TAM 9 From Outer Space!

By Phil Plait | March 14, 2011 12:00 pm

The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has just opened registration for its annual skeptical extravaganza, The Amaz!ng Meeting!

TAM is arguably the world’s premier critical thinking conference, and certainly one of the most fun. I’m always torn between listening to the speakers and gathering with the friends I’ve made over the years — and meeting new ones. It’s fair to say the audience is a major reason to attend TAM.

The theme this year is "TAM 9 from Outer Space", and it’s obvious why with speakers like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Pamela Gay (one of my favorite people on this planet), Bill Nye (The Science Guy), and hey, me. And the list keeps going: Carol Tavris (who gave a very popular talk last year at TAM), Jennifer Michael Hecht, Penn & Teller, Jennifer Ouellette, PZ Myers, Genie Scott, anime artist (and totally cool chick) Sara Mayhew, and, of course, the Amazing One himself, James Randi. The list goes on and on, so go check it out!

Did I mention the MC this year is the one and only George Hrab? Yeah. Awesome.

Also, as usual, there will be a ton of workshops, panels, and other extracurricular activities. I can’t stress enough how much of a blast this meeting is. It’ll be July 14 – 17, 2011 at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Registration is now open. I hope to see you there!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Cool stuff, JREF, Skepticism

Comments (31)

  1. thetentman

    Is that Richard Wiseman hang out with Adam?

  2. James

    Aw, man! This is one TAM I’d love to go to. And my girlfriend would love to come with as well!

    Is there anyway I could get you guys to change the theme to something else this year and save this space theme for next year? Please? Pretty please?

  3. Keith Bowden

    But Jaaaames, then it would be “TAM 10 From Outer Space”, and that wouldn’t work at all! ;)

  4. davidlpf

    Anyone with a large grant to pay the admission, airfare, accomondations and other expenses. And I thought was George Hrab hugging Dr. Gay. :-)

  5. Gus Snarp

    This sounds like a great line up, but I have to admit I’m afraid to go these things.

  6. @thetentman (#1), no, it’s George Hrab. :D

    EDIT: Curse my slow firewall… davidlpf beat me to the joke…

  7. davidlpf

    Larian that just proves you have more of a life than me.

  8. Ed

    The thing is, $425 is a lot of money. On top of the plane ticket and lodging. This is a $1,000 weekend before I eat, drink or gamble :(

  9. Michael Swanson

    $425? Cr*p. It doesn’t pay to be a poor skeptic.

  10. sorcererninja

    I’m probably not going to go, but that’s an awesome name.

  11. Dave

    Waaaaay too expensive for this grad student, and I don’t even have to fly there. Too bad, maybe I can go in five years.

  12. Let me start off by saying I don’t speak for the JREF. This is my opinion only, but it’s based on experience.

    Yes, TAM is always pricey, but that’s because of huge expenses in the form of overhead for JREF to hold it. I helped run one of these events, and the expenses were daunting. If the JREF could lower costs, I imagine they would. Also, many other top-flight conferences cost more; the American Astronomical Society meeting, for example, is actually more expensive, and doesn’t have meals catered.

    I’ll note there are lots of free or less-expensive skeptical events during the year as well – NECSS is coming up, and many areas have skepticamps or Skeptics in the Pub type things. The JREF also sponsors and supports many of these events. The JREF is aware of the cost of TAM, but it’s also the flagship event for the foundation, and a way for the non-profit to raise funds.

  13. TSL

    It’s Skeptic Circle Jerk Central! The same old speakers! The same old audience! All assembled in an array of smug self-righteousness to proclaim how ‘teh smart’ they all are for being skeptics and how ‘stooopid’ the rest of the brooding proletariat remains!

  14. fry

    Like I could ever go. :(

  15. stan9fromouterspace

    sorcererninja, I’d have to agree!
    Although I could be persuaded to make an appearance, ribbon cutting ceremony, hand out trophies, whatever. I’ll even wear the space suit, if there’s a plane ticket in it!
    (not that there’s a space suit (that I’m aware of…)

  16. Mike

    -TSL. “Same old audience?” I know I wasn’t the only one there for the first time last year, and the attendance figures have been increasing ever since TAM 1. Not your crowd? No problem, but I met a bunch of really great people from all over the world. Very few were of the smugly superior variety.

  17. Michael Swanson

    @13. TSL

    “It’s Skeptic Circle Jerk Central! The same old speakers! The same old audience! All assembled in an array of smug self-righteousness to proclaim how ‘teh smart’ they all are for being skeptics and how ‘stooopid’ the rest of the brooding proletariat remains!”

