Workshops

Workshops are separately ticketed events held before the main program begins on Thursday and after the main program ends on Sunday. Attendees may register for workshops separately or purchase an All Workshop Pass. Workshops run two at a time.

THURSDAY, JULY 14

9:00-10:45AM

Optional Workshop 1: Making UFO’s: Reality and Illusion

How dust, lights, artifacts, models and manipulations have change the perception of alien space craft. This workshop will show how to identify and make hoax UFO’s

Presenters include:

  • James McGaha is a retired USAF pilot, astronomer and director of the Grasslands Observatory. He held a TOP SECRET compartmented security clearance and was involved in numerous classified operations including operations in the so-called “Area 51.”
  • Jim Underdown has been Executive Director of the Center for Inquiry-Los Angeles since 1999. He is also the Founder and Chair of the Independent Investigations Group, a team of inquirers who look into paranormal, pseudo-scientific, and extraordinary claims. He is also the creator of the Steve Allen Theater at CFI-L.A.

Optional Workshop 2: Defending Evolution in the Classroom and Beyond

This workshop will help you develop the skills and strategies necessary to defend evolution from creationism and protect science in the 21st century.

Presenters include:

  • Eugenie Scott is Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education.
  • Josh Rosenau is Programs and Policy Director of the National Center for Science Education.
  • Donald R. Prothero is Professor of Geology at Occidental College in Los Angeles, and Lecturer in Geobiology at Caltech.

11:00-12:45PM

Optional Workshop 3: Investigating Monster Mysteries

Come learn how to investigate monsters from Bigfoot, to chupacabra, lake monsters to zombies. This workshop will explore eye-witness testimony, monster photographs, and the role of mass media and folklore in monster making.

Presenters include:

  • Ben Radford is Deputy Editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, Research Fellow with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and host of the Monster Talk podcast.
  • Karen Stollznow is Contributing Editor for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, Research Fellow for the James Randi Educational Foundation, Host of the Point of Inquiry podcast, and Host the Monster Talk podcast.
  • Blake Smith is Host of Monster Talk podcast.

Optional Workshop 4: Oh, No. Not Again!: Recurring Themes in Medical Mythology

This science-based medicine workshop will explore the most common recurring themes in unscientific or so-called “alternative” therapies. Since there are too many individuals claims, products, and therapies to cover each individually, understanding the common and frequently recurring underlying themes of such therapies will help attendees evaluate new dubious medical claims for themselves.

Presenters include:

  • Steven Novella, MD is Assistant Professor of Neurology at Yale University School of Medicine, Executive Editor of Science-Based Medicine, and Senior Fellow and Director of the Science-Based Medicine project for the JREF.
  • David H. Gorski, MD, PhD, FACS is a surgical oncologist at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute specializing in breast cancer surgery. He is the managing editor of Science-Based Medicine.
  • Harriet Hall, MD also known as The SkepDoc, is a retired family physician who writes about pseudoscience and questionable medical practices. She is an associate editor of Science-Based Medicine.
  • Kimball Atwood IV, MD is a practicing anesthesiologist who is also board-certified in internal medicine. He has been a member of the Massachusetts Special Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medical Practitioners, and subsequently wrote its Minority Report opposing licensure for naturopaths.  He is an associate editor of Science-Based Medicine.
  • Mark Crislip, MD has been a practicing Infectious Disease specialist in Portland, Oregon, since 1990. He is responsible for the Quackcast podcast, and is an associate editor of Science-Based Medicine.

2:00-3:45PM

Optional Workshop 5: Problems in Paranormal Investigation

Presenters include:

  • Joe Nickell is Senior Research Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.  He is well into his fourth decade as an investigator of historical, paranormal, and forensic mysteries, myths and hoaxes.
  • Banachek is Director of the Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge at the James Randi Educational Foundation. Banachek is the world’s leading Mentalist. His talents are so incredible that he is the only mentalist ever to fool scientists into believing he possessed ‘Psychic powers’ – and then he later revealed he was fooling them.
  • Matthew Baxter is a paranormal claims investigator and Host of Warning Radio. Baxter has investigated and exposed numerous claims of paranormal phenomena and conducted vital outreach with public lectures and appearances on Ghost Hunters, Larry King Live, and the Travel Channel’s 10 Most Terrifying Places in the U.S..

Optional Workshop 6: How to Effectively Create and Manage a Campaign of Grassroots Skepticism

Skeptical Activism has a long and glorious history of capturing – and changing – hearts and minds. How can skeptics learn from the successes of various social movements, and use those methods to take on issues like vaccinations, homeopathy, and evolution education? Find out in this step-by-step, interactive overview of Skeptical Activism. Includes additional resources and take-home materials.

Presenters include:

  • Maria Walters is a writer for Skepchick.org and organizer of the Atlanta Skeptics. She is a skeptical activist, who, among other things, works to set up vaccination clinics and fundraisers to coincide with skeptical events. She is a strong believer in making skepticism and skeptical events a part of everyday life.
  • Desiree Schell is the host of the live radio show and podcast Skeptically Speaking. The show explores the connections between science and skepticism, and promotes critical thinking beyond the ranks of current skeptics. In her work as a labor organizer, Desiree creates curricula and teaches courses on effective activism.
  • Lyz Liddell is the Director of Campus Organizing at the Secular Student Alliance, an umbrella organization of over 250 college and high school student groups working to promote critical thinking and respect for nontheists through education, activism, cooperation, service and community.
  • Brian Thompson is the Field Coordinator for the James Randi Educational Foundation. For several years, he has promoted scientific skepticism through humor and entertainment on podcasts, blogs, and in print media.  His writing has appeared in Skeptical Inquirer and the Young Australian Skeptics Blog Anthology.  At the JREF, Brian works with grassroots skeptical organizations and multimedia content producers to promote science and reason to the widest possible audience.

