What Do You Want To Hear About At Skepticon?

Last year at Skepticon I wrote a talk, Dear Christian, that went through the common arguments for god’s existence and refuted them.

For those of you attending Skepticon 4, what do you want to hear about this year?  I want to do something that pushes people in the audience to think, and beating religious arguments in submission is nothing new.

I’m leaning toward doing a talk on mental illness and why I think the skeptical community should pick it up as a cause, as well as what changes I’d like to see in society.  And of course, I feel I can change people for the better on that subject.

But I’m open to anything.  Do you guys want to hear a funny talk on morality?  Do you want more stomping of religious arguments?  Let me know!  :)

You guys are wonderful.
PERSONAL: Mid day lab pics from the wife.
PERSONAL: Happy birthday, Hitch.
PERSONAL: Sorry to disappoint you, Julian.
About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Blake

    Humor sounds good, but that is just my opinion. I am certain it will be great regardless.

  • Tara

    I really want the doom and gloom speech you did a few months back…But I’m open to anything. I know it is be excellent no matter the topic :)

  • Blenster

    I love the stuff on the Primacy of Reason; not all atheists/skeptics apply it everywhere…

  • backin15

    Both your witty and bludgeoning talks are greatly needed and wanted. I think, for now, that you should go with the mental illness theme. I know many religious people that hold on to the god blanket because it “protects” them from the head demons. If they understood they were not alone and that mental illness doesn’t mean the negative things it used to, maybe they would seek the help of something a bit less invisible. I also think doing such a talk/campaign would shorten the leashes of your own personal head monsters.

    Either way. I look forward to hearing or hearing about your talk, no matter the direction you take.

  • Allie

    I think the mental illness topic would be great. It’s not a topic that’s covered much, and like backin15 said, it’s often wrapped up in “Jeebus will heal me” land.

  • Karen

    I loved your talk at the AA con in Des Moines last spring.
    And, since it’s not available on YouTube, I wouldn’t mind if you repeated it. Can’t remember what it was called. “Coming out atheist”?
    Anyway, whatever you decide … I’m looking forward to it!

  • Dini

    Please talk about skepticism/atheism and mental illness. I’m getting very tired of people within the community telling me to “sit down and shut up” so I don’t give the impression that all atheists are depressed. And so many people with mental illness are taken advantage of by religious “counselors” and peddlers of woo-woo, I’d love to see the movement take it up.

  • http://www.twitter.com/jubydoo Juby

    I vote for the mental illness talk. Not only will it be unique with regard to what else will be talked about, but talking about what’s weighing heavily on your own mind could be a lot of help, both for you and others.

  • lordshipmayhem

    I too vote for Mental Illness – let’s try to remove the social stigma.

    Plenty of mentally ill people can lead productive lives while getting treated – and plenty of people with mental illness will forego treatment for fear of the social implications.

    I’d like to hear something with some humour attached, but this should take priority.

  • Jonathan Roberts

    A rationalists emotional self defence course. How to deal with, death, grief, uncertainty, fear, addiction, etc. without loosing your rationality. When people are desperate they are vulnerable to magical thinking. Religion preys (pun intended) on them. Just look at the religious literature in a hospital ICU waiting room. Philosophies such as Stoicism, Secular buddhism, humanism etc. are comforting without being lying. Let’s teach them. More importantly let’s develop a community of rationalists who are willing to listen, counsel, cook meals & just be friends in a time of need. Put together courses for those who want to be more active in this role.

  • Richard

    I’m agreeing with the majority, how the skeptical, reason community should take up the banner of mental illness that Christians pray over and then blame the ones suffering, “You aren’t praying hard enough!”. ><

  • Art Vandelay

    I know that it’s a little sophomoric, but I’d prefer you just talk shit about Jesus for an hour.

  • http://eepineapple.wordpress.com jlloyd714

    I’m going to add my vote to the mental illness ballot box. It’s an important topic that doesn’t get enough attention anywhere in our society- at least not in a positive, non victim-blaming way. The skeptic/atheist/freethinker movement can only benefit from being more informed!

  • http://en.allexperts.com/q/Atheism-2724/indexExp_111189.htm Jeffrey Eldred

    I say a mental illness talk, because there is good precedent for it being inspiring and enlightening from your blog posts. I understand of course, if you feel like such a talk would be to difficult to give.

    There are lots of issues to discuss there. What does an atheist turn to in moments of despair? Is there a connection between openness and skepticism? How does one maintain rationality against overwhelming psychological pressure? Is there a way skeptical activism can improve psychological treatment for society?

    I’d love to hear you discuss it.

  • http://omahacor.org William Danger Newman


    At this year’s American Atheists convention David Silverman said the following: “There are some atheists who believe that the best way to promote our ideas is by leading with an outstretched arm with olive branch after olive branch hoping the nice guy approach will get us to equality. I tend to doubt that will work, mainly because it never has in the past. Remember, our adversaries are not the believers. They are the string pullers, the professional liars who pronounce themselves holy, and the politicians in their pockets. Being nice may change the perceptions of atheists to the followers but… true believers follow their leaders. And their leaders aren’t likely to walk away from power and money just to be nice.”

    I believe he hit the nail on the head. Our adversaries are the string pullers, the professional liars and the politicians in their pockets! The talk I would like to see you give is how we take on those religious leaders and the politicians in their pocket. We all know that religion is weak and can’t stand on it’s own, it needs the state to prop it up. What can the average non-theist do to have an impact where it will really count and directly challenge those leading the flocks?

    Thank you.

  • http://carlsagansdanceparty.wordpress.com Steven Olsen

    I think that doing a talk on the progress that the atheist/skeptic movement has made would be interesting. We get so many people naysaying and being pessimistic about our efforts that taking stock of what we have accomplished in the last 10 years would be pretty useful.

  • Ashton

    I want to hear more about mental illness. I deal with serious depression and anxiety issues and sometimes reading blogs of people who have similar issues is really helpful. Hearing a talk about it would probably be even moreso. I don’t always know how to put things into words and you are probably a lot better at articulating this type of thing than I am, so it could be helpful to me personally.

  • http://twitter.com/almightygod Almightygod

    I’d be interested in hearing about secular groups in colleges and high schools. What obstacles do they have to overcome in order to form and grow? What effects do they have on the student bodies?