TAM Australia day one is complete. The microphones are off, the laptops packed away and the attendees are scattered across the city in search off food, drinks and conversation. The only word for day one is this: “Amazing”. A fuller blog post will follow later, once thoughts have been gathered and opinions solicited, but for now, here’s the potted summary:
The day was kicked off in good style, after our keynote welcome, by a panel of distinguished skeptics recounting the paranormal in Australia. Tim Mendham, Barry Williams, Steve Roberts, Ian Bryce and of course The Amazing Randi shared some of their experiences in decades of experience as organised skeptics.
We then split into two for the first of our panel workshops. The Science Based Medicine panel will be the subject of a later blog, since I was downstairs sitting with Rebecca Watson, Evan Bernstein, Travis Roy, Jason Ball and Elliot Birch on the Activism 101 Panel, moderated by Brian Dunning (From Skeptoid.com).
This panel had an excellent discussion on tactical approaches, past wins, planned actions and a couple of announcements. Travis Roy launched COGS, the Coalition Of Grassroots Skeptics, a global grassroots activism collaboration, and for my part I committed to starting Skepticamp Sydney within six months, and was pleasantly surprised to receive seed capital from the floor in the shape of donations by Robin Hilliard and Maureen Chuck, as well as a couple of bucks from Travis Roy, who all get my thanks.
The afternoon sessions were kicked off by The Amazing Randi himself, recounting some of his past wins and his view of the skeptical landscape in a talk entitled “Is There Still A Chimera to be Slain?”. Randi was followed by the irrepressible Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, whose exuberant style never fails to raise both laughs and thoughtful eyebrows.
George Hrab then donned his guitar and gave us a set of skepticism, nerdery, science and laughter, closing out with The Twitter Song, assisted by Dr Rachie and Rebecca Watson, reading Geo’s funniest and most risque tweets, then off to the lobby for welcome drinks. I’ll admit to feeling somewhat drained by the day, but tomorrow there’s more of the same!