I’m Going to SkepTech!

In a continuing effort to get my brain back on track, I’ve just returned from an awesome week or so away, where I saw a ton of friends old and new, had some truly fascinating and invigorating conversations, and drank a bit of beer. By a bit, I mean a lot.

I also was completely beguiled by Boston. I just don’t understand how it operates. It’s got no reason to how it is laid out. And all the trains are from the 1940s. I was half expecting to be asked whether I wanted to buy bonds for the war effort. But I had fun, nonetheless.

I’m back in Chicago now for a whole three days before I take off this weekend for what promises to be a truly awesome conference up in Minneapolis called SkepTech. Here are a few things about it, from the organizers:

1) What is SkepTech?

SkepTech is a mix of two words “Skepticism” (A disposition of systematic doubt) and “Technology” (The practical application of knowledge). In other words, our conference is all about the relationship between critical thinking and innovation.

2) What makes this conference important?

This conference is led by two campus skeptical groups – Campus Atheists Skeptics and Humanists at the University of Minnesota (CASH), and the Secular Student Alliance Afilliate at St. Cloud State University (SSA@SCSU). As skeptics, we see systematic doubt as an essential tool in improving our world.

There are plenty of conferences out there that demonstrate new technology. There are plenty of conferences out there that go after superstition and dogma. Our conference is different in that our desire is focused. Above all else we want to promote fact checking as an essential tool for scientific, technological, and humanitarian progress.

3) What are the goals for this conference?

To give our community a unique look at the role of critical thinking in the sciences
To explore new ways of using technology to overcome social problems
To teach people how to use the internet to challenge ideas effectively
To have ridiculous amounts of fun.

In addition to featuring lots of fabulous speakers like Greta Christina, Brianne Bilyeu, JT Eberhard, Stephanie Zvan, and Jesse Galef, I’ll be on a panel on Sunday with JT, Brianne, and Miri Mogilevsky on Internet vs. Real World Activism. Its prompt is this:

The panel will focus on a problem every activist has—how do we delegate time? Is it better to blog and be active online, or to spend more time volunteering in-person? How are the two approaches different or similar? Which is ultimately more effective? The point of this panel is to recognize the pros/cons of cyberspace and meatspace activism, and to figure out how we balance the two (if balancing them is even the correct response to begin with).

If you know me or have been reading this blog, you know this is a thing that I have Lots Of Feelings about. So, it should be a very interesting discussion.

I hope to see you there, and look out for  a return to normal-ish service here by next week.

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