Skepticon: Ethics of (Ir)Rationality

Skepticon is off to a great start!

Thursday night consisted of a few of the early arrivers having a relaxed pre-convention hangout in the University Plaza hotel lobby. I ran into old friends, made new friends and sipped some pretty tasty scotch.

The first workshop I attended on Friday morning was led by Stephanie Zvan and James Croft. They presented Ethics of Rationality…or perhaps it was the ethics of irrationality. The workshop was very much a workshop; it was based on audience participation and discussion. Stephanie and James opened with the premise that irrationality can be unethical. They then invited all of us to give examples of arguments or issues that we believe use irrationality unethically. Suggestions included arguments for religion/belief in a god, war, pro-life campaigns and marketing, to name a few. We then spent some time ripping apart whether any of those topics in fact engaged in unethical uses of irrationality, and if so, how often or too what degree.

Continue reading “Skepticon: Ethics of (Ir)Rationality”

Skepticon: Ethics of (Ir)Rationality

Not at Skepticon? Live Stream, FTW!

Workshops and the Atheist Film Festival will be starting in about 40 minutes here in Springfield, MO. Not here? Livestream to the rescue!

Also, if you follow me on Twitter, prepare to be bombarded with #sk5 tweets. 😀

The empty convention center auditorium at Skepticon will soon be filled with about 1600 atheists, skeptics and freethinkers!

Not at Skepticon? Live Stream, FTW!

Skepticon Needs HALP!

I went to Skepticon 3 back in 2010 and had a blast. It was one of the first large skepticism conferences that I had attended, and the speaker lineup was intense! BTW, that link will send you to the SK3 media page, where you can watch videos of any or all of the talks from that year.

Here’s a bit from the Skepticon website that I like:

It’s a little difficult to explain to someone who’s never attended that Skepticon is not just about the talks and panels; it’s also about the immersion, the total envelopment into a genuinely accepting (and interesting!) community. We don’t do all this just because we love to hear PZ Myers talk (though we do). We do it because events like Skepticon are front and center at the beginning of the story of how you and I — and him, and her, and them, and we — find each other.

I missed Skepticon 4 last year and started regretting it the moment my twitter stream began to fill up with tweets from the event.


As FSM is my witness, I will NEVER miss Skepticon AGAIN!

As their tagline boasts, Skepticon is the largest FREE conference on skepticism. The organizers of Skepticon feel very strongly about keeping the conference free to attend, and thus within the reach of more people. But as we all know, it’s never free to put on a conference. Skepticon accepts donations and does other fundraising to help rent the venue and cover incidental costs, but because of the growing popularity of the event, this year’s fundraising fell short. Here’s the letter from organizer and MC Lauren Lane that was just published TODAY – one week from the start of Skepticon 5.

Dear Internet,

Let me start by first saying that I love ALL of your faces. I do.

So, as you may have heard, Skepticon is happening soon and I am so excited! WOOO!

But, here’s the thing. There’s a catch. I know, I know–there is always a catch, but this one is pretty important. Skepticon is in a bit of a tough spot. This year, we had to secure a bigger venue, and that means that it’s more expensive to put on.

If I had all the money in the world, I would put on Skepticon for free every year, but sadly (both for me and the world) that is not the case. We need donations to keep Skepticon running, especially now as we are faced with a larger obstacle than we had originally thought.

Every time I express my worry about Skepticon’s financial situation, I am faced with comments about we ‘should just start charging.’ I won’t lie to you all, doing that would make things much easier financially. If everyone who came to Skepticon gave us $5, we would easily be able to fund ourselves.

But we won’t start doing that. Ever. As far as I am concerned, as long as all of you continue to believe in and support us, then we are willing to put in the work to make this event free to attend. We want any and everyone who can make it out to Springfield freaking’ Missouri to be able to be here with us.

We want you here. We want this event to happen. We need your help.

Hearts and kisses,


If you are able – if you treasure the spread of ideas and information and critical thought and skepticism and rationality – if you love that the organizers are doing everything in their power to keep this event free and open to the public – please join me in donating to Skepticon this year.

Click here to Donate Now

This link will take you to the “Contribute” page of Skepticon. From there click on the maroon square in the upper right corner that says “make a donation”.

UPDATE (11/7/12): Skepticon is ON! From the Skepticon website:


Skepticon is fully funded for this year!

Thanks to this amazing community (who raised roundabout 7,000 in three days for this event-holy crapsticks), our speakers, bloggers, and supporters for spreading the word, and the hard work of the Skeptiteam negotiating like badasses with the venue/hotel people, we have done it.

This year is going to be totally LEGENDARY.

Skepticon Needs HALP!


My vacation started yesterday! I woke up, had a leisurely breakfast with The Hubby at French Meadow (nomnomnom), made a half-dozen small stops and then was on the road by 9:30am.

A leisurely breakfast with the Hubby.

I drove down to Carbondale, Illinois to visit my Mom. Carbondale is about an 11 to 13 hour drive given traffic and number of pit stops. Because I drove by myself I had total music control! Mwahahaha! This was my playlist:

  • Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe
  • Shelley Segal – An Atheist Album
  • Atheists Talk Radio
  • Rachel Maddow Show
  • Skeptically Speaking
  • Paul and Storm – Do You Like Star Wars
  • Quackcast
  • Skeptoid
  • Roy Zimmerman – Faulty Intelligence
  • This American Life
  • k.d. lang – Hallelujah single
  • In the Heights
  • Pulp Fiction soundtrack
  • Queen – Greatest Hits
  • Tim Minchin – Ready for This
  • The Dregs – Thank You Sir, May I Have Another
  • Amanda Palmer – Theater is Evil
  • Wicked the Musical

*sighs happily* It was a skeptical, atheist, science, broadway nerd fest. And it helped me get through Missouri and waaaaay too many “TODD AKIN US SENATE” yard signs. Blech. I did pass a neat, unexpected billboard which I wish I could have taken a picture of (it wasn’t really convenient to stop). Here’s what is said:

“Rape is rape. Respect others.”

Really simple design: White letters on a dark maroon background, and a website in impossibly small font tucked along the bottom edge. It made me happy that some group cared enough to speak out, but sad that they had to.

So now I’m here! We had sushi last night at Fujiyama and then came home to crash in the living room for chatting and wine. Today we’re cleaning up the house (Mom’s moving out to the east coast soon!) and then heading down to Vienna, Illinois for Grandma’s 80th birthday. Next we’re off on what I’m calling our Bluegrass Tour:

Carbondale, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Lexington, Louisville, back to Carbondale

We’re pretty laid back about the trip. We’re going to see the Parthenon and Golden Athena in Nashville, I want to go to the aquarium in Chattanooga and see Ruby Falls, Rock City and ride the Incline Railway on Lookout Mountain. We’re planless for Knoxville as of yet. In Lexington I’ve been told to drive through the scenic horse farms and stop in Chinoe Grill. And in Louisville I’m meeting the lovely people who run the clinic escorting blog, Every Saturday Morning. They’re going to liquor me up on Tuesday night and then drag my ass out of bed way too early on Wednesday morning to escort at the Louisville EMW Women’s Surgical Center. After that, breakfast with the other escorts and then Mom and I head back to Carbondale. Let me know if there are restaurants or hot spots we shouldn’t miss!

And on Thursday I head to Skepticon in Springfield, Missouri. About Skepticon…well, I’ll save that for the next post. For now, click on the image below to learn more about the event.