Guest ElizabethLee

Romances formed per year At Conferences

103 posts in this topic

I have been telling people that one couple per year forms at each conference. That represents approximately a 2% chance of forming a union, if you consider that 200 attendees are half male/female and half un/coupled; therefore in a group of 50 single men at the conference, one of them is 1/50=2%. I would like data on this! LOL, this is a very important subject, and inquiring minds definitely want to know the numbers. Two percent is incredibly high, for a single event.

After writing down my knowledge of couples formed, I think I may have been underestimating! Either that or the number of singles is larger at the conferences. Please write to me or post if you know couples formed. I would consider any relationship that lasts 1year to meet the criteria, but of course marriages are the best metric.

Another statistic me and my roomies have debated is the number of dates a single person can expect by attending a conference. My experience is about one per conference, and I consider that a great number. I've had fabulous dates at the conferences :(.

Betsy, I do hope you will reply since I consider you may have one of the best memories of this topic!

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I wonder also how many relationships begin not by direct meeting at the conference, but through the extended networking that the conference spurs for the rest of the year. This data would be more difficult to collect - but I fall into this category.

It's that darn "friend of a friend" refferal thing.

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After writing down my knowledge of couples formed, I think I may have been underestimating! Either that or the number of singles is larger at the conferences. Please write to me or post if you know couples formed. I would consider any relationship that lasts 1year to meet the criteria, but of course marriages are the best metric.

It used to be about four serious new relationships per conference but this has changed since way back when we had conferences at UCSD.

Nowadays, there are much fewer opportunities to get to know new people. There used to be two or three meals a day in a common place for everyone, but now all meals are optional and most are unplanned. The daily conference schedule is solidly packed with lectures and events with darn little free time to hang out, meet, and greet and a few lounge chairs in a hotel bar just don't have the same friendly, casual ambiance as a college outdoor quad, lounge area, or even the laundry room.

The only advantage now is that everything isn't over when then conference ends. You can maintain your conference contacts on THE FORUM and elsewhere on the internet.

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Nowadays, there are much fewer opportunities to get to know new people. There used to be two or three meals a day in a common place for everyone, but now all meals are optional and most are unplanned. The daily conference schedule is solidly packed with lectures and events with darn little free time to hang out, meet, and greet and a few lounge chairs in a hotel bar just don't have the same friendly, casual ambiance as a college outdoor quad, lounge area, or even the laundry room.

I, too, would prefer more time to meet people at the conferences. Rushing to and from lectures is not conducive to that. Not to disparage attending lectures, but why do they have to be the entirety of conferences? Surely there's value in people with common values getting together for other purposes.

Maybe somebody involved with conference planning will change things, but I doubt that will happen soon.

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It used to be about four serious new relationships per conference but this has changed since way back when we had conferences at UCSD.

Nowadays, there are much fewer opportunities to get to know new people. There used to be two or three meals a day in a common place for everyone, but now all meals are optional and most are unplanned. The daily conference schedule is solidly packed with lectures and events with darn little free time to hang out, meet, and greet and a few lounge chairs in a hotel bar just don't have the same friendly, casual ambiance as a college outdoor quad, lounge area, or even the laundry room.

The UCSD environment was almost ideal, and no location after that even comes close. (I say almost because of the lack of locks on the doors in the multiple bedroom units - and the other person in my unit, one year, was the religious guy who thought that Objectivism and religion were compatible, who harangued John Ridpath after his Religion vs. America talk.) I even hopped in to a tour of the supercomputer center, not many of those at a hotel.

I think one reason that attendance has been declining at the conferences (when statistically it should be on the rise every year) is that they are too much like graduate school. Learning things is fine but I can always read a transcript, listen to a CD, or listen online, and the material is identical. There is however no way to substitute for face to face interactions, and to have less of that is very counterproductive.

In other words: More vacation, less grad school. The purpose of school is to learn how to live life better - the purpose of a vacation *is* to enjoy life for a while with fewer responsibilities and less stress.

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In other words: More vacation, less grad school. The purpose of school is to learn how to live life better - the purpose of a vacation *is* to enjoy life for a while with fewer responsibilities and less stress.

Bingo.

I've been a student of Objectivism for 15 years, so my comments are not intended to represent those of newbies, who would be more excited to see a live lecture on Objectivism-related topics than I am.

