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SusanDoris

Sceptics in the City

The following is a short(ish) account of the TAM London weekend I attended with my next-dor neighbour friend, Carole.

Sceptics in the City

on 3rd/4th October, Carole and I were delegates (smart word for members of the audience!) at a Conference in London organised by the JREF (James Randi Educational Foundation). It was held in the Mermaid Conference Centre  in Puddle Dock, on the north bank of the Thames opposite the Tate Modern. The names of the speakers had been kept securely under wraps so it was a lovey surprise to find, after rising at 04:30 to catch our 06:00 train from New Milton, that the first one was Professor Brian Cox, of Manchester University and CERN. He was followed by Jon Ronson and Simon Singh. Ariane Sherine, the Atheist Bus poster originator, and Ben Goldacre of the Guardian and author of 'Bad Science were the speakers in the afternoon. The morning had begun with a videoed message from James Randi.  All the introductions and continuity links were done by Professor Richard Wiseman

We spoke to quite a few JREF Forum members whom we have met on other occasions and were introduced to a few more. Of the 600 or so delegates there, not very many were forum members, but all were very interested in the JREF organisation and the sceptical movement - and most were male! At meal times, Carole and I were taken to a slightly superior room with tables and chairs - I would have found it far too difficult to manage standing around with a plate, or sitting on the floor! We had booked to stay in London at a place called Club Q in Gracechurch Street, which was definitely good value for money.

The Sunday morning speakers were George Hrab who sang sceptical songs to his own excellent guitar accompaniment, Glen Hill , whose mother was the girl who drew and photographed the fairies which made such news in the years around 1918, and Adam Savage, of the 'Myth Busters' TV Show. He had a great number of fascinating stories to tell. Tim Minchin  started off the final session,  playing the piano,  singing and joking,  and the last speaker was Phil Plait, known as The Bad Astronomer, who closed with aninspirational-type talk on how it is so important always to look for evidenced  TRUTH. As President of the JREF, he stressed the importance of the work done by them to show up the pseudo-science for what it is. The final session was a live skype link with James Randi in America answering questions from the delegates.

The two days were packed with information which is still trying to sort itself out in our heads! We hope there is another such event next year. In the USA there is an annual TAM (The Amazing Meeting) in Las Vegas where the number of delegates runs into thousands, but this was the first international TAM. People came from many different European countries and quite a few came from the USA.

This link is to comments from Forum members: http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=155526
This link is to a reference to the conference in a BBC magazine.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8291688.stm  This was from TAM London JREF mbs
Leonard James

Excellent, Susn! Good luck to everybody who seeks the truth, and prefers to trust science rather than myth.

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