Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Richard Dawkins’ problem: Bill Maher

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on September 29, 2009

Richard Dawkins is in hot water! The Atheist Alliance International has an award named after him which they award during their annual conference, and its description reads like this (according to Wikipedia, I can’t find a description of the award at the AAI website at all):

The Richard Dawkins Award will be given every year to honor an outstanding atheist whose contributions raise public awareness of the nontheist life stance; who through writings, media, the arts, film, and/or the stage advocates increased scientific knowledge; who through work or by example teaches acceptance of the nontheist philosophy; and whose public posture mirrors the uncompromising nontheist life stance of Dr. Richard Dawkins.

I was able to find this short post on the AAI website about the upcoming 2009 convention though, and from there I get this quote which seems to validate the Wikipedia entry (emphasis mine):

We are also pleased to announce that Bill Maher, effervescent host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher and host and co-producer of the 2008 documentary movie Religulous, will be in attendance Friday evening to receive the 2009 AAI Richard Dawkins Award for his efforts to further the values science and reason in the world.

The case against this nomination has been made brilliantly by Orac, and I don’t need to repeat what he said except for the main point. One of the criteria for awarding the RDA is “advocates increased scientific knowledge”. Bill Maher does the exact opposite, and not only when medical issues are involved. To this day I remember listening in horror to the podcast version of the show when he and Ashton Kutcher, I think if my memory serves me correctly, were talking crap about the NASA orbiters sent to Mars!

Newsflash AAI: Bill Maher makes no effort to “further the values of science” in the world. He does make a great effort to further atheism, but he is as anti science as NaturalNews.com!

The AAI is whoring itself for the spotlight a celebrity like Bill Maher can shine on them, and I for one, and it appears Orac also, do not support this sort of behavior.

So why is this Richard Dawkins’ problem?  Well for one, even though he did not have anything to do with the selection process, the award bares his name. Secondly, he will be there at the convention, thus lending credence to the idea that he approves of Maher as a receipient. Thirdly one only needs to look at the convention website to see Maher’s and Dawkins’ pics front and center, and the Richard Dawkins Foundation Emblema right on the website banner, almost as big as the AAI portion of the banner.

For all intents and purposes it seems clear to me that RD is not an innocent bystander, whose name was “hijacked” by the AAI. If he did not support Maher as a recipient of an award bearing his name, he would say so openly not hide behind the “I did not choose him” excuse, because that is what in reality it is. It is clear that Richard Dawkins has no problem at all with this, even if Maher most clearly makes no effort whatsoever to advance the values of science; even though Maher takes every chance to trash science and push ridiculous “holistic” treatments whenever he cans; even when Maher ridicules the Mars probes as a waste of money. I guess having a celebrity on your side is more important than being intellectually honest. Here is a telling quote from an entry on the RichardDawkins.net website:

Whilst Richard was not involved in the decision, he is nevertheless happy to go along with it. Just as he worked with Bishop Harries to protest against creationist schools in the UK, and just as he regularly recommends Kenneth Miller’s books on evolution to religious people, he understands that it is not a prerequisite to agree with a person on all issues in order to unite in support of a common objective. Richard and Christopher Hitchens don’t see eye to eye on all political matters, but that doesn’t stop them from working together against the dangers of religion. Honoring the creation of ‘Religulous’ does not imply endorsement of all of Bill Maher’s other views, and does not preclude Richard’s arguing against them on future occasions. It is simply showing proper appreciation of his brilliant film.

This is a load of crap, and I call bullshit. I am disgusted to see this sort of straw man arguing on this reputable website. No one is implying that Dawkins has to agree with Maher on everything. Our argument is simple, Maher does not fulfill the criteria that the AAI itself has set up for its award recipients. Dawkins needs to acknowledge this, and not pretend he does not understand our point, or pretend that he was not aware of Maher’s anti scientific views, and, at this point when it has all been pointed out to him, ignore it completely. That is not what a man of reason does!

