Tim Farley

What's the Harm? · Atlanta, Georgia

Tim Farley is a computer security analyst for a major technology company in Atlanta, Georgia as well as a writer, podcaster and lecturer. He is known among skeptics for his website What’s the Harm?, which catalogs the real-world consequences of irrational beliefs via documented cases.

Since building What’s the Harm?, he has written on technology issues of interest to skeptics at his Skeptical Software Tools blog. There he has advocated skeptic online best practices and explored crowdsourcing as a skeptical technique. His writing and presentations on this topic led to the creation of the Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia project, which he sometimes advises.

Other projects of his include a collection of daily Skeptic History facts (seen on social media, in an iPhone app and in Skeptical Inquirer); the Skepticism Conventions Guide, an ongoing calendar of multi-speaker skeptic conventions, workshops and symposia worldwide; and Ignite Skepticism, a set of lightning talks presented at DragonCon Skeptrack.

As a computer security professional, he has helped create industry leading security software, and has trained others in reverse engineering and ethical hacking. His work has resulted in three U.S. Patents.

He has written for publications such as Skeptical Inquirer, NetWare Solutions, LAN Magazine, PC Techniques and Windows Developer Journal. He’s contributed material to several books and regularly contributes to the Skepticality podcast and the Virtual Skeptics webcast.

Past presentations include:

  • “You are the Future of Skepticism on the Internet” from TAM2012

  • “Adapting and Evolving in an Era of Internet Misinformation.” This talk addresses how skeptics need to constantly change the techniques they use online in the face of algorithmic changes and the reactions of others. We need to find new roles that are unique to the Internet ecosystem and that best suit our targets for outreach.
  • “Secrets of Skeptic History.” While researching his daily skeptic history facts, Tim has encountered numerous interesting stories, anecdotes, coincidences and parallels. This talk goes over some of his favorite stories including how a bad speech in Congress created a word skeptics use every day, the biography of an early 20th century physicist skeptic could easily have been one of the Mythbusters, and more.
  • “The Ninjutsu of the Internet-Savvy Skeptic” is a catalog of interesting online tools that can be used like weapons against misinformation by skeptics who take the time to properly understand them.
  • “You Are the Future of Skepticism on the Internet” is a rallying cry for skeptics to redirect their efforts online away from pointless arguing and mischief, and toward new crowdsourcing techniques. It also laments a key instance where skeptics completely missed out on lobbying for legislation that was in our best interest.
  • “Promoting Skepticism on Wikipedia” is an introduction to the environment and rules of the well-known crowdsourced encyclopedia, and makes the case that skeptics should spend time editing it.
  • “One Year of Harm” is the story of the creation of the What’s the Harm website and how it went from a half baked idea to a major skeptic online resource in less than a year.


Contact Tim Farley >>

Topics: Skepticism
Subtopics: Paranormal & fringe-science claims, Pseudoscience

Viewpoints and information presented by speakers do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of, nor should they be attributed to, CFI or its affiliates, or any of their directors or officers.