Common Questions and Answers About SkeptiCamp NYC
How is SkeptiCamp NYC 2021 going to take place, amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
This year SkeptiCamp NYC will offer a choice in how you wish to attend the conference: In-Person OR On-Line. We will likely be using Zoom as our web conference platform. The URL will be provided to everyone a day or so before the event begins.
For those attending in person, the following safety protocols are in place:
- All in-person attendees will be REQUIRED to show proof full COVID vaccination. A photo of your COVID vaccine card is sufficient. And, we will check your card against your photo ID, so bring that as well.
(We might make an exception for children too young to be vaccinated, but honestly, this is not a great event for children, anyway. See more about that below.)
- Masks MUST be worn by ALL attendees at ALL times. Though, presenters might be allowed to remove their mask while presenting, if they are sufficiently far away from the audience.
- The venue will have a thermal-camera-based temperature check before you walk in. Those with signs of a fever will NOT be let in, as per the building's discretion.
- We will take care to fully sanitize the venue before the event starts.
- Hand sanitizer will be available for anyone who needs it.
- We will do our best to keep seats as far apart from each other as possible. Unfortunately, we can NOT guarantee a full 6-feet of social distancing at this time.
- Any refreshments we bring in will be served in individually wrapped packages.
Do I need to be in the New York area to attend or lead a session?
Nope, not in 2021, anyway! In past years, when we only had a physical event, it was a requirement to be able to get to that physical location. However, since this whole thing will also be on the Internet, through an interactive web conference, anyone in the entire world could join in! Yaaay!
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!
Its weird name has its roots in the old BarCamp model of "unconferences", which had focused on software and technology, even though they had nothing to do with bars, and no one camps out at them, anymore. See the Etymology Page for more details.
Do people camp out?
Nope, not anymore. Even before the year 2020, that part of its name was a bit outdated. Back in 2003, the story was different: A previous incarnation of unconferences, called FooCamp, did feature actual camping. But, there hasn't been one of those in over a decade. Today, the "camp" portion of the name is just kept on as part of its legacy.
Will the sessions at SkeptiCamp NYC be streamed live?
Yes! This year, we are a streaming everything taking place in our in-person sessions.
Will the sessions of SkeptiCamp NYC be recorded?
Yes! The entire stream will be recorded, at least for archival usage. We don't know if the whole thing will be made available, yet.
Howver, highlights of what we record might be posted on video streaming sites, such as YouTube, in the future.
Should I register to attend SkeptiCamp, even if I am not leading a session?
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, along with various other events throughout the year!
If, for some reason, you did not appreciate your time with this thing, you are NOT obligated to pay anything, if you really feel that way.
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!
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 our in-person meeting will be wheelchair accessible via an elevator in the building.
Will there actually be a Virtual Reality version of SkeptiCamp NYC Virtual Edition?
At the moment, no. But, if you would like to take charge in hosting a live-stream gathering inside something like VRChat or AltSpaceVR, let us know!
Will any food be provided? Will any of it be vegetarian?
We may provide a limited number of complimentary snack items, in individually-wrapped packages. (Hopefully, the the "local tradition" of Tim-Tam cookies will be among them.) For meals, there are a wide variety of restaurants and cafes in the area, most of which have vegetarian items. We might have someone taking group orders for one or more food places, as well.
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). The word is meant to imply 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 running 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!
What is Data Science?
Well, it's a bit of a nebulous term, that could mean lots of things, really. Sometimes it involves data. Sometimes it involves science. Sometimes it involves both. Sometimes it involves neither. But, whatever it is, it's a cool buzzword, and you should use it.