As you may or may not be aware, I am the faculty advisor for the on-campus secular student group at the University of Central Oklahoma – the Skeptics at UCO. We have done a number of large-scale events in the past and are proud to announce the latest: SkeptOKon! It will take place October 25th, 2014.
SkeptOKon is the first ever student-hosted skepticism and critical-thinking focused conference in Oklahoma! There will be multiple well-known speakers, a panel discussion between skeptics and paranormalists, an interfaith panel, live musical entertainment, and enormous amounts of fun! Below is most of the information you will need to make the (easy) decision to attend, but also check the Facebook event page for updates.
SPEAKERS & PANELISTS:
Seth Andrews is the producer of The Thinking Atheist podcast and website, as well as the author of the very popular book Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason. His Amazon.com page describes him as “A Christian of 30 years and former religious broadcaster, Seth Andrews ultimately found himself dissatisfied with the explanations and doctrines of scripture and the church. His search for answers let him to reject, completely, Christianity and all other religions, and Seth now hosts one of the largest online atheist communities in the world, The Thinking Atheist. His “everyman” approach and skills as a broadcaster and video producer have brought, literally, millions into the conversation regarding religious beliefs and the benefits/damage they do in the name of their respective deities, especially in regard to the indoctrination of children. The Thinking Atheist is on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and BlogTalkRadio.”
Aron Ra is one of the “YouTube atheists” and an advocate for rationalism in science classrooms. He grew up in an exclusively creationist environment where he felt like a lonely outcast just for understanding evolution, let alone accepting it. Being raised in a mostly-Mormon family encouraged him to explore other denominations and eventually non-Abrahamic spiritualism before rejecting faith-based beliefs altogether. He was drawn into activism when the Religious Right dominated his state’s Board of Education, and began undermining education in history, health, science, and social studies. His videos often focus on evolution and the evidence indicating an interrelated tree of life. His series summarizing the ‘Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism’ and his subsequent series, ‘Falsifying Phylogeny’ (including the Phylogeny Challenge’) have been mirrored, featured, referenced, and recommended by many professional scientists, secularists, and educators, and has attracted more than 100,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel.
Caleb W Lack, PhD (that’s me, and I apologize for talking about myself in the third person) is a clinical psychologist, professor, and scientific skeptic operating out of Oklahoma. Dr. Lack is the author of more than three dozen scientific publications relating to the assessment and treatment of psychological problems such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Tourette’s Syndrome, pediatric mood disorders, and posttraumatic stress. In addition, Dr. Lack has presented nationwide and internationally on both psychological and skepticism topics. On the skepticism side of his day job, Dr. Lack teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on critical thinking, science, and pseudoscience. These recently culminated in the edited, online text Science, Pseudoscience, & Critical Thinking. as well as a series of documentaries on pseudoscience and superstition in Oklahoma – Pseudoscience in Oklahoma. Dr. Lack is also the founding advisor of the UCO Skeptics, a campus group dedicated to the application and promotion of reason and scientific skepticism in all areas of life. He is a contributor to Michael Shermer’s Skepticism 101 project – “a comprehensive, free repository of resources for teaching students how to think skeptically” and writes the Great Plains Skeptic column for the Skeptic Ink Network. He has also written for Skeptical Inquirer and makes regular appearances on local media.
Bryan Farha, EdD is a professor of behavioral studies in education, a licensed counselor, and a Scientific and Technical Consultant to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI). He has written numerous articles for both Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer magazines, as well as appearing in The Huffington Post. Bryan has appeared on CNN, Time.com, The National Geographic Channel, and A&E exposing fraud, deception, and paranormal claims. Most recently, he is the author/editor of Pseudoscience and Deception: The Smoke and Mirrors of Paranormal Claims, which included contributions by Michael Shermer, Steven Novella, Ray Hyman, Harriet Hall, and many more.
Damion Reinhardt is a secular and skeptical activist living in Oklahoma City. He has degrees in physics, statistics, and law, but dropped out of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary shortly after completing a course in apologetics. He enjoys long walks, unusual people, startling new ideas, and his increasingly numerous and confusing extended family. Damion blogs for the Skeptic Ink Network with Background Probability, produces both the Blue Ball Skeptics and AOK Godcast podcasts and spends an inordinate fraction of his spare time on Twitter.
Arpana Dalaya Dattilo, MA is both a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in December 2008 from the University of Central Oklahoma. In May 2012, she completed her board certified coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and obtained a Master of Arts degree with Honors in School Psychology from UCO and was named the Outstanding School Psychology Graduate Student. Arpana previously worked at UCO’s Autism Therapeutic Day School and Maxim Healthcare, where she provided one-on-one ABA services to children on the autism spectrum. She also conducted research to investigate emotion recognition and face gazing in children with autism spectrum disorder. She has presented nationally and is a published author. Arpana is working on her third year as a school psychologist for Edmond Public Schools. She is a member of the Oklahoma School Psychology Association and the National Association of School Psychologists. She was also the co-founder and first president of the UCO Skeptics (as it was known then). When not at work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, stepdaughter, and two dogs.
Beth Price, MA is also a Nationally Certified School Psychologist and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in psychology at University of Central Oklahoma in December 2009. She went on to earn a Master of Arts in school psychology and completed board approved coursework in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) in July 2012. Throughout graduate school Beth provided ABA services to private clients, both at the UCO Autism Day School and at Good Shepherd Catholic School at Mercy. Beth is knowledgeable in experimental design; she assisted in investigating emotion recognition and face gazing in children with autism. Additionally, she designed and executed a study to examine differences in visual search while using different input devices. Beth worked as a school psychologist for Deer Creek Public Schools during the 2012-2013 school year. Currently, she is in her second year as a school psychologist with Edmond Public Schools. She is a member of Oklahoma School Psychology Association and National Association of School Psychologists.
Matthew Korstjens, MA is a licensed professional counselor currently under supervision. He received his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Oklahoma and his Master’s degree in counseling psychology from the University of Central Oklahoma. He currently works in the neuropsychology field evaluating children for psychological disorders. His entry into the world of skepticism began as a young boy, when he was enthralled with UFOs, Bigfoot, The Bermuda Triangle, and various other dubious topics. He checked out every book he could on the supernatural and the more he read, the more skeptical he became. Matt’s undergraduate and graduate school training in statistics and the scientific method only solidified that skepticism. While in graduate school he was approached by his friend Arpana Dalaya who wanted to start a secular and skeptical student organization. They flipped a coin to decide who would be president and vice president. Matt lost (won?) and so became the vice-president of the UCO Skeptics. To this day he harbors the most evil and sinister of grudges.
Jim H Pace is the founder of SPOOK (Sooner Paranormal of Oklahoma), a Tulsa-based group that investigates paranormal activity. He prefers the term “Techno-Medium,” but realizes that due to the popularity of shows like Ghosts Hunters and Paranormal State that he’s likely stuck with being called a “ghost hunter” for some time. Jim appreciates that these shows have opened the eyes of the public to the tremendous opportunity’s that exist for us today in researching the paranormal world using high tech devices such as digital and Infrared cameras and digital recorders that have only recently became available. In addition to investigations, he is a martial arts instructor, a Vietnam era veteran, business owner, and family. Jim has been featured on local media and the group is quite active on Facebook.
Carl Hartline is the Associate Executive Director of the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center (MABRC). He is a native Oklahoman and was raised in Chickasha. Carl joined the Air Force after high school and retired, after 20 years, in 1989. He is currently based out of Tulsa. His interest in Bigfoot was sparked in 2007 when he saw the documentary Bigfootville, discussing Bigfoot sightings around Tulsa and eastern Oklahoma. He joined the MABRC in 2008 and, owing to his background in electronics and miniature intrusion detection systems, was appointed as technical advisor. Though he has not, personally, seen a live Bigfoot, he has been around others when they have had sightings. In addition, he has heard and recorded various sounds associated with Bigfoot and seen evidence of their presence.
