The actual sequence of events at any SkeptiCamp is subject to change based on the needs and interests of its
attendees. The following is the schedule we will start with. But, be aware that it could change around a lot.
The opinions of SkeptiCamp presenters do not necessarily reflect those of its organizers.
This schedule was last updated on 12/01/2017.
|Date: December 2, 2017, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM
||Location: The Brooklyn Commons Cafe (Back room), 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217
||Pre-Con Meet-and-Greet Breakfast! Schmooze with your fellow attendees while we set up the place. You can purchase some breakfast items from the cafe, while doing so!
||Opening Ceremonies and Other Obligatory Stuff
||A Revival of Reason and Science within American Politics
Politics and Economics
THE FOCUS: Building a Bridge between Science, Skepticism and American Politics, to counter extremism and superstition with reason and compassion.
(1) How to combat hate and extremism with science and skepticism. Equipping ourselves and others with the tools to reach out, communicate with, and meaningfully engage diverse American audiences, across political demography.
(2) Creating Exchange Spaces. That is, how we can build "incubators for reason, skepticism and compassion" across more of America. In particular, within our online platforms, as well as across campuses and communities, including within marginalized neighborhoods.
(3) How can we reach out more effectively into heartland America, beyond our Cities?
(4) How can we build bridges of productive dialogue, empathy and understanding across more of our social and political divides?
The talk will have a common thread of science throughout: The practical tools and models to help achieve the above ideas, and some of the science behind these approaches. Chiefly, *emotionally effective communication, non-confrontational discussion and dialogue, moral psychology, and anti-extremism models*.
One of my writings on science and skepticism within politics can be found here:
"WHY BRUCE LEE'S LEGACY SHOULD INSPIRE US TO REVOLUTIONIZE - AND MODERNIZE - AMERICAN POLITICAL DISCOURSE" (link: https://areomagazine.com/2017/06/24/bruce-lees-legacy-inspire-revolutionize-modernize%E2%80%8A-american-political-discourse/)
Overall, I hope to make the case that skeptics can be at the tip of the spear in this change. I look forward to Q and A, and will aim for a 20 minute professional style talk, with 10 minutes of engaging and thoughtful Q and A.
"Per Aspera, Ad Astra!"
||Technological Progress: Singularity or Stagnation?
This talk will cover the basics of how economists & technology experts try to measure & predict technological progress. We'll explore two opposing predictions: (1) the "technological singularity hypothesis" - i.e. the idea that we're on the cusp of a technological revolution that could dwarf the Industrial Revolution and either transform humans into gods or make us obsolete, and (2) the "technological stagnation hypothesis" - i.e. the idea that innovation outside of the I.T. industry has slowed remarkably since the mid 1970s, suggesting the near future won't be too different from today. If we have time, I may discuss some intermediate scenarios.
||Sins of the Eco-Left
|Last year I gave a talk discussing several of the most popular arguments put forward by global warming doubters, and why they're wrong.
Mitigating climate change will be difficult, and can't be achieved without bipartisan support.
The environmental movement is currently dominated by the extreme political left. They are hostile to the idea of harnessing market forces in their solutions, which inevitably involve large expansion of the government and micromanagement of the economy, which makes the conservatives skeptical of the sincerity of their scientific conclusions.
||Short Break #1
||Bayes Theorem and Skepticism
|In 1763, the Reverend Thomas Bayes published "An Essay towards solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances", containing what is now known as Bayes' theorem. Bayes' theorem remained relatively obscure for two centuries but has since come to the forefront of statistical inference. Bayes' simple but powerful theorem is notable for its subjectivist interpretation of probability, providing a mathematically rigorous framework for incorporating objective data into our otherwise subjective beliefs. Chris Everett will present a simple derivation of this important theorem and discuss some of its implications for everyday critical thinking and skepticism.
||Zen and the Art of Dental Maintenance (for real, this time!)
|Modern Dentistry has many controversies, and faces many of the same challenges as Medicine and Science. Popular media regularly trumpet some new "breakthrough" with far reaching conclusions that are rarely in the actual scientific article they refer to.
Topics to be discussed will include "Flossing; a waste of time?", "Are good teeth becoming a class divider?" And the usual suspects; "Mercury amalgams, Fluoride, Root Canals, are they safe?"
||Lunch Break! Brooklyn Commons serves some great meals for lunch! We hope you will join us!
||Riffing Paranormal Videos
||Art and Culture
We will play a crappy paranormal video or two, and everyone will be allowed to throw comments at it, MST3K-style!
This will actually be an experiment of sorts (If only Dr. Forrester were here!). If people enjoy this activity, we could make it a regularly-scheduled NYC Skeptics activity.
||The Power of Pop Compels You: Geek Culture as a Vector for Outreach
|Let's face it -- in today's world, geek culture is pop culture. And most skeptics are geeks, so why not take advantage of that? Lots of websites discuss the science of superheroes, but as an editor for AiPT! Comics, I bring the skepticism to our fandoms. When Hydra tries to use fluoride to control people, we are there! When the creator of Wonder Woman also pushes his polygraph, we are there! Find the hidden skepticism in entertainment, and find out how you can help reach beyond the echo chamber and build your own name at the same time!
||Fracture and Resolution: How Artists Hijack Your Brain
|We're going to look at some of the mental processes that make looking at visual art so satisfying-or not, depending on how well we can integrate the elements into a coherent whole.
||Short Break #2
||A Skeptical Look at Tarot
||Religion and Superstition
|Tarot reading has been around for centuries, as well as other modes of fortune-telling. Focusing on Tarot, we'll be looking at the history of the cards (and how they've been used), what the Iconography of Tarot cards says about us, the merits and ethics of practicing Tarot, and if there's a place for Tarot in a skeptical world.
||If Your Resurrection Lasts Only 40 Days, Or: A Skeptic's Guide to the Gospels' Biggest Cover-Ups
|The gospels relate far less about the historical Jesus than appears on the surface. In fact, it seems that the authors didn't write much at all about what actually happened. It's not hard for skeptics (those who are committed to rigorous historical methods) to see through their blatant cover-ups, e.g., what happened to Jesus when he died-and what he taught. The gospel writers were creative theological novelists, and in this presentation I will provide a few specific examples.
||Short Break #3
||Skepticism and Atheism - Irreconcilable Differences?
|At times atheists and skeptics appear to be of one and the same mind. Various organizations that promote atheism and critical thinking have "nonoverlapping magisteria" of their own. This creates confusion and conflicts which harm the furtherance of both skepticism and atheism. This workshop is an introduction to such problems and a suggested methodology for reconciling these two subjects.
||Ideological Purity: The Destroyer of Worlds!
It seems all types of communities are subject to fissions and bouts of self-destruction, every now and then. And, not just religious or political groups: Skepticism is no exception! And, problems seem to start whenever there is a call for "more purity". (Would you believe even volunteer organizations helping with hurricane recovery are also subject to these issues?) I intend to show how this happened even amongst critical thinkers who claim to fight against such things.
Right now some skeptical groups are asking questions such as "Should we become more politically active?" and "Shouldn't we align ourselves more with Atheism activism?" I hope to use the Threat of Ideological Purity to show that the answer should be "NO", at least most of the time.
(NOTE: Mitchell will NOT be discussing his crackpot ideas for how the mind works, during this conference.)
||Closing Ceremonies and Clean Up - Leave No Trace!
||After Party! Location to be announced.
Note: The categories on the side, as usual, aren't really very important.