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TAM 2013 recap episode of the ‘Atheists Today’ show

(Mes amis: yes, I know, this post is a little odd/out of order, as I haven’t yet had an opportunity to write about my (wonderful) experience at TAM 2013, but, considering that the topic of this post is somewhat time-sensitive, I wanted to get it up here as soon as possible. I’ll start working on a TAM recap, soon, though. Anyway, onward!)


Last night, a few fellow TAM-ers/friends and myself were on a TAM 2013-recap-themed episode of the Atheists Today show, hosted by DW Adams. If you weren’t able to listen live, head over to the episode’s webpage, where you can listen to it on your own time (via the embedded player), or download it directly (.mp3 file), or download it from the iTunes store.

Throughout the show, we had a lot of fun chatting and telling stories, and we also discussed some of the excellent talks and presentations that we saw and how they inspired us and motivated us to do something good, useful, positive, important, real, etc. It’s so important to do something, to use our skills (whatever they may be) in some way and in some context in order to make things happen. We also discussed some of the tools (mostly internet-based) that were brought up in various TAM sessions, many of which “work behind the scenes” (so to speak), providing, in one way or another, subtle but necessary support as we engage in whatever form of skepticism/skeptical activism fulfills our passions and fits us best.

During the show, whenever any of us thought of a talk or a tool that we wanted to make note of, I added the relevant url to the show’s chat box. Later, DW posted them in the episode’s show notes. I’ll add some of them to this post, too, along with a couple of others (these aren’t necessarily in any particular order- they’re just links to/information about *some* of the things that the three of us were most excited by/inspired by/motivated by at TAM this year. I’ll probably write more about a few of these in my upcoming TAM recap, but, for now, here goes):


Many thanks to DW for having us on. He did a great job and I’m looking forward to listening to future episodes of his podcast. Be sure to visit the Atheists Today website (they have a lot of interesting and useful content/resources there) and also find them on Facebook and on Twitter.

(And I’ll start working on that TAM 2013 recap post soon… (^‿^) ) Thanks!


TAM 2013!

Exciting!: The Amazing Meeting 2013 is less than a month away. I’m thrilled to be returning for my second TAM (and to be returning to Las Vegas, one of my favorite places). I had an absolutely wonderful time at TAM 2012 (some of my photos are here): I learned a great deal, experienced many thought-provoking and inspiring talks/events and conversations, had so much fun with dear friends, met some of my “skeptic heroes” (forgive the cheesy phrase) including Ray Hyman (an absolutely brilliant and sweet man. We had quite a few one-on-one conversations last year, and I’ll always be grateful to him for taking the time to talk with me), and, most exciting of all, I was on the Skepticism and the Humanities panel (video here).


TAM 2013

This year, my friends/TAM 2012 co-panelists/Skeptical Humanities bloggers/two-fifths of the Virtual Skeptics/fellow skeptic teachers Bob Blaskiewicz and Eve Siebert and I will be presenting the Skepticism Across the Curriculum workshop. Bob will be moderating, and, among other things, we’ll be discussing the various ways that we practice skepticism and promote critical thinking as educators and academics and how those practices and methods can be applied and utilized in a variety of contexts (both academic and non-academic). Or, as Bob wrote in the description of the workshop (also available here):

While many skeptics seem to conflate science and skepticism, the two terms are not equivalent. Science, it turns out, is just one form of skeptical inquiry that encompasses many academic disciplines, including those in the humanities. This workshop will introduce the audience to scholarship confronting extraordinary claims across the disciplines. Skepticism may be profitably applied to everything from Ancient Aliens’ mangling of art and art history, literary and folklore studies, mythology, and archeology, to young-earth creationists’ vandalism of all forms of textual scholarship, from Beowulf and Arthurian legend to Biblical studies. These and other extraordinary claims can also be used in classrooms to teach the critical thinking skills needed in all contexts and to introduce the disciplines to popular audiences.


And here are a few links to some of the things that I’ve written/spoken about that are either directly related to or relevant to what we’ll be covering in the workshop (I’m sure that I’ll be discussing rhetoric quite a lot):

Blog posts:  1, 2, 3, 4

Posts on the JREF‘s Swift Blog: 1, 2

(& Be sure to check out my Lanyrd profile)

I’m very grateful for the opportunity to be a part of TAM again, and am looking forward to our workshop (and am glad that I get to work with Bob and Eve once more- they’re fantastic (ahem, “Derrida Zombies“, anyone?) )

There’s so much more that I could say about last year’s experience, or about what I’m looking forward to at TAM 2013, but I’ll hold off on that for now. Anyway, if you’ll be at TAM this year, come check out our workshop!

Vegas awaits… ♥

Las Vegas Airport- July 2012

Derrida Zombies! (Bob and Eve and I giving postmodernist nonsense a smackdown at TAM2012)

For your delectation: my favorite 1 minute and 25 seconds from the “Skepticism and the Humanities” panel at TAM2012.

In this clip, my lovely co-panelists (and friends) Eve and Bob and I give postmodernist nonsense a well-deserved smackdown and manage to be pretty damn hilarious in the process. Think of us as the brainy goofy lovechildren of a one night-stand that the Sokal Affair/Fashionable Nonsense once had with The Three Stooges (Or something. Just roll with me here).

And I haven’t even mentioned the best part yet. Are you ready? Okay, here goes: the best part is the moment when Eve and I collectively coined the term “Derrida Zombies”, which became the hilarious (and apt) coup de grâce of our collective smackdown of postmodernist bollocks.

Alas, because it’s just a short clip from a much longer video, I can’t embed it, but it’s available here. Go! Watch! Giggle away! It’s lots of fun, I promise. (And try not to be put off by the mildly disturbing Tom Waits-esque voice I had that morning (I love Tom Waits, but I don’t want to sound like the chap.) I had a nasty sore throat, and that caused my voice to be a little less girly than usual.)

