Skepticon 4 Summary (Part I)

Skepticon 4 Summary (Part I)

For those who were not lucky enough to attend, here is a brief summery of events.  Unfortunately, I have not found any videos of the various speakers yet, but they will come soon and I hope to show and talk more about the individual speeches.  Thus, I am currently working from memory and summarizing the events with one hand tied behind my back without the videos.

However, this two-day event, three if you want to count Friday, in which people went to the Cretin Museum of the Ozarks, which I did not attend.  (Seems the Cretin Museum exceeded its bandwidth.)

That evening they showed a movie about two Christians who travelled around the world and after they crashed, ending up with sever injuries that could have cost them their lives, they made the movie called “Give a Damn”.  I saw a preview of it at last years Skepticon.

You can see more about this video on their YouTube Channel and their website.  I will warn you, if you cry easily at the site of people suffering, the preview alone will make you do that, thus why I did not want to go view it Friday night.

When I arrived on Saturday, some preacher man was outside accosting the attendees, asking them, “Who’s going to hell? Are you going to hell?”

As I passed him, I said, “It would be a lot warmer.”

Upon entering the Gillioz just a little after 9:00 a.m., the crowd was massive and estimated to be over a thousand people.  J.T. Eberhard was nice enough to post some pictures of this crowd.  The nice thing about this is I managed to get a WWJTD bracelet, which I gave to my son J.T.  They two know each other.  J.T. was tossing them off the balcony, as seen in a couple of the pictures.  It gets a bit nuts when I talk to people about the two at Skepticon, including with people who know them both.

David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, spoke first.  I am now an official member of the American Atheists.  I do hope I am not betraying the American Humanist, but he offered a deal I could not refuse and the American Humanist Association has yet to top it and make it too easy for me to renew.

Silverman discussed skeptism, atheism and our current movement, suggesting that humanists, Secularists, skeptics, agnostics, and freethinkers should all use the label atheist to help rid the stigma attached to it.  He knows some may find it difficult, but thinks there is a great need to do so.

After his speech, I went up and introduced myself, adding that I am one of the writers for God Discussion, which he remembered Deborah interviewing him for the show.  He stated he was glad to meet me.

After Silverman, Eliezer Yudkowsky spoke next on heuristics and biases.  Sadly, I cannot remember much of his talk, but hope to find the video of it posted soon.

After lunch, there was a panel with Greta Christina, Julia Galef, Yudkowsky, and James Croft.  The topic concerned how rationalists should approach death.  They each made some interesting points on this topic, but I found Greta's most compatible with my views.

Dan Barker, of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, spoke after the panel, but Barker did not offer anything we could refuse by way of membership or I would have renewed.  He mentioned the Clergy Project and spoke on it a little, as well as some of the crazy stuff theists believe.

Julia Galef spoke about the Straw Vulcan.  Now this was a cool talk, with a lot of Star Trek clips and pictures.  I cannot wait to see the video on this and share it with others.  Pixel Stampede also has more pictures of the con, including a couple pictures of Galef speaking on this topic.  Massimo Pigliucci, who she works with on Rationally Speaking, talks about the Straw Vulcan, which is something I hate too, but it would be a good topic to write about one day.

Another good talk was by Greta Christina, who spoke about “Why Are Atheists So Angry?”  I think the best part of her whole speech was when she said we have a right to anger due to the human abuses many religionists do to people and that there is nothing wrong with us.  During her speech, she also said she was angry when a Baptist or some other Christian in a hospital setting would ignore others potential denominations, offering a Baptist or some other clergy to talk to someone who might be a Catholic or some other Christian sect and not just angry because the person might be an atheist.  Thus she did not just talk about anger due Christians imposing their views on non-believers.

Greta’s wife Ingrid, who I also met at last years Skepticon, was with her at Skepticon also.  The two of them were married just before Proposition 8 went through.

Now Skepchick Rebecca Watson’s talk was about what many of us here on the God Discussion wrote about so many times in recent months.  To sum it up, it was about Uteruses and the Religious Reich.  She said the exact same thing many of us have, right down to the zygote and as soon as the video showing her speech on that appears, I will get it out to everyone.  I would say she ties in first place with Greta’s speech.

Following her was one of my favourite geneticists, PZ Meyers of Pharyngula.  I credit most of what I learned recently about zygotes to him.  The title of his speech was “Rummaging About the Genetic Junkyard”, in which he talked more about Junk DNA.

Before his talk, I told him about the article I wrote about zygotes and how, if the Religious Reich succeeded, even cat and dog zygotes would have personhood because they all look the same.  Ironically, he admitted he used the same argument on theists and without the mother; it would be difficult for even scientists to tell the difference.

In my opinion, PZ is the go to man for genetics, including Junk DNA, which scientists are still learning about, but found that most of it is viruses and parasites.  I find it very interesting how we are also made of parasites, just as we are parasites of the earth.  I wonder what the Cretinists would say about that?

Wrapping up the evening was Brother Sam Singleton with an Atheist Revival.  Now I love Brother Sam, but I enjoyed his other shows more than this one.  Something about it just gave me a bad feeling, because, despite being atheist, it just gave me the creeps, much like the Revivals I went to as a child and just like a child, I could not get into it.  I tried to have fun with it, because it was Atheist Evangelist Sam Singleton, but I had to give up long before it was finished.  Do not get me wrong.  He did have some funny moments that cause me to laugh, but it just was not my cup of tea like his other shows.  However, I cannot say it was not fun saying, “Goddamn!” in place of “Amen!”  Thus, when he said, “Can I get a goddamn?”  I was willing to go along with the rest of the crowd and say, “Goddamn!”  I will also share that video when it comes out despite my opinion that it was not one of his best shows.

That ends day two of Skepticon and I will post a summary of day three sometime tomorrow, but keep in mind, day two was the same day the restaurant owner posted that discriminating sign on his door.

Continue to Part II

About Mriana

Mriana is a humanist and the author of "A Source of Misery", who grew up in the Church of God, Anderson Indiana. After she became an adult, she joined the Episcopal Church, but later left the Church and became a humanist. She has two grown sons and raises cats. Mriana raised her sons in the Episcopal Church, but in their teen years, they left the Church and she soon followed. One of her sons became a "Tao Buddhist" and the other a None, creating his own world view. She enjoys writing, reading, science, philosophy, psychology, and other subjects. Mriana is also an animal lover, who cares for their welfare as living beings, who are part of the earth. She is a huge Star Trek fan in a little body.
  • I bet you had a blast! I would have liked to have been there with you. Thanks for the updates, Mriana!


  • Oh yeah! I forgot to add that I finally met Hemant Mehta. I saw him sitting behind after one of the talks and said, "Hemant!" Then I pulled out my copy of "I Sold My Soul on eBay" and asked him to sign it. He did. 😀 We talked for a few minutes too. Some of what we talked about was Patheos and God Discussion. 😆 I'll give a summary of what he talked about in Part II. He was great.

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