Most of the lectures that come out these days are, for me, of marginal benefit. I'd like to see, as a customer, fewer but better lectures. More "down time" and chances to not just meet and exchange handshakes, but really get to know some people. That makes it worth my time.

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It seems like the only way to pack all that the conferences has to offer has been to attend lectures all day and hang out all night. By the end of this I am usually so sleep deprived I can hardly function - but it's fun.

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It seems like the only way to pack all that the conferences has to offer has been to attend lectures all day and hang out all night. By the end of this I am usually so sleep deprived I can hardly function - but it's fun.

I agree. I didn't have a chance to attend any of the UCSD conferences (although I did attend UCSD, ironically), so I can't speak to how things differ now from then. But the best conference I have attended was the one at Lake Tahoe in 1999, which had much less of the "we're in a hotel in a large city" thing going on. There was time for socialization, and vacationlike facilities. I have fond memories of hanging out with Robert Tracinski and a number of other folks in the hot tub during a hailstorm, and spending part of the free day zipping around on the lake in a speedboat.

Definitely a large portion of 'vacation' mixed in with the graduate school at that conference.

(I do understand why TJS decided to stop holding conferences at UCSD. It was very much an act of justice.)

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(I do understand why TJS decided to stop holding conferences at UCSD. It was very much an act of justice.)

Why did they? I'm not familiar with that part of conference history.

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I agree. I didn't have a chance to attend any of the UCSD conferences (although I did attend UCSD, ironically), so I can't speak to how things differ now from then. But the best conference I have attended was the one at Lake Tahoe in 1999, which had much less of the "we're in a hotel in a large city" thing going on. There was time for socialization, and vacationlike facilities.

I didn't ever attend any of the UCSD conferences either, but my favorite has been the conference in Virginia 2004. It was very much a vacation for me and since I live in a city it was nice to get out into the country. I attended the San Diego conference for a few days but definitely didn't feel like it had the same social quality since it wasn't that outdoorsey.

I'm looking forward to the Telluride conference next summer, hopefully we will get to arrive a few days early as there are some trail rides and hikes to take there with views that are unmatchable.

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Why did they? I'm not familiar with that part of conference history.

In either 1991 or 1992 (I forget the exact date, but it was my junior year), George Reisman came to the campus to deliver his talk on multiculturalism in education. It happened that his speech was scheduled about two weeks after the first Rodney King trial verdict was handed down, and the campus left was energized and looking for a target. They picked Reisman.

The lecture was, to put it mildly, a disaster. The audience was loudly and deliberately disruptive. Reisman was accused of being a Nazi, a racist and a number of other vile things. At one point a visiting professor from the campus philosophy department literally threatened him with lynching. The two campus policemen at the scene were utterly unable to enforce order, and probably did about as much as possible by getting Reisman safely off campus without physical violence.

In the aftermath, rather than viewing this incident as the criminal violation of individual rights that it was, the university administration spun it as a "teachable moment". I don't know exactly what that's supposed to mean other than that the thugs who violated Reisman's freedom of speech weren't subjected to any form of punishment. (I can't help but wonder whether the university would have dared to treat a gang raping a co-ed in the parking lot as a 'teachable moment' in gender relations.)

As a result of this experience, Reisman decided not to use the university's facilities for TJS in the future. Amazingly, the university had the gall (or the cluelessness) to write him a letter asking him to explain why! Reisman's reply was that if they wouldn't uphold his freedom of speech during the school year then why should he believe they would uphold it over the summer, when he had significant amounts of money at stake in the peaceful success of the conference?

Apparently the university administrators couldn't figure that out on their own.

TJS was the largest user of the university's summer conference facilities, and I understand the financial hit the university took as a result of TJS moving on was significant. I certainly hope so. To this day I take great pleasure in explaining to UCSD fundraisers that I make an excellent income, could easily afford to make a significant contribution to support the university, and will never do so because of they way they handled this incident.

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In either 1991 or 1992 (I forget the exact date, but it was my junior year), ...

Thank you for the information. I can certainly see why TJS left, why you make it a point to tell their fundraisers exactly why you refuse to donate money, and why it is not likely that any future conference will be held there.

