Doubt and about in 2012

2012 was some year for me. Good and bad. I made a ton of new friends and lost a few along the way. I’m bothered by the latter. But I accomplished a HUGE amount. So, overall, it was a crazy productive year.

The good:

In January, I began my web column for the Committee of Skeptical Inquiry website called Sounds Sciencey. I learn a LOT from doing these pieces. Along the way, several people contacted me with complaints, comments or compliments about the stories, which is really gratifying. I’ve answered every one except those that were written in green ink with no margins. (I kid. None came like that, really. Just metaphorically. I now have a special file folder for those types of emails.)

I was also published a few times in Skeptical Inquirer including an article I adapted from my Master’s thesis work about amateur paranormal investigators. From that piece, I also got many inquiries for a copy of the thesis from interested readers and also from paranormal investigators. They USUALLY liked it. I heard one account from a correspondant that a student REALLY disliked it, and, therefore, disliked me. I must have hit a sore spot. I have managed to do that a few times this year. If it provoked a reaction that was rather outside the norm, something hit the mark.

I appeared on several podcasts this past year and greatly enjoyed doing them: Token Skeptic, Skeptic Zone, Strange Frequencies and Monster Talk. Kylie Sturgess included my interview in her book about skepticism called The Scope of Skepticism: Interviews, Essays and Observations from the Token Skeptic Podcast.

I did several major conferences this year and was privleged to speak at four of them. I did a workshop at TAM with four fabulous participants. That was a challenge and a HUGE success. I was the one who probably learned the most from that workshop. TAM was an insightful event this year, to say the least. Not all good, very surprising, and a bit of an eye opener as usual. Always learning…

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I attended my first Dragon Con and was a bit overwhelmed. TOO MANY PEOPLE. In COSTUMES. And Alice Cooper walked by me. Not a costume. I investigated the paranormal track and introduced myself to some new ideas by visiting sessions that I felt I DID NOT belong. I also did a neat workshop. Again, it was enlightening. Geez, Stanton Freidman sat next to me, get me outta here…

With some hesitancy, I spoke about skepticism at the PA Atheist conference. It was a bit weird but went over pretty well. I met some new people who were not really aware of the difference between sketpicism in the larger sense and atheism as a subset of it. I believe they do now.

And I talked to kids this summer. This part was really important.

On to Tennessee in September where I had my longest speaking slot of the year – at the CSICON gathering. That also went very well. Shortly after that I was invited to be a scientific and technical consultant for the CSI. I’m racking those titles up – I also have that distinction for Planet Weird video production and for Strange Frequencies radio. Haven’t done a darn thing to justify that title yet but, hey, I’m willing to help where I can. Ask away.

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It was a big year in Bigfoot. I’d rather not have had to write about it as I did, the news was not very good. But I did follow the stories of the year. There were many threads that intertwined. It was messy, it was ugly, I got mad, I got insulted and I got praised. But mainly, I got some good info shared with me by people I respect and who respected me enough to trust me with it. I am a Bigfoot insider. That was news.

Virtual Skeptics started in the summer – it’s a web show hosted by Brian Gregory, with me, Bob Blaskiewicz, Eve Siebert and Tim Farley. We have a blast just chatting. I’m not sure many people watch but that was really not the point. If you want an example of a group of people with like minds who have fun and support each other, take a look. Skepticism is NOT stuffy and its not mean and nasty either. We are very friendly, even virtually!

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That leads me to… The Bad:

Yeah, it was a year where many of us had fits of disgust, disappointment and disillusionment. I felt sad about some stuff, lost some respect for people I thought were cool and was unfairly targeted a few times but came through it perfectly fine and a bit wiser.

I was chastized about who I follow on Twitter. I couldn’t quite believe that 1.) anyone would care and 2.) anyone would actually make a fuss about it. Then, there were a few who decided I was on the “wrong side” of the feminism issue (whatever the hell that means) and decided they didn’t like listening to me. They either told me so over Twitter or just stopped talking to me. Or they perhaps told conference organizers. I’m not holding anyone hostage to listen to me. But some seem to look to be outraged over ridiculous things. Get a grip. The world is wild place full of people who don’t agree with you. That’s life.

As I mentioned above, I got emails and comments from people that might be labeled cranks. Some had a vendetta against certain skeptic leaders, some just generalized all skeptics as bad and made me a poster girl for it, and some just hated everyone without a good reason why so they yelled at me. Whatever. One must expect this. No big deal. I’m not going to call them out, call them names or hold a grudge. I confronted a few who crossed the line by considering me a “scoftic“. That straightforward confrontation worked in most cases. Often, it’s best to take it offline. Keeping your cool and taking the high road works.

Not sure about those who want me to participate in promotion of their strange ideas… I’ll likely say no. Just a heads up. Feel free to email me but PLEASE don’t search for my home number to call me on a Saturday.

The best:

DNlogoI saved the best to end on a high note – the success of Doubtful News. We celebrated a year of DN in August, went over a million page views right around that time, and rose in hit counts and ranking continually. The bad part of that is that the hosting companies were perpetually unhappy with me for stressing their servers. And it stressed me out too but I can’t complain too much. I enjoyed it. I received positive feedback and was glad I was able to provide something that many people use and enjoy. I hope to keep doing what I do for 2013. That should be the motto for skepticism in 2013 – Go. Do.

Thanks to everyone who was really supportive of me this past year and provided a sympathetic ear, a got-your-back comment, a check-up DM, a funny text, some special surprise gift or much appreciated donation. And to those who just said “thank you” or “keep up the good work”, that’s the best.

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4 thoughts on “Doubt and about in 2012

  1. You’re a remarkable person, Sharon. I hope the years just keep getting better for you. Good Luck, and Happy New Year.(!!!!!)

  2. Just glad I found your site. Don’t know what happened, but I usually accessed your content via Skeptic.com. Anyhow, great to have found you guys (I mean that in the most inoffensive, gender neutral way possible 😉

    Doubtful News was my favorite part of Skeptic.com, good to know I can still get my fix.

    Thanks again.
    Chris

  3. We removed the DN feed from Skeptic.com for various reasons. Is there any way you can think of that I can publicize that it was a stand alone site, not part of Skeptic? Many people seemed to make that mistake even though I was sure it was clear.

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