And, lastly, here’s a screenshot from the video. Funtimes! :)

Me, Eve, and Bob on our TAM 2012 panel

More soon! Thanks for reading.

Virtual Skeptics- Episode #25

Exciting!: I was a guest on tonight’s episode of The Virtual Skeptics, a weekly web series produced by some seriously dedicated, brilliant, and admirable skeptics ♥. Tonight, I played the role of Bob Blaskiewicz, who was off galavanting around with Michael Shermer in the middle of some snowy Wisconsin cornfields (or something like that ;) )

I had a wonderful time and I’m very grateful to my Skeptic Superhero friends for inviting me to take part. I’ll embed the recording below. It can also be accessed here and here, and the show notes are available here.



The Virtual Skeptics airs live each Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EST (1 a.m. GMT), and the recordings are posted shortly after. Both the live show and the recordings are available here and here. You can also find The Virtual Skeptics on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Enjoy the show! (^‿^)

The Virtual Skeptics Halloween Ex-Scare-Vaganza!

For your delectation: some Halloween-themed skeptic goodness. ♥

My friends, the wonderful skeptic superheroes behind the weekly web series The Virtual Skeptics, very kindly invited a few “special guests” (myself included) to be on tonight’s “Halloween Ex-ScArE-VeGaNzA!!!!!!” episode. It was lots of fun & we had a fantastic time. I’ll embed the recording below (and here’s a direct link, if the embedded video doesn’t work for some reason).



The Virtual Skeptics airs live each Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EST (midnight GMT), and the recordings are posted shortly after. Both the live show and the recordings are available here and here. You can also find The Virtual Skeptics on Facebook and Twitter.

Enjoy the episode! (^‿^)

SkeptiCamp Denver & ‘Pragmatic Rhetoric for Idealistic Skeptics’

SkeptiCamp Denver 2012 was fantastic! I really enjoyed spending time with lovely dear friends, meeting new people, and hearing some great talks. And, speaking of talks, my friends (the Cool Colorado Kids, particularly (the inventor of SkeptiCamp!) Reed and Rich) were kind enough to let this out-of-towner participate in their event, and I’m very grateful for that. Be sure to check out SkeptiCamp5280‘s Lockerz photo gallery for some great photos from that day (and some of my photos can be found here).

Speaking in a new context is challenging. I’m quite comfortable in front of a classroom, but I’d never before spoken at an event like this, and the dynamic is definitely different. I knew what I wanted to talk about, but couldn’t quite figure out exactly how I should talk about it in this context, particularly because I was up first and didn’t really know how the other speakers would be structuring their talks. So, long story short: 1) I was more nervous than I expected to be, 2) I was quite sick (mostly allergies), which made me feel a bit out of it and not as quick-on-the-uptake as I like to be, 3) because I’d never before spoken at an event like this, I wasn’t quite sure how to pace myself, so I ended up getting through only about half of what I had planned to discuss, 4) I move around way too much and use too many filler words (note to self: don’t do that next time! :) ), and 5) although I know that I could have done better, I’m very happy that I did it, grateful to have had the opportunity to do so, and plan to keep working on improving my skills and on becoming more comfortable speaking at these sort of events, as I’d love to continue doing so in the future (and am super-excited to be on the “Skepticism and the Humanities” panel at TAM 2012!)

Also, in the days leading up to SkeptiCamp, I wrote about 3,000 words on this topic (“Pragmatic Rhetoric for Idealistic Skeptics”) and plan to use that content to craft a longer and more in-depth and thorough version of this talk at some point. Additionally, I’ll soon post either a summary of what I talked about and/or an overview of everything I had planned to talk about.

I really love this topic and find it to be so inspiring and exciting. I love the idea of expanding the definition of rhetoric and of “taking back” rhetoric, so to speak, of thinking of rhetoric as something that any idealistic and/or active skeptic can and should have in their “toolkit”, of understanding how frequently we utilize rhetoric, of valuing and prioritizing one’s audience, specifically by embracing and utilizing the principle of clarity and the principle of charity, of modeling the evidence-based decision making and critical thinking that we want others to adopt, of remembering that it’s not about us and that it’s not about how we can “win” or “conquer” or “beat the other side into submission”; instead, its about discovering the most effective ways to inform and persuade our audience, of encouraging idealists to see the value of and the usefulness of pragmatism, of illustrating how pragmatic rhetoric helps us to change the world for the better and to actually do something, instead of just congratulating ourselves for holding certain beliefs and having certain ideals, etc., etc., etc. Anyway, I’m excited to improve upon and expand this talk and to also discuss the topic in other ways/contexts.

(And, for anyone who’s interested, I referenced and/or made use of two sources in my talk: Daniel J. O’Keefe‘s “News for Argumentation from Persuasion Effects Research: Two Cheers for Reasoned Discourse” (PDF) and Ray Hyman‘s “Proper Criticism“)

So, onwards we go. First, here’s a picture of goofy-faced mid-word-me during my talk, taken by my friend Reed :) :


And the video! Many thanks to Michael Clifton for filming the entire day (the schedule can be found here). I tried my best to set the embedded YouTube video to start at around 7:20 or so, but I’m not exactly sure if that will work or not. If it doesn’t work, fast-forward to roughly 7:20 to see my talk. I encourage you to watch the other talks, too. There were some fantastic ones (I especially enjoyed seeing Bryan & Baxter). Anyway, voila!:


(Update: here’s another video of my talk)


& Lastly, here’s a group photo, taken by Stu Robbins:

Yay SkeptiCamp!


More soon! ♥

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