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What does the abbreviation TJS stand for? I must say that I am a little lost as to what you are discussing now :(

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What does the abbreviation TJS stand for? I must say that I am a little lost as to what you are discussing now :(

It stands for Thomas Jefferson School.

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It stands for Thomas Jefferson School.

Here's a bit more detail. (From memory, so there could be errors.)

A number of different organizations have put together summer Objectivist conferences over the years. TJS ("The Jefferson School"), owned by George Reisman and Edith Packer, was AFAIK the first. TJS conferences took place every other year at the UCSD campus from (I think) 1985 through 1991.

After TJS stopped giving conferences, the gap was filled by Lycaeum on the west coast and Second Renaissance Conferences on the east coast. They settled into a pattern where there would be a west coast conference on odd years and an east coast conference on even years.

Within the last few years, after Second Renaissance was sold to ARI, ARI took over the conference hosting directly. That's OCON. OCON seems to be in a one-conference-per-year mode.

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It used to be about four serious new relationships per conference but this has changed since way back when we had conferences at UCSD.

Nowadays, there are much fewer opportunities to get to know new people. There used to be two or three meals a day in a common place for everyone, but now all meals are optional and most are unplanned. The daily conference schedule is solidly packed with lectures and events with darn little free time to hang out, meet, and greet and a few lounge chairs in a hotel bar just don't have the same friendly, casual ambiance as a college outdoor quad, lounge area, or even the laundry room.

The only advantage now is that everything isn't over when then conference ends. You can maintain your conference contacts on THE FORUM and elsewhere on the internet.

I'd just like to throw in my two cents in agreement with what has been expressed here. I was not familiar with Objectivism when the conferences were held at UCSD, which apparently had a setting very conducive to easily meeting and casually interacting with other conference attendees, whether or not one had met them already.

I think that attendance rates would increase significantly if the conference organizers paid more attention to setting an environment as conducive as possible to meeting the other conference attendees easily. The way it is now, one has to work really hard to meet new people and then (usually) must make specific plans to meet such and such people, at such and such a time, at such and such a place, to do so and so. And while there is nothing whatever wrong with this, meeting new people in the current kind of environment can be a lot of work.

I went to conferences for four years and met a fair number of people, but had to be absolutely determined to do so, particularly at first. But I think that it's very possible to attend a conference and meet hardly any other conference attendees, especially those whom one has not met already. For me, it became more difficult over time to meet new people, because at each successive conference I would run into those I'd already met, and would sometimes avoid the effort required to meet new people. But I think that is only because the effort required to meet new people is so considerable, especially for someone like me, because -- although I value social interaction very much -- I'm not naturally extroverted.

My husband and I chose not to attend the conference this year because it's a significant investment for us -- and he was not overwhelmed with interest in the topics of this year's optional courses, and I projected the difficulty of meeting new people in the given setting. I knew that we would be surrounded by both conference attendees and tons of people who would be totally irrelevant to us. Also, the lectures and the main hotel were in separate facilities, which would inevitably mean a lot of time spent just getting to and from lectures and meals.

For a couple of years, like Elle, I attended lectures and courses all day long and hung out late into the night, had a pretty good time and was totally exhausted by the end. But this required operating with very little sleep, so that I actually fell asleep during some lectures and courses, which negates the investment of having paid to attend them. On the other hand, if one does not attend lectures and/or optional courses, the opportunities for meeting others are significantly diminished.

At first, both my husband and I were very interested in the courses, and in meeting new people. But I really have found meeting new people to be difficult, and not relaxing, like I think it could be and should be. I guess I wish that attendees could both relax and meet new people, and I believe that there is a good way to achieve this.

Hiring facilities that would be used exclusively by OCON attendees would go a long way to setting a better environment in which Objectivists could more easily meet each other. If during a conference, except for facilities staff, everyone that you saw around you anywhere, any time was another conference attendee; I think that would make it much more natural to meet new people, and would significantly increase the social value of the conferences to all attendees, more of whom would then find greater value in returning to the conferences year after year.

In Galt Valley, the people who went there for just one month every year could relax and enjoy the camaraderie -- whether or not they'd met any or all of the others before -- because they knew that everyone they would see there was committed to living in the kind of world they desired, and was doing his best all year to work toward achieving that world for himself.

