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What to expect at SkeptiCamp Colorado 2

Reed E.
user 2662705
Golden, CO
The first rule of barcamp is to talk about barcamp.

In two weeks on Saturday March 22nd, our coming skepticamp event takes place in Castle Rock, Colorado.

For those not familiar with the idea behind skepticamp­, it's based on the enormously successful barcamp­, an open conference format in which everyone is asked to contribute. Where barcamp is tech-oriented, skepticamp instead focuses on topics related to science, critical thinking and skeptical inquiry -- our bread and butter.

Why should you care? Three reasons. First, it's a way to lower the barriers to hosting skeptic events, particularly regional and local events that don't require the travel and expense of TAM. Every year, over a hundred barcamps take place around the world from Minnesota­ to Mumbai­ to Moscow­ to Marseille­. Most are tech-oriented, but camps on other themes have been proliferating, from art to photography to banking and most recently to science with SciBarCamp­ in Toronto next weekend.

Second, skepticamp opens up a range of opportunities for the average skeptic to build expertise and contribute to skepticism at large.

Third, it's a means of distributing knowledge within and outside the community of skeptics. There's a barcamp saying "When you come, be prepared to share with barcampers. When you leave, be prepared to share with the world." Ditto for skepticamp.

Oh yeah, there is a fourth reason why you should care, or at the very least take careful notice. We received word earlier this week that JREF is sponsoring our event. That's right, Mr Randi has cast his inscrutable gaze upon our little experiment and found it worthy of financial support. That JREF is keen on such innovations suggests (to me) that they are not content with the status quo and seek to raise expectations of what it means to be a skeptic. Ultimately we expect the other skeptic orgs are of the same mind and will get them onboard too at some point in the future.

This is our second such event. The first­ we held in Denver last August. Coincidentally, it was the very day that both Mr Randi and TAM6 speaker and science blogger PZ Myers were off at an invite-only event that is an uncle of skepticamp called SciFoo­. We had upwards of 30 attendees and 10 presentations throughout the day covering topics from conspiracies surrounding the Denver airport to investigating the paranormal.

The lineup for our second Colorado SkeptiCamp has expanded dramatically and remains refreshingly eclectic. We expect greater attendance too, as word has spread of the first gathering. Some of those who plan to present have posted their intentions: writerdd on 'How I Became a Skepchick', Gary on pareidolia, R. G. on the Family Tomb of Jesus, Abel on Weapons of Mass Deception, Linda Rosa on Therapeutic Touch, Larry Sarner with a legislative update (on naturopath licensing), Crystal on a the new Fund for Thought initiative, Joe (a pediatrician) dispelling myths about vaccines and autism, Rocky Mountain Paranormal Society makes another appearance, Amy on why women need to be active in the skeptic movement, Jeanette on denialism, Rusty on the reproduction of JFK ballistics test, Paul on the scientific understanding of mystical, psychic, and occult experiences, Marlowe on a Gemini-1 mission UFO cover-up (?!) and/or how scammers victimize seniors, Pete on the Scientific Method and me on the basics of Modern Skepticism. (Several of those mentioned above are members of this forum.)

Why tentative? Because we don't know who's going to show up and what talks they will have to offer. This is by design -- barcamps have no pre-scheduled talks and are meant to be ad hoc events. In any case, we expect it to be an intense day of presentations, interaction and discussions in the tradition of barcamp.

Credit for putting this event together goes to the organizer, Cowboy Skeptic Rich (RichL­ here on Meetup).

Consider joining us and doing a short 10-25 minute presentation on topic related to skepticism about which you are passionate. Contact Rich if you'd like to assist in the final preparations.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Reed

ps, RSVP on the meetup event page and check the message board for late-breaking news as the event nears.

pps, for those interested in carpooling to Castle Rock, post to the carpooling thread
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