Also, the point about disagreeing with Hitchens on political issues is a false analogy that does not apply. We’re not saying that Dawkins needs to agree with Maher on political issues, or social issues. We’re saying that it is dishonest to endorse Maher as the recipient of an award which in part is meant to honor him for his advancement and support for science, which he most certainly lacks to the highest degree, and at the same time try to hide behind the “I did not know/ I didn’t have anything to do with this” excuse. If you knew or not, were involved or not,  is irrelevant so long as you think they did the right thing and you ignore the evidence to the contrary. If you endorse this recipient, you cannot put up this sort of defense. It is dishonest and pathetic, and we expect more from one of the most prominent public figures of our movement.

Bill Maher may be a great atheist, and may have done more than anyone alive today to advance the cause of atheism. However, either the AAI needs to change the criteria for the RD Award, or they need to retract the award from Maher. Somehow, knowing human nature, I suspect neither of these will happen. They will proudly use Maher’s name and face until they can squeeze no more publicity out of it, and keep the word “science” in their award description, because everybody knows that word is prestigious. In the mean time a dangerously misguided woo woo lover will keep on spouting anti scientific nonsense as much as he can, because hey he got an award for advancing scientific knowledge. How’s that for irony?

Put Maher in the hot seat

Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on July 23, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT PHARYNGULA

Some people are quite rightly appalled that Bill Maher won the Richard Dawkins Award from AAI, and is at the top of the list of speakers at the AAI conference. I sympathize; Maher certainly has some wacky ideas, and I even gave him a mixed review on his movie, Religulous. (I also must repeat a clarification: the Richard Dawkins Award is not given by Richard Dawkins or the Richard Dawkins Foundation: it is an award by Atheist Alliance International, named after Richard Dawkins.)

However, let’s be clear about the obvious. He is being given this award for making a movie this year that clearly promotes atheism and mocks religion, and that’s all that is being endorsed. Not many people have done that, and it’s especially unusual in that it was a movie entirely about ridiculing religion, and it was a mainstream movie with wide circulation. That’s it. It would be difficult to ignore, and it’s something AAI would like to promote.

Let’s be clear about something else. This is atheism: we have no dogma, we have no infallible leaders, everyone is naturally flawed, and we recognize that within our ranks there is a huge diversity of opinion. Our strategy for dealing with these ideas is the same as the scientific approach — constant, relentless criticism. There is no Atheist Supreme Leader. There is no Atheist Pope. There is no Godless Ruling Council, no Atheist Inquisition, no Freethought Dogma.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT PHARYNGULA

Bill Maher gets the Richard Dawkins Award? That’s like Jenny McCarthy getting an award for public health

Posted in Respectful Insolence by Skepdude on July 23, 2009

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT RESPECTFUL INSOLENCE

Although I often don’t agree with him and have cooled on him lately, I still rather like–even admire–Richard Dawkins. While it’s true I’ve taken him to task for having a tin ear for bioethics, lamented his walking blindly right into charges of anti-Semitism(no, I don’t think he’s an anti-Semite), and half-defended/half-criticized him for seeming to endorsing eugenics. What’s really irritated me about him in the past, though, is his use of the “Neville Chamber atheist” gambit that I so detest, so much so that I once featured Dawkins in a Hitler Zombie episode (albeit not as the victim). On the other hand, I loved Dawkins’ The Enemies of Reason, particularly Dawkins’ demolition of Deepak Chopra and other woo-meisters. Indeed, his explanation of the ridiculousness of the pseudoscience that is homeopathy was about as clear and visually compelling as any I’ve ever seen, and I loved how he and P.Z. Myers totally pwned the producers of Expelled! last year.

Through it all, even though I don’t always agree with Richard Dawkins mostly on matters of religion versus atheism and how to advocate for reason, I have never doubted that he is a force for reason to be reckoned with. I’ve even briefly met him, although I highly doubt that he’d remember me, my being one of dozens of people who shook his hand that day nearly two years ago in New York. There’s even an award named after him, the Richard Dawkins Award, which the Atheist Alliance awards to one person every year based on these criteria::

 

The Richard Dawkins Award will be given every year to honor an outstanding atheist whose contributions raise public awareness of the nontheist life stance; who through writings, media, the arts, film, and/or the stage advocates increased scientific knowledge; who through work or by example teaches acceptance of the nontheist philosophy; and whose public posture mirrors the uncompromising nontheist life stance of Dr. Richard Dawkins.