Hiring facilities exclusively for conference attendees would not mean that everyone would automatically be friends with everyone else. Friendship, and especially romance, are very personal things. But if everyone around you shared the most important general principles in common, I believe that finding new friends among them (or finding a potential romantic partner) would be as natural as it could possibly be.

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[A]lthough I value social interaction very much -- I'm not naturally extroverted.

Rose, I wonder whether you know of other organizations or clubs that facilitate meeting new people easier than your conference experience. If so, what do they do?

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Rose, I wonder whether you know of other organizations or clubs that facilitate meeting new people easier than your conference experience. If so, what do they do?

Seems like the Objectivist conferences at UCSD were better for meeting new people than the conferences of later years have been. I thought I was pretty clear about what I thought would make getting to know other Objectivists a little easier, i.e. hiring conference facilities exclusively for the OCON attendees, which (at least at first) would necessarily mean smaller venues.

But all that aside, I don't want to complain too much, because I've met many wonderful people at the conferences whom I'd dearly love to see again. And some whom I have managed to see again, even outside of conferences on occasion.

And I met a couple who live near us at my very first conference (which my husband could not attend as he had a new job), and they're now our best friends. But I guess I'm greedy, and a convenience-hound too! I'd like to meet more people, and for it to be a little easier just to meet and have chats with new people. As Betsy said, a few lounge chairs in a hotel bar just isn't quite the thing. But it's all 100% better than nothing, though if the environment could be improved I think it would be a good thing.

Sorry Lizzy Lee, I didn't mean to hijack the thread. It was supposed to be about romance at the conferences. But I'm not totally off-topic, because I think there could be more romances generated at the conferences if meeting new people were a bit easier.

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I think that attendance rates would increase significantly if the conference organizers paid more attention to setting an environment as conducive as possible to meeting the other conference attendees easily. The way it is now, one has to work really hard to meet new people ...

Like many others I think that UCSD, with its close-by living and common areas, was an ideal location for the summer conference. However, listening to your words it occurs to me that one simple improvement can be made in the current hotel-type conference environment that would go a long way towards helping people get together. Just like they have a separate room for ARI, displaying books and the like, they should set aside a separate room for attendees, open most all the time. A room with comfortable seating, tables for playing games, and the like. A place for people to go and meet socially when not attending lectures. A place to hang out. It has been my experience that when a few Objectivists get together it does not take long for interesting discussions to take place. With comfortable surroundings, I bet a common area like this would be quite popular and many more people would be able to get to know each other.

Just a thought for improving the non-ideal conference hotel environment.

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Is there a banquet at those events? Dinner with a bunch of people can be reasonably fun if food and company are good. It doesn't have to be in an expensive place either.

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Like many others I think that UCSD, with its close-by living and common areas, was an ideal location for the summer conference. However, listening to your words it occurs to me that one simple improvement can be made in the current hotel-type conference environment that would go a long way towards helping people get together. Just like they have a separate room for ARI, displaying books and the like, they should set aside a separate room for attendees, open most all the time. A room with comfortable seating, tables for playing games, and the like. A place for people to go and meet socially when not attending lectures. A place to hang out. It has been my experience that when a few Objectivists get together it does not take long for interesting discussions to take place. With comfortable surroundings, I bet a common area like this would be quite popular and many more people would be able to get to know each other.

Just a thought for improving the non-ideal conference hotel environment.

Has anyone made these recommendations to OCON? I think the reason I haven't attended is because I knew I would end up sitting in a corner by myself. I'm outgoing to a point, but don't meet people well.

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Just like they have a separate room for ARI, displaying books and the like, they should set aside a separate room for attendees, open most all the time. A room with comfortable seating, tables for playing games, and the like. A place for people to go and meet socially when not attending lectures. A place to hang out. It has been my experience that when a few Objectivists get together it does not take long for interesting discussions to take place. With comfortable surroundings, I bet a common area like this would be quite popular and many more people would be able to get to know each other.

Just a thought for improving the non-ideal conference hotel environment.

Every OCON so far has had a table with coffee, tea, soft drinks, and, usually, fruit in the afternoon. In the past, there have been people gathered there who I talked to. This year, furthermore, there was a hospitality room, open all the time, for attendees to meet socially. And almost nobody used it; it turned out to be the place to go if you wanted to be alone. (Granted, it was kind of in a corner.)

