Lest our readers think that it is only in Boston and Chicago that skeptics know how to shake it up and have a good time, here’s some info about an upcoming event in Colorado. (We also have skeptical shooting and drinking — not at the same time — so check out the calendar for those events.)
From Reed E at The Denver Skeptics Meetup Group:
For those not familiar with the idea behind skepticamp, it’s based on the enormously successful barcamp , an open conference format in which each attendee is asked to participate in a meaningful way. Where barcamp is tech-oriented, skepticamp instead focuses on topics related to science, critical thinking and skeptical inquiry — our bread and butter.
Why should you care? Three reasons.
First, it’s a way to lower the barriers to hosting skeptic events, particularly regional and local events that don’t require the travel and expense of TAM. Every year, over a hundred barcamps take place around the world from Minnesota to Mumbai to Moscow to Marseille. Most are tech-oriented, but camps on other themes have been proliferating, from art to photography to banking and most recently to science with SciBarCamp in Toronto this weekend.
Second, skepticamp opens up a range of opportunities for the average skeptic to build expertise and contribute to skepticism at large.
Third, it’s a means of distributing knowledge within and outside the community of skeptics. There’s a barcamp saying “When you come, be prepared to share with barcampers. When you leave, be prepared to share with the world.” Ditto for skepticamp.
Oh yeah, there is a fourth reason why you should care, or at the very least take careful notice. We received word last week that the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) is sponsoring our event. That’s right, Mr Randi has cast his inscrutable gaze upon our little experiment and found it worthy of financial support. That JREF is keen on such innovations suggests (to me) that they are not content with the status quo and seek to raise expectations of what it means to be a skeptic.
This is our second such event. The first, held in Denver last August, had upwards of 30 attendees and 10 presentations throughout the day covering topics from conspiracies surrounding the Denver airport to investigating the paranormal. Half the talks at the first event were led by women. [Ed note: so there, Randi!]
The lineup for our second Colorado SkeptiCamp has expanded dramatically and remains refreshingly eclectic. We expect greater attendance too, as word of the first gathering has spread. Though the schedule is tentative, some of those who plan to present have posted their intentions:
- writerdd on ‘How I Became a Skepchick’ [Ed note: Hey, that’s me! I’ll be reading from my book-in-progress!]
- Gary on pareidolia
- R. G. on the Family Tomb of Jesus
- Abel on Weapons of Mass Deception
- Linda Rosa on Therapeutic Touch
- Larry Sarner with a legislative update (on naturopath licensing)
- Crystal on a the new Fund for Thought initiative
- Joe (a pediatrician) dispelling myths about vaccines and autism
- Rocky Mountain Paranormal Society makes another appearance
- Amy on why women need to be active in the skeptic movement
- Jeanette on denialism
- Rusty on the reproduction of JFK ballistics test
- Paul on the scientific understanding of mystical, psychic, and occult experiences
- Marlowe on a Gemini-1 mission UFO cover-up (?!) and/or how scammers victimize seniors
- Pete on the Scientific Method
- Reed on the basics of Modern Skepticism
Why tentative? Because we don’t know who’s going to show up and what talks they will have to offer. This is by design — barcamps have no pre-scheduled talks and are meant to be ad hoc events. In any case, we expect it to be an intense day of presentations, interaction and discussions in the tradition of barcamp.
For those in the area, consider joining us and doing a short 10-25 minute presentation on skeptical topic about which you are passionate. You can also contact Rich if you’d like to assist in the final preparations.
If you’re not in Colorado, then why not consider organizing an event in your town?