Two weekends ago was the seventh annual Skepticon in Springfield, MO. Skepticon is the largest skeptic/atheist convention in the Midwest and is an excellent way to get in involved in the wider movements, especially if you happen to live within driving distance. I’ve seen various arguments break out on Twitter and Facebook (not to mention the occasional blog post) about whether the conference is aptly named, and I have tried on two previous occasions to take a somewhat more data-driven approach to the question of whether Skepticon is indeed a skeptic con, in the traditional sense of what constitutes scientific skepticism. This post is an update to those posts.
As before, Chas and I tried to sort all the talks into either skeptic or atheist bins, relegating everything else (talks about how to do activism in general, musical performances, comedy, social justice, etc.) into a catch-all category of other. As before, we only included the main stage events, and as always we welcome peer review. If you think we binned a particular talk wrong, after looking at the source data in the spreadsheet, please let us know and we’ll consider resorting it.
Some of the talks were tricky to categorize. Hemant Mehta’s talk, for example, was about why atheists need to be better skeptics in the sense of methodical fact-checking. Melanie Brewster’s talk was mostly about doing social science on atheists. Scott Clifton’s talk was essentially atheological counterapologetics, but fairly heavy on philosophy of science. You get the idea: Plenty of conceptual crossover. Now on to the updated graph:
As you can see, science and skepticism made a bit of a comeback this year. Overall, we saw roughly an even split between talks primarily about skepticism, talks primarily about atheism, and the catchall category which was mostly humanism and feminism this year. Seems to me they have struck a pretty decent balance, all things considered.