It always strikes me as a bit odd to hold a skeptics meeting in a Las Vegas casino. Its a good choice of course, the casino offers cheap rooms in order to draw in the crowds, and sure enough as soon as you get to the lobby you know this is Vegas, because there is no way you can reach you room without passing rather a lot of slot machines, roulette tables and poker games in full swing, but then it is what you expect, it is what the town is all about. The organized crime history is all gone of course and so what remains is a Disneyland version that promotes itself as the entertainment capital of the world. To be honest it really is not my cup of tea, I’m personally far happier out in the wilderness with a backpack … ah but wait, there is still a really good reason to check into a Casino and hang out. Why? well because the Amazing Meeting is back in town.
So anyway, I still find it truly odd in many ways to basically stuff a hotel full of thousands of skeptics, who as they wander past the casino tables are thinking to themselves … “Nah, that’s just a bet between a fool and a swindler” . Indeed yes, even if we are simply tossing a coin to work out which of us is playing which role, so perhaps it is also akin to a tax for people who are not very good at maths or observation – think about it now, this casino is a business that is profitable, by giving away all their money and ensuring all the guests win? I think not.
If indeed the “Vegas” experience is not your thing, then when going to TAM you will be in good company, because TAM is not about any of that, and is instead about hanging out with some truly fascinating people who will challenge you, and provoke you into thinking new things.
OK lets note a few practical logistics.
July 11-14 … but aim to turn up on July 10, if you do then you will not be disappointed. Many hang out in the Del Mar (the bar in the hotel) on the previous Wednesday evening, and no you don’t need to actually drink, that’s not the point – some do and some don’t, either is fine, and neither is mandatory. Instead you can have a blast by wandering up to complete strangers to chat about all things skeptic and generally network.
South point hotel and casino … and yes the emphases is on the word “Casino” with the hotel bit being almost an afterthought … what can I say except its not Boston.
So Who is Speaking and what is on the Agenda?
A lot of stuff …
- The schedule is here … Tip: Turn up early for meetings and get a good seat
- The list of speakers is here and tells you all about them … Note the evening entertainment
- Plan your day, suss out where things are in advance, drink plenty of water and get enough sleep, it may be tempting to carry on hanging out until 2am, but then you will miss out the next day.
- Don’t be shy, if you see somebody you know because you have read their blog / book etc… wander up say “Hi”, and tell them how much you like their blog / book.
Its not all talk
They have workshops and also other things happening.
Penn (yes as in Penn and Teller) will be throwing a party (it is a fundraiser for the JREF). Basically he pays for everything and simply asks those who turn up to contribute $20 at the door to the JREF. Oh and as for that guy who took his clothes off last year … we should start a fund for that, if we promise to make enough donations perhaps he will promise not to do it again this year.
Its Vegas, so the Skeptics Guide folks have organized a poker tournament, no not serious poker, just a bit of fun, and yet at the same time truly scary stuff. Play and you will potentially find yourself sitting at a table playing poker with another player who just might be one of the best on the planet at card tricks and slight-of-hand illusions (am I being an honest liar when I say that?)
Registration Deadline alert
Standard registration rates ($475/$275 single-day) apply until June 30, 2013 … yes this coming Sunday. After June 30, late registration rates ($600/$400 single day) kick in, so if going then sign up this week.
Finally the big question?
Will I be there? Sadly I can’t do it this year due to other commitments – I truly do wish I could, I’ve managed to cross the Atlantic for the last three and found it to be a unique experience that motivated me to keep coming back. However, my absence creates a vacant slot for you to fill, this times its your turn, and while I do wish I could, alas I can’t, so you now can.
One thing I did do for previous meetings was to bring my kids with me; no not all of them at the same time, but each in turn. I have four, so I still have one more to go and hope to be there next year.
As I’ve already mentioned, Vegas is really not my scene. If that is true for you as well, shudder not, in addition to the truly amazing meeting there are a lot of other things to consider …
- Go down town and stroll around the stores
- Head east … Hover Dam, Meteor crater, Grand canyon … I was batty enough last year to hike from the rim, to the bottom and back to the rim the same day with two sons (ignoring the signs that said “don’t do this”). OK yes, if you have never done anything like that, don’t plan properly, and are not fit enough, then seriously don’t, people die trying silly stuff they were not ready for. You can of course take a bite and perhaps hike down the bright angel trail to perhaps the first rest stop – but always remember that going down is optional, getting back up is mandatory.
- Head West … Death valley, explore the sand dunes, and/or canyons, or even further as far as Yosemite
If you can, go to the Amazing meeting, it’s a fantastic way to not only bask in skeptical thought, but also a fabulous way to network within the community. If you have never done it, then think about it … seriously, you will not be disappointed.