At TAM (The Amazing Meeting) 2012by Don Lacey on Jul. 12, 2012, under Art & Culture, Atheism, Critical Thinking, Education, Freethought, Freethought Events, History, Logic, Materialism, Reason, Science, Skepticism, That's Life!
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Today is the first day of TAM and Nancy and I are enjoying the company of fellow Skeptics from all over the world. This will be our sixth trip to Las Vegas to attend the meeting. While we’re gone, I’ll be checking the blog.
Last year there was an incredible line up of speakers. It sold out too. Over 1600 Skeptics showed up to listen to lectures and enjoy each other’s company.
This year, for a variety of reasons, TAM may break the trend of getting larger every year. Some have complained that the lineup of speakers isn’t as impressive as last year. Some are claiming that it’s way too expensive. It used to be that TAM was the ONE big meeting in the year, now there are several to choose from. Many people spent their entire freethinking budget attending the Reason Rally in March.
Then there are the claims that shouldn’t be happening in a Skeptical community based on more rhetoric than logic and reason. You’d be surprised how otherwise reasonable people get caught up in controversy and how quickly battle lines can be drawn. So far, I’ve been able to steer clear of the manufactroversy that is currently brewing and I want to keep it that way. Participation in any form does nothing positive for your standing in the community.
This is to be expected, however. The Skeptical community has skyrocketed in the past five years similar to the Atheist community. While Atheism doesn’t necessarily equal Skepticism and Skepticism doesn’t necessarily mean Atheism, they are very closely tied together. One of the earlier controversies was about THAT very question and there were a few Skeptics that thought religious discussions at a Skeptics meeting were “out of bounds.” There were claims that Atheism is a considerable part of the Skeptics landscape. To which, a “straw man” claim was heard, “So you’re saying Atheism and Skepticism are equivalent” and we were off to the races…
FreeThinkers generally are allowed to disagree but usually we can keep it civil, have our argument, then go get a beer to talk about sports science but sometimes we DO end up hating each other.
It comes off the rails when we start assigning motivations to others usually with a label attached. As long as we’re talking facts that can be verified, we’re fine but when I say, “You just think that way because you’re a sexist” there is very little hope of salvaging the discussion. Once the “motivations” card has been played, it’s over. That doesn’t mean that motivations are completely off the table. If you tell me what your motivations are, then they just came part of the discussion. The problem occurs when one side assigns motivations to the other. It’s hard to not get defensive when that happens. Frustration builds, and the main point of the discussion get side tracked. That’s my working hypothesis and since I get to see many arguments among Skeptic, I’ll compile the observations to see if it pans out.
In preparation for TAM, I’ve preprogrammed quite a few future blogs that will automatically be posted daily. Upcoming subjects include:
- a movie review of a 1969 musical,
- a piece on the free market, corporations, and free trade agreements,
- an Atheist visits a homeless shelter,
- a discussion on masturbation,
- a report on a couple of examples of religious incursion into courts and schools, and
- a look at what the rich owes the society that allowed them to get wealthy.
Now I can relax and enjoy TAM!
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