I’m back from Skepticon, and I’m feeling good. This is the most relaxing conference around for me — it’s a gathering of non-believers, but of non-abrasive, open-minded non-believers who also think there’s a heck of a lot more to being an atheist than expunging “god” from our coinage. It was all good, but here are my favorite events:
Margee Kerr talked about the physiology and psychology of fear. She’s been checking spooky places, like Eastern State Penitentiary, to try and figure out what it is about these supposedly “haunted” places that triggers fearful reactions in people. It turns out that the fear is real, but ghosts are not.
Jennifer Raff analyzed some outlandish claims about genetics: that Peruvians are descended from Nephilim and white Europeans, and genetic astrology. There were some particularly effective bits in their where she contrasted the lengths she goes to to extract and isolate DNA without contamination, with the rather sloppy stuff people like LA Marzulli do.
Alix Jules discussed the reality of racism. It’s not just loud people with southern accents, pickup trucks, and confederate flags: casual racism is everywhere, and it just won some big elections.
There was lots of other good stuff: Rebecca Watson made a triumphant return to the stage, there were lots of conversations about the state of secular activism, there was a taco truck parked outside, and of course lots of happy socializing. I also had to miss the entire last day — I had to fly back and get ready to teach this morning — so I didn’t get to see Jerry DeWitt or Debbie Goddard or the other people who finished up the conference with a bang.
Skepticon 10 will be held on 10-12 November 2017, so clear your calendars now.