Jan 20 2007

More from TAM5

Well, TAM5 is turning out to be all that I had hoped and more. I always find these conferences exhilarating. Every now and then I feel I need to recharge my intellectual batteries by immersing myself in the ideas of really smart people, and TAM5 is doing the trick.

It has also been an opportunity to record great interviews for The Skeptics Guide podcast. Thursday night, for example, we were hanging out with John Rennie, the Editor and Chief of Scientific American, and he gave us a great interview. I love it when smart successful people turn out also to be just great, regular, friendly people.

These types of conferences also remind me how wonderful it is to work and live in the subculture of science and skepticism. There is a mutual respect and camaraderie that is very appealing (if not unique). But also there are certain shared values – and it is natural to feel comfortable with others who share your values, whatever they are. In this subculture there is an overwhelming respect for the truth, for intellectual integrity, and for hard work. Everyone is both a teacher and a student – eager to share what they have learned, and greatly appreciative of those who give their time and effort to teach others.

I think that the free exchange of ideas is one of the noblest and most powerful of human endeavors. The economy of ideas is also one of the few economies that is not a zero-sum-game. When I give my ideas to someone else, I lose nothing and he gains (hopefully) something of value. They are likely to give me their ideas in return, and we both leave the exchange richer. Moreover, together we may generate a new idea or a deeper understanding than neither of us had when we entered the exchange – so it is also a creative process. TAM5 is a celebration of all that.

Sorry for the gushing, but as I said I get charged from such conferences and I am right in the middle of it.

.off to soak up more intellectual energy.

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