Sunday, September 2, 2012

TAM 2012 - Sunday

WednesdayThursdayFridayPenn's PartySaturday, Sunday

Last day of TAM started off with a series of short talks. These were talks that anyone could apply to give. These folks still had to pay their way, there was no financial gain for these talks. I was expecting these to be pretenses to sell books. Much like many other things about this convention. I was wrong. I don't think any of them plugged any books.

The first talk was "Quackery no longer just refers to ducks: The growing prevalence of CAM in veterinary medicine" given by Martha Keller. Wow, I didn't know there was soo much alternative medicine in the veterinary world. It is really wacky, the acupuncture meridian points for a horse were arbitrarily copied over from a human. There is even one for the gallbladder which horses don't have. I can certainly understand why people would use CAM, I recently spent hundres of dollars to find out what was up with my cat. 

The next talk was "Scientific Deception: The Billy Meier Metal Samples" by Ivan Alvarado. His talk centered on a specific mysterious found metal sample. He really showed how easily  electrospectrography can be misinterpreted or blatantly falsified.  

Dr. Ray Hall, the curator of the sunday papers explains whats is going on. 
David Gamble and Eran Segev talked about their experiences with lawsuits. 

Jeffrey Rosky gave a somewhat creepy talk about how post-conviction polygraph isn't useful for testing, supervision, or otherwise learning about the offender.

End of the sunday papers.

 Christine Shellska talked about the way the Discovery Institue's uses language to make themselves out to be the skeptics that are advancing science while simultaneously trying to remove critical thinking and science. 

Dr Rachael Dunlop, David Gorski, Harriet Hall and Steven Novella had a panel on alternative medicine.  

Here is a video of the panel.

Carrie Poppy of Ross and Carrie spoke about using in-group language to reach people.
Here is a video of her talk. 

Brian Dunning did a bunch of different demonstrations to show how much the brain sucks. One of the demonstrations showed the power of in-group thinking. An audience member found himself providing the same answers to a question even though he otherwise knew it was wrong. 
Lyz Liddell talked about the Student Secular Alliance and how successful it has become and encouraged everyone to support it.

Christopher DiCarlo suggests that the following questions will tell you a lot about yourself, asking this of others will tell you a lot about them. 
What can I know?
What am I?
Why am I here?
How should I behave?
What is to come of me?

Tim Farley gave that led PZ Myers to call Tim dumb.  PZ never heard the speech, he just came to that conclusion based on what someone tweeted about it the speech. His speech covered a lot of the same ground as his workshop, but covered things at a higher level. While I may disagree with some of the things he said, I can assure you, having seen two of his presentations, Tim is not a dumb guy. 

Here is the video of his talk. Judge for yourself.
Karen Stollznow, James Randi, Carrie Poppy, Banachek and Benjamin Radford had a panel on doing paranormal investigations. 

Sean Faircloth did his usual ranting about the 
Religio-Industrial Complex. He spent some time encouraging people to help him track down 
financial abuses of Religio-Industrial Complex.
Next up Ray Hyman put together what was my favorite workshop. Ray Hyman used to be a professional palm reader. He used to believe that what he was doing was real. It wasn't until one day he discovered that readings he was giving was the complete opposite of what they should have been.  The people who he gave the readings to all felt that he was completely right. That is when he realized something else was going on. His story was a reminder that some people selling woowoo actually believe it, and that until you have evidence that someone is scamming you should respect the fact that the seller of woowoo may not know better. The workshop was really cool, we got to cold readings on each other.

This lead us to the final event of the night. The million dollar challenge. The original candidate backed out at the last minute. The backup candidate was the creator of a Dynactiv SR, a power band like device. I didn't realize how tedious these tests are. Here is someone else's writeup for more details.  
To get the million dollars he only need to be able to tell which box had his power band 17 out of 20 times. It was clear by the 10th iteration that he was hitting at a level identical to chance.  
Throughout the convention Randi and many of the speakers went out of their way to make themselves accessible. Even after things were all over, Randi hung out in the exit area to chat with people who wanted to talk, get pictures, signatures, or what have you.  Note: I'll be going back and filling in these post with more information over time. I just wanted to get something out there for now. :)