TAM 4: Report #1

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Jan 27, 2006
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For the next two days, I am attending the James Randi's The Amaz!ng Meeting in Las Vegas. I'll be reporting about this critical thinking/skeptic conference as often as I can.

I made it to TAM4! That's the good news. The bad news is that my internet connection here can be charitably described as flaky. We've also been busy here, so I haven't been able to write until now. Even now I have to hurry, as there's an auction to raise money and I donated a copy of my book.

I would have written earlier, but I had to have lunch with Shuttle astronaut Ed Lu, and physicist Murray Gell-Mann (who is somewhat well-known, since he won a Nobel Prize for discovering the quark). Yes, I'm gloating. I'm also sitting next to Julia Sweeney during the meeting, and have been chatting with James Randi and Michael Shermer.

Such is life. Someone's gotta do it.

This morning was a very interesting talk by Christopher Hitchens, a contrarian in nearly every sense of the word. He gave a fascinating talk about Thomas Jefferson and religion. Next up was Michael Shermer, who read from a minibook he's written called "The Soul of Science". He make a lot of interesting points about the idea of a human soul, how we evolved a sense of moral responsibility, and how science is revealing why we are a moral species. I agree with many of his points, and a lot of entries in this blog will reveal that (search the category listing here for Rants and Piece of Mind).

Murray Gell-Mann talked about science and politics (which is the theme of the meeting); he served on several Presidential science advisory commissions over the decades, and had lots of funny stories about presidents, and how they take, or, more commonly, ignore scientific advise.

This connection is too slow to upload images, and I have to run right now to get to the auction. Hopefully I'll be able to get some images and more insightful comments up later. Stay tuned!