I don't share the criticisms expressed in this thread. I had a social blast, for instance, at this year's July 4 cruise, and there were other free blocks of time that I put to good use. However, I'm sure the folks at ARI would love to hear any concerns or suggestions you have. So let them know your thoughts when they send out those yearly evaluation forms in the mail (if you attended this year, that is).

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Every OCON so far has had a table with coffee, tea, soft drinks, and, usually, fruit in the afternoon. In the past, there have been people gathered there who I talked to. This year, furthermore, there was a hospitality room, open all the time, for attendees to meet socially. And almost nobody used it; it turned out to be the place to go if you wanted to be alone. (Granted, it was kind of in a corner.)

I don't share the criticisms expressed in this thread. I had a social blast, for instance, at this year's July 4 cruise, and there were other free blocks of time that I put to good use. However, I'm sure the folks at ARI would love to hear any concerns or suggestions you have. So let them know your thoughts when they send out those yearly evaluation forms in the mail (if you attended this year, that is).

Daniel,

I'm very glad to hear that you had such a great time. I think that this is one of the important values that (hopefully) can be attained at conferences, for the people attending to have fun. I, personally, love it when this occurs, as it has for me too. But I'd be interested to know if your good experience has been consistent from one conference to the next. And also, I have to ask if you got enough sleep.

For me, after four conferences, I realized that I was having to make a choice between finding the time and opportunities, and making the effort to socialize, or getting enough sleep to remain awake during the lectures and courses. If you were able to do it all I congratulate you, and would love to know how and why it worked out so well for you, and if you have any further advice for the complainers on successfully navigating and enjoying the conferences.

Actually, ideally, I would like to ask you a ton of very specific questions. But in any case, I'd at least like to hear your general response.

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Daniel,

I'm very glad to hear that you had such a great time. I think that this is one of the important values that (hopefully) can be attained at conferences, for the people attending to have fun. I, personally, love it when this occurs, as it has for me too. But I'd be interested to know if your good experience has been consistent from one conference to the next. And also, I have to ask if you got enough sleep.

For me, after four conferences, I realized that I was having to make a choice between finding the time and opportunities, and making the effort to socialize, or getting enough sleep to remain awake during the lectures and courses. If you were able to do it all I congratulate you, and would love to know how and why it worked out so well for you, and if you have any further advice for the complainers on successfully navigating and enjoying the conferences.

Actually, ideally, I would like to ask you a ton of very specific questions. But in any case, I'd at least like to hear your general response.

The conferences have been roughly consistent for me. This conference was a little bit less social for me than past conferences (partly because there was no completely free day, but also for other more personal reasons), and the Virginia conference was the most social of the past four years because of the nature of the living accomodations that year (houses rather than hotel rooms).

No, I did not get enough sleep by my ordinary standards. I never do at these conferences. I probably averaged five or six hours per night. I don't daze off during lectures as long as they are good lectures (this year, there were a couple that bored me). After four years of college, I am very used to sitting through classes after having gotten only a couple of hours of sleep. So two weeks of little sleep isn't a problem for me. I avoid caffeine normally so I've gotten used to staying awake on my own power; and since I don't have a tolerance built up for caffeine, it works wonderfully if I absolutely need it.

Taking notes also sometimes help me stay focused on the lecture.

Also, note that I never load up completely on optional courses. At most, I take two per week (or, rarely, three). That not only gives me more free time, but it makes the amount of information streaming in more manageable.

In part, I know I have an easier time because I am a student, and it is easier for students to find each other at these conferences. I suggest getting to know some new people as early on as possible, though. The opening banquet is a great opportunity. If you talk to just one new person there, you might end up meeting a whole new circle of people in the coming days as a result of it. (After all, it is easiest to meet new people through people you already know.)

Finally, note that I come to these conferences for the intellectual value and only secondarily for the social value. I would not be likely to travel across the country just to meet new people. If I spend a little less time than I might desire chatting with people, I don't mind all that much, as long as the conference is intellectually fulfilling. And I think the conferences need some refinement in order to be completely satisfying intellectually. Frankly, there were some duds this year.

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