The Skepticon vids are up!

I know, I should have blogged about this days ago, I think they've actually been up for a week or two.  But I'm  just getting around to it.  (I've only watched one so far: Julia Galef's talk on the Straw Vulcan.)  The channel they're all up on is here.

Here's the aforementioned Straw Vulcan talk, which is a little under an hour long.  It's worth it.

One of the things I love about the skeptic/atheist community is these conferences.  I haven't been able to go to one, the only really significant event like this I've been able to make it to is when Stephen Fry gave an acceptance speech for the Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism, given by the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy.

But it's great to see thought processes I've had articulated so much more clearly than I would have been able to.  It's especially nice to see the stereotypes I've been subjected to pointed out in explicit examples, thrown up on a powerpoint.  Julia Galef very clearly articulates a real bias people have against anyone who strives to be 'rational' -- the belief that that means we want to avoid emotions, or can't solve problems in real life for lack of data or an inability to sense nuance.

About a half hour into her talk (I think, I didn't mark times) she explicitly lays out the core of the problem with that argument -- there's no point to being rational if you eschew emotions.  Emotions are what motivate and inform the end goals of rational action.  Rationality is just maximizing one's realistic odds of achieving those emotionally motivated ends, and, sometimes, choosing between mutually exclusive emotionally motivated ends.

The Skepticon talks are always awesome, and I recommend checking them out, whichever seem interesting to you.  They're generally well-worth the hour's investment of time.