Blogging at YearlyKos: Day 1
Well, how could I miss the biggest event of the year? The conference is great, and it is wonderful to meet so many people I've gotten to know online. So what is it like to be here? There's lots going on, but for a coffee afficiando like me, it's a long way from the convention center to the nearest coffee bar. You could lose all your money in the slot machines along the way before you find a cup of joe and, boy, when you find a cup, it ain't Peet's either.
Fortunately, one of the few people I knew personally before coming to sin City was Dave Johnson, proprietor of Seeing the Forest and a Commonweal Institute Fellow. Besides the pleasure of hanging out with Dave, he knows everyone. Some of Dave's recent posts have been about Social Networks: the study of how people connect and those that are key connectors in that network. Dave's one of those connectors. Thus I got to meet Stirling Newberry, Ian Walsh, Gina Cooper, who organized the event (wow - what a great job she did!), and lots of other players. I also got to meet Skippy, our famous bush kangaroo who coined the fabulous term, blogtopia, to describe the virtual space within which we meet.
I attended two caucuses today: the Pacific Coast causus and the Science Bloggers causus. The Pacific Coast causus was moderated by thereisnospoon who is a trained moderator who was helped by Lynn Allen of Evergreen Politics who volunteered to be scribe. It was a very lively session and at least part of it was filmed by someone from the NOW program. (Wow, how cool that NOW is attending the conference!) I hope to blog more about the session (since I didn't capture notes), it was fascinating to have a chance to hear the conversation in that session.
One fellow from Busby's campaign explained about what it was like on the ground with her campaign. He believed that this primary election had been the best chance for electing a Democrat in a district that is so heavily weighted to the Republicans, but it was always a long shot. And he believed that the gaff that Busby made was one of the main reasons she lost. The week before the election, the undecided vote was 10%, and after the right-wing noise machine picked up the gaff, those undecided probably broke 80% against her. I hope to devote more time to this session later.
The second causus I attended was the Science Blog caucus moderated by DarkSyde. This was a session filled with some of the most incredible people: PZ Myers, Chris Mooney, Devilstower, Clark of DefCon, Jerome a Paris and LondonYank. In that session, much of the discussion was on what could be done to fight the radical right who were actively working to undermine science. LondonYank told us that this session was nothing like she had expected: the discussion was all about religion and its war on science rather than science. Jerome agreed, in the rest of Europe, the subject of religion in relation to science would not be necessary.
One of the other very interesting points that was raised in this session was that studies have shown when people incorporate misperceptions into the way they think, it is extremely hard to undo those misperceptions. Thus when someone finally decides that creationism is the right way to view an issue, it will be very hard to undo that belief without a major re-wiring of how that person views the world. Therefore, this science teacher advised the bloggers in that room to challenge and correct misperceptions early and before they get integrated into the person's worldview. To me, this makes sense, because this is exactly what we saw when Bush took the country to war: before the bombs dropped, the number of people who backed war was still under 50% - but once the bombs dropped, people rallied to Bush as they decided he was doing the necessary things to protect them. And even now, though there have been numerous reports that Saddam had no WMD, some people insist that this is just Bush bashing because they are still in the "no thought zone" created by the right-wing spinmasters. So what should the science blogs do to address this problem? I hope to hear more ideas on this topic during the rest of the conference.
And, oh yeah. I got to shake Joe Wilson's hand. Too bad I was so star struck I couldn't think of anything reasonable to say.
Cross-posted at Pacific Views.