On Friday night I had the privilege in participating in a panel discussion with Julia Galef, Jeremy Behan, and Ed Brayton. It was a blast and I was heartened to really be on the same page with my fellow panelists on a lot of subtle points. The video is below:
I wish we also had the 3 hour follow up discussion with a number of other great people on video too. A follow up video has to be made!
And use the links below to watch all the other panels. Panels that already happened can be seen on video and panels happening live can be seen live:
FtBCon begins tonight in less than five hours! Use this schedule to find the G+ page for each session.
All times CDT (UTC – 5)! See the Lanyrd page here.
We’re really excited to see you all online!
Friday 19th July 2013
Welcome 5pm to 6pm
Sex & Skepticism 6pm to 8pm
Sexuality is an area of human experience where pseudoscience and woo frequently prevail. How can skepticism and atheism enhance sex? What are the harms of allowing quackery and unexamined biases into the bedroom? Our panelists have a wide range of experiences with sexuality and skepticism, and their views on these questions will be diverse and thought-provoking.
Critical Thinking 8pm to 9pm
Our three panelists will discuss the importance of critical thinking, the many cognitive shortcuts that prevent us all from thinking critically at times, and the ethical considerations involving critical thinking.
Mission Creep 9pm to 10pm
Jason Thibeault discusses his life’s path through various social justice awakenings, and how social justice movements – atheism and skepticism included – all inevitably convergently evolve toward intersectionality.
Promoting Social Justice in Small Atheist Groups 10pm to 10:50pm
A lot has been said about promoting social justice in large groups of atheists, like forums, blogs and conventions. It’s not always easy to keep out the trolls and harassers and to say what needs to be said, but it can be done. But what do you do in a small university atheist club, or a local skeptic meetup group? Paul Wright, Madge Carew-Hopkins and Daniel Midgley talk about atheist groups in Perth, Australia and how the arguments that rage in the wider community have parallels in local atheist groups.
Supporting Freethinkers with Mental Illness 11pm to 12am
“Have you tried yoga?” “You just need to pray harder.” “You should try this herbal supplement.” People with mental illnesses get advice like this all the time. Although it’s not particularly helpful to anyone, with skeptics and atheists it’s especially misguided. What should we say to freethinkers dealing with mental illness? How do we support them in an evidence-based way? How can we use skepticism and critical thinking to reduce the stigma of mental illness? How can we improve access to treatment that actually works?
Saturday 20th July 2013
The Right Way to be Wrong 8am to 9am
Privilege, by nature, can blind us to the ways we harm others. Just as the religious majority, unwittingly, steps on our toes, we can often step on the toes of other minorities or women. This can lead to hurt feelings and anger directed at us as the toe steppers. How should we react once our toe treading is pointed out to us? What tools can you use to overcome the initial emotional backlash for said toe stepping? Why is telling people to “Get steel toed boots” not an answer?”
Thinking Rationally About Climate Change 9am to 10am
Get the latest news on climate change and find out why it’s important.
Atheism is Not Enough 10am to 12pm
As proven by the deep rifts that exist within movement atheism, a common acknowledgement that there is no god is often not enough ground on which to build a coherent, lasting community. Social justice movements often encounter tipping points where they either take into account the natural allies that are other movements, or they fail. This panel will discuss how movement atheism should not be the end-point of a journey into social justice, but the beginning.
Panel will cover what the experience of chronic pain is like, why the skeptic community should care, how the skeptic community can be welcoming and accessible to people in pain, common myths and truths about chronic pain, and good resources for skeptical perspectives on chronic pain.
Evangelical Atheism 12pm to 2pm
How to confidently engage in conversations about atheism with your friends, family, and peers. Picking your battles. Growing your arsenal of arguments. How to speak to fundamentalists without losing your mind.
Science Communication 12pm to 1pm
One of the masters of online science communication, Bora Zivkovic, will provoke and inspire us with ideas.
Atheism, Science, and Art 2pm to 3pm
Artists within the secular, scientific and skeptical communities online discuss using their art to popularize their preferred field. Hosted by Amy Roth and Glendon Mellow.
Reproductive Rights 2pm to 3pm
A panel of reproductive rights activists come together to discuss access to abortion in current events , clinic escorting and some common religious and non-religious arguments against abortion. Our panel consists of clinic escorts – including one panelist who volunteered before FACE laws went into effect (Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances), health care professionals, an author and several bloggers who write about reproductive rights. Our panelists hail from Minnesota, Kentucky, Virginia and Ireland.
Creationism 3pm to 4pm
You want to hear That Voice tear into the absurdities of creationism, don’t you?
Despite the popular assertion, one does not need to believe in a god to have love in their lives; however, disbelief surely shapes the kinds of loving relationships atheists can have. What effect does lack of a god belief have on things like sexual desire, shame, and the types of relationships we feel comfortable with? A panel of people with different experiences and perspectives discusses some of the issues and takes your questions!
SKEPTICON! 5pm to 6pm
The wild and crazy crew of godless heathens from Springfield, Missouri will tell us about the great things to look forward to at Skepticon on 15-17 November.
Skepticism and the DSM 6pm to 7pm
Multiple personalities? Personality disorders? The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) contains a list of all recognized mental illnesses. How valid is it? Kate will look at the best and worst mental health diagnoses and talk about what makes for useful skepticism when it comes to mental health.
Immigrants’ Rights and Social Justice 7pm to 8pm
A discussion of immigrants’ rights from a social justice perspective. Panelists from the US and Europe will be discussing the human impact of governments’ immigration policies, how detention and deportation harm people, how immigration controls intersect with racism and xenophobia, and what activists can do to stand in solidarity with marginalized immigrants.
