Why I love TAM

By Phil Plait | July 23, 2009 8:00 am

I still haven’t written much about TAM, I know. I only had a couple of days to catch up before Launch Pad, and now I’m off at Comic Con! This is a very busy few months for me.

The cool thing is, so many people have written about it I can point to them. And while I could go on and on about how fantastic TAM is because of the people who attend it, as skeptics you should question my bias. That’s only fair. So I will direct you to a Swift entry written by Michael Strieb. I met him at TAM 7 and he was a nice guy and an inspiration to everyone there. Read the entry to find out why… and heed these words he wrote:

It occurs to me that there are those of a religious bent who have said that skeptics, particularly atheistic ones, do not have a moral code to live by. And yet I spent four days in the company of skeptics who have proven that they live by the most basic moral code of all, the one most others are based on and without which would be useless: do good things on a daily basis, be kind to other people, and enjoy the time you have to spend with them.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.


Comments (11)

  1. do good things on a daily basis, be kind to other people, and enjoy the time you have to spend with them

    I like it. I also like the sign at my kids’ school:

    Do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do.

    Why should you need the threat of “eternal damnation” to be a good person?

  2. spencer

    *golf clap*
    good show, good show.

  3. Check out my look back at TAM7 at http://Sacskeptics.org.

  4. Ken

    Once upon a time I was like that too. I kept “joking” to my girlfriend in college that I was going to “straighten out my little heathen”. It wasn’t until grad school when I started to realize that morality and religiosity (?) are completely orthogonal concepts.

    Fortunately my girlfriend didn’t kill me for my remarks (in retrospect it would have been entirely justifiable, I was a real [NSFW] at times). We’re now happily married with kids – and while I still toy with some religious concepts I have learned to not be so bloody arrogant even in jest…

  5. Stan

    What is TAM? Nowhere on this page or the linked page actually tells any0ne what TAM is…

  6. Jamie

    That always gets me, when people imply (or directly say) morals come from religion. Even religious people have to apply some outside moral filter to their holy texts. Everyone should just be good for goodness-sake.

    [Sorry to be completely off-topic, but I thought I’d mention that Joe Rogan mentioned your name on the No Name morning show on Live 105 (KITS FM 105.3) in the SF Bay Area this morning. He said he was debating you on the moon-landing hoax, but he still seems to think that the hoax is plausible. (He was talking about the funny photos and video, and the astronauts’ weird cryptic interviews afterwards.)Didn’t you set him straight?]

  7. Joe Meils

    Yes. Especially when you notice that most of the terrorisim, the abuses against women, the wounding of young minds with drivel… all seems to come from religious people…

    It’s kinda funny, really… but I don’t recall reading many stories in the paper that mention, in any way, “…this criminal, a known, long time athiest…”

    But I do hear a great many of them mention the religious right, the Taliban, various cults like Scientology, and “religious nutcases” working alone who kill, who destroy and who annoy others… on a regular basis.

  8. rocker

    TAM is The Amazing Meeting, hosted annually by The Amazing Randi.


  9. TomInAK

    **It’s kinda funny, really… but I don’t recall reading many stories in the paper that mention, in any way, “…this criminal, a known, long time athiest…”**

    I think that reflects the world view of the members of the press more than some uber-niceness on the part of atheists. I think that, to people likely to be involved in the media, atheism is considered the norm and thus not worthy of comment. If someone outside their definition of “normal” commits a crime, then it’s worthy of note; particularly if the reporter/headline writer has a strong dislike of the group involved. Thus, a Republican official (“abnormal” in the view of the press) accused of misconduct will almost always have his/her party affiliation prominently mentioned early in the news story. A Democrat similarly accused will generally not be identified as such until far into the story, if at all.

  10. Renee

    @ Joe

    I wouldn’t go as far as to combine terrorism and religion, there was a massive study from 2001 to 2007 that pretty much showed that things like that are more geopolitical than religious. And lets not forget what Stalin did. I’d rather just say that some people are immoral idiots, rather than trying to peg it on one ideological group or another.

    I’ve always seen it as both sides, the more religious and the atheistic, are essentially doing the same thing when it comes to developing an ethic. No religious text has all of the answers so people usually craft more current and relevant ethical principals based on older axioms and that’s pretty much what most atheists do as well, though their base axioms are usually grounded on things other than religion.

    But in the end I’d like to think that pretty much everyone has a decent sense of morality and its only a few people ruining it for everyone.

  11. W L Anderson

    TomInAK seems to live in a different world than mine, saying that if a criminal is Republican, this fact always gets mentioned in news articles, but that this is not the case for Democrat criminals!! I have a newspaper in front of me now and am unable to find a single instance that would conform with his view.


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