I sort of stole “Doubt and About” from a previous CFI column by Chris Mooney. But he hasn’t posted there since mid-2006. There must be an expiration date on good titles so they can be recycled. If he doesn’t like it, I’ll change it. Promise.
I wrote a Huff Post piece called Weird Word Salad: The Terminology of the Unexplained. I have previously looked at the differences between the words paranormal/supernatural and other similar words. I think they are misused a lot so I clarified their meaning. The problem with words is that people use them how they WANT them to be used and you really can’t stop it. But, in case anyone was interested…
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Last night on Virtual Skeptics, we had a blast. As usual, Brian showed us this week’s new robot shape – squid. Bob was just silly and will get us into trouble. AGAIN. Eve was just as puzzled as I was about the out-of-place coins in Australia story.
I talked about the “exorcism” hub-bub with Pope Frank and wondered what the church thinks of their go-to exorcism guy, Gabriele Amorth.
Tim gave us a great skepti-quiz; we all failed. But the sound effects were AWESOME.
It was fun! Check it out.
I’ve found it a bit difficult to explain the concept of evolution to a child below the age of 10. You run into a problem defining all those “things” involved – like DNA and reproduction and population and deep time. Those are tough for kids to grasp (especially “populations”, I’ve noticed). Check out this video with adorable graphics and rather easy to understand explanations. Read the rest of this entry
I need a name for these weekly wrapups of activity. Suggestions?
Good week for crossovers. My post on Slenderman (Slender Man?) did well with the paranormal crowd. I’ll be working with some experts to develop another piece on this relating to pop culture. Looking forward to doing that.
I was able to connect with the local Bigfoot investigation group after a rumor broke that a Bigfoot was shot near Altoona. Turned out to be a bust. As is typical. The Bigfoot community is especially awash with hoaxes to the point that you can not take anything serious. I wrote about this for Huffington Post. That post got many positive comments and was passed on via social media. I was happy to see that. It’s really important to pass on things you like so they reach the maximum audience. Nothing is as depressing as doing a lot of work and having it go no where.
Therefore, I’m thinking about book projects… Read the rest of this entry
I can’t recall when I first heard about Slender Man but since he was only created in 2009, it must have been relatively recently. He is, however, one of those characters that you would SWEAR has been around for a much longer time and has a history. The truth is, he was created by an imaginative mind and he just worked.
I was listening to It’s A Thing, the conveniently-sized podcast by two of my favorite Tech reporters – Tom Merritt and Molly Wood. It’s a trend-spotting show. Tom’s thing was ‘Slender Man’ which he heard about from some kid. Slender Man is a “thing” indeed.
(The) Slender Man was born from a photo editing contest on the Something Awful web forums in 2009 when “Victor Surge” submitted for evaluation two images of groups of children with a tall, thin, creepy faceless dude in a black suit. For effect, the submitter added a story to go along with it establishing that the figure brings death and bad luck.
Along with his stretchy, tentacle-like arms and hairless pate, whatever more you need to know about Slender Man can be found here at Know Your Meme, at the Slender Man Wiki, and on this adorable video. Read the rest of this entry
I read every tweet and email and take them into consideration, answer or discard as necessary. I got a tweet yesterday that prompted me to write this post first thing when I woke up this AM. Here is is:
[W]hat fringe subject do you think is worth serious investigation? Obviously, it isn’t Bigfoot.
It’s a good question to answer considering that this person sees me as a “skeptic” (in the way they perceive “skeptic”) and apparently sees me as at least a bit dismissive of Bigfoot research. Perhaps this person only sees my opinion in dribs and drabs across the internet and has picked up that I don’t particularly like the field of Bigfootery these days. I’m not sure who could – it’s full of unprofessional, money-grabbing, sham research. Hoaxing is rampant and the “evidence” presented daily on certain websites is worthless.
Yes, I’m negative on Bigfoot research. No doubt. But there are two items that need to be clarified. Since Twitter is a poor media for such discussion and I could not point to something I’d written already or an interview I did that wasn’t really long and too much to hand out and say “read this”, I’m writing it here.
First thing: All fringe subjects are worth of investigation. Observations deserve explanation. Read the rest of this entry
Another busy week!
The Huffington Post piece on hoaxes last week seemed to get good circulation, especially among paranormal folks JUUUUST a bit fed up with empty promises and lousy endings. I’m working on a followup on hoaxing these days.
I also got some promotions for my last post, on paranormal politics. That was sort of a brain dump. Got me thinking. Hope it helped others. I was so glad to see people like America’s Most Haunted (radio show) promote it. That was gratifying.
Kitty’s new piece triggered me to set up this facebook page
and, so far, it’s ALSO getting a good response, filling up with nice people who just want to talk about paranormal stuff and explore. Come on over, post some positive links. Read the rest of this entry
My interests are in paranormal topics, coalition building, policy, and problem solving. Having visited the paranormal side on several occasions, I’m one of those skeptics that is not hated or despised by those that disagree with the “skeptical” scene. Distilled rom those interests, one of my goals is to find a way to interact effectively with the paranormal community and maybe come up with new ways of doing things. In order to do that, you can’t just jump in and expect change. It’s complicated so I try to explore the issues.
That serves as an introduction to an introduction…
I started reading Jeremy Northcote’s The Paranormal and the Politics of Truth: A Sociological Account. It’s already marked up from when I referred to it for my thesis project but it was time I read it through. Odd that sometimes you pick up a book years later and it resonates with you in a completely different way from the first encounter with it, thanks to life experience and current events.
So, I digested the introduction and I found some zinger ideas that I wanted to write down and contemplate anyway so I might as well share them and see how everyone feels about it (in consideration of my propensity to be collaborative).
The following are notes and ideas taken from the Introduction, pages 1-11. Read the rest of this entry
The most well-known is a place in PA that I MUST visit someday.
But, I do have my own Wikipedia page now. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharon_A._Hill
Thank you to Susan Gerbic and Nathan Miller. Guerrilla Skepticism
[Heh - apparently this caused some problems... (disambiguation)]
All my stuff is here.
I’m in a reading phase. I have 168 on the list of books I have and need to read. I recently got through three and here are my impressions. They sort of have a monster theme. From imaginary/real to some people think are real to YES ABSOLUTELY REAL AND IN MY BASEMENT!
I heard the author of Monsters in America (Poole, 2011) interviewed on Monster Talk and knew I had to get the book. It was not like any monster book or any history book I have read before. Monsters are complicated. This book expresses that. It’s not so simply to just trace the roots of the folklore, the monsters are ever changing in response to how we need to use them. The research that went into this book is outstanding and deserves to be in every monster-lovers library (cryptozoology or horror fan). It’s not the easiest read because of the density of information but because I love this stuff, I had no trouble plowing through it quickly. I learned a lot of new stuff. While I won’t always agree exactly with the interpretations, this is a great mind-opening array of ideas that helped me understand American pop culture a bit more deeply.