Saturday, July 14 — TAM 2012 in Las Vegas



Today, the TAM started out with some not-so-successful talks over & after breakfast. I was especially disappointed because both a manga artist who talked about the impact of skepticism on her art and a panel of English professors and artists (a singer, a visual artists) were talking rather lamely about “Skepticism and the Humanities” and didn’t really address the important questions that I would have liked to see discussed. It didn’t help that the host was throwing them really lame questions. We took a break after that but came back for a talk on “Your Deceptive Mind” by Steven Novella (very good) and another by Pamela Gay, a popularizer of astronomy who was a great speaker but didn’t have a lot of content (topic: activism/community, basically) until she addressed the sexual harassment issue again (message: do something if it happens to you / if you see it happen), and I was grateful for that. We had another “herd buffet” lunch, but good food–and two conference celebrities sat down with us (president of American Atheist society and Michael Shermer, the speaker that did not impress me on Thursday), which was interesting. But they also got a 2-minute earful from me about the importance of language learning when Shermer said that he got “out of” grad school language requirements through arguing that his statistics background made for a “language of science.” After lunch I tried to take a nap but instead just read for a while. We came back midway through a talk by a physicist, Lawrence Krauss, who was quite impressive, and then got to listen to Penn and Teller, the magicians, being interviewed by one of their cronies (a writer for their show “Bullshit!” I think). That was very interesting, but we also were getting a bit of information overload. So it was a nice change of pace that we got to meet up with Mark’s nephew Nick for a buffet dinner and a bit of chit chat in the hotel room. I went to bed right after Nick left around 10 pm, but Mark had signed up for the TAM poker tournament and didn’t get kicked out until 3 am in the morning. 🙂


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