Alternatively: DAYMN Australia or BLAM Australia. SHAM Australia is completely inappropriate.
It’s over! I flew back to Melbourne from Sydney today, and TAM Australia officially finished yesterday afternoon. What a weekend and a bit! Starting midday Friday, it was a whirlwind of wonderful talks, panels and entertaining presentations from well-known skeptics from all over the world. It’d be impossible to wrap it up completely, so I’ll only briefly touch on what were the best bits, in my opinion.
Forgive me if I fail to be eloquent, my brain needs to rest from the intensive skepticism I’ve been exposed to over the last few days. Once this blog post is finished, I may fall asleep for days.
George Hrab on stage Friday.
George Hrab’s short performance on Friday was truly excellent. He performed his songs “‘Ya Famous”, “Everything Alive Will Die Someday”, “When I Was Your Age” and “Small Comfort”, as well as a “Misinformed Science” sketch with some help from audience members. His talent as a performer is immense and even people who had not heard of him came away appreciating him and his music.
The Skeptical Activism 101 panel
Also on Friday was the “Skeptical Activism 101″ panel, featuring Elliot Birch and Jason Ball (from the Young Australian Skeptics), Jason Brown, Travis Roy, Evan Bernstein and Rebecca Watson. It was two hour panel and worth every minute of everyone’s time – the speakers talked about how to approach skepticism at the grassroots level, how to get started, how to allocate resources and general tactics. Unfortunately I didn’t liveblog it, mostly because I couldn’t get a seat in the crowded room where it was held. I would almost suggest people buy the TAM Australia DVD (when it is available) simply for the video recording of this panel.
Yours truly talking to and interviewing Dr Eugenie Scott from the NCSE.
Of course, you can’t have a podcast and not want to interview all your skeptical heroes while at an international skeptics conference. So, for the Pseudo Scientists, my friends and I interviewed: Simon Singh, Dr Eugenie Scott, Dr Paul Willis, George Hrab, Rebecca Watson, Simon Taylor, Lawrence Leung, James Randi, Brian Dunning, Kylie Sturgess, Jason Brown, Dick Smith and Pamela Gay. Too many famous names, too many star-struck YASers.
I personally had a great chat with Eugenie Scott, an interview I hope will go up on the podcast in the coming weeks. It’s amazing I actually was able to speak around her at all. Arrgh.
George Hrab in the middle of a karaoke performance on Saturday night.
Oh, and George Hrab sang karaoke on Saturday night after the harbor cruise. I have no words for how great that was. Hopefully there’s video out there, and if there is, I can die happy. “Bohemian Rhapsody”, anyone?
Pamela Gay’s talk was great, as was the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe live podcast recording and anything James Randi said. Too many things to mention.
For more (and better) blog posts about TAM Australia, visit Podblack Blog and Codenix (Friday, Saturday, Sunday). Actually, from Codenix:
Following Dr Scott was another panel, with James Randi, George Hrab, Julian Morrow from ABC’s ‘The Chasers’, and Illusionist Simon Taylor. Whilst entertaining, this panel had a serious side, and a point Simon made very well before he stormed off stage to highlight the effect of “always leave them wanting more” – Celebrities are taken at their word for so many absurd claims and endorsements partly because of the power we defer to them as the audience. He mentioned that earlier we as the audience all clapped and cheered when Randi responded to a question about celebrities with “they’re stupid” – but we all clapped because Randi was our celebrity, thus illustrating the power of this relationship between performer and audience. Randi has spoken about this himself before, and it’s something illusionists particularly rely upon, as it’s all about trust.
That was another great moment. Simon’s outburst made his point perfectly, and I made sure to congratulate him afterward, even though he was being interviewed by Kylie at the time.
All in all it was a wonderful conference, filled with great speakers and useful panels. And yes, at the end of TAM on the Sunday afternoon, James Randi himself pretty much confirmed that it will all be happening again next year, but that time in Melbourne. What does that mean? I’m going to be very busy for the next year of my life.