4:00-5:45PM

Optional Workshop 7: Skepticism in the Classroom

Presenters include:

  • Michael Blanford is Director of Educational programs at the James Randi Educational Foundation. He has developed science curricula, programs, and informal content for a number of institutions, including schools, community centers, museums, and Camps.
  • Barbara Drescher is a scientist and lecturer at California State University, Northridge studying perception, critical thinking, and attention. She is also a co-founder of the Critical Thinking Education Group (CTEG), which provides resources to teachers, parents, and science/skepticism activists.
  • Matt Lowery is a high school physics teacher and part-time physics and astronomy college professor with a strong interest in promoting science education and critical thinking among his students and the population in general.  He also maintain a blogs at SkepticalTeacher.org.

Optional Workshop 8: Advancing Skepticism Online

In this workshop, some of the top skeptic bloggers, podcaster and online activists will offer their best advice on how to move skepticism forward using electronic media.  You will see several short talks on the most up-to-date techniques, and hear questions answered in a panel session. In addition, the workshop leaders will help you work through real-world project ideas in workshop exercises.

Presenters include

  • Tim Farley is a JREF Research Fellow specializing in electronic media and online skepticism. He is a software engineer and computer security instructor who lives in Atlanta, Georgia.  He created the popular skeptic web site whatstheharm.net to document the real-world harm caused by belief in pseudoscience and the paranormal in 2008. He blogs on internet skepticism topics at JREF’s SWIFT blog and at skeptools.com.  At previous TAMs he has done paper presentations (TAM6 & TAM7) and run an Introduction to Skepticism workshop (TAM7).
  • Robynn “Swoopy” McCarthy is the host and producer of Skepticality, the original podcast for skeptics and one of the official podcasts of Skeptic Magazine.
  • Derek Colunduno is a co-host of the popular podcast Skepticality. Derek has contributed to several other podcasts including The Pickle Round-Up, AMP’d and the official Dragon-Pod podcast.
  • Brian Dunning is a science writer and producer of the podcast Skeptoid: Critical Analysis of Pop Phenomena.

SUNDAY, JULY 17

4:30-6:15PM

Optional Workshop 9  –  Raising Skeptics

Contemporary skepticism is characterized by a questioning mindset, guarding against credulity, and embracing the scientific outlook as an epistemological lens through which we can best understand the world. How can we inspire our children to share this worldview without betraying our core values as freethinkers? What do youngsters need in their intellectual toolboxes to sift through the barrage of nonsense spewed from every crevice of our culture? We’ll tackle these issues and explore ways to raise kids who apply healthy doses of skepticism to everything from cereal box claims to sleepover séances.

Presenters include:

  • Heidi Anderson is a rabid sex-positive feminist/atheist/skeptic in the Buckle of the Bible Belt. She has been an advocate, activist, fundraiser, and educator serving victims of partner abuse and/or sexual assault, as well as LGBTQ youth, for the past sixteen years in the conservative Upstate region of South Carolina.
  • Michael Blanford is Director of Educational Programs for the James Randi Educational Foundation. Michael has spent the last 15 years promoting science literacy, science appreciation, and critical thinking in programs associated with schools, community centers, museums, and summer camps. Before coming to the JREF, he was coordinator for the Saint Louis Science Center’s Life Science Lab. Michael is also founder and president of the Skeptical Society of Saint Louis.
  • Angie McAllister, Ph.D. is a distinguished educator, member of the Board of Directors of Center for Inquiry, and the former Director of Camp Inquiry, an educational program for youth emphasizing humanistic, scientific, and critical thinking.
  • Jamy Ian Swiss is a magician, author, and public speaker with more than 25 years of skeptical activism experience.He is a founder of the National Capital Area Skeptics [www.ncas.org], a founder of the New York City Skeptics [www.nycs.org]; has  spoken and performed across the U.S. on behalf of the Center For Inquiry; has been a contributor to Skeptic magazine; hosts the annual New England Conference on Science and Skepticism [NECSScon.org] in New York City; serves as Chairman of the Advisory Committee to the President of the James Randi Educational Foundation. He is currently attempting to raise rational 8-year-old twin boys.

Optional Workshop 10  –   Spirituality for Skeptics

A scientifically accurate view of reality can inspire and empower adults and children alike in ways simply not possible before. Indeed, while skeptics of the 20th century looked out upon a universe that was vast, bleak, and indifferent to our own upstart species, skeptics of the 21st century look out upon an even bigger universe and are finding cause for celebration. Explore how a fully mainstream view of big history, human nature, and the creative role of death in the cosmos has been winning hearts and minds, from kids to elders, during Connie and Michael’s 9 years of itinerancy as “America’’s evolutionary evangelists.”

Presenters include:

  • Connie Barlow, a popular science writer and gifted evolutionary educator, is the creator of the leading website (for adults and children) in the big history / epic of evolution / religious naturalism movement: TheGreatStory.org
  • Michael Dowd is a former pastor, sustainability leader, and author of Thank God for Evolution, which was endorsed by 6 Nobel laureates and other science luminaries, including noted skeptics, and by religious leaders across the spectrum.

Note: Workshops run in concurrent tracks. An All Workshop Pass entitles you to enter any of the ten workshops, but because of scheduling, you will not be able to attend each one. See schedule above.