TAM2012 – Granite State Skeptics in Vegas

Granite State Skeptics had a great turnout at The Amaz!ng Meeting 2012, especially for such a small group. Formed shortly before TAM7, we became energized to make it work. Our success comes out of regular meetings, having great speakers, and the support of other organizations like the James Randi Educational Foundation.

(Photo Courtesy of Susan Gerbic)
Our TAM representation ranged from Kitty, who’s been to every American TAM, to some first TAMers. Some of them shared their experiences here. Click through to read their experiences.

Andrew – TAM5 was my first. TAM2012 was bigger, better, and HOTTER!!! Ray Hyman taught me how to cold read or rather how easy it was to do. Leo Igwe stunned me with stories of risking his life for skepticism in Africa. Teller challenged my notions of entertainment and evil. Lawrence Krauss excited my imagination; Jamy Ian Swiss roused my blood; and Pamela Gay broke my heart. Yet, I most cherish the time I spent with old friends and new, the connections I made with entrepreneurs, writers, teachers, pilots, dentists, singer-songwriters, students, soldiers, scientists, and activists, and the gift I received — a piece of blueberry pie — from a man who touched my life 30 years ago with another gift — reason and understanding. Thanks Randi.

Kitty – I have attended every US TAM.  I was on a workshop panel, and sold and promoted my newest skeptic children’s book “Fair Tales, Fairly Told”.  I got to see Randi perform a magic trick only he knows the secret to, and have long talks with people that are my heroes, like Barry Karr.  I was interviewed twice, and just basically had the fun time I always have with my very extended skeptic family! (Kitty can be found at BadAlien.Org, she is also Director of Investigations for Granite State Skeptics)

Steve – I was a First TAMer, and I must say that I was simply overwhelmed by the experience.  The workshops, lectures, and social events were all top notch, entertaining, informative, and downright fun.  When James Randi himself came and sat next to me, I felt like I had been somehow singled out for a touch of greatness.  No matter how tired or hungover I was, I made it a point to be in the Grand Ballroom by 8am for every presentation.  And I stayed to the last moment.  I didn’t get to do as much “extracurricular skepticism” as I may have wanted because I was so absorbed in TAM2012 itself, but I did get to do Sushi with friends, and did an Astronomy MeetUp with Pamela Gay. I eagerly await the release of the videos on the JREF site so I can show my friends and family the top notch presentations.

Nathan – TAM 2012 was my first TAM, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I would not be disappointed. TAM was the perfect balance of entertainment and education. I was pleasantly surprised to see how approachable and available for discussion all of the speakers were. I tried to take full advantage of the event by getting an all workshop pass, attending Penn Jillette’s Private Doughnut and Bacon Party, and Satiristas. I only knew a few attendees before going, but I met a lot of great people at TAM and was always made to feel welcome by “strangers”. Overall, TAM 2012 exceeded my expectations, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

Ben – Being a magician, you would think that I would have been to Vegas many times. However at 24 years old, this was my first experience being in Vegas as well as being at TAM. Needless to say, the entire experience was a lot to take in for me. I got to meet a lot of high profile people, as well as world famous magician such as Mac King, Penn & Teller, Banachek and the amazing one himself, James Randi! I went to several workshops such as Dr. Google and learned a lot for about the universe. Brian Dunning and Susana Martinez-Conde also gave talk about how the brain processes information and how the brain is fooled by optical illusions which was right up my alley! The most exciting event at TAM was without a doubt the million dollar challenge! It was an honor to be pre-chosen to be a part of it. Even though the contestant did not select me as one of his final choices for the test itself, it was still really exciting to see this balance challenge happen right in front of me! All in all, everything and everyone was just a treat to be around. It was an experience that I’ll never want to forget. Here’s hoping I’ll be back next year for more bacon and doughnuts! (Ben can be found at BenPrattMagic.Com)

Dale – The best parts of TAM are the people who attend, the talks, and the inspiration to do more. This year’s TAM experience was no exception. The atmosphere for me, felt much more relaxed, due to the increased familiarity with people attending each year.  While TAM2012 may not have had the big names of Dawkins and Tyson, which is always enjoyable and exciting, this year’s talks contained quality. I was reminded there will always be something new to learn and the speakers will bring something better to the conference. Carol Tavris brings her wit and incredible wisdom as usual, Lawrence Kraus makes my head hurt with his talks about physics and the Higgs Boson, and Jamy Ian Swiss…well this year in particular he brought passion and a powerful reminder of what it means to be a skeptic. This year’s speakers and attendees have reminded me that I need to work harder and do more. I have already taken some big steps by planning and running GSS’s SkeptiCamp and speaking against the two anti-evolution bills at the NH State House, but more can and still needs to be done.

Travis – As one of the founders and co-organizers of Granite State Skeptics I couldn’t be happier with the turnout at this year’s TAM. The speakers were great, the events were fantastic, but for me the real draw to TAM, and events like it, is the community. It’s always great to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. It’s through those contacts that you end up with the resources needed to run a successful group. It was also fun to get a bit of behind the scenes view of the Million Dollar Challenge event. Like Ben, I didn’t get picked, but to see the process from the inside was interesting and informative. I hope next year will prove to be just as fulfilling as this year.

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