Woo-hoo! I have a reader challenge!
JT from What Would JT Do? sez:
I request a post about your first encounter with five other FtBers and how, in your eyes, their irl personality surprised you.
PZ is even a gimme here.
Okay – who have I had a chance to meet? JT Eberhard, Jen McCreight, Stephanie Zvan, Hank Fox, Ophelia Benson, PZ Myers, Daniel Fincke, Ed Brayton, Greta Christina, Jason Thibeault, some of the Reasonable Doubts guys, Richard Carrier, Matt Dillahunty, and Greg Laden.
Woah. That’s a pretty impressive list, if I do say so myself. Okay…I need to pick five FtBs..five whose irl personalities surprised me.
JT Eberhard – It’s only fair to pick on him first, since he asked. JT was a lot…bouncier than I had prepared myself for. Seriously, this guy has a public persona that is HUGE. From his open, honest, introspective writing I had expected a quieter man. But while he does give serious and mature talks, and while he can ferociously rip apart any religious argument you throw at him, JT is a gregarious, kind social butterfly.
Stephanie Zvan – I believe I met Stephanie for the first time at a Q.Cumbers for a Minnesota Atheists brunch. She was friendly, but quiet. Stephanie was one of the few FtBers who I may have met before I started regularly reading her blog, so I didn’t have any expectations for her IRL personality. The suprise came later when I started to get glimpses of how silly this wonderful, brilliant woman really is. Oh sure, she’s all badass on the outside, but she can geek out with the best of ’em.
Ed Brayton – I only met Ed briefly during the Reason Rally. Ed was grumpier than I expected. It may have been the sitting outside in the rain all day, but the first words out of Ed’s mouth after “Hello” were “Not another goddamn chant!” (to be fair, there was quite a bit of chanting at Reason Rally) Ed did warm up at the after-rally dinner though, and I suspect he may not be as grumpy IRL as I first thought. I hear he’s hell on wheels at a poker table; that would be fun to watch. Oh wait, I suppose I could watch him play poker…
Jen McCreight – Jen’s awesome. I connect with the whole geeky, slightly socially awkward, “I’d rather be at home watching a movie” vibe. I may have first met Jen via the University of Minnesota’s Campus Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists. Jen gave an engaging talk…it may have been an earlier version of “God’s Lady Problem”, and then we all went out for drinks and drag queen at The Gay 90s. The music was really loud and we spent most of the evening shouting “WHAT???” at each other.
Oh, alright, I’ll do PZ Myers. I’m not going to say “He’s so much quieter than I would have thought.” That’s what everyone does. The first time I saw PZ in person was at a creationism/evolution debate at the U of MN in St. Paul. It was a mixed audience, with more there for the creationism side. The pro-religion guy went first and had shitloads of busy powerpoint slides. He hopped and danced around topics like a bunny on ecstasy. PZ sat in his chair and just watched the dude. When the gentleman finished up and practically collapsed in his chairs from his efforts, PZ stood up, made his way to the podium and began to talk. No slides, no visual aids. He just talked. And one by one, he quietly but firmly ripped apart every feeble argument that the pro-religion guy had thrown out. This was my surprise about PZ, my first impression that I’ll always remember: A young girl was at the microphone – early teens. She looked nervous and she shakily asked PZ a question that she thought challenged evolution and supported creationism. PZ answered her with such kindness and diplomacy. He told her why her argument was wrong, but he was a teacher – he explained it in a way that was at her level – not condescending – and not cruel. I was so impressed. That was the day I became a Pharyngulite.
Ack! I’m late.