#atheistcon day 3

It’s the day of reckoning: in about 4 hours, I get to give my talk here at the GAC…sandwiched in between Sam Harris and the Four Horsemen, in front of an intimidatingly huge crowd.

No worries, eh, mate?

I shall survive. They may have to pour me off the stage in a bag, but I’ll get through it all.


  1. says

    There was lots of anticipation at the dinner last night.

    After yesterday, I think Lawrence Krauss is the man to beat. His talk was brilliant.

    Anyway, best of luck, PZ. There may not be a lot of pharyngulites in the audience, but we are here!

  2. rukymoss says

    Another pharyngulite in the audience–you will rock it. Have you had your Vegemite this morning?

  3. Dick the Damned says

    Ophelia, the trouble for some of us (i.e., me), is that if i’ve done something a few times, i go into automatic drive, & that’s when the cock-ups happen.

    I sure do hope that sort of thing doesn’t happen to PZ. (And there’s no reason for me to think that it would, on reflection. Ah well, now i’ve typed this, i’ll post it anyway.)

  4. says

    Hmm…I think it would be pretty hard to do a talk in automatic drive, even when you’ve done 80 million of them. But the familiarity also makes it unlikely you’ll sway back and forth with terror and then collapse in a heap.

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    Lighten it up with a little humour. Crack a few jokes about Harris’ tendency towards over-simplified, black and white thinking.

  6. Charlie Foxtrot says

    ‘morning PZ!

    She’ll be right, mate. No worries!
    Looking forward to the talk.

  7. cm's changeable moniker says

    Don’t look at your notes and read. Pick someone in the crowd and speak to them. And then again to another, and again to another …

    (Or so I’ve been taught.)

  8. Sili says

    Ah – not a bad choice for Hitch’s replacement.

    Though I did rather hope they were gonna roll his dessicated corpse onto the stage à la Jeremy Bentham.

  9. says

    @ cm’s changeable moniker

    Don’t look at your notes and read.

    That’s right.

    Pick someone in the crowd and speak to them. And then again to another.

    Wrong. Bad advice. You speak to the entire audience, sweeping your eyes over the entire audience, engaging folks with your eyes here and there. It is correct, though, to speak directly to some members of your audience. Gently ribbing someone for a laugh, the crowd laughs and they laugh too, that’s a win.

  10. llyris says

    Rumour has it that the way to win over a crowd in Australia is to start by saying how awesome Australia is and how it’s your favourite place on earth. Extra points in Melbourne if you say it’s much better than Sydney.
    No, this isn’t rational.

  11. cowcakes says

    I’m sure one of us will rush to the Hilton bar to fetch a life saving nectar if needed.

  12. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’m sure one of us will rush to the Hilton bar to fetch a life saving nectar if needed.

    Transported a small dram of grog to the podium/speakers table. PZ will be fine on the just the fumes.

  13. says

    If anybody is interested there is a new clown around.


    Another of these people that is an expert in one field of science and then levers that to promote a crazy message about environmentalism and evolution.

    The video is nauseating.

  14. lilika01 says

    Dammit! I narrowly missed the opportunity to accost you and creepily ask for your signature. Be prepared for an Australian lurker to corner you at some stage and demand you scribble on a program.
    Also, your speech was awesome.

  15. Charlie Foxtrot says

    THAT was gloriously strident!

    PZ had his rant on and to see him in full flight was an amazing sight.

    I particularly loved the wolf pack metaphor :)

  16. says

    There’s a bunch of muslims outside the convention centre with placards demanding that Ayaan Hirsi Ali burn in hell, and claiming that the Hitch is already there.

    And then they’re trying to convince the atheists protesting that we should join them. I mean, nothing makes me more likely to join a group than having its vicious hate slammed straight in my face.

    Some good chants drowning them out, however. We had a great time with hundreds of atheists demanding Where are the women?

    Pity they can’t see that all they’re doing is confirming themselves as vicious bigots in a society that really isn’t going to see that as a valid point of view.

