Ed Clint wrote this blog post yesterday about the current trials and tribulations of online secularism.
I do keep abreast of what is happening in that community* but don’t participate in the infighting (as much as I can avoid it) but what he said also applies to the skeptical neighborhoods as well.
He cited three points:
- Excellent secular work has gone on unabated throughout everything.
- The “new atheist” debate which also caused much in-fighting is nearly forgotten and amounted to almost nothing.
- There is no such thing as the “secular community”.
I agree. As this applies to skepticism, I have made a point to just keep doing what I want and like to do because I think it’s important and others have told me they like and appreciate it. Consequently, I have been recognized for that as have others that also persevere amongst the name-calling and shunning.
In my opinion, those that have left the skeptical party after trashing many of the luminaries or agreeing with those who do are better off leaving the podiums and not attending Skeptic events. It’s clear that they can find satisfaction by creating their own area with their own goals to focus on the issues that are important to them. I’m all for that and would support them in that endeavor. (I don’t hold grudges, really.) I’m not as certain that the rifts created in skepticism have been forgotten since many people continue to cite them years later. But as he also notes, most of the people interesting in skeptical topics do not know the lurid details and gossipy backstories to the blowups. That’s good. If you don’t want to come to this conference. Don’t. We’ll manage.
Finally, there really isn’t a concrete skeptical community. As Ed notes for secularism, there are “spheres”, I would even call them “cliques”. Everyone does not support everyone else. I find that sad but I learned it’s not my problem to dwell on. I support the work of people whose work I like and I am grateful to all who support and encourage me. Part of my goals are to continue to advance general goals, not just for myself, which is why the Media Guide to Skepticism was a community effort (I felt it could not be otherwise) and that it is licensed for Creative Commons.
I think this might happen in every “community” (what else can we call it – sphere?) that has an influx of people from another generation. We are going to clash on ideals. It’s not all bad. It’s normal.
Go out and do something worthwhile. Or just appreciate those who do. Thanks.