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Convergence Day 4 #cvg2013

Whew — the con is over. After a long weekend of late nights, it all ended with a few last panels, lots of packing up, and the long dreary drive home…and then passing out, sleeping in, and struggling to get back into my routine.

This was my fourth day at Convergence.

The first event of the day was “Science and Religion: Friends or Foes?” with Heina Dadabhoy, Bridget Landry, Daniel Fincke, me, and Debbie Goddard moderating. You can guess which side I took. Landry was the sole theist, and even at that, she’s one of those very liberal Catholics. It was therefore a bit one-sided. I did get one woman who came up afterwards and smugly told me that we scientists are so arrogant and think we know everything and lectured me about how evolution and the Big Bang were “just a theory” and they could be proven wrong at any moment. I sort of blasted her and she went away, yelling about how rude I was.

My last panel was “Ask a Scientist”, with Laura Okagaki, Lori Fischer, Matt Lowry, Tom Mahle, Siouxsie Wiles, Indre Viskontas, Nicole Gugliucci, Bridget Landry, Bug Girl, and me — a mix of physicists, chemists, and biologists. This is an event they run every year in which a large and diverse group of scientists who are attending are put up on the stage and then the audience gets to ask questions, any questions they want, and we try to answer them. Matt Lowry moderated and made the useful suggest that every question be phrased as a tweet to keep them short and to the point…not many people were able to do that, but it helped. There was a good mix of questions, too — all the expertise on the stage got a workout.

And then we went home. It would have been good to stay for the dead dog parties, but hey, Mary and I have work to do.

Next year, CONvergence will be held on the 4th of July weekend again, 3-6 July. The theme is “A Midsummer’s Night Dream”, and it’s to be a celebration of the urban fantasy genre. Skepchick and FtB will be there again! Plan ahead, mark it on your calendar, and come on out!

Comments

  1. hexidecima says

    are creationists anything but smug? Oh yes, and willfully ignorant. I do hope you told her to divest herself of all computers, modern medicine, et al so she wouldn’t go on being the hypocritical biddy she was.

  2. says

    I did get one woman who came up afterwards and smugly told me that we scientists are so arrogant and think we know everything and lectured me about how evolution and the Big Bang were “just a theory” and they could be proven wrong at any moment.

    Of course it was not rude of her, not at all rude, to label you as “arrogant.”

    It may be even more rude to insist on the “just a theory” version of ignorance when it comes to evolution. Really? That canard as been debunked, explained as misinformation, and generally shown to be of no worth whatsoever hundreds of times. Send said rude lady to http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-misconceptions.html or send her to http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/11/2/e_s_1.html

  3. says

    Oh, but she didn’t think she was at all rude to come up to me and tell me that I (and all scientists) think we’re omniscient and omnipotent, but that all our ‘theories’ are going to fall apart someday. She was appalled that I told her flat out that she was completely wrong.

  4. gregpeterson says

    I so wanted to be there again this year, but I just couldn’t do it. Not after that endless winter. I couldn’t stand being inside another minute. Maybe next year we’ll have a normal spring and it can storm from July 3-6 and I can get back on track, but we went down to Lake Pepin and saw eagels and deer instead this year. Even after reading your description of what sounds like an extraordinary time–I think we made the right choice.

  5. moarscienceplz says

    I did get one woman who came up afterwards and smugly told me that we scientists are so arrogant and think we know everything

    Oh you scientists! All you do is go to college and actually listen to the lectures and hand in all work requested and then go on to get advanced degrees and then you act like you know more than us! Sure, I sat in the back of the classroom and mostly texted my friends during lectures and the only book I have in my home is the Bible (which I never actually read), but I’m a Christian and an American (which is basically the same thing) so my opinion on vaccines and evolution and so-called global warming is just as valid as yours!

  6. zytigon says

    PZ sorry this is a little off thread but I know you are keen to prevent run away global warming and save species diversity so please allow me to share this idea .

    I’ve been reading about the Peak oil debate. Jeff Rubin who was chief economist of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce for 20 years left in 2009 to promote his books eg, ” Why your world is about to get a whole lot smaller “. He thinks we need to drastically reduce our use of fossil fuels to limit global warming and because maybe world oil supplies will peak in near future & start to decline. On the other side are those who think that technology will keep making available new supplies of oil past 2050 is Daniel Yergin with his book, ” The Quest, energy, security and the remaking of the modern world “. He supports business as usual.

