Whilst I was at the conference I recorded both an audio diary (which allowed me to sleep in on Sunday when I was meant to be appearing live on the radio) and a video diary. They both tell the same story, essentially, but the video is what you’re getting (whilst I await the podcast of the slot’s arrival on the shores of the bFM web presence; English is not a strong point in this boy at the moment).
Yesterday (all my troubles seemed so far away…) saw me present the first draft of ‘The Slippery Slope of Conspiracy Theories’ to the Department of Philosophy. It was only the second time I had performed it live, with a preview to a very select audience the night before (the audience, numbering one, is probably the best person I know for questioning what I say) and on both occassions no major criticisms were brought forth about the presentation’s thesis or content. Yea, verily, some of the text on the slides was fixed up, but that was due to awkwardness of sentences rather than errors of thought.
Just like that sentence.
Which is good (the pleasing reception, not the awkward phrasing of ideas, et cetera). The duration of the presentation is on target (30 minutes, give or take a few seconds) and it flows together nicely. I now have two things to do with it before the conference:
One. I still think I need a snappier conclusion.
Two. I’m going to have to force myself to keep practicing giving the paper over the next two months; given just how easily it all went yesterday my intuition is to let it lie fallow until September. This is not a good idea; ideally I should practise giving the paper a few times a week so that I become less dependent on looking at the slides to work out where I’m up to. I want to be facing the audience the entire time rather than looking back over my shoulder (I don’t want any accusations that I’m reading the slides; I’m not, but constantly looking at them rather than my audience gives the wrong impression).
Roll on September. Actually, given that I’ve just said September, here’s Earth, Wind and Fire.
On the 5th of August I will be doing a talk double-hander with David Merry in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Auckland. David will be talking about… Actually, I don’t seem to have made a note of that. I’ll correct this when I know. I will be previewing my talk to the Skeptics later in the year (end of September to be a little more precise).
The presentation is short (about thirty minutes tops) and is aimed at a largely philosophically… well, not ignorant but rather young? I can’t work out the word to use here; my point is that readers of this blog who aren’t philosophers are heartily invited to come along. Readers of this blog who are philosophers are invited as well, but the content of the presentation won’t be the most exciting or novel thing you will have ever heard.
Time: 4-6pm, August 5th (Wednesday)
Location: The Patrick Hannan Room (Arts II, Room 501, University of Auckland – map here)
Crude abstract: In this short presentation I am going to defend and develop the notion that ‘Conspiracy Theories’ are a kind of explanation. I will then touch on some salient issues in the appraisal of such explanations, asking specifically why it is that we normally take Conspiracy Theories to be inadequate, if not outright bad, explanations. I will then go through a number of examples of popularly held Conspiracy Theories, some of which skeptics might well feel an attraction to, using them to illustrate my analysis.
Table of contents for Dyson, Shermer, The Skeptic and the Paranormal
- Shameless Self-promotion
- Annoucement of non-forthcoming publication
- Finally, it will see the light…
- The Curious Case of Freeman Dyson and the Paranormal
- The Time Has Come (or: Publication Been and Gone)
- Conference Aftermath
- The Conference Presentation
- The Dentith Files – Skeptics Conference Review
My presentation came with slides and my presentation software, Apple’s `Keynote,’ has a record function, so I recorded the talk as I gave it and thus I have a movie of the talk synced to the slides. Below you will find links to the YouTube clips; due to YouTube not allowing videos of more than ten minutes in length my thirty-two minute talk has been cut up into six `logically’ separated parts that can be enjoyed by all and sundry.
I will admit that this talk is edited. I have removed from the resulting movie file two interruptions. One of the interruptions was someone asking that the projector be lowered so that people at the back could see the slides and the other was someone asking me not to read out any of the quotes; he was voted down on the matter. Neither of the edits remove any content or criticism of the presented material.
The next Dentith Files (Sunday the 5th of October, 11am, 95bFM) will be on my conference experience. Should be interesting.