#Skepticamp Chicago begs the question: “Why did I enjoy it so much?”

Jamie Bernstein points to an audience member to answer a question

Yesterday, January 28, 2012, I was happily roped in to crashing attending Skepticamp Chicago. What a great event.

Skepticamp is an event that organizes skeptics and gives them a chance to deliver short, educational presentations to their peers and to meetup with like-minded people. This Skepticamp was at Streetside Bar and Grill (3201 W. Armitage Chicago)

The presentations ranged from Conspiracy Theories and Homeopathy 101 to Canine Dominance and Aggression and Aliens. Presenters ranged from local Atheist celebrities like Jamie Bernstein (pictured above) and Phil Ferguson to people whom I’ve never heard of but sense will hear a lot from in the future. Keep your ears and eyes open for Marcus A. Davis, Matt Lowry, Ivan Phillips and Ali Marie.

Maybe they are celebs already, but they were new for me.

I’m biased toward Ivan Phillips. He’s a photographer, and a damn good one at that.  He’s also a software developer and he recently co-founded The Rational Future Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising public awareness of human cognitive bias and of the principles of rationality. Ivan and I spoke for a while about photography, and he’s got some amazing work that I look forward to seeing more of.

His talk on Ideal Rationality was an important one, for me anyway.

Among those in attendance were people like @godlessgirl and @abiodork, who are so badass you should bookmark their blogs and follow them on twitter.

Ali Marie

One of my favorite presentations was from 19 year old Ali Marie, who we need to bolster up and get her face and voice in front of our young people. She gave an excellent presentation on Fostering Curiosity.

Ali blogs at TeenSkepchick and Scientifica Phenomena, which writes this about her:

Ali Marie is a third-year college student and a self-proclaimed museum geek and paleo-nerd. Her interest in how the world around her works began as a young child, when she wouldn’t stop asking “why?” She’s since taken classes at museums and schools to learn as much as she can, and volunteers at museums to share that knowledge with anyone willing to listen. When not studying or spreading science, reason, and critical thinking, Ali enjoys digging up dinosaurs, reading, writing, drawing prehistoric creatures, playing an absurd number of musical instruments, and living in awe of our amazing universe.

Ali also writes for Teen Skepchick, a blog about science, critical thinking, skepticism, and feminism, geared toward the teenage girl.

Skeptic Money’s Phil Ferguson spoke about Homeopathy. His presentation was particularly interesting and his Q&A was the most lively of the day. Ferguson covered a bit of homeopathy’s history and also covered the dilution scale of their “medicines.”

The note that I took was, “Is the ratio of people who take diluted homeopathic ‘medicines’ somehow proportional to delusion?”

Phil Ferguson exposing how weak homeopathic "medicines" are.

Make sure you sign up for the next Skepticamp that comes your way. You won’t be disappointed.


Turn on the Tap and Splash Some Refreshing Water on Your Face.

I’m a little distracted catching up on blogs that I have neglected over the past week. I need to work!

But this is a must post and and must watch parody from a Christian who discusses the Discovery Institute and how it’s empowered the Alien Enthusiast movement. It’s a well-done video, pretty entertaining and funny. To verify that the producer is truly a believer, please visit his blog “Beyond the Firmament” and decide for yourself.

I like his Seth MacFarlane-esque voice.