Fluxosaurus at TAM 2011 Las Vegas – report with pictures.

So after sleeping off The Amazing Meeting 2011 (aka TAM from Outer Space) and mostly recovering from all the jet lag, I have a report back and a few pictures for my dear readers.

What is the Amazing Meeting some of you may ask, well:

The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM) is an annual celebration of science, skepticism and critical thinking. People from all over the world come to Amaz!ng Meetings each year to share learning, laughs and the skeptical perspective with their fellow skeptics and a host of distinguished guest speakers and panelists.

This years theme was TAM 9 from Outer Space and was held from 14th July to 17th July at the South Point Hotel in Las Vegas. I travelled through the US for the month before TAM and ended a long 3 month journey through Europe and the US at TAM. After months spent in crappy hostels and “roughing it” (like 3 Star quality, boy am I showing my priveledged life), I had an awesome room with a king size bed and for once, my own bathroom.

Firstly I must correct a slight innacuracy in my first report from TAM – I was very pleased to find out later that day that I was not the only Skeptic from South Africa attending – Francois Hoffman from the Cape was there with his two children. Absolutely awesome to see young people getting exposed to the goodness that is critical thought. Besides that, I was quite homesick at that point and it was just super cool to meet other folk from the land of my birth. We chatted about the strange land that is America, the weird food and the lack of boerewors – the last being our greatest lamentation. The culinary deficiencies were more than made up for by all the wonderful and friendly American Skeptics I met there. There were also great people from other countries attending – Mexico, various European countries and quite a few Australians.

Hoffman family

The Hoffman family from Hermanus in the Cape with Mr Deity.

I landed in Vegas the day before TAM – there was a Drinking Skeptically at the Del Mar bar in the hotel that night and I was keen to firstly have a break from the previous 2 months of travelling I had just completed, and secondly I was most curious to see how a Skeptics in the Pub type event was held in the USA. Pics are below.

In my first post about TAM I mentioned that I had met Greta Christina on the plane, and shared a cab with another Skeptic from the airport – I had a good feeling about this conference, I was making friends already!

Well, after dropping my gear in an awesome room at the South Point Hotel, I made my way down to the Conference Registration area to check out what was cooking. It was prudent to get there early as the next day was rather busy with registrations. I met some really nice Norwegian Skeptics in the queue – Magnus and Øystein. Primarily I think it was our matching wardrobe choices – Geek / Sci Fi T-shirts – that ensured our making each other’s acquaintance. We eventually got our gear – TAM badges, programmes, and passes. The programme is a kind of collectors item – with blank pages for autographs, just perfect for encounters with one’s Skeptical heroes.

The conference was 4 full days of fun and education. A lot of focus was given to communication strategies for growing the movement, ways in which we can try to understand each other and non Skeptics through sound Psychological science (dissonance theory, communication strategies based on values and even the approach of Roger’s reflective listening).

PZ gave us some wonderful insights about how evolutionary biology can inform our understanding of what life on other planets might look like.

I spoke up after one panel – broke the one rule of TAM as well (every audience comment should be in the form of a question, mine was not) – when some speakers recommended that we have enough skeptical blogs and the focus should rather be on providing content to already established blogs or monitoring and updating Wikipedia entries to stem the tide of un-Skeptical edits. I respectfully disagreed with the panel (in front of 400 people nogal!) and said that we should all be blogging and adding our voices to a resounding response to the voice of the “other side” which is already out there and loud! We should not be quiet in the face of irrationality. I think what the panel was trying to get at though is the idea that a new skeptical blog is going to be swimming in a sea of blogs and it is pointless to be writing away when no one is reading the content. Point taken, but still, I felt, we should not diminish our voice footprint as it were in the blogosphere.

I met so many different people, ordinary Skeptics and famous Skeptics both, had wonderful conversations, avoided awkwardness in every elevator, and generally had an exciting time wandering the halls of the venue with tons of other geeks and Skeptics of all ages, races and genders.

I felt inspired to do more here in South Africa where we need to increase the impact of critical thinking skills and evidence based perspectives on a very superstitious and nonsense plagued populace.

I got autographs from DJ Grothe, PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson and Lawrence M. Kraus and signed copies of Michael Schermer and Donald Prothero’s new books. But enough about me – here are the pics with some blurb about parts of the conference.

All in all, TAM was an amazing experience and I would recommend any Skeptic, or even any person who is merely curious about the world of science and rational thought, to attend one of these events – I will definitely make every effort to return next year.

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~ by Fluxosaurus on July 25, 2011.

3 Responses to “Fluxosaurus at TAM 2011 Las Vegas – report with pictures.”

  1. Hey there… Looks like you had a great time. How’s that burger! I could barely see the matchbox. Only Americans could come up with a donut and bacon party. What would the SA variation be? Melktert and Biltong. Koeksusters and Bobotie. Thanks again for the help.
    Wild Woman of Borneo
    (Alias Michelle from the SAWC)

  2. Oh, holy carp I’m jealous!

    I think I will have to start saving now to go to TAM10!

  3. […] week there I flew on to Las Vegas for the Skeptics conference which is detailed in my previous post TAM 2011. Philadelphia to San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York, then home via […]

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