February 23, 2013

TAM 2013

TAM London 2010: James Randi
TAM London 2010: James Randi (Photo credit: Stew Dean)
The Amaz!ing Meeting (TAM) 2013 has been announced, and the theme of "Fighting the Fakers" sounds like a great way to bring some attention to skepticism. The lineup of speakers looks impressive too. It is cool to see that Susan Jacoby will be delivering the keynote. I have really enjoyed her books, and I bet she'd be a fascinating speaker in such a venue. She seems to have a great deal of insight on many relevant topics.

If you have spent any time on Twitter, you are probably aware that what has been receiving most of the attention is not who will be speaking at TAM but who will not. Unlike previous years, there appears to be a distinct lack of representatives from the FtB/Skepchick/A+ faction of the atheist community. It is not clear to this blogger if this happened because they are boycotting TAM for some reason or if the conference organizers simply decided not to invite them this year. I would not be surprised by either possibility.

In any case, it strikes me as a good thing for TAM to feature some different speakers each year. I would think that attendees might be eager to hear from new speakers they might not have had the opportunity to see before. A little more variety seems like a positive development for those in attendance.

Some are trying to interpret the lack of FtB/Skepchick/A+ representation as evidence that their popularity is declining and that they are on the way out. I'm a bit skeptical of this, as I see little evidence for it. I expect that some conferences will continue to embrace them even if TAM does not. Such conferences will become "safe spaces" (as if the others are somehow not safe), and the divide will continue. At least, that's my prediction.

I will be interested to hear from those who plan to attend TAM 2013. What do you think about the lineup? Does it make the conference more attractive to you, less attractive, or what?

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