Thursday, 14 October 2010

TAM London Blog: No. 1 - TAM-A-Gotcha!

Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Why are you still awake? (delete as appropriate).

This Blog is a bit of a special one, for a few reasons.

Firstly, this is my first blog written as an actual, fully qualified no-going-back Doctor of Neuroscience, rather than a 'you can say you are one as long as it's not for anything official' Doctor of Neuroscience. The latter is what I have been for 11 MONTHS! That's nearly a year, for those of you with different calenders. The normal turnaround time is 12 weeks. Not Months. Weeks. However, my examiners decided my thesis was 'too concise'. In other words, I didn't put enough meaningless waffle or conjecture in it.

Those of you who read this blog regularly are probably having trouble believing the claim that something I wrote would be insufficiently long winded. And you'd be right. My original draft was much bigger than that submitted, but my supervisors (both Professors, both extremely highly respected and experienced in the field, and both deserving of actual decent PhD students rather than dross) recognised my witterings for what they were (i.e. pointless babble) and told me to take it out.

My examiners felt otherwise and said I had to put the waffle back in. Well, they said it needed to be 'longer with a greater degree of discussion about all results and experiments, not just those with a useful outcome'. Odd that they would want more information about things that have no scientific merit, my guess is that they're secretly climate-change deniers.

Anyway, I was given an extra year to do my corrections, rather than the standard 12 weeks. I did them in 12 weeks anyway, because that's the kind of guy I am. I duly sent them back in, and waited.

And waited

And waited.

And waited.

They finally replied. They wanted more corrections. Turns out the corrected corrections weren't correct enough. So I did those as well, even a lot of them were corrections which were actually made the first time round but not noticed, it seems.

More waiting.

Now it's done. I'm one of them doctors now, for real. I've been able to say I'm a doctor since my Viva, last November (LAST! NOVEMBER!), but not on anything official, like passports, bank cards. just unimportant things that most people wouldn't see, e.g. Business cards. And blogs.

But anyway, to celebrate the occasion, here's a little announcement. It's not so much a revelation of a closely guarded secret as something I've forgotten to mention before now. But anyway, here it is.

For the next few days, I will be tweeting/blogging live from The Amazing Meeting, TAM London.

This is a very prestigious and high-profile event, which features the cream of the skeptic and scientific communities from both sides of the Atlantic. Check out the website for full details.

A lot of people will no doubt be reporting from this. For example, the official Blogger is Martin Robbins of the Lay Scientist, reporting for the Guardian, and there will no doubt be many others. Look them up.

I'm unlikely to provide any reports from the event which will be insightful, thought provoking or inspiring. Odds are, it'll mostly be just me taking the piss, albeit inadvertently. I'm not a professional reporter or journalists, but on the other hand I can't be sacked from doing this blog, so hopefully I can make it more amusing than others, as I have the freedom to do so.

The thing is, I'm still not really sure what TAM is. It's obviously a meeting/conference of some sort, but to what end? Is there an opportunity for Q&A? DO you have to pick which talk you're going to, like at some of the conferences I've been to? Or does everyone sit there and watch, like some obscenely long stand-up gig?

Then there's the ethos of the thing. A lot of people are going, and everyone's very excited about it, saying it's the best thing ever and no mistake. Other people site the expense and say it's a bit elitist, a bit pointless, just a massive back-slapping session for smug rationalists. I'm paraphrasing there, but that's the gist of it as far as I can make out.

I have no idea which it is, but I'm going to assume it's very good, because I can be optimistic on occasion. However, if TAM London does turn out to be some celebration of smugness as some claim, then I shall make it my mission to be the first person forcibly thrown out of it. How so? Well, my preferred method is the 'accidental upset' technique. There are many famous people who are scheduled to speak, and every chance our paths will cross. How offensive can I get without them actually taking offence? It's quite a gamble at TAM, or TAMble if you like. So, should the opportunity arise, I will endeavour to say the following questions to the skeptic illuminati.

Feel free to do the same if you're there and fancy a TAMble of your own.


- Which one are you the Pope of again?

- If evolution is true, how come people don't have wings? *

- Would you like to come to my child's christening when I have one?

- Don't worry about it, a lot of people didn't like Jesus in his time either.

- Will you sign my Koran?


- How come Gillian McKeith makes more money than you?

- Do you use Loreal?

- I saw you drinking water just now, I thought you didn't believe in Homeopathy!

- My friend said he went to university with you. He doesn't like you, but wouldn't say why*

- Will you sign my Koran?


- Aren't you the guy who was in the lift that time?

- Interesting talk. Are you on twitter, by any chance?

- I really liked your book, can I get you to sign a copy? I don't have it with me, it was a library book, can you just sign one and send it to me?

- You're such a British icon, would you consider campaigning for the BNP?

- I enjoyed that debate you did about Catholicism with that Widdicombe bloke. I sensed a spark, is there something going on between you two?

- You're bigger than you look in 'House'.

- Will you sign my Koran?


- I like your tweets, they're funny. Have you considered writing comedy?

- How come they stopped making Father Ted? Was it the child molesting thing?

- You're my second favourite funny person after Peter Kay.

- Will you sign my copy of Flanimals?


- If I accurately predict that you won't give me £1,000,000, can I have it?

- This event is the result of your foundation isn't it? Do I give my expenses form to you?

- Will you sign my Koran?


- Loved you in Lord of the Rings.

- Which move adaptation of your work is your favourite?

- You were in the Simpsons that time. Why?**

- I think you should be ashamed of yourself for ripping off X-Men like that.

- Will you sign my Koran?

I give myself 3 hours, tops.

So yeah, follow my exploits here, on Twitter, and those of everyone else using the hashtag #TAMLondon. Speak soon.

* People have genuinely said this to me

** I genuinely want to know this.

Email: Humourology (at)
Twitter: @garwboy


JadedGreenEyes said...

I wish I could go! I shall have to live vicariously through you. Have fun, Doctor.

Penglish said...

Congratulations! Well done on becoming a proper doctor!

NewShoot said...

Heard a rumour Stephen Fry won't be at TAM sadly.
I've no idea what it's about either, but thought it might be fun to find out....fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

Hey, congratulations actual real PhD guy now! Will you send me a signed Koran?


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