Just a bit before Skepticon III, Jeff Wagg posted this bombshell at Indie Skeptics, claiming that Skepticon was badly misnamed. I disagreed with Jeff at the time, and agreed with DJ Grothe (and several others) that atheism is basically what happens when one applies generalized skepticism (asking for the relevant kind of evidence) to claims of theism. Very recently, the question of whether Skepticon is really a “skeptic con” has resurfaced in the blog sphere, and also on Facebook (e.g. this comment from Travis Roy).
I feel like this is the sort of question that we generally decide with our guts, without even a halfhearted attempt at quantification. In an effort to remedy that, here is my (at least ¾ hearted) attempt at putting numbers on the problem. My bro Chas and I have, between the two of us, attended most of the talks from the last three Skepticons and watched the remainder on YouTube. After doing this, we went through the list of talks and sorted everything we could into three bins: Atheism/Freethought, Skepticism/Science, and Other. Some of the talks were evenly split between two categories, and we tried to take that into account. When in doubt, we tried to err on the side of skepticism. Here is the spreadsheet, for anyone interested in seeing how everything got binned. Feel free to argue with us about which ones we got wrong, but remember, you are running the risk of denying our lived experiences.
Overall, I would say that Skepticon strikes a decent balance between atheistic talks on the one hand and traditional scientific skepticism or science outreach on the other. I would enjoy somewhat more skepticism and a bit less theism, but I recognize that as my own personal preference rather than some sort of movement imperative. Lest this post be taken as a hit piece, I’d like to commend the organizers of Skepticon for their hard work at putting together the largest free skeptical/atheist conference in the Midwest. May your endeavors be fruitful for years to come!