    So anyway I would like to suggest that we take the best ideas from the Amish use of horse power. Horses are likely to be the best green engine we will get. Taxing car use out of existence would mean quieter, safer roads and less pollution – avoid smog.
    Switching to horses would require switching much land use to growing grass for hay which could have % clover to also help save bees.
    Driving in a horse & trap you would be able to listen to ipod without the roar of car engine. With laptop & iphone there is no need to get anywhere fast. You can skype with the person you are going to visit before you arrive.

    Other benefits of horse & trap is that it would allow people to drive to their pub and have a few pints of beer or glasses of wine and drive home because you’d be going so slow that it would be little risk of hurting anyone, anyway maybe your horse knows the way.

    Also the growing of glyphosate ready GM corn for ethanol production yields very little extra energy . It would be better switching this area to pasture / ley grass.
    Also electric cars have little potential if their energy is generated from fossil fuel in power station. There is little hope they can make much difference to reduction in CO2 emissions.

    Perhaps car factories could melt down cars to manufacture bicycles and also make carbon fiber body work for Hansom cab in style of Smart Car body work where the passengers could be sealed in from
    wind and rain. Maybe put solar panels on roof to charge battery to supply extra heat ?

    I admit this might be too much of a shock to the economic system but it might be our last chance. It might also be that the patient needs heart surgery but is so over weight that any operation would kill it ?

    It is time for the American pony express to be rolled out round the world, Time to tax cars out of existence. It would be a good idea to tax most air travel out of existence too. We need to make more use of computers for virtual travel. Some may say I’m a dreamer but I hope I’m not the only one.

    There are many cyclists who would rejoice if cars were cleared off the roads.

  7. says

    Yeah, you scientists are so arrogant, with your hard-won theories that you know could be turned over at any time by new evidence. Better to spend your time humbly telling random strangers how your personal friend, the Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, thinks they are bad for not being more like you.

  8. moarscienceplz says

    #6 Zytigon:

    In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan’s third-story windows.

    Maybe it would be better if we all just tried to use energy more efficiently and worked to shrink the human population of the world to something closer to 3 billion instead of the 9 billion we are headed for.

  9. zytigon says

    In Jeff Rubins book he quotes tonto.eia.doe.gov/ask/electricity , ” A barrel of oil contains 6.1 GJ equivalent to 1,700 kwh. The average monthly household electricity consumption in the US is 936 kwh or 11,000 kwh per year. So the 13 million barrels of oil used by the American vehicle fleet would generate 221 billion kwh or enough to keep the lights on in 2 million homes for a year.

    Also it is government policy to reduce reliance on foreign oil imports. We need to leave fossil fuel before fossil fuel leaves us. In the future the middle east may hold an increasing large proportion of the remaining
    oil reserves. Maybe we wouldn’t want to be reliant on Iraq being friendly ?

    Saw a talk by Chief economist of IEA, Fatih Birol on BBCHardtalk, 9th January 2013 saying that the world needs to make every effort to reduce CO2 emissions to limit global warming and because fossil fuels are not going to last forever anyway.

  10. zytigon says

    Hi moarscienceplz,
    I agree we need to reduce world population to 3 billion or under but how ? There needs to be an understanding around the world that no woman can have more than 2 children, preferably only 1 but maybe if women are told they can only have one they will be even more keen to have what they are denied – 2 or 3 ? We need to explain to everyone the situation we face world wide.
    I would recommend voluntary euthansia be made legal for those with very little quality of life but there would need to be proper regulation to prevent abuse. This would speed up death rate
    However even with one child policy and voluntary euthanasia how quickly would a 7 billion population decrease each decade ?
    Yes use energy more efficiently but William Stanley Jevons noted a century ago that increase in efficiency often leads to increase in total energy use in society.
    Horse manure is good for improving soil condition.
    Also all city sewer waste could be put in biodigestor plants to generate electricity from methane released. Failing that it could be collected by lorry or tractor and spread on fields or forestry. It is very poor to let it flow into oceans. The world has limited supply of phosphate, not enough to waste. We needed to be recycling nutrients long before now.

  11. zytigon says

    Choose your steed. Choose a future for biodiversity on Earth and future for human race
    Power assisted bikes anyone ?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrQ8teGEuaw

    Or stick with the car and lets all go off a cliff at 100 mph ?
    The world’s temperature warning light is on
    The world’s fuel gauge is starting to flash.

    Suppose we might get hit by an asteroid from oort cloud anyway but NASA has terribly clever plans to spot one and sent a rocket to cause a tiny deviation far enough out so the trajectory misses Earth .

