Sunday, November 20, 2011

Skepticon 4

The piano duo of Gail Storey and Dan Nerren
We just got back from a trip to Springfield, MO.  We left Friday and returned today, Sunday.  Going there the traffic was a bit heavy but due to the clouds it was not a bright day.  But I had my sunglasses with me, just in case.

We visited with my parents that afternoon, catching up on what had happened since we last saw them, which was just two weeks earlier.  The reason for our trip was Skepticon 4.  We could attend sessions only on Friday.  We had to be back to Sand Springs to provide child care for our grandchildren.  We attended four sessions.

The first session or talk was given by Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists.  The title of his talk was "Skepticism, Atheism, and Our common Movement."  He spoke about the need to come out of the closet.  He said there are far more atheists, but that many atheists hide their atheism for various reasons, but mainly for employment reasons.  However, there are others, such as retired persons, who could be more open about their atheism.  Silverman estimated that about 15% of the American population is now atheist.

At the 11:00 o'clock session Eliezer Yudkowsky spoke on "Heuristics and Biases."  Following this talk we broke for lunch.  Two blocks away is Millie's Cafe.  I had a chicken salad sandwich with fried sweet potatoes.

After lunch we heard Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation speak for an hour without notes.  Barker is a former minister (19 years in the ministry) who changed his mind about religion.  He is now involved in a project (can't at the moment recall what it is called) to assist ministers who have had a change of mind about religion, but due to economic reasons are unable to leave their clerical positions.  He said that currently there are 119 people he is assisting.  Some have been able to "come out" and find work in non-profit groups.  His talk was largely auto-biographical. 

The next talk was presented by Julia Galef.  Her talk was titled "The Straw Vulcan."

After Galef's talk, we went to Hoover Music Company.  I looked through some of their piano duet music and bought three pieces.

I am now being encouraged to free up this computer for use by someone else, whose identity I am not free to reveal.

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