Skepticon

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Skepticon
Status Active
Genre skepticism, atheism, science, and freethought
Venue Gillioz Theatre
Location(s) Springfield, MO
Country U.S.A.
Inaugurated 2008
Most recent Current
Attendance 1,100
Organized by Lauren Lane, Katie Hartman, Micah Weiss, and Jeffrey Markus
Website
skepticon.org

Skepticon is the largest skeptic and secular convention held in the United States.[1] It was co-founded by Missouri State University students Lauren Lane and JT Eberhard. Guest speakers are invited to discuss atheism, skepticism, and other related topics. This free event is sponsored by the Missouri's Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and is held on the campus of Missouri State University.

To explain the goals of the event organizer JT Eberhard wrote: “Skeptics conferences are an important part of the movement. They not only grant people access to the icons of the movement, they also arm those in attendance with information; the key weapon for the side of reason. They also provide a sense of community for a group of people who can often feel isolated in a largely religious population.”[1]

History[edit]

The Skepticon conference grew out of a speaking engagement organized by a student group on the campus of Missouri State University. The students invited two well-known atheist speakers, PZ Myers and Richard Carrier, to campus to speak critically about belief in God. The event was considered particularly controversial because Springfield, Missouri, is also the home to the Assemblies of God national headquarters and the campuses of several religious universities such as Evangel University. [2]

In the years that followed the conference was able to attract additional speakers who were willing to reduce or forgo their speakers' fee in order to keep the conference free for attendees. Donors help with the cost of event space and speakers' travel costs.[3]

In July 2010 Skepticon received the ‘’Best On Campus Event’’ award from the Center for Inquiry.[4]

Shortly before Skepticon III in November 2010 critics questioned the naming of the convention, suggesting that the topics covered are focused more on Atheism than Skepticism.[5] Event organizer J.T. Eberhard responded by saying "To say that skepticism applies to some truth claims but not to others, that dilutes skepticism".[6]

At Skepticon IV (2011) the event featured a tour of a nearby creationist museum, two full days of lectures detailing science-related topics, and a performance by Atheist Evangelist Brother Sam Singleton. A local gelato shop owner took offense to Singleton’s performance and posted a sign in the store window which read "Skepticon is NOT welcomed to my Christian Business."[7] The resulting internet reaction had a negative impact on the store’s user ratings on a number of consumer satisfaction websites.[7] Three days later the shop owner posted an apology on the website Reddit.[8] Concern over whether the sign violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 earned the incident the nickname “gelato-gate”.[9]

Atheism vs. Christianity debate[edit]

Skepticon 2009 also featured a debate between Christian and atheist experts on the question “Does God Exist”. Participants included Richard Carrier, Victor Stenger, and J.T. Eberhard for the atheist perspective and professors Charlie Self, Zachary Manis, and Greg Ojakangas presenting the Christian position.[10]

Confrontation vs. accommodation debate[edit]

A repeating theme for the speakers at Skepticon 3 (2010) was a discussion of the merits of confrontation vs. accommodation. It also featured a debate between James Randi, PZ Myers, Richard Carrier, and Amanda Marcotte.

Locations and Dates[edit]

Dates Location Attendance Speakers Organizers Notes
October 11, 2008[11] Missouri State University 250 Richard Carrier, PZ Myers J. T. Eberhard, Lauren Lane Called Skeptics
November 20-22, 2009[11] Missouri State University 400 Dan Barker, Richard Carrier, D. J. Grothe, PZ Myers, Joe Nickell, Robert M. Price, Victor Stenger, Rebecca Watson J. T. Eberhard, Lauren Lane Promoted as Skepticon II
November 19-21, 2010[11] Springfield Expo Center 1000 Dan Barker, Richard Carrier, Greta Christina, J. T. Eberhard, David Fitzgerald, D.J. Grothe, Amanda Marcotte, PZ Myers, Joe Nickell, James Randi, Sam Singleton Atheist Evangelist, Victor Stenger, Rebecca Watson J. T. Eberhard, Lauren Lane Confrontation v. Accommodation
November 18-20, 2011 Gillioz Theatre 1100 Dan Barker, Richard Carrier, Greta Christina, J. T. Eberhard, David Fitzgerald, Julia Galef, Spencer Greenberg, Jen McCreight, Hemant Mehta, PZ Myers, Joe Nickell, Darrel Ray, Dave Silverman, Sam Singleton Atheist Evangelist, Rebecca Watson, Eliezer Yudkowsky Katie Hartman, Jeffrey Markus, Lauren Lane, Susi Bocks
November 9-11, 2012 Springfield Expo Center 1500 Jessica Ahlquist, Richard Carrier, Sean Carroll, Greta Christina, James Croft, Matt Dillahunty, JT Eberhard, Phil Ferguson, David Fitzgerald, Julia Galef, George Hrab, Deborah Hyde, Keith Jensen, Amanda Knief, Teresa MacBain, Hemant Mehta, PZ Myers, Jennifer Ouellette, Tony Pinn, Darrel Ray, Rebecca Watson Jeffrey Markus(Executive Director), Katie Hartman(Fundraising Director), Lauren Lane(Chief Brand Officer), Micah Weiss(Program Director), Izzy Burke(Volunteer Relations), Floyd Zamarripa (Marketing Director) Film Festival added[12]
November 15-17, 2013 Springfield Expo Center Unknown at this time Jeffrey Markus, Lauren Lane, Micah Weiss, Floyd Zamarripa
Dates Location Attendance Speakers Organizers Notes

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Reflections on Skepticon 3". Secular Student Alliance. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  2. ^ "About Skepticon - A Brief History". Skepticon. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "Skepticon IV". Omaha COR. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "CFI On Campus Selects Five Group Award Winners". The Course of Reason. Center for Inquiry. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Are Atheists Delusional? Thoughts on Skepticon3". Indie Skeptics. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  6. ^ "A response to Jeff Wagg". Retrieved 13 November 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Mo. shop owner apologizes to religious skeptics". Associated Press. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "A message to the skeptic community from the owner of Gelato Mio". Reddit. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  9. ^ "Business briefly refuses Skepticon". News-Leader. Retrieved 24 November 2011. 
  10. ^ Eberhard, JT. "Skepticon Schedule". Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c J. T. Eberhard (August 9, 2010). History of Skepticon and a Different Organizational Model :: SSA 2010 Annual (YouTube video). Secular Student Alliance. 
  12. ^ Nolan, Aaron (November 10, 2012). "Skepticon Conference Returns to Springfield this Weekend". OzarksFirst. Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. Retrieved November 13, 2012. 

External links[edit]