Representation and Young Adult literature 8pm to 9pm
Although much of the bestselling YA literature in the last few years has featured female main characters, ofttimes the portrayal of these characters is problematic in terms of gender stereotypes and lack of minority characters. This is a discussion of the ways YA literature succeeds and fails and why it needs to change.
Atheist Music 9pm to 10pm
Join us to hear a few songs and have a casual chat with ukulelist and FtB blogger Ashley Miller, and Australian singer-songwriter Shelley Segal. In 2011 Shelley published An Atheist Album, and she has played at the Reason Rally, the American Atheist Convention, Women In Secularism and other events. Panel facilitated by Brianne Bilyeu.
Science, Skepticism, and Environmental Activism 9pm to 10pm
The press often portrays environmental activism as being at odds with science, but the putative divide is news to those working on protecting biodiversity. A panel of bloggers from the biodiversity-centric Coyot.es Network discusses.
Video Games, Religion, and Morality 10pm to 11pm
Religion and morality systems in video games are often grossly oversimplified, to the point where choices are entirely binary and you’re often forced, as a gamer, to do things that you might otherwise find appalling, like working in service of a god or gods. How are these heady topics handled in the slowly-maturing video game industry? Who’s already doing this stuff right? How can these topics’ treatment be improved?
Sunday 21st July 2013
Improving the Image of Atheists 10am to 11am
Atheists have an image problem. We didn’t create it, but we’re the ones with an interest in fixing it. Let’s talk about the range of strategies for doing that while still fighting our fights.
Meet the Pathfinders 11am to 12pm
Three of the volunteers of the Pathfinders Project, a yearlong international service and research trip sponsored by Foundation Beyond Belief, will be discussing the project, themselves, why they are involved, and why humanist service is so important.
The Air Up There: Atheist Communities in Canada 11am to 12pm
The atheist community is often dominated by an American perspective, but what about its closest neighbour? What lessons can non-American atheists learn from the similarities and differences between the US and Canadian experiences? A panel of Canadian atheists from across the country discusses and takes your questions.
Female Protagonists in Video Games 12pm to 1pm
Women make up 45% of the gamer population, a number that’s climbing rapidly toward parity. And yet, female protagonists in games are few and far between — and when games are exclusively fronted by female characters, they get far less marketing budget than their equivalent male-led titles. Why? What can be done about this?
Religious and pseudoscientific communities often claim to promote mental health, whether through treatment or social support. Our panelists will discuss their experiences with mental illness and how religion and pseudoscience have influenced them. They will talk about the religious and pseudoscientific treatments they have gone through and how friends and family from those communities have responded to their mental illness.
What the Military Taught Me About Feminism 1pm to 2pm
Richard Carrier gives a personal talk about his experiences in the military and what they taught him about feminism. He’ll be telling some embarrassing and personal stories about his time in the service twenty years ago as a young naive man, and reflecting on how they changed him and contributed to what he knows and how he thinks today.
Warning for Viewers: Some of the stories will be about the sexualization of women, and Carrier will be repeating sexual slurs and other things he saw and heard that can be quite shocking.
Atheists in Pop Culture 2pm to 4pm
TV, Movies, Comic books… our popular culture is soaked in depictions of religious people, but what about atheists? How are atheists portrayed in the public sphere? How can we do better? A panel of atheists gets at the real issues.
The Immortality Debate 2pm to 3pm
Religions generally promise some form of immortality to capitalize on our fear of death. Atheists have to come to accept that we will die, and there are various strategies for doing so. One of the prevalent ones is asserting that death is a good thing which enriches life, and that immortality is bad in principle. This would not be a panel about Kurzweil-style life extension or dreams of uploading, but rather a discussion about whether hypothetically an unbounded lifespan is fundamentally a good thing that humanity should strive for, or a corrupting influence that would do more harm than good. I do have my bias, but a panel with people who’ve come to informed conclusions on both sides is the ideal, no strawmen on either side.
Atheism and Grief 4pm to 5pm
“I’ll keep you in my prayers,” “Everything happens for a reason.” We’ve heard all the cliches. But what happens when we grieve free of myths and mysticism? How do atheists take care of themselves and of each other in times of profound sorrow? Grief Beyond Belief’s Rebecca Hensler moderates a discussion with panelists Greta Christina, Hank Fox and Nicome Taylor about their personal experiences of grief without God and how the freethought community can help provide rational comfort in times of tragedy and loss.
Organizing a Regional Con 4pm to 5pm
So you want to run a conference. Everybody’s doing it. Tune in to this session to find out what you need to know to make yours work.
Myths and Facts About Trans People 5pm to 6pm
While trans people have recently had increased exposure in the media and the mainstream consciousness, this has come at the cost of numerous misconceptions about what it means to be trans. In this panel, five trans women will discuss both the obvious and subtle flaws in common understandings of what being trans is like, followed by a Q&A session.
Where are the Asian Faces of Freethought? 6pm to 8pm
John Xu, the new Director of CFI Toronto, made this observation:
“I have often remarked how little interest people of my ethnicity have for secularist and freethought issues. My theory is that this is because they are the product of very complicated and difficult social, political, and intellectual turmoils of the 20th Century. Most Chinese people I know are brought up with a single-minded concern about generating wealth and a general apathy about philosophical matters. This is likely because their parents lived through such hard times.”
Although East Asians are the largest group of irreligious adherents in the world, the prominent faces of irreligion are white men like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris. The panelists will discuss and dissect assumptions and stereotypes about East and South Asians and their puzzling absence in representative numbers in the freethought and secular microcosm.
And Now We Drink 8pm to 9pm
Join the FtBloggers for closing toasts as we wrap up our first FtBCon.