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The Amazing Meeting (TAM) is coming on Jul 11-14, 2013. Based on my experience with NECSS and what I learned there, I'd like to promote the Skeptical community at the largest skeptical conference in the world.

I'm proposing that the Stack Exchange team sponsor my attendance and travel. In exchange, I'm more than happy to represent Skeptics StackExchange at the event, answer questions for other attendees, and represent the community.

What Is TAM?

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The Amaz!ng Meeting (TAM) is the leading conference focused on scientific skepticism. People from all over the world come to TAM each year to share learning, laughs, and the skeptical perspective with their friends and a host of distinguished guest speakers, panelists, and workshop presenters.

This annual gathering of critical thinkers is an unparalleled opportunity to make like-minded friends, enjoy some of the brightest minds on issues important to us, and leave with tools for spreading a helpful and skeptical message to those who might be hurt by charlatans and unfounded belief. TAM is like a vacation from the nonsense we confront every day, and a time to celebrate skepticism.

TAM is organized by the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). Now in its 11th year, TAM began when members of the JREF’s online community had the idea for a small gathering in Ft. Lauderdale. More than 150 attendees came to the first TAM in 2003, and since then, the JREF has sponsored fifteen such such events. In recent years, TAM has grown to attract well over 1,000 attendees.

JREF and its team of volunteers and staff are proud to bring you talks, panels, workshops, and entertainment featuring some of the brightest and most engaging people in science and skepticism. But the best thing about TAM is still the community and camaraderie.

What Would I Talk About or do at TAM?

I will of course Live Tweet the event (workshops and talks that I go to). In addition to that, I would:

  • Represent Skeptics StackExchange by handing out SWAG (this time I will transport it, we had a slight SNAFU for NECSS)
  • Encourage attendees at TAM to sign up and join the Skeptics site (for instance save the better SWAG for people who show me their Skeptics StackExchange account)
  • See about asking user submitted questions to the speakers (and maybe even mention that I am from Skeptics StackExchange for the videos of the presentations)
  • I am submitting a paper for the Sunday presentations.

What's in it for you?

The objectives of TAM are:

  • To feature a variety of presentations on how to best “fight back” against irresponsible promoters of paranormal and pseudoscientific nonsense in our society, whether through outreach, science education, activism, or new approaches online or in new media.
  • To provide top notch evening entertainment, including live music, magic, and comedy performances (which I don't expect to be part of the sponsorship, that's on my own dime); and
  • To foster community among the many hundreds of like-minded attendees, through social activities including conference meals and social events.

By attending the conference, I will be able to virtually bring you there as well as share new information and perhaps insightful quotes from people presenting.

What's in it for me?

I love going to TAM and enjoying the company of like minded individuals. Also, this is an opportunity to subsidize some of the expenses involved in going to TAM since I would be required to take time off from work. I will of course be as responsible as possible in costs (I will be getting a roommate for the hotel, and I have some SouthWest points I can use for the airfare).

So ... any questions? Concerns? Ideas? Anyone else going?

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I had a glance at the conference website. Thank you for posting so many helpful related URLs. I have a few questions whose answers may be helpful to Shog or Aarthi for an assessment:

  1. Are you asking for sponsorship for your attendance as an individual? The fee for that is $495, with an optional $100 for two workshops. It seems reasonable for a four-day conference. It includes most meals, which is really good! Hotel and transportation to Las Vegas, NV are not included.
  2. Are you requesting to attend as a conference exhibitor or sponsor? That is a different category, in terms of costs and role. As an exhibitor, you could actively promote Skeptics StackExchange. Fees would be different as well.

Tangential questions

  • What is the topic of your paper? I'm curious.
  • Why don't you mention Skeptics Stack Exchange on your web sites? I saw from your profile on SE that you had a website. I visited, yet didn't see Skeptics SE mentioned in the articles, nor in the left sidebar, nor in the recommended links page. Same was true for your Blogger blog, although you did briefly mention Skeptics SE in a blog post.

I'm merely curious! I noted your extensive history on the Skeptics SE site, and your record of involvement and dedication, which is significant and commendable.

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    I posted another answer as answers to your question. :) – Larian LeQuella Apr 28 '13 at 3:07
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Feral, great questions, and I think a comment wouldn't be able to hold them all (or I'd be making multiple comments, and I tend to lose my train of thought that way).

I am specifically asking for sponsorship as an individual. That said, I will be doing things to specifically promote Skeptics StackExchange as I mentioned in my proposal. By attending as an individual, I will have a few freedoms and some access that exhibitors don't, and my desire is to take advantage of those freedoms. I went to TAM last year on my own (well, in conjunction with a work related trip), so I have learned a couple of things, as well as getting to go to NECSS. if the community thinks they can get value from this, the specifics get worked with Aarthi and those folks. However, input or suggestions from the community is why I post this proposal here. Especially if I can get live questions to the presenters. Each presenter usually has a Q&A session, and if you have a question you have been dying to ask any of the TAM presenters, I'd be more than happy to speak on your behalf!

My topic is regarding using specific people with specific expertise as an "expert witness" and how that still counts as anecdote. I will be relaying an anecdote of my own, even though I am notionally an expert in aviation, meteorology, and astronomy. ;) I'll leave it at that. I'll also post my paper (and slides) here after the presentation.

I don't have links to Stack Exchange on my personal website because I am lazy... Yeah, that's about the best excuse I can come up with. I just haven't updated that web page in a meaningful manner for a while... Thank you for reminding me that it is something I really should do, as well as making me feel guilty for my laziness. ;)

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    Thank you for clarifying! I'm really happy that you weren't offended, or unnerved that I nosed around a bit. It only required all of about 5 minutes. Writing it up as an answer is what took time! Okay, I actually agree that you're better to try for sponsorship as an individual attendee. Exhibitors seem to be selling stuff, or advocates, or have display tables, and that is a lot of work. It is also quite a bit more expensive! Again, thanks for explaining. – Ellie Kesselman Apr 28 '13 at 17:46
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    Thanks for the clarifications Larian (and thanks for raising these concerns, @Feral). One more: assuming we actually manage to get you some SE swag this time, will you be able to hand it out without running afoul of conference rules? – Shog9 Apr 29 '13 at 2:17
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    @Shog9 from what I saw the last time I went, there is no rule against giving stuff away. :) I should be able to set up some community space at the JREF Forum table (it's sort of a community table folks use). Also, I am on good terms with one of the Novellas, so maybe a stop at SGU. – Larian LeQuella Apr 29 '13 at 2:53

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