Thursday, June 17, 2010

Skepticon 3

It's official. And it's awesome! Skepticon 3 will take place at MSU (in Springfield, Missouri) from Friday to Sunday this November 19th to 21st (2010). Brought to you by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. For all possible details see their official website (which will be updated with more details over time as everything gets finalized).

For how amazing the last was, see my blog on Skepticon 2. In fact it was even more amazing than that. Video from last year is available from Hambone Productions (see the Skepticon playlist). Every talk rocked. And that's rare. But the best part was getting to drink and party (and sometimes karaoke) with the speakers each night. Just don't be a douche and you'll be welcome. So far, praise be, no douches. Everyone I hung with last year was way cool. Lots of fans came up to say hi, buy me a drink, chat and query, laugh and joke. Groovy times.

This year it will be literally amazing. For The Amazing Randi is one of the speakers. Altogether there are fourteen this year, adding a whole extra day of jamboree. And Rebecca's challenge was met: three women will be speaking this time, instead of lonely one. Rebecca Watson herself, of course, reprising her role as number one skepticon babe. Plus, feminist political blogger Amanda Marcotte and CFI's campus organizer Debbie Goddard. Returning among the guys are the famous Dan Barker, paranormal expert Joe Nickell, renowned freethought podcaster D.J. Grothe, theoretical physicist Victor Stenger, plus His Lord and Master of Skepticon himself, J.T. Eberhard...and the two of us who began it all: PZ Myers, and, yes, Richard Carrier (I'll be giving a totally new, wildly shocking, fact-filled talk Are Christians Delusional?). New guys this year: The Gay Moralist himself, John Corvino, professor of philosophy and expert on ethics and gay rights; my personal friend and godless media activist David Fitzgerald (I had nothing to do with his getting on the slate...I learned of it after the fact! Yes, he has that big of a rep...he didn't even need me to drop his name); and the godlessly humorous Brother Sam Singleton. For more about all these speakers see the Skepticon Speakers List.
As with all previous Skepticons, this one is completely free. You won't get an incredible event like this for free anywhere. Which is why they have costs and need donations. They are building a war chest already, but any little bit can help. If you want to support free godless conferences with an amazing slate of speakers in the heart of the Bible belt (where they need it the most!), visit the Skepticon donation center, where they also explain how your donations will be spent, and the different ways you can contribute.

Also, because it's free, demand is high. If you want to be sure the venue is big enough that you'll actually get a seat (or even into the room), please tell them you're coming. Register now, so they have a reliable head count well enough in advance.

Video of my talk is now available (see Skepticon III Video). A link is also provided there to view the accompanying slideshow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

NOE Premieres!

Quick notable note. Last year I blogged about the advance premiere of the odd doco The Nature of Existence by Roger Nygard. Revisit my remarks there to see what I knew about it then. I was interviewed extensively for it, and I have a two second appearance in the film.

I've since received a reviewer's copy and seen it. I gave it a qualified review for The Skeptical Inquirer (which I believe will appear in their next issue, July/August 2010). The movie has its flaws and will not please everyone. But it's amusing, informative, and well worth seeing. I recommend you go support Roger's effort (and it was a Herculean effort indeed--he literally trekked the whole world for this) and then discuss it with others who saw it, even if to bitch about it. It makes particularly good material for an atheist community group to go see and praise or critique it. But even by yourself, it will teach, entertain, and provoke thought. It might even be more enjoyed by believers. Could be a good chance to take a believing friend or relative to the movies. It's not an f-you kind of film. Just a "this is what people say" kind of film. And everyone gets their say. Which makes it more subversive.

The Nature of Existence formally premieres in theaters this Friday (June 18) in New York city and a few other cities, and then premieres in others in following weeks. To find out when and where it will be coming to a theater near you, check out the official website, which has premier dates and an email list signup for notification when it will arrive near your town.

For my full review, I'll have to direct you to the next issue of the Skeptical Inquirer. They got an exclusive from me. I'll just say that if you go, be prepared for a loosely disorganized stream of amusing, frustrating, and bizarre (and often amusingly bizarre) clips of people the world over (atheists included) telling you what they believe. Don't expect a tidy answer or resolution. It's a tour of the diverse. But you'll see and hear things you never knew before. Or imagined. And if you're attentive, you'll get the jokes. Think Religulous except more ambitious and less mean. And no final thought (which many will actually be relieved to hear).