Spot the Difference

Just back from TAM London where I had a great time as a tourist. I got to hang out without the hassle and stress of being a speaker. The day started early for me with 7:15 train to London with time to spare to catch Sue Blakemore open with her personal journey from belief to skepticism. I have heard this a number of times but it is always good to hear it again with more details.

Next up was Richard Dawkins with a talk about how natural selection can be used as a general approach to understanding a broad range of disciplines. Then a very amusing Cory Doctorow talked about the origins of copyright, followed by a hilarious segment from Adam Rutherford talking about his experience of the Apha course. Then it was time for lunch. I headed to the green room to be confronted by the looming stature of Jonathan Ross, who beamed at me and then came up to shake my hand saying, “It’s a shame about Alan isn’t it?”

This time I was forewarned and not star-struck. “You think I am bloody Robin Ince again!” I snapped. Yes, Wossy still thinks I am a dead ringer for Robin. Either that or he takes some perverse pleasure in teasing me. We joked that it would be fun for him to greet Robin with a “Hi Bruce” but alas Robin did not turn up until later in the proceedings. Anyway, it is a joke that is a bit lame to start with.

At one point in the meeting, a foreign lady sheepishly edged her way up to me for a signature holding out a copy of “59 seconds.” I said, “I’m sorry but I did not write this, it was Richard Wiseman.”  She nodded and said that she knew that I was not the author,  but would I sign it anyway because she was using it to collect celebrity signatures. “In that case, sure,” replied I. After reading the signature, her smile was replaced by a look of confusion. “You think I am Robin Ince, don’t you?” I offered. Her look of disappointment was evident despite her profuse apologies for the mix-up.

So for any future TAMers and those going to QED where we are both on the bill, here is an easy to spot-the-difference guide for Robin twitchers.


Separated at birth?


Also appearing at QED in Manchester next February is Jon Ronson, and just in case there is any confusion, I have posted a picture of us so that you can tell the difference. I would like to take credit for writing, “Men Who Stare at Goats” and that hilarious article last week on the Isane Clown Posse that went viral, but alas it was not I.


Bruce has a DJ Grothe growth on his shoulder!


And whilst I am in the mood of name-dropping celebrities, here is one of Tim Minchin and me. I have forgiven him for ceasing to follow me on Twitter as he was so kind and fun at the meeting.


Dwarfed by the great Tim MInchin


So did I learn anything? Not much, but then this was not a science conference, but rather a gathering of a community that I have come to embrace. I still feel a bit of an outsider, slightly bemused by the characters who inhabit this geeky world, but they are a wonderful bunch and great fun to be around.

Also, I finally got a smile out of Richard Dawkins today as I was leaving, which was great given that he seems to have completely forgotten or acknowledge my existence since TAM Vegas. There again, with such a blatant obsession with celebrity name-dropping and craving for esteem by association, I probably don’t deserve any better. Maybe it was because I was leaving that made him smile!

Oh well, now back to the real world.


Filed under General Thoughts, In the News

3 responses to “Spot the Difference

  1. I do not think the “Hi, Bruce!” is beneath me and will endeavour to try it out if I ever get a chance to. Mind you, how will I know that it’s Robin and not just some guy who looks like him?

  2. Bruce,
    Personally, I do not think that you look like any of your doppelgangers, but that’s probably because I have never seen any of them.

    Glad you had a good time and got a smile out of Dawkins.

  3. Jon Ronson and Tim Minchin? what fantastic company you keep Bruce

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