1300 Ross Balch and Jake Farr-Wharton
1340 Loretta Maron
Friends of Science in Medicine
1420 Cassandra Perryman
Statistics for the Skeptical Researcher
1440 Lauren Cochrane
1500 Alison Gaylard
Northern Rivers Vaccination Supporters
1520 Holly Warland
1540 Peter Bowditch
Peter’s Mystery Topic
1600 Dinner Break
1640 Theo Clarke
Brain Claims and Learning
1720 Wendy Ingram
The Weirdness of the Placebo Effect
1740 Heidi White
1800 Martin Bridgstock
Pseudoscience Movements with Real Power
1820 Chrys Stevenson
Weight a Minute, That’s Bullshit!
1840 Scotty Harison
A Scientific Approach to Swordsmanship
1900 Dinner Break
2000 Danny Jarman
Engaging with Religious Fundamentalism
2020 John Cook
Combating Climate Change Denial
2100 Ross Balch and Jake Farr-Wharton
I got into the “Skeptical Movement” in 2010 after starting on my podcasting journey, first Skeptoid, then the SGU, then as many other podcasts as I could get my hands on. I have been skeptical for as long as I can remember and to realise that there was a whole community of people out there who thought like me and had the passion to work together to make the world a more rational place was a revelation. I was delighted to find out a year or so ago that Brisbane had it’s own Skeptics in the Pub group put together by Phil Kent. I so loved hearing about skeptical events like TAM and the Australian National Skeptics Convention and have been disappointed to have been overseas for every National Convention since discovering its existence! This got me to thinking, when was the last time Brisbane had a big skeptical event? I was dismayed to hear that it was 2009, 4 years ago! This inevitably lead to discussion at SitP about arranging such an event, and as is typical for a loosely organised group of mostly social people, there was much talk and little action for about a year. Finally in February this year I phoned around, and booked a venue. We now had a deadline and boy did everybody respond!
We turned our attention first to funding, knowing we would need sponsors in order to make this event possible, many names were banded about and Gary worked extremely hard sending emails and securing various sponsors, even putting over $1000 of his own cash into the project to get things rolling until sponsor funds arrived. Next we knew that we needed some good branding to get people talking about the event, Chris did an amazing job with the graphic design which enabled us to build a very attractive website and social media platform and some very suave looking t-shirts and merchandise. I took responsibility for promoting the event and I’m very grateful that with them help and support of various internet forums and podcasts we were able to absolutely smash our expectations in terms of registrations. We had looked around at other skepticamp events and expected to be able to attract around 40 people, that we were out by about a hundred is just astounding! We had over 140 registrations before the event. This meant that our catering budget all of a sudden was looking inadequate, but thanks to hard work by Phil and Shosh we were able to cater to everyone at the event.
The day finally arrived and I must admit to having a mix of excitement and absolute terror! This is the first time I had ever arranged anything even remotely like this and I’m so glad for the support of the rest of the Brisbane Skeptic Society it really took a massive group effort to get this to happen. We counted over a hundred attendees! Not only that but the vast majority of you arrived when the doors opened and didn’t leave until the very end, that level of dedication and support is quite frankly astonishing and to say I am immensely proud is a huge understatement. Every single one of you was supportive, respectful, insightful and extremely kind to one another on the day. Gary’s two wonderful daughters Carly and Eloise volunteered to help out on the day and worked hard to make sure all the attendees were accounted for and inducted. Michael and Derren were excellent buzzing around with their camera and wrangling all the attendees when necessary. The amazing social media coverage was completely down to David and Wendy who were working diligently all day at the back of the room making everyone who couldn’t make it extremely jealous. Hilton was wonderful at the back of the room manning the AV station making sure that each and every talk was projected correctly and recorded for posterity. Jake our co-host for the day was also working hard behind the scenes calming our speakers before going on stage on top of his MC duties.
It’s hard to even know where to begin when describing our incredible speakers (I suppose that’s a good enough start) there was such a great response from the community to present at the event that we had to close submission a mere week after opening them up! Each of our speakers either volunteered or were invited, and donated their time and efforts, some even coming in from interstate for no reward at all and each and every single one delivered an informative, entertaining and high quality presentation. Some of our speakers had never delivered a public talk before yet sill managed an enormous amount of bravery and class, qualities that cannot be overstated.
On behalf of the Brisbane Skeptic Society I want to say a huge thank you to each and every single one of our attendees, speakers and organisers for making the first ever Brisbane Skepticamp a monumental success, several people told me this was the best event they had ever attended for which I was truly humbled. I am beaming with pride at the way the whole community turned out and worked together to make this happen! Most importantly I have made a whole host of new friends over the past weekend and forged new ties which I hope will continue to grow both socially and in a skeptical community sense. Together we can forge ahead, and continue what is such an important fight together, not just for our own community but for society at large.
I am pleased to say that the Brisbane Skeptic Society is more inspired than ever to expand our Skeptics in the Pub events, including lecture nights and some other more social initiatives. I am happy to report that Brisbane Skepticamp will return next year, and you better believe it will be bigger and better!
Kind Regards, Ross Balch (President, Brisbane Skeptic Society)