On April 9th, 2011, I’ll be honored to speak at Edmonton’s Telus World of Science as a featured part of the lineup for LogiCON 2011. Billed as “Critical Thinking for Everyone,” LogiCON is a new conference with a novel approach. It attempts to combine the accessibility achieved by the wildly successful SkeptiCamp model with the strengths of a curated event. To help with accessibility, all LogiCON sessions are open at no extra cost to anyone who pays the general admission price for the Telus World of Science on April 9th.
Regular readers will have noticed that I haven’t been blogging as much as I would like. That’s because I’ve been up to my eyeballs in exciting (grueling) book projects. For that same reason, I’ve been reluctantly turning down some wonderful speaking engagements in favor of staying on task with my book research.
But when Skeptically Speaking’s Desiree Schell asked me to keynote LogiCON, I knew this was one event to which I couldn’t say “No.” After all, I discovered the joy of skepticism (a “love at first sight” moment, if ever there was one) at another small Canadian conference, at a panel led by Canada’s own Barry Beyerstein.
It brings me great happiness to see this golden age for skeptical events continue to expand in the Canadian scene. We’ve enjoyed a boom in successful SkeptiCamp events (notably the now-annual Vancouver SkeptiCamp), local and regional groups, Skeptics in the Pub, and other inspiring developments. I even hear tell of a new Canadian event based on the model of Atlanta Dragon*Con’s thriving Skeptrack. Fun!
But even by those standards, LogiCON feels to me like something that could be very special. To begin with, it is positioned closely to science, which speaks to the best of the skeptical tradition. Taking place at the World of Science underlines that explicitly. (So do expert speakers like Barbara Drescher, who teaches research methods and cognitive psychology at California State University, Northridge.) As well, it’s designed to live up to its promise of “Critical Thinking for Everyone.” It’s cheap, and focused on introductory outreach. There’s a Beginner Track (“a jargon-free zone designed to get you thinking about how logic and the scientific method can be applied to everyday life”) and even a track for kids!
And that’s just the place for me. I’ll be speaking about my own experiences—as a paranormal believer, and as a skeptical investigator later in life — and explaining that no one owns critical thinking. Skepticism and paranormal belief are not necessarily opposites. After all, my parents taught me both.
At the end of the day, reality can be as weird as it likes. It all comes down to science: the tricks for finding out what’s true, and the love of finding things out.
I hope to see you there!