for the evening. We had a good crowd, though, a lovely room and lots of fresh fruit, healthy snack chips, and water…and, oh yeah, a bar serving a concoction we called an Amygdala Reanimator. Murphy and Corbett joined us late in the evening, and Amanda Marcotte was the DJ. Unfortunately, Dan Fincke had to hector me about my ill-mannered nature. I just have to say that I think passion is a god-damned superpower, and sometimes rage is the message. I don’t think he gets it.
Today: the party continues, room 228, 7 or 8 pm on, stop by! I’ve got three evening panels again. I’ll probably get harangued at again, since that is my fate. One of the loons on Twitter who is not here is calling for a walkout of all of my panels; he’s calling it #TheRising. No one walked out yesterday, and I had mostly full rooms every time (Worldbusters was a bit underattended because it was scheduled in parallel with a lot of other very popular panels, including Watson’s Skepticism 101, right next door.) I expect they’ll all be a testimony to his irrelevance and failure, again.
Also, my wife and I are being sensible and making a light schedule of it all. It’s only the beginning of day 2, we’ve got days 3 and 4 to go. We’re pacing ourselves.