The Amazing Meeting 9


That’s right, the annual skeptical bonanza that is TAM, is just a month away! July 14-16 in Las Vegas at The South Point Hotel and Casino. This year looks to be absolutely incredible. The list of speakers is even more impressive than last year. The optional workshops are definitely worth the price of admission. Last year, which was my first TAM, I learned as much from the workshops as I did from the speakers.

I’m also excited about the evening entertainment and optional events. We already have our spots reserved for Penn Jillette’s Private Rock & Roll, Doughnut and Bacon Party. Penn is my last skeptical hero that I have yet to meet in person. I’m already having major fangirl jitters. If you have been following Fledgeling Skeptic, then you already know that the three people I credit with helping me find my way to being the skeptic I am today are James Randi, George Hrab and Penn Jillette. I have met and hung out with Randi and Geo on multiple occasions. But this is the first time I will get to meet Penn.

George Hrab of the Geologic Podcast, helped me learn critical thinking through humor. James Randi, gave me the courage to leave the last shreds of my old life of Woo behind me for good. The president of his organization (The James Randi Educational Foundation), DJ Grothe, gave me a place as Volunteer Managing Blog Editor, to help further skepticism. And Penn? The first episode of the show Penn & Teller’s Bullshit, “Talking to the Dead”, made me realize that no, I was not really psychic after all. That show, along with the podcast of his talk show, changed my life. And, just as I did with Randi and Geo, I need to thank him in person. Thanks to TAM 9, I’m going to finally get that opportunity.

But enough gushing fangirl stuff from me.

There is SO much to see and do at this year’s TAM. It really is the “must see” skeptical event of the year. If you can’t get to the workshops or optional events, there’s always drinking at the DelMar with your fellow skeptics. It’s the place everybody goes after a fantastic day of panels and speakers.

For those of you who have never been to TAM, here’s a few helpful hints.

1) You don’t have to get there early to see speakers. There are tables in the back of the room and gigantic projection screens so that, while you may not be close enough to count hairs, that’s what the camera is for. It’s also much less crowded in back at the tables so there’s plenty of room for taking notes or setting up your netbook, iPad, tablet or even, for the old-schoolers, a pen and notepad.

2) Don’t be afraid to talk to the speakers. They’re all very approachable and will usually take time to exchange a few words with you if they’re not late for a panel.

3) Spend time meeting new people at the DelMar. You’ll make new friends and valuable contacts just by socializing.

4) Most of all, enjoy yourself. It can be crowded, noisy, stuffy, etc but don’t allow minor annoyances to get to you so much that it interferes with your enjoyment of TAM.

As a build-up to TAM, I have asked people to email me their stories of how they came to skepticism. If you are interested in having your story published on the blog on http://randi.org, please email me your 1000-1200 word piece at maria@randi.org.

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