NorCal skeptic conference April 24

By Phil Plait | April 8, 2010 4:30 pm

There will be a skeptic convention in northern California (specifically Berkeley) on April 24. Called Skeptical, it’s being run by the Bay Area Skeptics and the Sacramento Area Skeptics, both great groups of folks. I wish I could go; speakers include Genie Scott, Kiki Sanford, Brian Dunning, Karen Stollznow, Seth Shostak — all friends and wonderful lecturers — and I hate to miss something like this.

But you should go! It’s a one day event, and the cost is only $40. Not bad. That would only buy you like one minute on the phone with Sylvia Browne, or 0.0007 bomb-sniffing wands, or a Deepak Chopra book — all of which are worth far, far less.

skepticalcon

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Skepticism
MORE ABOUT: Skeptical

Comments (17)

  1. David H.

    Are you sure it’ll be then? ;-)

  2. Niv

    Hey that’s on Astronomy Day! This isn’t the first time I wish I lived in California…

  3. Patrick

    Gaa, Santa Cruz rock and mineral show, or this. Arrg.

  4. Ryan

    I’m not sure this conference is even going to happen, David H. ;-) ;-) After all, is Discovery even a credible source? I’m not saying it isn’t; I just cant be so sure.

  5. Gary Ansorge

    Ah, yes, I remember Berkeley, DeadHeads running around everywhere and the drum circles,,,

    ,,excuse me. Must have been a flash back to the ’90s.

    There are some great things about Calif.,,,and then I remember the traffic.

    I have three intellectual kids living there. Think I’ll forward this post link to them.

    Thanks Phil,

    GAry 7
    PS Found this cool link about the eclipse of epsilon Aurigae.
    http://physicsworld.com/blog/2010/04/post_3.html

  6. Ian

    Folks, I’m still struggling to see what skepticism adds to science. Surely science, which by definition must follow the scientific method and the peer review process, doesn’t need skepticism.

    I’m concerned such skeptic movements are at worst creating a clique within the scientific community, and at best repeating what all scientists know to be true anyway.

    I am aware that there are plenty of examples of what one might call ‘bad’ science – I prefer the word unscientific – but surely there is still a risk that skeptics sould practice something akin to ‘bad’ skepticism. We are only human after all.

    I’m happy to be proven wrong.

    Enjoy the day anyway.

  7. @Ian:

    Science is skepticism. Not bitter cynicism, mind you (which is often what people think of skeptics.)

    Skeptical thought is being able to question and challenge the norm, to think past what is accepted as truth and working it out. Healthy skepticism is in learning everything you can about a subject and questioning yourself – what do I think is true?

    All science works this way.

  8. Ian

    @7, then back to what I said – surely skepticism duplicates science, and in the interests of reducing duplication drop the ‘skepticism’ from the tag line of the conference ‘… science + skepticism …’

    Even if taken mathematically (tongue in cheek) the tag line infers the latter ‘adds’ something to the former and again according to your definition of skepticism … it does not.

  9. Cheyenne

    I’m so off topic again but it would be interesting to see the good doctor’s take on the conf call today with the NASA bosses. They discussed the new 5 year plan for the agency. Which actually sounds a bit Maoist to me but whateve’s…

    “NASA Announces Programs and Costs for Next 5 Years”

    “At a one-hour telephone news conference, the NASA administrator, Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., and his deputy, Lori Garver, took turns rattling off names and price tags of new programs at each NASA center.”

  10. Jeff

    Again,

    I object to this idea of “skepticism” : what the heck is it? It isn’t defined like the well established methodologies of science. And would such a definition, if there is one, stand up to academic scrutiny???

    If something isn’t defined, it really is NOTHING!!!

    Yes, let’s attack the kooks, the UFOologists, the bigfoot people, the astrologers, the creation “scientists”, but let’s attack them with SCIENCE!!!!

  11. Ryan Smith

    But many of us aren’t scientists per-se. We are just normal people with an interest in science who value other people’s scientific efforts. I think Skeptic means, in a sense, lay scientist. Someone who demands evidence for belief in a proposition but is not involved in the actual testing or studying of that evidence.

    For ex, while Phil is a scientist in astronomy, he is a skeptic in regards to things like homeopathy.

    That’s just MY definition of skeptic at least.

  12. Thanks Phil!

    You will be sorely missed. You are, after all, an honorary Bay Area resident!

  13. QuietDesperation

    Can I get a Sylvia Browne sniffing wand?

    There. Try and get *that* image out of your head. Mwah ha haa!

    Science is skepticism. Not bitter cynicism, mind you

    Yeah, but be an active skeptic for a while, and the bitterness comes pretty easily. :-(

  14. G. Emo

    What? LOLOL!!! Skepticism is ‘questioning the norm?’ LOL!!!

    Imagine what the world would be had not the skeptics introduce all the new thinking, which challenged the norm??? Hahahahahyaha!! That thought made my day……I guess the shirt on Superman’s back stands for ‘Skeptic.’

    What a crock… And as a member of the medical profession I see and fight daily the ills which persist in our health and medical services ethics… specifically because of, and in the arrogant/unaccountable name of Skepticism…..

    And medicine is probably one of the few science and technical arena’s where skeptics can be anything close to being held to account for their inerrant opini0ns.

    Wake up, move out of your TA’s office, actually take 4 years off and live with real, dirty average people, not in a university or grant based research project, and smell the coffee.

    1. You are getting your asses handed to you by many of the paranormal researchers out there..and are LOSING your battle for the attention of the public through arrogance and lack of proactive research. (for right or wrong on that one…. Personally this bothers me too)

    2. A person who sees something funny and has the temerity to ask “Hey, I wanna know what that was” – is NOT a pseudo-scientist. Stop belittling honest people.

    A pseudo-scientist is a person who claims to represent science and rationality – but does not. THAT IS YOU

    Skepticism is a gilded prison of arrogant ego and spin – crafted exactly to PROTECT – not challenge…. to establish unaccountable powers of approved thought.

    But the chief trait of skepticism is – Drinking one’s own Cabal’s Koolaide – NOT “challenging the norms”….

  15. Helium Head

    Wikipedia’s take on “skepticism” covers the bases, especially the “Philosophical Skepticism” section. But may I suggest the neologisms, “sciencewise” or “sci-wise,” for better communicating our stance for the common couch potato. It does have inherent ambiguities, but even those have some value. ¿Is it, ‘wise about the process of science,’ or is it, ‘with respect to science.’ Think about it.

  16. hahah first commenter rules.

  17. Jeff

    ryan smith: ” But many of us aren’t scientists per-se. We are just normal people with an interest in science who value other people’s scientific efforts. I think Skeptic means, in a sense, lay scientist. Someone who demands evidence for belief in a proposition but is not involved in the actual testing or studying of that evidence.
    For ex, while Phil is a scientist in astronomy, he is a skeptic in regards to things like homeopathy.
    That’s just MY definition of skeptic at least.”

    ok, I’ll lighten up. It’s just that my teaching career and degrees are in science, and I don’t like these noveu reinventions of the term. See there really is a danger when you redefine stuff like this, because people who don’t understand science will then learn something based on shifting sand, not a good position to be in.

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