Bruce Gleason is the Director of LogiCal-LA. Here we talk about the event, highlight presentations, and more.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, the event LogiCal-LA is coming up. How long has the event been ongoing?
Bruce Gleason: Well, this is a very young conference. We had our first year back in January 2017 and we had a great line-up with Sean Carroll, he’s a theoretical physicist headlining. And we have a very strong group of scientific skeptics including Joe Nickell who is the oldest one, but probably the most renowned skeptic because he is the only paid pseudo-science investigator in the world.
Among the other speakers that we had there were involved in a wide variety of science and public education, both in the two-day conference and the Friday night show. It was a full weekend.
Jacobsen: What would you consider one of the highlight presentations?
Gleason: Sean Carroll is probably one of the best speakers I’ve ever heard. He is kind of a half philosopher and a half physicist. In his latest book he expounds on how one must examine one’s like in an ethically way as well as how does the universe end.
Jacobsen: As well, there were individuals such as Bob Novella present as well as Harriet Hall. They have done some work on basically medical and health pseudoscience. So, when they’re coming up for February in 2018, are there others? Who are some of the newer speakers that people should probably keep an eye out for?
Gleason: Well, I’ll give you a list of them. I just wanted to mention Sean’s book, The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself; that kind of gives us a hint of the philosophical background that it has.
I’m going to start by looking at the LogiCal-LA’s speaker’s webpage because we have so many new speakers. Pascal, his last name is Gagneux, and he’s a zoologist from San Diego that lived with the chimpanzees in Africa for several months. He is a zoologist who studies how evolution took place related to human beings and all other mammals. Lawrence Krauss, Professor, is our big speaker; he is our keynote speaker on Sunday.
And we have a lot of social oriented speakers, one of which is Diane Goldstein, she is from the Law Enforcement Action Partnership and what she does is promote prison reform and drug reform because there’s many more African-Americans in prison than whites, even though the drug use is about 50/50 between them.
There’s a reason for that, not because they commit more crimes it’s because our laws are such that they are more unfairly treated, and her main idea is to modify the drug laws to where there’s less prohibition and more education with drugs like other countries, like the Netherlands, and especially Portugal, who has legalized most drugs.
And of course, we have Harriet Hall, but she was in an accident the month before the conference in Australia and couldn’t make it last year. So, we invited her this year. Also, we have a cognitive scientist, Julien Mussolini, and Bob Novella from the Skeptics Guide to the Universe is coming back, but he’s just going to be on the panel. He’s not speaking alone. He’s going to be on the panel on Friday night.
And one new person we’re excited to hear from is Alex J. O’Connor; have you ever heard of him? He’s called the cosmic skeptic on YouTube.
Jacobsen: I have not heard of him.
Gleason: He is very popular in England, so he’s flying across to speak with us. Have you ever heard of Jamy Ian Swiss? He is a magician skeptic.
Jacobsen: Yes, I have. I believe he’s the one with the goatee, I believe, and I may have seen him in the documentary with James Randi.
Gleason: Yes, he was. He also was a consultant on magic shows for TV. He is a master magician. He will not only be speaking, but he will be performing on our Friday night magic show – which is probably going to be a world class magic show in a small venue that we is located near LAX.
I wanted to mention some of the other speakers that are speaking. We’re having Cheryl Hollinger, a biology professor. We’re having Brian Palermo who’s an actor for Los Angles that speaks to skeptical- oriented gorups. The title of his speech is called “Why Science Needs Improv.” I’m excited to hear what he’s going to say.
John Watney is a computational biologist from San Diego will also be there. He is talk is entitled The Illusion of God’s Presence. As scientific skeptics, examining religion is not off the discussion table.
It’s very interesting to see who’s coming. We have about three more additions of speakers that we will be able to add during the next few weeks. So, all together we’ll have 19 speakers over a three-day period. Friday evening will start the conference with a free panel discussion then later on our magic show.
Saturday, we’ll have eight speakers and then we’ll have a comedy show Saturday evening. Then we will have seven speakers on Sunday and then a special MusiCal musical show with George Hrab during the evening.
And then Monday, we are going to go to the La Brea Tar Pits and if anybody doesn’t know much about La Brea Tar Pits, is one of the few places in the world where animals fell in a tar pond and then thousands of years later, we are able to extract their bones from the tar and clean them up and display it in a museum. We’ll have a famous paleontologist, Donald Prothero to give a private tour of the museum, so that’s going to be quite a special event.
Jacobsen: Did you have more speakers that you would like to talk about first though?
Gleason: Our website is a great source for more of the information: www.logicalla.com. These speakers are all very influential within the skeptic community. They travel to other skeptic, humanist and atheist conventions one of which is SciCon, which happened in October 2017 in Las Vegas.
Jacobsen: With respect to the content and purpose, so from the founding to the present of the conference, what are they?
Gleason: From our website, our mission is this: In support of the scientific skeptic movement, LogicalLA creates a place for critical thinkers to meet face-to-face and to experience presentations from nationally recognized speakers who will share their knowledge and insights with us.
So the conference it a skeptical conference, based on reason and science. I similar to the idea that you can receive the equivalent of an entire semester of education in one weekend. So, it’s an acknowledgment of what is the truth, how do we tell what is probably more true, how do we test the truth or test a claim; all these things are all behind the scientific movement that’s happening around the country right now.
Jacobsen: Thank you very much for your time.