My QED write-up this year is extremely late but I’ve backdated it so you’ll never know, mwuahahaha. Oh.
As ever, it was a fun, friendly, fascinating, inebriated weekend with the new venue (more on that later) full of lovely people whom I very much look forward to seeing more of next year (and throughout the year, for those who live near-ish by).
The speakers were fantastic as expected and the new addition of the Skepticamp during the first day as people arrived was well-received. It’s a great opportunity for people to showcase their talks on subjects they care about to a receptive skeptical audience – so if you’ve got one brewing, hopefully it will be back next year!
The opening video is hotly anticipated each year and it was certainly no disappointment this time around. The only credit I can take in this one (which is more than the others, mind) is that I dug up a spare labcoat from work for one famous face to wear. You’ll catch him before he closes the door:
So that was a great start and certainly put everyone in the mood for the weekend ahead – well done and thanks to Marsh and everyone on the production team and behind the scenes who made that happen.
The new venue, now the only hotel big enough in Manchester to accommodate us, the Palace Hotel, received mixed reviews. The interior is very strange, having been a Bank at one time, the ceilings are absurdly high, with some decor looking like it would be more at home in London’s Tube stations – shiny tiles and details in odd places.
The major let-down came when my friend Sandra slipped in the bathroom and broke her arm; the staff weren’t too helpful and she has some remaining costs to cover after having to undergo surgery back home in Seattle. Thankfully it’s healing well but this of course ruined her weekend – hopefully we can all make it up to her next year.
I had a wonderful time meeting new people, getting to know acquaintances better, learning from the speakers and having some excellent chats and laughs with already good friends. A highlight was having a quick rant about Women Who Eat On Tubes with the one and only Robert Llewellyn (better known to some as Kryten!).
Amidst the talks and drinks and tweets and hugs and naps, this hilarious exchange occurred on Twitter:
— Sandra Courtney (@BrownBagPantry) April 15, 2014
Ms Courtney is well-known to some skeptics active on Twitter, and you can get a reasonable measure of her character from this display:
Absolutely hands down the most moving, memorable and applauded talk was given by Nate Phelps, son of the late, infamous, hateful pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church, Fred Phelps. He left the church as soon as he was legally able at 18 and shared with us some of the experiences he, his mother and siblings endured growing up there. Please donate to the fund that will make the televised version of his story, Not My Father’s Son, a reality – it will be a must-see.
No one else has ever managed to plunge a room full of skeptics into such tingling silence, and moved so many of them to tears, then received such thunderous applause and standing ovation. Completely deserved and an hour I will never forget.
I, and everyone else who had the opportunity, thoroughly enjoyed talking with him, too – he’s an incredibly nice guy. If he is ever in town or within travelling distance to speak, absolutely go and see him. I’ve Storified some tweets from during and after his talk on the final day, and there’s a link below to the full subtitled version.
A wonderful closing montage was put together by the talented Mr @elmarkodotorg – in which my friend Dave and I can be found dancing at the front of a busy room, but you won’t spot us because it’s quick so it’s ok… See you next year!!
- My Nate Phelps Storify
- My photos
- Me: QEDcon 2013
- Me: QEDcon 2012 (1) (2)
- Giles has a comprehensive write-up of the weekend including videos of the Friday mixer and Ockham Awards, plus some talk summaries – check it out! He has also helpfully subtitled Nate Phelps’ talk so it’s more accessible. Do watch/listen/read.
- Chris Higgins has written about Mark Edward’s talk, which was controversial for many attendees and sparked plenty of conversations
- Chris, with whom I had some excellent breakfast chats in our hotel nearby (together with his wife and his guide dog, X-Celerator), has a review
- Colm Ryan has a roundup post
- There’s a Flickr pool for people’s photos
- Rob McDermot has his usual albums; Friday’s Skepticamp and Mixer, Saturday and Sunday
- Zooterkin‘s photos
- The Conferize tool gives some QEDcon2014 stats (doesn’t seem to be working now sadly)
- Skeptical Science has some general links