Common Questions and Answers About SkeptiCamp NYC
What is Skepticism, in the context of this event?
That would be Scientific Skepticism, to be a little more precise! There are several good ways to define this term. The one we prefer, for our purposes, comes from the "elevator pitch" written by Tim Farley:
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.
There is a Wikipedia article that is also often cited as a more general reflection of the scientifically skeptical attitude.
We do NOT use the term to deny or defy the findings of the natural sciences.
What is SkeptiCamp, and where did its weird name come from?
SkeptiCamp is almost like a science conference, with one twist: Anyone can be a presenter, here. Even you!, as long as your topic has something to do with science and/or skepticism. There are SkeptiCamp events all over the world!
It's weird name has its roots in the BarCamp model of "unconferences", which had focused on software and technology. (It had nothing to do with bars.) See the Etymology Page for more details.
Do people camp out?
Nope, not anymore. A previous incarnation of unconferences, called FooCamp, did feature actual camping. Today, the "camp" portion of the name is just kept on as part of that legacy.
Should I register to attend SkeptiCamp, even if I am not leading a session?
Yes! We are aiming to keep attendance somewhat limited in size, to facilitate participation and discussion between everyone. We cannot 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?
There is a $20 recommended donation we would like every attendee to make, to the New York City Skeptics, our major sponsor, and a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. This ensures we can continue to run this FULL-DAY educational event every year!
If, for some reason, you did not appreciate the existence of this thing, you are NOT obligated to pay anything, if you really feel that way.
Since SkeptiCamp NYC is taking place in the back room of a cafe, this year, we encourage everyone to buy their meals and snacks there.
If you really enjoyed SkeptiCamp, we encourage you to join NYC Skeptics as a member, so you can take part in more
fun and educational activities!
(In some of our earlier years, we charged a mandatory nominal fee to cover expenses, but our current crop of sponsors is okay with running the event on voluntary donations, instead.)
Are children invited to SkeptiCamp?
SkeptiCamp is intended more for college students and adults. 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.
Children may attend SkeptiCamp NYC with their parents' or guardians' permission. But, discretion is advised.
Is it wheelchair accessible?
Yes, this year SkeptiCamp NYC will be in a room that is on the ground floor, and wheelchair accessible.
Will the sessions of 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 post some whole sessions, as well.
Will the sessions at SkeptiCamp NYC be streamed live?
Unfortunately, this event will not be streamed live, this year. If we sense that there is an audience for it next year, we will try to bring this feature back. So, please let us know if you want it!
Why isn't SkeptiCamp taking place in Manhattan, this year?
We orginally were in talks with a venue in Manhattan, but by the time they decided not to host us, it was getting too late to book any of our other favored locations in that borough. However, we did manage to find a nice, sweet place in Brooklyn. So, we're going there, instead! It's still part of New York City!
Will any food be provided? Will any of it be vegetarian?
This year, SkeptiCamp NYC is taking place in the back room of a cafe establishment. We encourage everyone to buy their food from them, for the day! Technically, you are not obligated to do so. But, they serve good stuff for breakfast, lunch, and snacks. And, we are arranging a menu for an after party dinner. Many of their options are vegetarian. And, they will try to accommodate other dietary restrictions.
We may provide a limited number of complimentary food items, such as the local tradition of Tim-Tam cookies.
What is a Session Host?
It is our cool and savvy, preferred word for the now old-fashioned term "presenter" (which is still occasionally used on this site, anyway). 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 comedy routine, or whatever.
What do I need to know to become a Session Host?
Everything you need to know is in our Session Host Guide.
How do you decide which sessions to put on the schedule?
Session proposals are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. The first submissions in will likely be the ones on the schedule.
If two people have very similar topics, we will talk to the hosts to eliminate one of the redundant ones. 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 some aspect of science and/or skepticism
- and it must not be deemed as "abusive" or illegal in
See the Session Host Guide for more details.
Hosts are NOT chosen based on any "political influence". Not even the
co-organizers get any privileges, here.
Credentials don't really matter to us, because this is supposed to be The People's Convention, NOT a professional science conference! We do NOT turn away anyone just for their opinions or points of view! And, the event is FREE OF CHARGE, so you get what you PAY for!!
Who came up with SkeptiCamp?
That would be a fellow named Reed Esau, who saw the value in running an open conference on science and skepticism using the popular BarCamp model of technology "unconferences", back in 2007. He was eventually rewarded a Citizen's Skepticism trophy from the former James Randi Educational Foundation, for doing so! To this day, he manages the international SkeptiCamp Wiki web site.
This question is aimed specifically towards Mitch Lampert: Why did YOU decide to run the New York City edition of SkeptiCamp?!
Thanks! I really don't get asked this question as much as I would like. No one seems to care about me as much as you do, since you are at least reading this response.
I was compelled to take charge of some kind of event for the Skeptical Community that I found myself being part of. But, I wanted to be something EASY. And, SkeptiCamp is VERY easy to organize.
I originally wanted to run a costume contest, actually. But, back in 2009 there was little interest in that. So, I went with runing a SkeptiCamp instead.
Can I run my own SkeptiCamp, in a different city?
Yes! Well, probably. Visit the official SkeptiCamp web site to learn more!
Are you doing poster presentations?
No, not really, sorry. We wanted to do them a few years ago, but there were no takers. If you REALLY want to display a science poster, however, perhaps we might be willing to hang it up! Talk to us about that.