The Amazing Meeting Where Amazing Things Happened

Animated me Photo by Dave Fayram

It’s the end of my TAM8 experience. I thought I would write a post before heading off. This has been one of the craziest five days that I have experienced. It all started off so well. Bristol airport was empty last Wednesday and the flight to Newark could not have been any easier. I actually managed to work on the plane by taking notes of Damsio’s book, “The Feeling of What Happens,” for the new book I am working on (more of that later). Anyway, I had a disaster at Newark where I lost my wallet with all my cash and credit cards – nightmare!

It is a major pain in the neck to arrive in another country without cash and especially credit cards. You can’t even make a long distance call back to the lost & found in Newark to see if someone handed in a wallet. I had major communication problems with the lady from Continental’s lost and found in Vegas – she was an idiot. She could not conceive of a foreigner having no access to cash & credit. Alison, the local organizer for the Amazing Meeting, sent Bart, the JREF development officer to pick me up in a multi-seater van. He was not too happy as there had been a cock-up and there was no one to meet me off the plane but we bonded quickly when he realized that he had lost the parking ticket for the airport within 5 mins of meeting me. I was jinxed! Just to make sure that he did not take the wrong turn on the freeway to get to the hotel, Bart turned on the google map on his phone. However, after a quick acceleration of the van, his phone jumped off the dashboard and preceded to skid all the way to the back under the seats. When we pulled over to look for it, it was gone. So I called his phone and we discovered that it had slipped to the gap under the seats.

Weird phone moments was to be a recurrent event. Michael Shermer who was one of the speaker first up described how only that morning he was talking on his son’s iPhone with the headphones inside the hotel lift when he politely gestured for the woman sharing the lift to exist first. He thrust his hand forward but because of the connection to the headphones, the iPhone snapped out of his hand and ended up sandwiched in the gap between the lift and the floor. He described how both of them watched in horror as the iPhone rattled down the gap to plunge down the rest of the lift shaft. His talk was on amazing coincidences!

Anyway, to my talk. The auditorium was daunting. I don’t know exactly how many were there but it was pretty full from where I was. I gave my usual animated presentation –  I hate podium talks – I think this was generally appreciated. I ended up talking about the ADE 651 story which got a spontaneous round of applause. It went well and lots of people come up for autographs – which is ironic after I had just talked the essentialism of collectibles! However, my big thrill was Simon Singh who came up afterwards and said that he enjoyed the talk. He also very interested in the woo bombdetector story. Watch this space. Anyway, got to dash to catch a plane. Thank you Vegas. It was a blast.


Filed under General Thoughts

19 responses to “The Amazing Meeting Where Amazing Things Happened

  1. You were jinxed?
    Now that’s funny.

  2. Lysistrata

    You talk was fabulous. Everybody around me loved it and was thrilled that you were so animated that earlier in the morning for us. We are hoping you will return to future TAMS

  3. So, the wallet? Did you get it back? Also, stop carrying a wallet in the first place. They get lost, don’t you know? I have all my stuff in my pocket, which I have never lost. Also, I’m not a man of great means, so I can carry all I have in my pocket. What is it that you rich men have in your wallets?

    • brucehood

      Yes,,, indeedy .. it was found and handled in with all money present… this reinstates my faith in the goodness of people… shame I never left a reward……that was a joke BTW

  4. Techowiz

    Hi Bruce,

    Is there a link to your talk so we can all listen to it?

  5. It is curious to me that a group of skeptics – who know that gambling is rigged – would choose to meet in Vegas. Was the irony of this ever discussed? I’d love to go to TAM but could not – would not spend my time or money in Vegas.

    • brucehood

      Indeed, I raised this point time and time again. When people started going on about eradicating homeopathy and other campaigns, I kept saying look around – state organized gambling is much more evil.

      The reason for Vegas is because of Penn & Teller, who have supported JREF over the years, and are usually at the meeting. However, they’re in London at the moment on tour.

  6. Jacob V

    I would also say that Vegas is somewhat central and the room a convention rates are among the lowest in the nation given the quality of the facilities. Also James Randi was a professional magician and the skeptic movement had many magicians involved in its origins, and Vegas is where magicians all want to perform!

  7. I would also say that Vegas is somewhat central and the room a convention rates are among the lowest in the nation given the quality of the facilities. Also James Randi was a professional magician and the skeptic movement had many magicians involved in its origins, and Vegas is where magicians all want to perform!

  8. Many TAMmers never leave the hotel. I didn’t until the last night just to say I was in Vegas. I didn’t like it. It was like Times Square but 100 degrees even at night. However, TAM is about meeting excellent people and making lifelong friends. In this sense, it doesn’t matter where it’s held as long as it can hold over 1000 people. They might need a bigger hotel next year.

    Bruce, you SURE looked like you enjoyed yourself while there. So glad everything worked out. Also, I think Dr. Shermer’s phone survived the fall as well…

    • brucehood

      Dear Sharon,
      I wasn’t having a good time……. I was having an absolutely brilliant time!!! Next time I will bring my video camera and capture you too. 😉


  9. Bruce,
    I must agree that I find it hilarious that you were jinxed, not so funny on the wallet, though. As to having the meeting in Vegas . . . I, too, find that a bit odd. Never been to Vegas. Have a couple of friends who keep begging us to fly out for a long weekend of debauchery. I love slot machines, but hate crowds and noisy rooms, so probably not going to happen.

    Glad it went well. Looking forward to seeing your talk.

  10. Your talk was very well prepared and presented and you blew most of us away! Many skeptics don’t spend much time thinking about essentialism but I find it incredibly fascinating. I thought often about the number of people getting signatures and it struck me how odd a practice that really is.

    I wanted to have a chat with you during TAM but you were always surrounded and I didn’t want to butt in, but I wondered if you have read any research about the disgust response and how it relates to essentialism. I find it particularly odd the feelings of revulsion that people have about things like cut hair and breast milk and fingernails.

    I’m so glad that you gave your presentation at TAM, it gave us all a lot to think about. I believe it was the most thought provoking speech given all week and we were lucky to have heard it.


    • brucehood

      Shucks and thanks so much…. Next time just butt in and speak to me as you are spot on with the link to disgust. I cover this in the book and frankly alot of my thinking has been strongly influenced by the work of Paul Rozin who has done all the work on the psychology of disgust.

  11. Meh

    Uhm. I posted in the wrong window… Do you have any links from your talk? Specifically, the “kid with ball” video.

  12. Deepakraj


  13. Deepakraj

    Very nice

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s