EventsRandom Asides

Better late than never…

I know it’s old news now but I’m back from TAM 5.5 as well and a little late for blogging about it – my fellow skepchicks have definitely done a great job of it without me.  I’ll stick with a few personal thoughts/gloats about my favorite moments about the weekend: Read the rest of this entry

  • Hanging out on Friday evening at a small party hosted by the Center for Inquiry with a bunch of skeptics, including Harriett Hall. Realizing that that woman probably forgot more in the hour or so that I spent talking to her than I’ll ever know in my life.
  • Chatting with all the activists who spoke – Robert Lancaster, Mark Roberts, Kelly Jolkowski and others – and learning how they channeled their anger at pseudoscience into real results.
  • Finding another ‘masala skeptic’! I met a really cool Indian woman who is new to TAM but who bonded with me over being Indian and skeptical and somewhat lonely :)
  • Asking Phil Plait which way was south, when we were trying to follow directions to dinner and having him tell us, based on the location of Mars.

I am not sure if I can explain just how cool it is to attend TAM.  It’s a cliche but being at TAM, surrounded by smart, funny, extraordinarily cool people really is like making a stop at an oasis in life’s ‘desert of woo.’  It’s not just about the speakers or the presentations, either.  It’s the fact that every time you sit down next to someone, you hear a fascinating story and a new perspective on skepticism.  Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t but we laugh and debate and drink and always come out smarter and happier and having learned something.  If you are on the fence about attending TAM, or wondering if you’ll fit in or make friends, I can tell you – it’s unlikely you’ll find a friendlier, fun, more open group of people.  OK, I’ll stop gushing.  For now.


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. Maria – I second your admiration of Harriett Hall! I met her out by the pool and we talked about an article I had read about Hoodia in Skeptic. I was a little star struck, having read many of her columns. Meeting people like her is one of the best part of TAMs. And people like you too!

  2. Wow, it sounds like you had an amazing time! I really want to go to TAM 6. I really want to meet more skeptics and skepchicks!

  3. Ooh, I'll go ahead and third the love for Harriet. I was so lucky to have time to chat with her on the Alaska cruise — she's amazing! She's posting over on Steve's Science-Based Medicine, happily.

  4. I had a brief discussion with her some of the other "Kids in the Hall" at the party. If I recall correctly, she told a joke that included Henry Kissinger, a priest, and a hippie that fortunately was about 15 minutes shorter than the joke Hitchens told at the TAM 5 party. I think he still may be telling his.

    At any rate, I agree. She's pretty cool.

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