It had superstars: The witty and erudite Renaissance man Stephen Fry in a lively onstage discussion with his fellow English countryman Richard Dawkins. Steven Pinker of Enlightenment Now! book fame telling us why things are better than we all think. James “The Amazing” Randi on stage with colleagues who helped create the modern skeptical movement. And Bill Nye “The Science Guy,” who just dropped by to ask Pinker a question, greet Randi, and hobnob with fans.
It had timely topics: psychologist James Alcock on how skilled propagandists can create an “us vs. them” mentality and stimulate existing prejudices; Dr. Jen Gunter on Gwyneth Paltrow’s vaginal (and other) snake oils; New York Times science journalist Carl Zimmer on the potentials and problems of DNA test kits; “Science Babe” Yvette d’Entremont on surviving fake news; health-policy researcher Timothy Caulfield on pop culture’s assault on science; zoologist Abby Hafer on why everything you know about sex is wrong (e.g., that gender is binary); political scientist Joseph Uscinski on conspiracy theories; medical scientist Paul Offit on what he got wrong in campaigning for vaccines; science teacher Bertha Vazquez on dealing with creationism in the classroom; “Science Mom” Kavin Senapathy on her own personal path “from reason, to Oz, and back again”; psychologist Susan Blackmore on what out-of-body experiences are about; climate communicator John Cook on the fake news about climate change; genial debunker Mick West on 9/11 microsphere myths; Massimo Polidoro on the mind of Leonardo da Vinci (the subject of his forthcoming book); and—well, you get the idea. That was just the start.