|Genre||skepticism, atheism, science, education, activism, and freethought|
|Venue||Oasis Convention Center|
|Founder||JT Eberhard, Lauren Lane|
|Organized by||Lauren Lane, Micah Weiss, Jeffrey Markus, and Floyd Zamarripa|
Skepticon is one of the largest skeptic and secular conventions held in the United States. It was co-founded by Missouri State University students Lauren Lane and JT Eberhard. Guest speakers are invited to discuss skepticism, science, education, activism, and other related topics. This free event is in part sponsored by organizations including American Atheists and the American Humanist Association, among others.
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.”
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.
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.
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. Event organizer JT Eberhard responded by saying "To say that skepticism applies to some truth claims but not to others, that dilutes skepticism".
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." The resulting internet reaction had a negative impact on the store’s user ratings on a number of consumer satisfaction websites. Three days later the shop owner posted an apology on the website Reddit. Concern over whether the sign violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 earned the incident the nickname “gelato-gate”.
In 2016 Skepticon banned Carrier for what organizer Lauren Lane described as "repeated boundary-pushing behavior." Later that year Carrier named Skepticon and Lane as defendants in a lawsuit for defamation, interference with his business, and emotional distress.
Atheism vs. Christianity debate
Skepticon 2009 also featured a debate between Christian and atheist experts on the question “Does God Exist”. Participants included Richard Carrier, Victor Stenger, and JT Eberhard for the atheist perspective and professors Charlie Self, Zachary Manis, and Greg Ojakangas presenting the Christian position.
Confrontation vs. accommodation debate
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, dates and speakers
|October 11, 2008||Missouri State University||250||Richard Carrier, PZ Myers||JT Eberhard, Lauren Lane||Called Skeptics|
|November 20–22, 2009||Missouri State University||400||Dan Barker, Richard Carrier, D. J. Grothe, PZ Myers, Joe Nickell, Robert M. Price, Victor Stenger, Rebecca Watson||JT Eberhard, Lauren Lane||Promoted as Skepticon II|
|November 19–21, 2010||Springfield Expo Center||1000||Dan Barker, Richard Carrier, Greta Christina, JT Eberhard, David Fitzgerald, D.J. Grothe, Amanda Marcotte, PZ Myers, Joe Nickell, James Randi, Sam Singleton Atheist Evangelist, Victor Stenger, Rebecca Watson||JT Eberhard, Lauren Lane||Confrontation v. Accommodation|
|November 18–20, 2011||Gillioz Theatre||1100||Dan Barker, Richard Carrier, Greta Christina, JT 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|
|November 15–17, 2013||Springfield Expo Center||N/A||Seth Andrews, Richard Carrier, Greta Christina, John Corvino, Heina Dadabhoy, JT Eberhard, David Fitzgerald, Debbie Goddard, Rebecca Hensler, Amanda Knief, Keith Lowell-Jensen, Amanda Marcotte, Monica R. Miller, PZ Myers, Aron Ra, Shelley Segal, David Tamayo, Rebecca Watson||Jeffrey Markus, Lauren Lane, Micah Weiss, Floyd Zamarripa|
|November 21–23, 2014||Oasis Con. Center||N/A||Daniel Biar, Ben Blanchard, Melanie Brewster, Greta Christina, Scott Clifton, Heina Dadahboy, Amy David Roth, Matt Dillahunty, JT Eberhard, David Gorski, Nicole Gugliucci, Peggy Mason, Hemant Mehta, PZ Myers, Cara Santa Maria, Sheree Renée Thomas, Kayley Whalen||Rebekah (finance), Blythe, Bart (website designer), Micah, Lauren Lane (co-founder), Rob Lehr (official videographer), Jeffrey Markus, Floyd Zamarripa||Sponsors: American Atheists, American Humanist Association (AMA), Atheist Alliance International (AAI), Atheists on Air, Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB), Kansas City Atheist Coalition (KCAC), Polaris Financial Planning, Secular Woman|
|November 13–15, 2015||Oasis Con. Center||N/A||Bo Bennett, Jamie DeWolf, Fallon Fox, Mary Anne Franks, Sikivu Hutchinson, Nathanael Johnson, Sam Kean, Hiba Krisht, Niki Massey, Destin Sandlin, Kavin Senapathy, Muhammad Syed, Justin Vollmar, Stephanie Zvan||-|
|November 11–13, 2016||Oasis Con. Center||N/A||Greta Christina, Bria Crutchfield, Heina Dadabhoy, Jerry DeWitt, Victor Harris, Rebecca Hensler, Joshua Hyde, Alix Jules, Margee Kerr, Jennifer Raff, Nola Olsen, Lauren Lane, Josiah Mannion, Benny Vimes, Rebecca Watson, Stephanie Zvan|
|November 10–12, 2017||Oasis Con. Center||N/A||Ross Blotcher, Nikki Jane, Randall Jenson, Leighann Lord, Mika McKinnon, Samantha Montano, Laura Thomas, Mandisa Thomas, Jessica Xiao|
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