granitcon_logoThanks to Travis Roy, president of the Granite State Skeptics, a panel on skepticism was part of this year’s Granite State Comicon. The annual convention, held this past weekend in Manchester, New Hampshire, is in its 7th year and one of the best attended in the region. This was the first time that a panel focusing on skepticism has been part of the lineup. The panel featured four members of the Granite State Skeptics (Travis Roy, Dale Roy, Jan Stephan Lundquist, and Kitty Mervine) and myself, representing the James Randi Educational Foundation. Topics discussed included general skepticism, ghosts, critical thinking in education, cryptozoology, and creationism. The subject of alien abduction claims received the most attention. Panelist Kitty Mervine had some interesting insights on the history of and possible explanations for such claims. She also offered advice on responsible and effective communication with those who believe they have been victims of abduction. Mervine is the creator of the Bad Alien website. The panel will return in 2011.

Dragon*Con’s enormous national event has taught us that the skeptical and sci-fi/comic communities have a natural affinity.  I can’t think of a reason why skepticism-related programing couldn’t also succeed at smaller regional conventions like this, which are held in every major city in the United States.  It would be great to see local organizations following the lead of the New Hampshire event and helping to bring panels like this to comic cons in their part of the country, taking advantage of a valuable outreach opportunity.  

While visiting Manchester, I enjoyed an evening at the monthly Skeptics in the Pub and was generously invited to present a talk on the false dichotomy of zoology and cryptozoology. Skeptics in the Pub is just one of the events offered by the very active Granite State Skeptics, who also do field trips and investigations. The workshop on grassroots skeptical organizing to be part of TAM8 will feature GSS president, Travis Roy, as a presenter.