  17. alanj says

    PZ, you were fucking brilliant! Thoroughly enjoyed your session, as I did with many others. Also had to laugh at the protestors outside, straight after what you discussed in your presentation. All I can say to them is “baa-aa-aa”…

  18. Antiochus Epiphanes says

    PZ: Remember…those guys might have fans, but those fans are simply tasty snacks for your fans.

  19. grumpy1942 says

    Actually, Greta is more suited to the role in terms of being a firebrand. I thought of her when I read AmandaS’s post, but held my tongue, not wanting to even appear to put AHA down.

  20. snebo154 says

    P.Z. You constantly downplay your importance in the struggle to overthrow religious insanity and you also give the impression that you consider yourself to be of lesser status than Dawkins, Harris, etc. but you should know that I have gone from being a closet non-believer to a militant fire-breathing in your face ATHEIST (sorry about the all caps) not because of Dawkins or Hitchens (both of whom I have known of and admired for some time before I was aware of the biology prof. at UMM) but because of you and Pharyngula and I would be willing to wager that I am not alone. Stand proud, the others sharing the stage with you at atheistcon are as lucky to have you as an ally as you are to have them. Enjoy the limelight, you are as worthy and influential as anyone there.

  21. Ray, rude-ass yankee says

    I agree wholeheartedly with snebo154@40, P.Z. deserves to be on that stage as much as any of the “big names” of atheism. Professor Myers, Pharyngula and the commenters on this blog have helped me to become a much more out spoken atheist.

  22. donna says

    Hi everyone, long time lurker, first time commenter.

    I really enjoyed PZ’s talk today at the GAC and would like to briefly add my agreement regarding what the last two commenters above have said.

    PZ, I introduced myself to you briefly last night at the gala dinner (slightly drunk, ponytail, I think I freaked you out a bit with my babbling and I apologise). As I said to you, I had never heard of you until I heard you speak at the 2010 Global Atheist Convention. I enjoyed your talk then and when I got home I googled you, and while I read the books written by the ‘big names’ when I have the time, I have logged on and read this blog EVERY DAY since then. I would say that this actually makes you the larger and more immediate influence. How many other readers does this apply to?

    I really enjoy Pharyngula and appreciate that on top of teaching and travelling to speak to people all over the world, you still find time to get online and blog as well. Hitchens and Ayaan Hirsi Ali together have inspired me to study journalism, politics and history, but just as much, you have inspired me and I plan to start a blog in order to add my contribution to the atheist movement. I know I won’t be as good or as witty, but I can try to do a little bit, every day. I wonder how many other people read this blog and have thought to themselves, what I can do?

    A question: why do we have to limit ourselves to Four Horsemen anyway? Since when did we have to be constrained by what the bible says? Why can’t we have five, or ten, or thirty seven, or more if we want? We easily have way more than four inspirational atheists, and that includes you.

    Curious, too, why did the bible stop at four? War, famine, pestilence and death are nasty, sure, but there are others that would qualify. Stupidity, for instance, and how about denial? I’d argue those two should even be given the biggest and crankiest mythological horses to ride.

    Anyway, as I said to you last night, THANK YOU.

  23. mankey says

    I was so extremely impressed by your talk, im sure everyone else felt the same. I only wish i had the nerve to come up to you and have a chat when i seen you munching on a cookie. For me, your talk was the most interesting and entertaining, thou im a big fan and might be slightly biased.

  24. echidna says

    A question: why do we have to limit ourselves to Four Horsemen anyway?

    Richard Dawkins explained at the start of the horsemen session that the horsemen panel was originally meant to include AHA, but events intervened and it was 4 people instead of 5. AHA was not so much replacing Hitch, but taking her own place.

  25. davros says

    Several speakers led up to the ‘where next’ question but didn’t quite put something forward. PZ, thanks for putting forward a strong vision:

    So how do you kill an idea? How will we sack the city of faith?

    By coming up with a better, more powerful idea. That’s the only way we can win.

    It’s called science.

    Also, love this:

    We are … the People of Reality