Things always seem to ramp up in the fall, after school starts again and vacation time is over. This September, I started posting again on Doubtful News. I realized that DN had 30x more reach than this personal blog so there was little excuse for posting about news stories here and not there. However, due to the time off and that DN does not get courtesy posts on Facebook or Twitter from any big orgs, we don’t have the hit counts we used to. It’s clear to me, and I hate to keep saying it, effective skeptical outreach requires a support network. Not money so much as basic human support, a foundation of people who believe in the goals and promote the information to their friends and family. If advocacy was less about fundraising and more about getting things done at a grass-roots level, I think we’d be much better off and have made more progress.
In light of those goals – doing what you can to reach people who haven’t been exposed to practical skepticism and applying critical thinking – I’ve been doing things…Read More »
It takes me quite a bit of time to write a long post. First, I have to think about it, then I have to figure out what I want to say and then say it and then make sure I’ve said it so people can understand. Commenters, on the other hand, react and write their opinions often in a slapdash manner. They expect me to post them even if they make no sense. I often don’t. That’s my choice, to frame the discussion a certain way. I get that you don’t agree. The Internet has made it appear that everyone has an equal voice in every matter. That’s untrue. I’ve done considerable and careful research on most of the things I write about. But to some, their own personal experience trumps all that. Nope. And here’s why.
A VERY common comment I get when I criticize claims of the paranormal is this one: You’ve obviously NEVER experienced this. If you did, you’d change your mind.
End of summer is a good time to take stock of what’s been done and what to do next. I’m keeping busy as usual, with many day-to-day tasks and some new pilot projects launched.
This past year I served on the planning committee for The Amazing Meeting 2015. TAM#13 was an absolute success with an array of new speakers and familiar friends. I was so happy to see the overwhelming positive response to the conference. I learned a ton about conference organizing, as well. While there I headed a panel on Practical Skepticism. This is one of my new themes.
I’ve now bowed out of any work for skeptic organizations. I’ve provided direct input to two organizations but, to me, things are in a strange state right now. I think the skeptic community will regroup in the future. I’m better to steer clear of that and focus on my own goals, one of which is outreach to the public.
–TLC pulls “19 Kids and Counting” after a sexual molestation scandal is revealed which implicates reality show star, and anti-LGBT campaigner, Josh Duggar.
–Has the time come to stop referring to ourselves and others as black, white, etc? An article seen on Addicting Info prompts a discussion about the social construct of race, and why, despite the objection of many, we think it can still be useful.
–Shootout between rival biker gangs in Waco disproves the idea of more guns leading to polite society. But it also prompted us to think about the era of the Wild West, and finding out it wasn’t as “wild” as we once thought. –Recommendations: Bobby does his best to insert Star Wars into every discussion by recommending…Star Wars. Meanwhile, Jason thinks many will find value in the HBO documentary “Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall,” which he feels is an…
Doubt and About is personal contemplation about stuff going on in my sphere.
I’ve been dreaming about flying rays, monitor lizards and leeches. These days, I have a surplus of tiny spiders on the back deck that enjoy crawling on me and using me as a launching pad for their silk ballooning. I should have been a zoologist, obviously. Meanwhile, my job is to keep writing up rational responses to crazy news stories on Doubtful News.
Does anyone not know that I do DN? It’s not unusual to come across skeptics who have never heard of DN. How does that happen? I do all I can to promote it. I’m pretty passionate. This stuff means a lot to me and has for 20 years. Well, this relates to a worsening problem I’ve noticed in the past few years – lack of support and cooperation among skeptical advocates. There are many good groups and bands of individuals that get together to do projects. But it seems like asking for a blog post, Facebook share, a retweet or even a mention of your latest project or important post is met with the sound of crickets. Why is that? Shouldn’t we be helping each other to spread the word about positive stuff?
I’m pleased to announce the launch of PracticalSkepticism.com, an outreach and education outlet for those new to the principles and value of everyday skepticism.
The audience for PracticalSkepticism.com is the GENERAL PUBLIC — the material is easy to understand and is designed to be shared with family, friends, colleagues, and students.
The goal of the site is to expose an inclusive array of readers to the basic concepts of skepticism in a relatable, non-confrontational way through examination of extraordinary claims, but also via everyday decisions about consumer products, medical treatments, and social media-derived information. PracticalSkepticism.com is a first step to make critical thinking a life habit.
Content includes examples of applied skepticism and where skepticism would certainly have been beneficial. Regular themes will draw attention to topics that deserve critical thinking but that may not be obvious, such as human perception errors, eyewitness testimony, and health and media claims. The site will feature skeptically-themed writing and highlight media recommendations.
Current examples already up include the following: