Thanks to a cool dude known as Phil Plait, I’ve found a lot of things I wouldn’t have otherwise. These things include people. Some of these people include…
- James Randi, and
- PZ Myers
I know — I’m sort of a n00b at this. I knew about Dawkins from other things, such as South Park’s parody and a friend of mine from Vegas by the name of Danny. So I’m not completely out of the loop, I like to think. Just a wee bit behind, but it seems once I found these people I couldn’t get away from them… which is a good thing!
According to the website which lists information on The Amaz!ng Meeting, I found this about last year’s TAM:
Held at the Riviera Casino and Resort in Las Vegas. Our biggest yet, with Trey and Matt from Southpark, Adam and Tory from Mythbusters, shows by Julia Sweeney, Jill Sobule, Banachek, Jamy Ian Swiss and Hal Bidlack, as well as Peter Sagal, Scott Dikkers, John Rennie, and many others. Many have said it was our most succesful TAM to date. Anderson Cooper talking on Sylvia Browne with Randi was a highlight.
Trey and Matt from South Park! That’s a show that lead, in part, to my skepticism, because they make such good points in such funny ways. Then we have one of my long-lasting idols: Adam Savage from my also long-standing favorite show Mythbusters. I don’t watch TV much anymore, but whenever I’m in the mood for it, nothing beats some good ol’ Mythbusters. Tory, also from the Mythbusters, has worked on some awesome films, like the Matrix which has been a favorite of mine (the entire series) since around 2000.
I don’t know if it’s coincidence or not, but the same people that immersed me in science retain all of my respect since day one. My old teacher, we’ll call her Mrs. Smith, was my science teacher in 1st grade and I believe 4th grade of elementary school. She was a Christian, and although I’m sure she didn’t agree with a few things she taught, such as evolutionary theory and the big bang (yes, we had both in those days), she did it with a smile and made it fun. When she retired, it was a big blow for the school. I always looked forward to my younger nephew having her class(es?), but sadly he never got far enough before she quit. It’s a bit strange though, because of what she taught many took issue with her as a teacher, which I always find interesting. She was a good teacher, and one of two I had in about eight years that made science as interesting and fun as it should be made and really is.
It’s people like her, though, who brought about my divergence from myths (no pun intended towards the earlier busters) and unknowingly made myself, as well as my former classmates, so much more interested than normal people are. We desperately need people like her, or science doesn’t stand much of a chance in public view. What we don’t need, however, is representatives for science that are more like pop culture icons who don’t know any difference between evolution and how life started. (yes, they’re two different things, neo-creationists)
Scientists are often disliked in America simply because they speak straight and are often seemingly uninteresting characters. Many in America are anti-intellectuals because of the straight talking scientists that they see as a threat. Our president is an anti-intellectual. I’m not sure who said this, since I cover so many science blogs, but someone said that scientists shouldn’t have to be entertaining, comedians, actors, etc. They’ve got their own jobs to do, and they do ’em well. What people need to do is… to start listening. Call me crazy, but I don’t care if they have the voice of the singer from Fall Out Boy, it’s what they’re saying that I care about.
This is, sort of, where The Amaz!ng Meeting (referred to as TAM from this point) comes in. Public figures who actually make science fun and interesting, such as the Mythbusters team, go there to speak and (apparently) have fun. Who would have guessed? This is why things like TAM are SO needed! OK, so even if it weren’t fun per se, it’s still an awesome event. As said prior, people like the South Park guys show. That seems like it would be awesome just based on that alone!
You can’t stop James “The Amaz!ng” Randi, and he’s at it again with the Amaz!ng Meeting 6. Our theme this year – I, Skeptic: Modern Skepticism in the Internet Age.
New speakers this year include Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, PZ Myers, Matthew Chapman, and Sharon Begley. Many of our old friends will be joining us as well, including Phil Plait (the Bad Astronomer), Penn & Teller, Richard Saunders, Dr. Richard Wiseman, Dr. Michael Shermer, Adam Savage (from the Mythbusters), Steve Novella, and Christopher Hitchens.
