Friday, July 30, 2010

PZ Myers: Atheism in the Scientific Battleground

My experience attending PZ Myers' talk at UBC

Mark of the beast! I told Myers the best place to autograph his poster was on his own forehead. Thanks PZ, that's funny on many levels:

It was easy to find the location of Myers' talk from the UBC bus loop:

After following Myers' Pharyngula blog for over two years on the internet, it was curiously cathartic to see him speak in person. Indeed he's just a regular guy, maybe more soft-spoken than you'd think after reading his blog.
Yes, I've heard. Kills men by the hundreds. And if HE were here, he'd consume the English with fireballs from his eyes, and bolts of lightning from his arse...

PZ Myers prepares to shoot lightening bolts from his - no, wait. He's just presenting an excellent talk.

Conditions in the lecture theater were unfortunately too dim (≈25% lighting level) and too quiet (PZ was unamplified) for video and pictures.

Damn, if they'd only leave the lights blazing and stuff a mic up the lecturer's butt, these events would be much easier for bloggers to cover!

So I cracked my knuckles and readied myself to transcribe PZ's entire talk into my laptop using my 120wpm typing skills - very handy when I covered the Guy Earle Trial - but instead decided to sit back and enjoy the talk. This may be my one chance to see PZ speak in person so I wanted to pay full attention.

After posting this entry I'll start jotting down some notes and decompressing my memory of the event to provide a general summary and paraphrase some memorable quotes tomorrow.

e.g. From PZ's opening remarks:
PZ: Is my microphone on? The contract says they can use the audio from this for any purpose whatsoever. But I don't want to end up on Breitbart.
[Hearty laugh from audience]

e.g. From the Q&A:
Questioner: Considering what you do for living, do you feel safe?
[the audience murmurs and nods, "good question"]
PZ: (smiling coyly) Well, being a biology professor and teaching classes...
[audience laughs out loud]
Questioner: Hahaha, no, no I mean THIS (bracketing Myers and his audience with outstretched arms). Being a high-profile celebrity who confronts the follies of and often insults religious people, do you ever fear for your safety?
PZ: Do I feel safe? Hmmm. Let's ask my wife. (Gesturing up toward the back rows) Do you feel safe?
Mrs. Myers: Yes.
[audience giggles softly]
More coming soon, stay tuned.

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