SkeptiCamp NYC 2016: Share the apple of knowledge

Home The Schedule Attendees & Sessions Questions & Answers Took place December 3rd, 2016
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Questions and Answers

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General Participant Questions (for both session hosts and non-hosts)

What, exactly, is Skepticism?
Usage of this term varies wildly. But, we think the words of Tim Farley (software engineer and creator of, best reflect how this event prefers to approach the subject:

Skepticism is the intersection of science education and consumer protection. We help people learn from science to avoid spending their money on products and services that do not work. (Source: JREF Blog entry)

Not everything at SkeptiCamp needs to accomplish such a thing. We are open to other reasonable ideas about what a "skeptic" should be. But, we do hope most of the sessions focus on this sort of helpful attitude.

There is a Wikipedia article that is also often cited as a more general reflection of the skeptical attitude.

Is there an advantage to registering early, even if I am not leading a session?
Yes! We are aiming to keep this event somewhat limited in size, to facilitate participation and discussion. We can not guarantee there will be room for you, if you show up at the last minute. Though, of course, we will try to squeeze you in, if that is possible.

Do I have to pay anything?
This year, admission to SkeptiCamp NYC is free of charge! If you really enjoyed SkeptiCamp, and are not yet a member of NYC Skeptics, we encourage you to join, so you can take part in more fun and educational activities! Or, at least donate something to them, if you don't want the membership.

In previous years, we asked for a small incidental fee to help defray the cost of the event (especially the cost of the venue). This year, we have more benefactors and sponsors to cover everything. After all, unconferences were meant to be free!

Are children invited to SkeptiCamp?
SkeptiCamp is intended for adults, though young adults and teens can also join us, if they'd like, (with their parents' permission, if they are under 18). It is possible that some sessions could touch on topics that might be considered "inappropriate for children", though it would be kept in an educational, and hopefully dignified, manner. Some sessions may contain swear words. Parental discretion is advised.

Is it wheelchair accessible?
Yes, this year SkeptiCamp NYC will be in a room that is wheelchair accessible, via elevator.

Where did the name "SkeptiCamp" come from?
Check out our Etymology page, to find out.

Will the sessions at SkeptiCamp NYC be recorded?
Yes! We would like to video tape the whole thing. However, session hosts could opt-out. If you really don't want your session to be recorded, please let us know.

Highlights of what we record will probably be posted on video streaming sites, such as YouTube. We might stream some whole sessions, as well. (We do not know if we will put out DVDs, yet.)

Will the sessions at SkeptiCamp NYC be streamed live?
Yes! Well... Probably!! For the first time, we are gearing up to stream SkeptiCamp NYC LIVE, for all of the world to watch, as it happens! Details for how to log in will be posted in the near future.
Session hosts will be able to opt-out of live streaming, if they feel they must.

Will any food be provided? Will any of it be vegetarian?
We will provide refreshments at no charge! And, yes, there will be vegetarian options. This will include: soda, some snacks, etc. As a matter of local tradition, we will either have some Tim-Tams or Penguin Cookies, too! (Both are chocolate-laden biscuits. Penguins came first, from the UK. Tim-Tams are the popular copycat from Australia.)

We aim to accommodate many dietary restrictions, if you indicate any on your registration form.

For lunch, we would like to try to keep as many people in the room as possible, for socializing. We will have order forms for food (location to be determined) to be delivered.

If you wish to bring your own food, we will have a cooler available for refrigerated items, such as sandwhiches and salads. However, we will probably NOT have a microwave.

But, you also have the option to eat at one of the many nearby restaurants, if you wish.

Session Host Questions

What does "Session Host" mean?
Basically, it is synonymous with the old fashioned term "presenter" (which is still occasionally used on this site). But, it implies that you can do more than merely "present" a topic in front of people. You could also lead an interactive workshop, moderate an open discussion, perform a witty sketch routine, or whatever. We are trying to encourage more interactive activities, this year, and we hope our adjustments to our vocabulary will somehow facilitate that.

Read more about session options on our templates page.

If I want to be a session host, do I need to register for the event?
Yes! Since this is a user-generated conference, the presenters are also the attendees. Everyone interested in participating in the event needs to register. (There is no fee this year.) As a session host, you must be able to physically attend the conference. Location and time information is on the home page and the "advanced schedule" of topics will be posted a week or two before the event.

What is the deadline?
There is a "soft" deadline for submitting session proposals of November 13th, 2016. If you submit your idea on or before that date, you stand a much better chance of getting in. If not, we will only consider you if there are any spots left.

Is there an advantage to submitting session proposals early?
Yes! Session proposals will be examined in a roughly first-come, first-served basis. The earliest eligible ideas are more likely to make it to the advanced schedule than the later ones.

What should I present?
We are accepting session proposals related to science, skepticism, and critical thinking, in general. The less related to that, the more likely we will not accept it. The more descriptive your description is, the better able we will be to judge it against that very broad criteria. We encourage you to present something you are passionate about, or perhaps something you are (or would like to be) an expert on, and definitely something that will interest and facilitate discussion with the others in the group. A good source of presentation ideas can be found here:

Are credentials necessary to be a session host?
No, not at all! But, if you come off like an ignorant buffoon, you could be "eaten for lunch" by the other participants! (This applies even if you do have credentials.)

How long should my session or presentation be?
When you submit your idea, you can tell us how long you think it will take. The maximum amount of time allowed will be 30 minutes. But, lots of folks have been able to cover good ground in their topics in 15 or 20 minutes, in the past. The more concise you are, the better!

Can I submit more than one session idea?
No. You are allowed to change what your session topic is, pretty much any time you want to before the deadline. However, we will not likely allow anyone to lead more than one session. We would only do so, if by some miracle, there was enough time left for that to happen.

What if I have special needs for supplies or equipment for my presentation?
We will be providing a projector, screen, laptop, and dry erase board for visual aids. Beyond that, you are responsible for providing any other equipment you will need. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask Mitch:

The laptops we provide will likely be Windows-based with both Microsoft Office 2013 (or, at least 2010) and 3.4 (or later) installed. It is possible someone will bring a Mac you can borrow, but don't count on it, right now.

How do you decide who gets to host a session?
Session proposals are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. The first of the eligible, non-redundant, entries will be chosen for the "advanced schedule". (If two people had a very similar topic, the first one in gets to give it.) A few alternates will also be chosen, in case someone cannot present.

All else being equal, we will also tend to favor newcomers over veteran hosts. It's only fair.

To be eligible, your topic:
  • should appeal to the theme of science and/or skepticism, etc.
  • and it must not be deemed as "abusive" or illegal in any manner.

Hosts are NOT chosen based on any "political influence". Not even the organizers get any privileges, here.

Can I give out handouts during my session?
Yes, of course! You are responsible for the cost of printing. We will let you know how many people to expect, if you ask us.

Contact us with questions or comments: