The Almost-But-Not-Quite "Final" Schedule for SkeptiCamp NYC 2014
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.
This schedule was last updated on 11/24/2014.
||Doors Open! Schmooze with your fellow attendees while we set up the place.
||Opening Ceremonies and Other Cool Stuff
||The Mental Glitches That Impact Our Thinking and How to Avoid Them
||Based on Daniel Kahneman's book "Thinking, Fast and Slow," as well as the work of several prominent behavioral economists and psychologists (such as for example Dan Ariely), I will explain the significant effect of cognitive biases, when and if our intuitions are reliable, and whether there's any hope for humanity to ever become better thinkers.
||Spirituality for the Skeptic
||The word "spirituality" can have a negative connotation for skeptics, conjuring up images of crystal healing and wishy-washy woo-woo. But the word also captures some positive things which no other word quite does, and its positive uses are becoming more prominent in the skeptic community, as Sam Harris' recent release of "Waking Up" demonstrates.
This talk will be part open-discussion, and part presentation; after some guided discussion around the connotations of the term "spiritual" and the utility of debating the use and meaning of words in general, some modern secular spiritual movements and books will be described and discussed.
||Short Break #1
||My Blood Type Made Me Do It! Blood Type and Personality in Japan
||Looking for the perfect mate? What kind of job is right for you? Why do some societies dominate other societies? According to popular belief in Japan, blood type can help provide answers to these questions. Is this the astrology of the East or is there a scientific link between blood type and personality?
||Can Science Inform Ethics?
||Is Science, or the objective accumulation of empirical data, capable of helping us decide right from wrong? What is the Good? Can it be quantified and objectively derived? What are the necessary assumptions that have to be made if this is so? What are the arguments for and against?
||Lunch Break! Eat in the room, if you can! We will have meal options for sale, and a cooler for brown-baggers.
||In this talk I will outline what evolutionary psychology is, and describe some of the prediction and conclusions of the field.
Evo psych is a very controversial topic that has been bitterly criticized since immediately after it was first published as "Sociobiology" by professor E.O. Wilson at Harvard in 1975. Nonetheless, it has been steadily gaining influence on psychology and in the media.
||Birds Are Not Dinosaurs: A Case Study in Denialism?
||There's a thin line between skepticism and denialism. A small but passionate group of scientists believe they have evidence showing that birds cannot be descended from dinosaurs, despite the idea's acceptance by the overwhelming majority of their peers.
Does the BAND camp have a scaly leg to stand on? Why are they so convinced, and what can this teach us about the denial of other scientific ideas, like evolution and global climate change?
||Short Break #2
||Skepticism in Higher Education
||Education is not blind repetition or memorization but a way to think, acquire evidence, evaluation, and tentative conclusions. But, many students enter college to get vocational training and not to acquire much of anything else. In this highly-religious society, many topics are off limits and most faculty don't want to touch sensitive/controversial topics. How do we teach the "how" in addition to the "what"?
Moderated/group discussion session
||Predicting the Future of Morality (as a Science)
||I see the very disciple of science, itself, as a "universal acid", eating up every other, single thought system ever devised before it. And, I will make some BOLD predictions about how the very concept of morality will eventually get eaten up by the onslaught of science, as well. But, not to worry: By the time the process is complete, we will all, on average, be living much better lives because of it.
I hope to begin with some relatively brief statements, then everyone else can spend the rest of the time discussing how crazy I am.
||Short Break #3
||(Something related to his science lab?)
||Last Minute Stuff
||If no one has anything better to fill the time with, Mitch Lampert will cook up a few options. But, no, he will not be discussing his own crackpot ideas about how the mind works, this year.
||Closing Ceremonies and Cleaning Up After Ourselves
Note: The categories on the side, as usual, aren't very important.
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