Saturday, August 26, 2017

Back From AACon2017

So earlier this week I got back from the American Atheist 2017 convention down in Charleston South Carolina. I had to take a 13 hour bus ride there because flights were insanely expensive due to the solar eclipse, and hotels were also completely booked so I also had to stay with some friends.

This was my first atheist convention and so I had few expectations. The only other atheist event I went to was last year's Reason Rally, which was fun, but a bit of a dud. We were there primarily to make connections with leaders in the atheist community for our upcoming conference in New York City to have them support or speak there. And so far that goal seems to be successful.

Every conference needs good speakers — speakers that motivate you to buy tickets and come out to the event. It also has to be fun. We need to bring the young atheists out. The average age of this conference was about 50. There were a lot of silver haired seniors. Many of them were heads of the secular and atheist organizations that partner with American Atheists, and those roles usually require skill sets that take many years to acquire. There really needed to be a lot more 20 and 30 somethings in the crowd.

Seth Andrews of the Thinking Atheist

We want The Atheist Conference to be full of young atheists, motivated to atheist with a cause. That's why we want to get the YouTube atheists on board. They bring the young atheists out. So we have our eyes set on prominent YouTube atheists for speakers, panel discussions, and perhaps, a debate. I will be hosting a panel discussion on debating atheism that I will be designing soon with two highly knowledgeable atheists thinkers and debaters. This is right up my alley, and should be a big hit (I hope) if not really interesting and informative.

So my primary take away is that we need to be more entertaining than AACon was and that will be partly because our goal with TAC will be different. We need more young people, and we need to make it much more fun for the attendants. We need more drinking, more socializing, less awkwardness. We're working to make this happen and I will have a lot more information in the coming months leading up to the conference.

Oh yeah....and the eclipse. Well, it turns out that on the day of the eclipse, which was Monday, it was mostly cloudy in Charleston — with the emphasis on mostly. We had spots of sun here and there, but when it came time for total coverage a big fucking cloud covered us and blocked the sun entirely. So we didn't get to see shit. I was really disappointed in that. This was the best I could do before the clouds got so thick it blocked out everything:

So, a massive disappointment to an otherwise pleasant weekend. Here's some more pictures I took of the various speakers:

David Silverman President of American Atheists 
The Amazing James Randi

Matt Dillahunty

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