The Amaz!ng Meeting 2003

Electric Monk - Papers, Please - Part 1

Now it was time for one last meal before the final section of the conference. I didn't care for the brunch that was being served, so I asked, and the hostess was nice enough to get me a lunch menu even though they were not ready to serve lunch.

Sunday Brunch
Skeptics Fill the Hotel Restaurant for Brunch Buffet

Naturally, with few other choices near enough, the place was packed with skeptics. The conversation was largely centered around the performance of "Carlos" which had just concluded. As I said, I liked the performance despite the intentional confusion, but others were not so easily amused. Ah, well.

Meeting is a Hoax!
Phil Plait Has a Startling Announcement: The Amaz!ng Meeting Is All a Hoax!

Back in the conference room, it was time for Hal's schedule discipline to show its mettle, or else I would be unable to see the end of the conference. I had to be on the airport shuttle at 3:00 sharp.

Things got off to a shaky start schedule-wise due to an unplanned, but hillarious announcement by the Bad Astronomer regarding his discovery that the entire meeting was a hoax! Using photo-analysis techniques pioneered by the Moon Hoax theorists, Phil Plait demonstrated that the shadows filmed around the hotel were not parallel to each other despite the fact that the Sun should have been the only light source. The only answer was that the A!M was simulated on a giant studio set! I was impressed, let me tell you.

...And Andrew Harter is Jared! Does He Know That Hal Bidlack is Drew Carey?

Also noted by Dr. Plait was the startling resemblance between Andrew Harter and Jared "Subway Guy" Fogle. This really clinched the deal for me. You have to understand that Subway is owned by a shadowy entity known as "Doctors Associates". It is no coincidence that many of our speakers hold that very academic degree, including known NASA disinformation agent "Doctor" Phil Plait, and Military-Industrial Complex-ocrat Lt. Col. Bidlack! It is clear now that this whole "Amaz!ng Meeting" thing was all a ploy to get people to send money to support the JREF. I say, go for it! Let's bury them in contributions. They'll never expect that!!

Prof. Ray Hall
Professor Ray Hall Left No Doubt That the Earth is Billions of Years Old

The first paper presenter was Prof. Ray Hall discussing the details of how we know the age of the Earth. As a long-time lurker on the Usenet group, and a fan of its archive, I was already familiar with the evidence presented, but Prof. Hall covered the basics of radioisotope dating nicely, though he was a bit rushed for time by a glaring Hal Bidlack.

Jim Underdown
Jim Underdown, Director of CFI-West Explains the Cold Reading Techniques of TV Psychics

Next was a man I had met several times before at the Center for Inquiry - West, its director, Jim Underdown. He and the Center were featured prominantly in the first episode of Penn & Teller's new skeptical program for Showtime, on psychic mediums, where he was clearly enjoying himself. His A!M talk focused on his undercover adventures in the audiences of mediums John Edward and James Van Praagh.

Jim Underdown
...And Describes Investigations of These Shows

Among the techniques used to make the psychics look better at doing their cold-reading stunt are careful editing, talking with audience members prior to the show, blaming the audience member for not remembering how the message fits his or her life, and requiring audiences to sign intimidating non-disclosure documents.

The most humorous tale was Underdown's recollection of the time that a staff member sought him out in the audience and asked if his name was Jim Underdown. Jim figured that he had been caught, because he had earlier revealed his mission to some sympathetic-seeming people sitting next to him, but it turned out that the staff member was just trying to return the driver's license that Jim had accidentally left at the entrance! Whew!

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