Stephen Dillard-Caroll practices under the banner of The Traveling Tarot. He is the secretary of the Oklahoma Paranormal Education and Research Association (OPERA) and is a psychic/spiritual advisor operating out of Oklahoma City. He has been a student of Tarot and has read since almost the beginning of his tutelage. He’s read at the Spirit Fair, Art & Spirit Guild, Health & Holistic Fair, The Man Show, many different art gallery show openings, and many First Friday Art Walks in the Paseo District. He’s one half of the priest/priestess team at The Labyrinth Temple where he leads Guided Meditation classes every other Wednesday night. He’s a licensed and ordained minister, and has officiated many weddings, hand fastings and commitment ceremonies throughout Oklahoma. He’s also the leader of the Kouretes Men’s Spirituality Group here in Oklahoma City. He says “It is my belief we all have the answers inside us for all of life’s questions. It’s just sometimes we need someone to help guide us to those answers within ourselves. And that’s why I do Tarot readings. Not just to predict an outcome (although I’m really good at that too). But to listen, help and guide you along the way to finding the answers for yourself, thereby helping you live the best possible.”
Entertainment will be provided by award winning singer-songwriter Monty Harper. He has made a huge number of awesome music about science and scientists. His latest album is called Songs from the Science Frontier and featured tunes inspired by the research of various scientists. It is fun, catchy, kids love it, and, unlike most kid-friendly music, it’s fun for parents as well. Monty also runs a library program called Born to Do Science, where he invites scientists to speak to kids about their research, do demonstrations, and the he writes and performs a song about the research. Between the music and the programs, Monty is doing something pretty unique. He’s taking his talents as a performer and musician, and using them to help spread information about how fun science can be, what it really looks like, and who does it to an audience that is not often targeted by science outreach.
October 25th, 2014, 10 am to 6 pm
- 10 am – Opening remarks by Ryan Harris, president of the Skeptics at UCO
- 10:15 am – “The True Value of Skepticism” by Caleb Lack
- 11:15 am – Interfaith discussion panel
- 12:45 pm – “The Wide World of Autism Woo” by Arpana Dalaya Dattilo & Beth Price
- 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm – Lunch break
- 2:30 pm – Camp Quest Oklahoma informational
- 2:45 pm – Presentation by Aron Ra
- 3:45 pm – “Extraordinary Claims: Belief vs. Critical Analysis” panel featuring Bryan Farha, Matthew Korstjens, Damion Reinhardt, Jim Wright, Carl Hartline, and others
- 5:15 pm – “The Copycats: How Christianity Steals the Best Ideas” by Seth Andrews
- 6 pm – Closing remarks
The cost for attending will be free for UCO students and $10 for everyone else.
SkeptOKon will be held inside the Center for Transformative Learning on the University of Central Oklahoma campus. The speakers and talks will take place in the Radke Fine Arts Theater, with tabling outside by sponsors and speakers. It’s building #10 on this map, in the southeast quadrant of campus.
We will be having advertising space in our program, and would also make sure to read a short blurb about your business during the conference itself from the main stage, so everyone would hear about it.
Our prices start at $25 for a quarter page, move to $50 for a half page, and top out at $100 for a full page in the program. You could either design it yourself or we can help do it.
If you own a food-based business and would like to sponsor one of the breaks with snacks and drinks, we are also accepting donations for that if you would like to help out a great cause. You would get an advert in the program as well as a shout out from the stage.
All donations will go directly to funding the conference (paying for speakers and travel, cost of facilities, etc.). Feel free to contact us via email at UCOSkeptics@gmail.com if you’d like to chat about this.