    Too bad we know of an asteroid called global warming & peak oil and have the answers of contraception and euthanasia & could go back to slower transport & virtual travel yet we are
    too addicted to speed. Too invested in internal combustion engine manufacture.
    Well we wouldn’t need to get rid of all internal comustion engine – just 80 % ? or what target ?

    We could have made small adjustments to course of population on Earth 2000 years ago or 200 years ago or 53 years ago but too little too late looks like being the final world ?

  12. daniellavine says

    Ugh, I hate it when I check comments and it’s just one person ranting about something completely off-topic for the thread.

    @zytigon:

    There are two dedicated open threads at Pharyngula. You should post your rants in the lounge or (better yet) the thunderdome.

  13. David Marjanović says

    She was appalled that I told her flat out that she was completely wrong.

    Well, sure: if you can tell her with such certainty she’s wrong on any one issue, it logically follows you can tell her with equal certainty whether she’s wrong on any issue.

    …Totally logically. *vehement nodding* *Vulcan salute* *pathetic attempt to raise one eyebrow*

    So anyway I would like to suggest that we take the best ideas from the Amish use of horse power. Horses are likely to be the best green engine we will get. Taxing car use out of existence would mean quieter, safer roads and less pollution – avoid smog.

    See above: cars were celebrated as the end of pollution because the horseshit was getting just too much.

    With laptop & iphone there is no need to get anywhere fast.

    Complete and utter nonsense!

    Maybe put solar panels on roof to charge battery to supply extra heat ?

    Put solar panels on every roof, insulate your house, and watch your energy problems disappear in puff of logic.

    and worked to shrink the human population of the world to something closer to 3 billion

    I’m curious where you get that number from.

    There needs to be an understanding around the world that no woman can have more than 2 children, preferably only 1 but maybe if women are told they can only have one they will be even more keen to have what they are denied – 2 or 3 ?

    Interesting how you only talk about women, as if they were parthenogenetic or something.

    Yes use energy more efficiently but [supposed authority I've never even heard of] noted [whenever] that increase in efficiency often leads to increase in total energy use in society.

    So? Why, then, does the US produce almost twice as much CO2 per capita as Germany at the same standard of living?

    Horse manure is good for improving soil condition.

    Too much of a good thing is too much.

    There’s already too much pigshit being sprayed on fields and meadows.

    Maybe husky dogs pulling a road sleigh with bike wheels would be an option if there were no cars on road ?

    What do you feed the dogs? Horse cadavers?

  14. says

    zytigon:
    Something I would advocate to mitigate the problem you are worried about is to shift road & air traffic to electric rail where feasible. Unlike most means of transportation that can be powered by non-fossil energy like hydroelectric & nuclear.

    Of course that would mean we would all have to admit that the French were right about something, but we maybe we can just suck it up ;^)

  15. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    zytigon

    It took me 43 years to buy a vehicle with an internal combustion engine, and I wouldn’t have done so if I hadn’t moved into a bushfire prone area. I’ve only driven myself to a work day three times in my life. Two days ago my family and I moved into a passive solar designed house with all the energy saving features we could afford. (Solar hot water, massive insulation, carefully considered double glaze windows, eaves, and sun orientation, worm farm septic system, huge rainwater tank) Unfortunately, the PV’s will have to wait until we have more money. My wife and I have one child and have no plans for another. And finally, I’m vegetarian for environmental reasons. Despite all the forgoing I too found your highjacking of this thread annoying. Please take it to the Thundedome.

  16. says

    given that this CONvergence has cost me my car and access to my laptop, I’m somewhat less than enthusiastic about coming back. It was fun, but not quite worth that kind of stress and financial damage.

  17. MG Myers says

    Jadehawk – I’m sorry to hear about your car and laptop access. I hope things are going more smoothly now.

  18. kaboobie says

    This was my first CONvergence and my first time meeting any FtBers other than Ashley, whom I had spoken with briefly at Dragon*Con last year. Everyone was delightful…yes, even the fearsome PZ! I also had a nice conversation with the Trophy Wife in the FtB party suite.

    This isn’t an event I’ll be able to fit into my schedule every year, but I definitely hope to go again.

  19. says

    @prae: We videotaped as much as we could of the Skepchick/FtB panels. All but one or two that overlapped. I’ll have them up on a YouTube channel as soon as we coordinate editing and transcription for people with hearing disabilities.

    @jadehawk: Holy crap! I’m so sorry to hear this. If there is anything I can do now, email me at skepchickevents [at] gmail.com. I’d like to know what happened so we can prevent it for next year even if we can’t do anything now.