30 July 2009

Prominent Skeptics: People, Not Heroes

Michael Shermer has blogged about politics again, triggering another raft of comments on whether that's an appropriate topic for skeptics. A comment from Jason Loxton warned about the damage that can be done to one's reputation as a skeptic by associating oneself with a particular political view. Jason was concerned about the fact that he was now skeptical of Shermer and Penn Jillette on certain topics because of their politics, whereas he once considered them "intellectual heroes." My first thought on reading that was, "So what?"

20 July 2009

Half-Smart

During a panel discussion on Skepticism and Magic at TAM7, the often-asked question came up yet again: should skeptics learn something about magic to help them in investigating paranormal claims? The response was the one I've heard many times before about how dangerous that can be: someone learns one way to do a particular trick, goes charging off to a psychic (or whatever) armed with this limited knowledge, then gets caught off-guard because there are other ways to do it that they don't know about. The term magicians use for this is "half-smart."

10 July 2009

Nostalgia

Ah, the good old days. Remember those? That's the time when just about everything was better than it is today: music, movies, food, the environment, people, culture, life generally. We didn't have the imminent destruction of the planet looming over our heads, caused by the excesses of modern living. We didn't have to worry about greedy corporations poisoning our food supply, hoarding all our wealth, and dumbing down our culture. Government was kinder and gentler, with leaders that we respected and admired. Family values weren't under constant threat, as they are today. People led happier lives, untainted by the decay brought on by today's societal ills.