Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What Makes Me Happy? - Skepchicamp 2010

Last Saturday, March 6th, I was proud to be part of the greatest gathering of brains I've ever experienced.
Skepchicamp 2010, created by Chicago Skepchick Elyse with the help of a great planning committee, was a day-long gathering of skeptics and critical thinkers.
Held at the Brehon Pub in Chicago, the event was a whirlwind of talks ranging from the debunking of a water-softening product to the science behind martial arts demonstrations.
The day started and ended with panel discussions featuring several Skepchicks, including Rebecca Watson skyping in from London. We also heard from Dr. Jen, who talked to us about how she communicates with her patients while promoting science-based medicine. Several teachers spoke about education and getting kids interested in science, and Don spoke of his experiences with a martial arts cult called Warrior School. Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, gave a great talk on being attacked by the right wing.
As the afternoon continued, we learned about opera myths and superstitions, pet food regulation (or the lack thereof), that there is a large UFO base in Bolingbrook, and Jamie told us we're all stupid.
During breaks, the Tense Kids rocked us with their smart, witty and catchy music. They even played a Mountain Goats cover just for me! I've had their latest CD "Oh, Idaho" on constant repeat on my iPod for the last three days. Check them out!
In the back, books and magazines were available and "Surly" Amy sold her jewelry.
But as much as I enjoyed the talks, the best thing about the day was meeting and interacting with 80 like-minded folks who have a passion for skepticism and critical thinking. As anyone who knows me can tell you, I'm not much of a social butterfly, but in this environment I was bouncing from person to person, trying to soak up knowledge from people way smarter then I. I was more than happy to be the dumbest guy in the room. I think everyone there felt the same way I did.
This is the true beauty of Skepchicamp.

Elyse, next year "you're gonna need a bigger boat" -- and for this, I congratulate you!

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