Audio: Alien Conspiracy Panel at CONvergence 2014

A few weeks ago, I had an amazing time at CONvergence, a science fiction and fantasy convention in Minneapolis, MN. It has also become the home con of a smaller, sort of embedded con, SkepchickCon. As an occasionally elapsed but trying really hard contributor for the Skepchick Network, I’m glad to come along and share my love of science and astronomy. I had no idea, however, that this year I’d be sharing myself on something like ELEVEN panels and several hands-on activities. Whee! Despite the full schedule, I really had a lot of fun, stimulating conversations, and some legitimately relaxing time with my friends from afar.

Many of the panels were recorded on audio or video or both, and Jason Thibeault (who is a lovely Canuck, IMO) just posted the audio of a very thoughtful and occasionally rollicking “Alien Conspiracies Panel” with himself, JD Horn, PZ Myers, Scott Lynch, and me.

Photo CC Robert Couse-Baker. Click for original.

Photo CC Robert Couse-Baker. Click for original.

This was by no means a “for” vs “against” debate on whether aliens have visited us and been probing around our sensitive areas. We’re all skeptical of the claims of alien visitation, and for very good reasons, though some of us are still hopeful that alien contact, even of the microbial kind, will be made in our lifetimes.

I have a history of having once been on the believer side, as I wrote about once before, and I also attended a UFO conference a few years ago with a fellow skeptic, just to see what the discussions were like. I bring up some of these experiences on the panel. What you won’t see on the recording, however, is my uncomfortable shifting in my seat whenever UFO-believers are referred to as “crazies” or something like that. A) That’s pretty darned ableist, as I’ve learned fairly recently, and B) it’s not a good idea to assume mental health issues based on even an extreme belief, though I acknowledge that it might be an important factor in abduction cases. Maybe I should have said something during the panel when that language made me uncomfortable, but I didn’t. I’m a work in progress, I guess.

In any case, I hope you enjoy listening to the panel as our audience certainly seemed to, and as I did being on the panel. I hope more recordings are already out there or on their way!

2 comments for “Audio: Alien Conspiracy Panel at CONvergence 2014

  1. July 20, 2014 at 23:39

    I don’t THINK it was me using the ableist language, given that I try to avoid it wherever possible, but if it was (and I don’t have it in me to listen to my own stuff — I never do, honestly), I humbly apologise. It’s hard to root out the language that causes unnecessary splash damage, and frankly, it’s an ongoing process even for those of us who are making an effort, if we’re neurotypically privileged.

    Calling that stuff out is difficult when we know it’ll just derail conversation, when that conversation is what we’re actually supposed to be having. At absolute best, I think I could only say something along the lines of “these are normal, healthy, good people, who happen to believe in some delusional stuff through, likely, no fault of their own. Please don’t attack them.” And that wouldn’t even cover the splash damage aspect of who ELSE you’re hurting by using the words, other than the people you aimed those words at originally.

    • Nicole Gugliucci
      July 22, 2014 at 11:34

      I don’t think it was you, and frankly I can’t remember who it was. No worries! I use it, too, and have to learn to be more careful as well. :-)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *