Was there a theme to Skepticamp NYC 2010?

Thanks to Craig Sachs for the use of this early Skepticamp photo.

It might just be me, but every one of our skeptical events seems to develop its own meta-theme. Our first NECSS seemed to mostly revolve around skepticism and the media, our second about how can skeptics represent themselves in today’s media world. With that in mind, what do folks think this year’s Skepticamp NYC 2010 revolved around. Personally, I’d argue the meta-theme of the event was “How do Skeptics interact with the outside world,” but maybe that’s because it was what MY presentation was about. What do you guys think?  Is my belief that every skeptic event surrounds a meta-theme confirmation bias or not? And if not, what do you think the theme around this year’s Skepticamp was?

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3 comments to Was there a theme to Skepticamp NYC 2010?

  • Squidocto

    “How do Skeptics interact with the outside world” sounds about right. Your talk, the ‘non-skeptical friends’ discussion, youTube, television, Michael’s talk (which, let’s admit it, was another entry in the “tone” debate), and of course the answer to the question “how should skeptics interact with a rectangular board of wood?”

  • I am not sure ‘theme’ is the right word, because that implies intention. Perhaps ‘emergent trend’ is a better word. Or, perhaps just ‘trend’ for short.

    There was no intended theme, of course, though I did try to group the presentations into categories: “The Skeptic’s Toolbox” (for developing skills), “Applied Skepticism” (for implementations of them), “In the Media”, “Beyond the Empirical” (for issues about religion and ‘spirituality’), etc.

    What trends we sense at any event might be the product of confirmation bias. But, there could be empirical ways to measure these things, as well. It will not be as easy as measuring trends in costuming at Dragon*Con. But, one might be able pick up on the usage of key words in titles, thesis statements, and audience questions, perhaps.

    It is an interesting observation that many of the sessions at SkeptiCamp NYC revolved around how skeptics interact with the world. Though, it does sound a little too general to qualify as a theme or trend to me.

  • I find that ‘emergent trends,’ to use Mitch’s terminology, occur because there are particularly salient and relevant topics that are dominating the social consciousness. At the first NECSS, the skeptical backlash toward anti-vaccination pseudo-science was at its peak. Subsequently, it was a topic and an example of skeptical activism. As the skeptical community opens its awareness, we are looking for more examples, like the anti-vax silliness, where skeptical inquiry is needed. And subsequently, we all need to bulk up our tool box as we seek out and deal with the fuzzy thinking that surrounds us everyday. Making Skepticamp that much more useful as an event!

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