Why YOU should go to TAM London 2010

Picture the scene. It’s brisk, but not quite chilly, at 7:15 on Saturday the 3rd of October 2009, and I’m clutching at my little pot of warm, brown liquid that tastes almost like coffee. Seven-fifteen. It’s a bloody awful time for me. Too late to do any observing and too early for’¦ well, just about anything else. To make matters worse, the previous night I managed approximately one hour of sleep. Even for an astronomer, that’s pretty bad, and waking myself up onerously at 5 to catch the bus resulted in a graceless ballet of a start. Yet here I am, sipping at my faux café and grinning. Grinning like a twat. Because today I’m in London at the Mermaid Conference Centre and something very special is about to happen.

Perhaps more than anything else in recent years, it is in light of the introduction of The Amaz!ng Meeting in Europe that no one can deny the rising tide of scepticism around the globe.

The Amaz!ng Meeting

I wasn’t alone when I arrived so fresh and early. Aside from a trickle of sceptics congregating near the door, I was accompanied by my good friend and fellow League blogger, Th1sWasATriumph. “Christ,” I hear you say, “what an asshole!”

Yes it’s true, but as I said, he’s a good friend, and sometimes you have to look past the myriad flaws in an individual’s character – an individual whose very acronym is ‘TWAT’ – and see him for the beautiful, loveable atheist within. Besides, I wasn’t stuck alone with him. Shortly after our arrival we were greeted by RabbitPirate (this came as something as a surprise, as RP hadn’t once mentioned that he was attending TAM), League regular Josan and several members of YouTube’s sceptic community.

Once inside, we were treated to entertaining and informative talks, jokes, and even songs from a great variety of presenters. So awesome was the event, that I struggled to find the energy to write a comprehensive review (I will this year, I promise) so instead I’ll refer you to the one posted by the Hampshire Skeptic’s Society. You can also find a gallery of photos on my Facebook page (apparently you need to be signed into Facebook to view them) most of which were shot with a telephoto lens from the second row for close-up goodness. My short review is that somehow, the word ‘amazing’ doesn’t do it justice. For me it was a great opportunity to meet and thank some of the people who have inspired me to become vocal about my scepticism, atheism and love for astronomy (*cough* Phil Plait *cough*), and particularly symbolic as a landmark critical thinking conference held in my own country.

Thanks to the sell-out success of the London debut, this year’s second round has been announced and detailed for the weekend of October 16th and 17th. The line-up is excellent (though I must confess to not recognising all of the names) and the whole thing is sure to attract more media attention thanks to several high-profile attendees.

This is a fantastic opportunity to raise public awareness of the sceptical cause and the importance of education. It’s also the perfect excuse to get some of the League together and represent our corner of the intertubes. It was, as I said, quite a surprise to bump into anyone aware of the site at last year’s event, but we’ve grown since then; who knows how many attendees could be reading? League of Reason is primarily a UK website – that is, it’s hosted in the UK with British administrators, and TAM London is the premier British event of its kind. Although our user base spans the entire globe, we have a comparatively strong European influence over other rationalist internet forums. What better way to represent than with a meet-up at TAM? I am also working on a League outreach programme, which many have shown interest in, so stay tuned for that!

Tickets for TAM London 2010, which are£220, go on sale on the 29th May (yes, this Saturday!) and I would expect them to sell out quickly. There is even a slim chance I won’t get one, but for the love of Loki I’ll give it my best shot. Th1sWasATriumph will also be attending this year’s event pending availability, as will Josan. Expect a League pub jaunt following the weekend’s festivities (i.e. get Monday off work) and some kind of t-shirt campaign in the run-up to October.

I began writing this post yesterday, and by the time I came back to it today, three new speakers had been added to the bill; among them, Richard Dawkins! Dawkins was unable to make last year’s event, as was James Randi (sadly due to illness) but this year it seems they will be joined by the one and only PZ Myers to form a trio of unstoppable ass-kicking. Do you really need any more convincing? To me, the only drawback is the lack of Phil Plait, who I had the pleasure of meeting at last year’s event. Phil, you will be sorely missed.

Finally, I have a special message for you PZ. Yes, I know you’re reading. I know you’re the one who creates endless, unoriginally named accounts to spam our forums with anti-atheist flame bait. Since you have mentioned me (twice) on your blog, I will be waiting for you in London, stalking in the shadows like a science ninja. I’m going to find you and I’m going to PESTER YOUR FACE OFF.

That said, who’s with me? Full details including accommodation information can be found over at tamlondon.org. TAM London is also on Facebook and Twitter. Lastly, my prediction for the weekend’s events.

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