Given the breadth of skepticism (and science and medicine as well!) there should be no shortage of topics, covering not only introductory material, but also niche and cutting-edge subjects as well. But most importantly, do a talk on a topic that is important to you!
Collections of topics[edit | edit source]
Here you will find hundreds (if not thousands) of topics, each of which can be approached from many different angles.
- Thousands of interesting questions to explore on the Skeptics Stack Exchange
- Bob Carroll's Skeptic's Dictionary
- The Rational Wiki and Skeptic Wiki
- Wikipedia categories: Cryptids, Conspiracy, Paranormal, Pseudoscience, Superstitions, UFO Culture, Hypothesis Testing, Logical Fallacies, and Cognitive Biases.
- James Randi's An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural
- Snopes Urban Legends
- BarCamp's Recommended Sessions
- The Skeptic Report covers a spectrum of material
- See also Skeptical Inquirer Online, 29 years of Skeptical Inquirer DVD, CSI's Skeptical Briefs newsletter and Skeptic Magazine's Reading Room
- Jim Lippard's collection of Critiques of Skepticism
- Wikipedia's list of unusual articles
- Bent Spoon Magazine - a skeptical magazine for the true believer
- The Skeptoid podcast has explored hundreds of topics of interest to skeptics
- Fortean Times magazine has explored the weird since 1973
Miscellaneous topics[edit | edit source]
Each region has its own unique phenomena and strange claims. These should be on the short list of anyone looking to tackle a challenging topic for a skepticamp presentation. But as can be seen below, topics can stretch far and wide...
- Investigations of local paranormal or cryptozoological claims
- The Filter Bubble - as a bias that we skeptics must be aware
- Cognitive Biases A Visual Study Guide
- A Code of Conduct for Effective Rational Discussion
- An introduction to the user-driven conference
- Basics of Modern Skepticism
- Skepticism vs Denialism
- Methodologies of denial
- Conspiracy Theories
- A Tour of Logical Fallacies
- A Tour of Cognitive Biases
- The positive side of cognitive biases
- Detailed exploration of a specific fallacy or bias
- The Paradox of the False Positive
- Critiques of Skepticism
- Pseudoscientific products at your local drugstore and supermarket
- Consumer scams against senior citizens
- Pseudoscience in High-end Audio products
- How to lie with Statistics/Charts/Graphs
- Anti-vaccination and anti-fluoridation activities in your region
- Creative Commons Licensing and how it can give skeptic lit and media greater reach
- Magical thinking in the martial arts
- Deconstructing an Urban Legend
- Baseless fads in public education (Brain Gym, etc.)
- Woo in veterinary medicine (pet acupuncture, etc.)
- Demonstrate a dowsing test protocol
- Image processing artifacts and techniques of photomanipulation
- Travel scams
- A little knowledge is a dangerous thing
- Shame Them versus Try and Win Them Over
- The Monty Hall Problem
- Skepticism is not atheism
- Exploiting a cognitive blind spot
- The Crackpot Index
- How to combat the negative effects of your cognitive biases
- Poe's Law
- Look to your own profession or your favorite hobby for ideas where you employ the tools of skepticism
- Propose a regional auto tour of skeptic and woo-oriented sites, describing the itinerary
- Investigate and present upon the different ways that people stumble upon the value of critical thinking and skepticism
- The value and limitations of Occam's/Ockham's Razor
- A visit to your local metaphysical fair
- The Baloney Detection Kit
- The Null Hypothesis and UFO claims
- Skeptical Inquiry versus Debunking
- The value and limitations of an informed consensus
- At what point does a maverick researcher become a crank?
- An examination of ghost-detection tools
- An examination of energy-based healing claims
- Claims about 'Orbs' and how to reproduce them
- Drake's Plate of Brass
- Principles of the American Cargo Cult -- the beliefs that make bad argument
- Bigger numbers trick your mind into buying
- What does randomness look like?
- What's the difference between skepticism and critical thinking?
- Benford's Law
- Death by Powerpoint - on the limitations and abuses of presentation slides
- The Wason Card Problem
- Hume's Maxim
- Spinoza's Dictum
- The Backfire Effect in Debunking
- The Royal Touch
- Einstellung effect - predisposition to solve a given problem in a specific manner
- Morgan Robertson and Titanic; Kennedy/Lincoln assassination similarities; Texas Sharpshooter fallacy
- Apophenia - bad things come in threes, law of large numbers, etc.
- Devil's Advocate - attempt to persuasively argue a position with which you disagree. Don't do it half-hearted. Go all in.
- Why Augustine thought that astrology was nonsense
- Dissect argumentation style. People usually stick to what works. Ask what's right and wrong.
- How the philosophy of science has evolved in past few decades
- A taxonomy of high pressure sales techniques
- The use and abuse of the Null Hypothesis - does it apply to nebulous, ill-defined claims?
- Are some numbers illegal? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wo19Y4tw0l8
- Base Rate Fallacy - it's prevalance and damage http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2013/06/finding_sociopa.html
- How thought-terminating cliches propagate cognitive dissonance
- The "Invited Inference" - where people believe magicians to be "truly psychic"
- How do rumors start, propagate and morph into what people accept as fact?
- Regression towards the mean & regression fallacies - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regression_toward_the_mean
- When the lottery reaches a prize of $X million, is it worth playing when compared to other investments?
- Toulmin Model of Argumentation
- The peril of justifying belief in miracles and test results for rare diseases - http://www.aeonmagazine.com/altered-states/dont-believe-in-miracles/
- Coincidences and the Baader-Meinhof phenonmenon
- Falsehoods programmers believe about: gender names addresses time more time geography
- Abilene paradox
- Gell-Mann Amnesia effect
- (add new ones here)
Non-traditional presentations[edit | edit source]
Note that the skepticamp format supports non-traditional talks as well. We've seen demonstrations of Therapeutic Touch, skeptic trivia contests, collaborative talks, presentations by paranormal investigators and skeptic-themed music performances.
Sessions on non-skeptic topics might work, provided that they are well thought-out and adapted to the audience. If you are unsure, talk to the organizers of your event to see if they think it'd fit.
Reaching out[edit | edit source]
Don't hesitate to look outside the skeptic community for presentations that would be of interest. See the Nine Steps to Organizing document for more details on this important topic.