Tuesday, June 30, 2015

James Randi Educational Foundation's: The Amazing Meeting 13

James Randi TAM 2014
Last year, I wrote two posts on my experience at The Amazing Meeting 2014 with the intention that they would be a useful source of information for folks pondering attending a future TAM.  I even made one of the tags for those posts “TAM 2015” with the thought someone searching for TAM 2015 (aka TAM 13) information might stumble upon my posts.  While not everything in them is out of date, and no two conferences are the same, those posts are a lot more out of date after one year than I thought probable at the time.

I spent a fair amount of time discussing the venue for TAM 2014 thinking the South Point had been TAM’s home for the past four years, chances are they would be its home the following year.  Well, TAM has moved back to the Las Vegas strip to the storied Tropicana.  D.J. Grothe is no longer the President of the JREF.  One of the first people I met at TAM was Grothe.  He was quite personable and attentive. (Whether he was a good executive, I am agnostic, I just have not the basis to
Richard Saunders feeling a tad
salty at TAM 2014
judge.) Actually, from what I can tell, the JREF no longer has a president.  The unofficial social event of TAM had been the infamous Penn Jilette’s Bacon and Donut party, which will not be occurring this year as Penn and Teller are doing a stint in New York City this summer.  This year the center piece of TAM is not focusing on some aspect of skeptical interest as in Fight the Fakers or the fallible workings of the brain, but celebrating the life of James Randi who has recently retired and the late Martin Gardner.   

 Some things are bound to be similar with attendees hearing lectures on various topics, while others are schmoozing in the halls.  The comradery of a gathering of like-minded individuals just being in the same location for a long weekend is bound to be similar and a good thing.  (I do wonder if this togetherness will be blunted by locating the con on the Strip where the lure of goodies of Las Vegas are a mere walk rather than a car ride away.)  While I have no idea what the future holds for TAM and the JREF given that Randi is moving off center stage, I cannot help but think between last year’s TAM and this year’s TAM, skeptics are witnessing an end of an era.

pooped at the end of TAM 2014

 On the skeptical web, there has been an undercurrent of talk of this being a farewell TAM, or at least the last skeptical conference under the current TAM branding.  Given the current apparent void of leadership at the JREF, I cannot discount this possibility. All this causes me to feel fortunate that I finally attended a TAM last year when that event is possibility going to be looked back upon as the last ‘classic’ TAM with Randi involved located at the South Point with the Bacon and Donut party in all its glory.  Given how perhaps this might the last TAM or at highly likely the last TAM with Randi's imprint upon it, if one is on the fence on attending, I would attend.  If I did not attend last year, I would seriously consider going this year so as not to miss out.  Luckily I did go last year, and those memories are pleasant enough regardless of what the future may hold.  

Push comes to shove, skeptics might have a potluck at our house. I'll supply the hotdogs and beer.

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