Having self identified as strongly anti-theist for many years, and more recently happy to apply the label “skeptic/sceptic” to myself (because of my disdain for homeopaths/psychics/woo-merchants), I have become embroiled in a community via the internet that until a year or so ago I did not really know existed to such a large scale.
I originally named this website after my own name and intended just to use it as a cathartic release for my own personal frustrations with the world (usually religion or gullibility of the general public). It quickly became apparent that I was not alone in the frustrations I felt, and slowly started to make contact with many like-minded people via Facebook, and more so, Twitter.
Without twitter I very much doubt I would even know what the acronym SITP stood for, let alone have attended one. I certainly wouldn’t have spent £300 on a weekend of skeptical talks in a Manchester hotel, as I have done this weekend. However, now that I’ve entered the world of the skeptic I plan to stay and become even more active.
That being said, QED 2012 is now over, and it was definitely something I’m glad I attended. I will definitely come back next year. (Assuming it runs again). I wanted to share my immediate reaction to the event which only finished around half an hour ago.
Firstly, the topics covered were diverse, yet relevant, and always interesting. I’m glad to have had a chance to hear from people who I hadn’t previously heard of at all, and others who I knew by name only. My favourite of the weekend was probably Maryam Namazie, whose outspoken, robust anti-theistic message struck a chord with my synapses and who was as passionate as she was knowledgable and credible. Bravo to this brave woman for everything she has done and continues to do.
Others who I enjoyed were Sarah Angliss, Joe Nickell, and Edzard Ernst. The latter being the only man who can get away with using Comic Sans as a PowerPoint font and remain credible and inspirational. A great, great man.
I met a number of people whom I have only spoken to via twitter, and all were as pleasant and friendly as I had hoped they would be. Special shout outs to the especially friendly Tannice Pendegrass and Pauline Sweetman who made me feel especially comfortable. There were a lot of other people I wanted to talk to but didn’t get the chance, and a few others who unfortunately seemed less than approachable so my introverted nature kept me at my ‘safe’ lonely distance.
I found myself chatting to Paula Kirby of the RDFRS for a whole lunch break before realising who she was, so I’m glad we agreed on almost everything! I was also glad to get to speak to Hayley Stevens, albeit very briefly, as we seem to have clashed recently (partly through my own stubbornness and abrupt tone), partly her attitude, but also partly for reasons which I can’t explain.
The event itself was well organised, so my hat goes off to those responsible for putting together such a slick and well-managed affair. The evening’s entertainment last night was a definite highlight that I wished could have gone on for many hours more. In fact, I wish the event could have lasted longer with more talks, more speakers, and more late night entertainment. TAM in Vegas is now definitely on my bucket list.
The biggest thing I have taken from QED is that the grass roots skeptical community is a potentially influential one. I will most definitely continue to build this site in order to reach a wider audience and become more active as a member of this international resource of human minds. If anyone reading this would like my help in any way, then I’d be more than glad to do what I can.
I intend to a more full review of QEDcon from my point of view when I’m finally home, but thought getting my initial reactions down, whilst sat in the bar with a coffee, would give an honest flavour of how I felt the event went before I had time to digest it all.