Sunday, 28 November 2010

The Amazing Meeting Oz - Final Day

Two and a half days goes fast when you're having fun. This is the final day of the con. Another early start though. The first cab off the rank at 8 effing 45 was a panel on The Media and the Message.

Steve Cannane, Tim Mendham, Paul Willis and Rob Morrison.

Dr Pamela Gay was next with a talk about instilling curiosity and getting involved in citizen science using the example of Galactic Zoo. Motivational and inspirational. Pamela Gay is an extraordinary person. Very popular by the ovation too.

Dr Pamela Gay.

The speaker designated to be next was sick and unable to attend so Rebecca Watson came up with a skeptical quiz to fill in. The SGU and George Hrab were a team and the audience was the other team. Rebecca asked the question and George had to shout out the answer after conferring with the SGU. We, the audience, twittered, yes tweeted, our answers which were displayed on the big screens behind Rebecca. The team with the most number of correct answers won. The audience won. 14 to 8 from memory. Best use of twitter I've seen. I even signed up on the spot. Best answer of the the day - 'boobs'. Can't remember the question.

Rebecca Watson.

Evan Bernstein, Jay Novella, George Hrab, Bob Novella and Steve Novella.

The skeptical quiz.

More from the skeptical quiz.

Richard Saunders and George Hrab took us through a list of what the psychics missed in 2010. That was easy. Everything. Their, the psychics, predictions weren't much better.

Dr Rachael Dunlop, Brian Dunning, James Randi and Steve Novella.

You even get some luminaries up the back of the room notably Eugenie Scott.

Nearly every session was a full house.

Lunch was a quick sandwich before I hit the bookshop for the last time. I bought my first parenting book - Raising Freethinkers. Then it was off for a game of bag a skeptic. In this game I try and get my photograph taken with a notable skeptic or two. It's an easy game because the attendees at this conference are all fantastic people who give up their time selflessly and don't mind posing with a boofhead. As I said to them, if it's not on my blog it didn't happen.

Rebecca Watson and a boofhead.

Same boofhead with Steven Novella.

That boofhead just won't leave the talent alone. Steve Novella, Boofhead, Brian Dunning, Rebecca Watson and Bob Novella.

Boofhead and Dr Pamela Gay.

After lunch Eugenie Scott spoke on the rise of creationism in the the US and globally. Eugenie is the executive director of the National Center For Science Education in the US.

Eugenie Scott.

Who do you have on a panel about skepticism and entertainment? Entertainers. Some good ones here too. Julian Morrow is from The Chaser (magazine and TV show), Simon Taylor (illusionist), George Hrab (podcaster and entertainer) and James Randi (magician).

Julian Morrow, Simon Taylor, George Hrab and James Randi.

George Hrab and James Randi.

I'm Spartacus... Julian Morrow, Simon Taylor, George Hrab and Randi.

John Smyrk spoke on the credulity of business - management psuedoscience. I always knew that Myers Briggs test was a crock of shit. Now I know why.

Richard Saunders demonstrated how the magic power balance bracelet scam works (hint: it doesn't). Click here to see Richard's expose of this device on Today Tonight.

Richard Saunders, Pamela Gay and Paul Willis.

Pamela Gay, Richard Saunders and Paul Willis.

I listen to a number of skeptical podcasts - the SGU, Skeptoid, et al - but the main Aussie podcast I listen to is The Skeptic Zone. I think today's live show was the first time all the cast have been in the same room together for a show.

The Skeptic Zone Live with Eran Segev, Dr Rachie, Stefan Sojka, Richard Saunders, Joanne Benhamu, Krissy Wilson and Kylie Sturgess.

Joanne Benhamu, Krissy Wilson, Kylie Sturgess and Pamela Gay.

Rob Morrison is a Professor at Flinders Uni in South Australia and a noted science communicator. People of my generation may fondly remember him as the host of the long running Curiosity Show on TV. A whole generation of kids was brought up watching this show as it ran from 1972 to 1990. Rob's presentation was on the Illusion of Reality. He showed a bunch of wicked slides and videos of optical illusions and other tricks. Mind bending.

Rob Morrison.

Optical illusions and trickery

The final formal event for The Amazing Meet Australia 2010 was the closing address from the Amazing One himself, James Randi. Randi has been coming to Australia for 30 years and he said he was honoured to come here representing the James Randi Educational Foundation at TAM Oz. Skepticism has taken off over recent years and one of the forces behind the success of the movement is James Randi. I felt honoured to finally meet the man. Earlier this year I thought I never would. James said he expects to come back to Australia at least one more time for the next Amazing Meeting to probably be held in Melbourne next year. Randi it would be our hounour to have you back.

James Randi gives his closing address.

James The Amazing Randi.

That was it for the conference. I was sad it was over. I got to meet a bunch of my heroes and participate in something very cool in a nerdy way. All that was left now was to bag a couple more skeptics on the way out. I didn't know that Lawrence Leung from ABC TV's Lawrence Leung's Choose Your Own Adventure was even attending. Time for me to embarrass myself with a fan boy moment.

Lawrence Leung, Boofhead and Simon Taylor.

Simon Singh and Boofhead. I'd been carrying that bloody book (Trick Or Treatment) for three days. Each time I ran into Simon I'd managed to leave it somewhere temporarily. Then, spookily, on my way out the door there was Simon signing autographs.

The very last people I ran into on my way out the door though were Rob Morrison and Eugenie Scott. Both very awesome people. I think I gushed just a little bit.

Rob Morrison and Eugenie Scott.

That was it. See you at TAM next year. I'd like to get to TAM in Vegas at some point too.


  1. Shane, it was a pleasure to re-live it via your pictures and comments. TAMOz was a truly awe-inspiring experience, and I can't wait for the next one.

  2. Thanks codenix. I hope I can get to the next one too. This one certainly lived up to my expectations.