Author Topic: Novella on TAM  (Read 9961 times)

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Offline seaotter

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Novella on TAM
« on: July 17, 2012, 12:03:41 PM »
http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/im-back-what-i-learned-about-the-skeptical-movement/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
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First, I am happy to report that the skeptical movement remains vibrant and energetic. These events are always invigorating – it’s a pleasure to meet with those who listen to the SGU or read my blogs and to be told directly that all the hard work is worth it. So thank you to everyone who approached me during TAM to offer their kind words, it really does have an effect.

Attendance at TAM was down about 25% from last year. TAM9 had over 1600 attendees, the highest attendance of any TAM and I think any skeptical meeting. This year the attendance was over 1200, which is still huge for a skeptical conference but down from last year. Of course among those involved with TAM there is much discussion about the cause of the shrinkage. There is certainly more competition – more such conferences, including NECSS, which the NESS is involved in running. DragonCon also has a growing skeptical track, and CSI is getting back into the conference game with the second CSICON in October. Further, last year there were several big headliners (Tyson, Dawkins, Nye) who tend to be a big draw, and while this year’s speakers list was stellar last year simply had some bigger names. There are also issues that have nothing to do with skepticism, like the economy. Perhaps last year’s conference was simply exceptional, and this year we are experiencing a little regression to the mean. And there have been some controversies surrounding TAM this year, which I will discuss below.

Controversy and Rebecca
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There was a bit of a pall hanging over TAM, as regular readers of skeptical blogs likely already know. There was a controversy over TAM’s sexual harassment policy (or lack thereof) and the effect that some female skeptics are having by publicly discussing the problems faced by women at events in general, including (but not especially) skeptical events and TAM. First let me say that for the average TAM goer this was a non-issue. They were there to learn about science, meet with fellow skeptics and prominent voices in the skeptical movement, and have a good time – and they did. This was mainly an issue for insiders who are either involved in some way in skeptical activism, the JREF or TAM speakers and organizers.

Overall I was surprised by how little this issue was brought up, at least to me. I am closer to the issue than most as Rebecca Watson, my co-host on the SGU, is at the center of this controversy. Perhaps that kept some people from raising the issue directly with me.

However, the issue was there. This is a very touchy topic with strong feelings on all sides, and it is not my intention to do a thorough analysis here. The core issue is the experience that women have at these types of events, the degree to which they feel safe and welcome, and the response of conference organizers to the issue and the way it has been discussed publicly. From talking to various people about the issue (when it did come up) the consensus seems to be that the issue is real, but it is unfortunate how it has played out so far, and can’t we just move forward in a constructive, mature, and professional manner (perhaps I am projecting a bit).





"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things." Lewis Carroll

Offline Belgarath

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2012, 12:07:17 PM »
I think that a significant portion of the down attendance was due to ComicCON happening the exact same weekend in San Diego.  Steve touches on that, but he doesn't call it out specifically.
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Offline seaotter

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2012, 12:37:13 PM »
"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things." Lewis Carroll

Offline Plastiq

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2012, 01:44:52 PM »
Poor fucker can't really lay it out there out of fear of offending Rebecca's precious feelings. What a crazy situation.

Offline seaotter

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2012, 01:59:39 PM »
Poor fucker can't really lay it out there out of fear of offending Rebecca's precious feelings. What a crazy situation.

Interesting take. Poor fucker can't really lay it out there out of fear of offending D.J. What a crazy situation.
"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things." Lewis Carroll

Offline Plastiq

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2012, 02:05:32 PM »
Poor fucker can't really lay it out there out of fear of offending Rebecca's precious feelings. What a crazy situation.

Interesting take. Poor fucker can't really lay it out there out of fear of offending D.J. What a crazy situation.

I don't see the equivalence; he's not working with DJ.

Offline seaotter

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2012, 02:09:22 PM »
Poor fucker can't really lay it out there out of fear of offending Rebecca's precious feelings. What a crazy situation.

Interesting take. Poor fucker can't really lay it out there out of fear of offending D.J. What a crazy situation.

I don't see the equivalence; he's not working with DJ.

Yes he is. He is a fellow of the jref. And the point was to show your assumptions and speculations are unfounded.
"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things." Lewis Carroll

Offline Skulker

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2012, 02:21:07 PM »
http://www.starstryder.com/2012/07/15/make-the-world-better/

This is pammelas speech at tam.
This was a great speech. Same basic message as Rebecca but with a more positive delivery.
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Offline superdave

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2012, 02:24:53 PM »
Even for steve, that response was more measured than I expected. 

Offline seaotter

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2012, 02:25:20 PM »
http://www.starstryder.com/2012/07/15/make-the-world-better/

This is pammelas speech at tam.
This was a great speech. Same basic message as Rebecca but with a more positive delivery.

I note at least so far there is an absence of any backlash in her comments. Interesting.
"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things." Lewis Carroll

Offline Skulker

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2012, 02:26:06 PM »
Even for steve, that response was more measured than I expected.
What were you expecting ?
The word 'politics' is derived from the word 'poly', meaning 'many', and the word 'ticks', meaning 'blood sucking parasites'.
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Offline Plastiq

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2012, 02:27:10 PM »
Poor fucker can't really lay it out there out of fear of offending Rebecca's precious feelings. What a crazy situation.

Interesting take. Poor fucker can't really lay it out there out of fear of offending D.J. What a crazy situation.

I don't see the equivalence; he's not working with DJ.

Yes he is. He is a fellow of the jref. And the point was to show your assumptions and speculations are unfounded.

So he works closely with DJ on at least a weekly basis? If not, I still don't see the equivalence. Irrespective of that, which is kind of tangential, I also don't see equivalence in how DJ and Rebecca deal with issues.

Offline seaotter

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2012, 02:28:17 PM »
Even for steve, that response was more measured than I expected.
What were you expecting ?

Well, it did say all sides including Rebecca didn't handle this the well.
"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things." Lewis Carroll

Offline seaotter

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2012, 02:30:05 PM »
Poor fucker can't really lay it out there out of fear of offending Rebecca's precious feelings. What a crazy situation.

Interesting take. Poor fucker can't really lay it out there out of fear of offending D.J. What a crazy situation.

I don't see the equivalence; he's not working with DJ.

Yes he is. He is a fellow of the jref. And the point was to show your assumptions and speculations are unfounded.

So he works closely with DJ on at least a weekly basis? If not, I still don't see the equivalence. Irrespective of that, which is kind of tangential, I also don't see equivalence in how DJ and Rebecca deal with issues.

That's called moving the goal posts, but again that's not the point. You're filling in the silence with your own conclusions.
"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things." Lewis Carroll

Offline Plastiq

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Re: Novella on TAM
« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2012, 02:35:40 PM »
That's called moving the goal posts, but again that's not the point.

Nah, it's just not. My first post still stands.

You're filling in the silence with your own conclusions.

If you mean offering my opinion, well duh.

 

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