    Been hateful much lately? You know, sometimes it just feels good to be around like-minded people. RC car enthusiasts, sports fans, religious people, sci-fi nerds, teachers, vegans, skeptics…just about everybody needs to at least occasionally feel a sense of community, to feel free to be who they and to express themselves without feeling like an outsider.

    If we seem smug sometimes it’s because we’re human. We’re pretty sure we’re right about a lot of things. But then, so are you. So’s the guy who just walked past my window. So are most people. And you get a room full of rapture ready weirdos, pot smokers, skeptics, or anyone else whose life is at least partially defined by a big idea and, well, they’ll act like they’re on to something big.

    We’re on to science. We’re on to trying to not be gullible. We’re on to reason, learning and a sense of wonder about the world around us. It’s pretty freakin’ awesome.

    You should totally go! :)

  18. Mike

    Really glad to see Carol Tavris returning. Her talk last year was one of my favourites.

    As for the price, it really isn’t expensive comparatively. Hell, it costs more just to stay at a hotel in a major city for the same period of time (Las Vegas itself excluded). I recently attended an industry convention with 4x the price tag of TAM, and which I could only reasonably attend less 1/4 of the talks that I actually wanted to see, and there were a dozen or more going on at any one time. I guess the difference is it’s more difficult to get your employer to pick up the bill for TAM. ;)

    I wasn’t intending on returning to TAM this year simply for the time off it requires and I wanted to do some sight-seeing/tourism with that time instead. However, that lineup is pretty bad ass.. Neil Tyson, Bill Nye, Larry Krauss, P&T, PZ, Richard Wiseman, not to mention those who were there last year (Adam Savage and our beloved Phil Plait, for example). I may have to reconsider.

    Last year was my first TAM and I recommend it if for the atmosphere alone. Yeah, it’s a lot of preaching to the choir (though not entirely) but hell, it’s nice just to be in a like-minded crowd for a change and it’s a great place to find inspiration.

  19. Celia Berdeski

    Got our TAM tickets & Southpoint reservations made today! 4th year in a row…love it!

  20. TAM 9 … Love it. I’ll be there. But I’m not going to cross dress. (see what I did there?)

  21. Keith Bowden

    I don’t think TAM is priced badly at all… It’s just that too many of us are still struggling to financially recover from the past few years and are wistful about attending (myself definitely included). JREF is great!

  22. Beelzebud

    Someone should ask Bill Nye why in the hell he was promoting one of those “ionized water” spray bottles.

  23. Sean H.

    I can’t afford to go, but if you would like to make it up to me, Dr. Plait, you could go to Dragon*Con.

    I am not trying to be overly critical, but wouldn’t Las Vegas be up pretty high on “the list of the most expensive places to hold an event”? I mean, sure, it is no Boston, but still, you say Las Vegas, I think $$$. Four-hundred and twenty-five dollars, that would buy a lot of pasta.

  24. Mike

    No, I think Vegas is probably on the cheaper side of places to hold it. It has the facilities required to hold a convention of this magnitude, and the hotel it’s held in regularly has deals on rooms. Last year I stayed there for $35/night, and that wasn’t even the best deal that could be had.

  25. Kelly Lawrence

    TAM8 was my first one. I couldn’t go to TAM7, so I made a plan. $20.00 each week in a savings account nicknamed TAM so I kept my focus. It wasn’t even hard to do. Bag lunches, any extra $$ each payday straight into that account. My reward? Best. Weekend. Evah.

    I also got to meet Phil Plait at the Skepchicks party, which was hella, hella cool.

  26. Sion

    Phil,
    I hope you and Geo will be performing DFTS live. Ah go on, you know you want to!

  27. Looks like I picked the right year to start going to TAM.

    Las Vegas in the middle of summer should be fun. It’s not hot enough down here, anyway.

  28. Yay! Looks like an incredible line up! And my favorite part? That I get to go this year – w00t! :-)

  29. WalterWalkie

    woh snap! yeh too expensive for me , but I understand why its so expensive with such an excellent line up . i’m jealous of all who get to go! please post all videos!!

    @KellyLawrence – ugh you’re making me feel like i’m less dedicated than I should be.

    @fry – don’t worry someday we will all get to attend virtually online and the price will come down^^

  30. China Sword

    U should so have a star party and/or a local observatory tour. i tried for the one before Dragoncon, but can’t swing the time-off. would be willing to arrive a day early.

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