I best remember Neil DeGrasse Tyson from an event where he asked Richard Dawkins a question and Dawkins responded tactfully, “our philosophy here at New Scientist is that science is interesting, and if you don’t agree, you can fuck off.” Of course he was quoting someone who worked at New Scientist (obvious!), but it was still awesome. It was also funny. Men of science can be funny, you just have to look (hard).
Other people of interest are Dr. Michael Shermer, who is a skeptic that I’ve admired for a very long time after having seen him on the History channel discussing weird things, such as alien sightings, and what-not. Whenever I listen to him, I can’t help but smile, and I would imagine there are many others like me.
I must say, possibly the most interesting one out of them all would have to be Matthew Chapman. Seems like a normal name, doesn’t it? Normal sounding person, and by all means he’s pretty normal. Except for one teeny tiny thing: he’s the great great grandson of the one and only Charles Darwin. Just wow. Think about that for a second: the fucking great great grandson of the man who “fathered” evolution! He’s also funny, having given interviews for the PBS Documentary Intelligent Design on Trial where he cited himself as living disproof of evolution, as his great great grandfather made one of the most influential texts of all time, and he’s a screenwriter. In his own words: this is not evolution! (laughs)
Another one that I mentioned earlier is Adam Savage from the Mythbusters. I remember being at a church gathering in 2003 (everyone was in a back room, I was in the lounge room with their incredibly big for its time 50″ plasma), watching Tremors: The Series, which was dumb but fun to watch as far as Sci-Fi goes, and then flipping over to Mythbusters. During that time I was still a (young) Christian and was still a skeptic towards evolution, go figure, but here’s a guy I respected so much who I had no clue was an atheist and skeptic of creationism. I only found this out fairly recently, but it’s still quite amazing to know. Maybe he subliminally influenced me in some way? Adam has always reminded me of my uncle Tommy, in attitude, humor, and even looks to some extent. Only Tommy is probably in the realm of 20 years older. Finding out all these people, in whom I hold in high regard, are just like me is very gratifying. No, I don’t know why.
PZ Myers, to whom I owe my success with my FaceBook atheism group, will also be there, as expected. I’m not sure what more I can say about him, since I’ve got about four blog entires almost entirely about him. I respect PZ highly, and think he’s a very awesome guy. But there’s really not more to say.
Other interesting people who are gonna show will be Phil Plait (BadAstronomy), Penn & Teller from Bullshit!, and many, many, many more. Of particular interest is atheist rapper (had to do it!) Greydon Square, simply because he’s an atheist who raps. Not seen much of that, honestly. Usually they’re pimping Jesus (See also: Kanye West), or pimping their hoes. I’m not sure what gardening tools have to do with anything but…
I won’t be there because we’re (almost) entirely out of money due to stuff mentioned elsewhere, because my other side of the family won’t help out with expenses (feel the Christian love!), and et cetera. Ah well, may see you all next year — not sure.
It’s funny though, last night I saw my aunt Gay (yes, that’s her name) who came to my grandmother’s public viewing with her two daughters (one by adoption), and told me about her trip to New York. I then said something like, “that’s cool, I’d like to hit TAM, and once she found out what TAM was, she got onto me for it. It’s very funny, really. I explained that it was mostly about the cool speakers, and not because of my atheism (isn’t Neil DeGrasse Tyson agnostic? Like, publically?), but people don’t seem to listen all too much once you mention the evil A word.
I may find a way to get to TAM still yet, and if so, can’t wait, but if not there’s always next year. Maybe we’ll get some Richard Dawkins up in here next year!
Expect me to be reporting on TAM after TAM regardless of whether I end up there or not. Just because it’s far too awesome to just forget about. Am I right or am I right? As expected: totally right.