Editor's Note: This here fellow, Don Riefler, is a good guy. Please read about his plan to bring a skeptical perspective to the freaks'n'geeks of Indiana, and consider helping out. Danke. - BKT
Gen Con is coming to Indiana from August 5-8, a Thursday through a Sunday. It's an enormous convention ostensibly oriented toward gaming (pen and paper RPGs, tabletop games, wargames, etc.), but in reality serving just about every aspect of geek, nerd, and dork culture: comic books, sci-fi/fantasy, anime, video games, board games, card games. You name it, Gen Con has it. It's roughly equivalent to a midwestern Dragon*Con, and pretty much the same size, too.
Our guerrilla skeptical symposium (“symposiums” are Gen Con's equivalent of Dragon*Con's "tracks") is so-called because those of us working on it have been doing it from the bottom up with no official recognition (as yet) from Gen Con itself. It started back in 2008, when some friends and I attended and sat through a panel by the Indiana Ghost Trackers called “The Science of EVP.” Suffice to say, it wasn't worth the price (free) and, after a few polite but pointed questions about the nature of their research, we decided that 2009 would see a skeptical response. We organized a panel called “Skepticism, Critical Thinking, and Pop Culture,” and spent a couple of hours riffing on logical fallacies, alternative medicine, the antivax movement, bigfoot, and a whole host of other skeptical topics.
We expected to have maybe 15 or 20 people in attendance. We had closer to 40 or 50, and many of them came up afterwards to thank us for bringing some critical thinking to Gen Con. They were surprised and excited to see that someone had put on a panel like ours. Our success led to bigger dreams, and thus, in 2010, we are bringing skepticism to Gen Con in force.