Saturday, March 29, 2014

A JAM AT TAM




Originally posted July 15, 2013

The Amazing Meeting 2013 is over.  During its run I was 2,413 miles away in Hershey, Pennsylvania being overrun by Dave Matthews’ fans.  However, I did follow the progress of TAM as best I could from Twitter and Facebook.  (I also viewed a few Vine videos.  I must admit I don’t understand the lore of Vine.  There is not a lot I can learn from a six second usually shaky and bad audio video clip.  Also, George Hrab would do well do write six second songs, or at least songs where the hook is only six seconds long. There are a fair number of Hrab playing guitar for a random six seconds. The same goes for the No God Band.)
All in all, I am happy to opine that this was a drama-free year at TAM.  I am unaware of any blogs posting strong opposition to anything said or noted at TAM.  I have not come across any Twitter battles contesting the content or subtext of a lecture.  The closet thing to a disagreement was a portion of the keynote address given by Susan Jacoby.  I have yet to see a video of the keynote or a transcript, but she must have said something negative about digital technology.  There was a brief flurry of tweets noting that Jacoby was out of touch with the current digital reality. 
There was much praise of the Philosophy, Big Foot, and alternative medicine panels among others.  James Randi's announcement of his recent marriage a short time before the conference to his partner in Washington, D.C. ceremony was rightfully met with universal approval.  Lots of glee was shared on the social network sites while attendees enjoyed bacon and donuts at the aptly named Bacon and Donuts party. 
TAM from what I could learn on Twitter had approximately 1100 attendees, which is a healthy number.  It is down from the approximate peek number of 1650 or so attendees at TAM 9 From Outer Space.  However, there are a lot of skeptical conferences competing for the card-carrying skeptic dollar and time, and I unfortunately suspect that various boycotts are somewhat effective in keeping down the number of attendees.  Still, 1100 like-minded skeptics in one resort is nothing but impressive.  I suspect those who did attend did so with a more unified approach to skepticism than may have occurred at the last couple TAMs. 
Happily, TAM was a success with the positive ‘vibes’ far, far outweighing any negativity this year.  I am hoping the same can hold true for TAM 2014. I can hardly wait to listen to the various interviews and podcasts produced during TAM let alone the numerous projects that are spun off of TAM.  Finally, The Skeptical Review salutes Susan Gerbic for being honored by the James Randi award for her work on the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project.  

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