Thoughts on TAM 5.5

Contributed by
Jan 29, 2008

I was going to make a long post about my thoughts of The Amaz!ng Meeting 5.5, a conference about activism and skepticism, but others have already made lots of interesting comments (NPR radio host Peter Sagal also has comments on TAM 5, where he spoke last year). For example, Skepchick has several bloggers who attended and wrote about it.

There are lots of pix posted from the meeting; a thread on Randi's forum is devoted to them. Rebecca has some photos posted on her Flickr account, including the one on the left. That's Rebecca on the right, and Alison Smith, who does volunteer work at Randi's Foundation, on the left.

See? Being a skeptic ain't all that bad.

But I want to add some things. I was asked to MC, which is always an honor. I introduced the speakers, and made wrap-up comments after each one as well. That's both fun and enlightening; it can be difficult to come up with just a few sentences that both convey and add to the previous speaker's message and leads into the next speaker as well.

But just some personal observations:

1) Kelly Jolkowski was the first speaker. Her son was abducted many years ago, and she was preyed upon by psychics trying to help her find him. She was a believer at first, but learned that these people are the scum of the Earth (worse than doomsayers, even). She started the website Project Jason to help others who have been the victims of such evilness. Her talk on psychic predators was heart-breaking, uplifting, encouraging, and inspiring. It makes me want to double, triple, my efforts in getting people to think critically. Kelly is a wonderful woman, and I feel awful that I mispronounced her name at first. :-)

2) Mike Stackpole was as awesome as I expected. he gave good, firm advice on how to actually go out and be active in skepticism. I took plenty of notes, and I plan on implementing them.

3) The other speakers were great. Not a sour note in the bunch, and all of it was incredibly motivating and wonderful. From 9-11 Truthers to Sylvia Browne, from skeptical podcasting to mainstream radio, the discussions were interesting, fun, and exceptionally cool. If you read my site, and like it at all, then you MUST attend TAM6 in Vegas in June. We'll have lots more great speakers and fun activities there.

There's still so much to do, so many things we need to help others about. What TAM does for me, as I've said many times, is breathe new life into me. It gives me the motivation I need to continue on this journey, which is fraught with frauds, liars, hoaxers, well-meaning but misguided people, and of course hundreds of millions of people who are all too willing -- and sometimes even eager -- to give them their say.

We must fight this. We will fight this, and the fight will be ongoing and no doubt infinite in length. But it will be fought.

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