Past recipients have included James Randi, Ann Druyan, Penn and Teller, Julia Sweeney, Daniel Dennett, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, all worthy recipients. 

So the other day I was rather shocked to see who the 2009 recipient of the Richard Dawkins Award will be. If you read Pharyngula, you knew the answer a couple of days ago.

 Bill Maher.

 When I found this out, all I could think was: WTF?

 Let’s backtrack a minute. Longtime readers of this blog know that I do not think much of Bill Maher. Oh, sure, I find him occasionally somewhat amusing. For example, his New Rules segment is sometimes pretty funny. However I can’t really watch Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO, mainly because Maher’s smugness irritates the crap out of me. But none of that has anything to do with why I find his receiving the Richard Dawkins Award to be about as inappropriate as giving Jenny McCarthy a public health award–and for much the same reasons. After all, Bill Maher is a woo-meister supreme and, like Jenny McCarthy, an anti-vaccine crank, as I’ve documented time and time again on this very blog. He’s also a big time PETA supporter and a germ theory denialist.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT RESPECTFUL INSOLENCE

Is Richard Dawkins really that naive?

Posted in Rationally Speaking by Skepdude on April 28, 2009

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “RATIONALLY SPEAKING”

Richard Dawkins doesn’t usually strike me as being naive, but one has to wonder when Dawkins abandons himself to the following sort of writing about his favorite topic these days, the incompatibility between science and religion, on his web site:

“If they’ve [the creationists] been told that there’s an incompatibility between religion and evolution, well, let’s convince them of evolution, and we’re there! Because after all, we’ve got the evidence. … I suspect that most of our regular readers here would agree that ridicule, of a humorous nature, is likely to be more effective than the sort of snuggling-up and head-patting that Jerry [Coyne] is attacking. I lately started to think that we need to go further: go beyond humorous ridicule, sharpen our barbs to a point where they really hurt. …You might say that two can play at that game. Suppose the religious start treating us with naked contempt, how would we like it? I think the answer is that there is a real asymmetry here. We have so much more to be contemptuous about! And we are so much better at it. We have scathingly witty spokesmen of the calibre of Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. Who have the faith-heads got, by comparison? Ann Coulter is about as good as it gets. We can’t lose!”

Oh, really? There is so much wrong with these few sentences that a whole book could be written about them, but since I am no Stephen Gould (who was famous for being able to magically turn a short essay into a book length manuscript, provided the right economic incentives), a blog post will have to do. First, though, some background. Dawkins is commenting on a recent essay by evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, who in turn was criticizing Eugenie Scott and her National Center for Science Education. While both Dawkins and Coyne profess admiration and respect for Scott and her organization (and so do I, for the record), they are upset by what they see as an “accommodationist” stance on the question of science and religion.

Scott — who is an atheist — has repeatedly said that one cannot claim that science requires atheism because atheism is a philosophical position, not a scientific one. She leverages the standard distinction between philosophical and methodological naturalism: if you are a scientist you have to be a methodological naturalist (i.e., assume for operative purposes that nature and natural laws are all that there is); but this doesn’t commit you to the stronger position of philosophical naturalism (i.e., to the claim that there really isn’t anything outside of nature and its laws). Years ago, when I first met Genie Scott, I had a Dawkins-like problem with this. I saw the distinction as sophistic hair splitting, and told her so (she was my guest for one of the annual Darwin Day events at the University of Tennessee). Then I started taking philosophy courses, understood what she was saying, and found it irrefutable. I sent her an email apologizing for my earlier obtusity.

That said, both Genie and I do recognize that science is one of the strongest arguments for philosophical naturalism, and I suspect that in her case, as in mine, a pretty big reason for why we are atheists is because of our understanding of science. Still, the philosophical/methodological distinction is both philosophically valid and pragmatically useful, since it doesn’t serve the purposes of either science or education to fuel an antagonism between a small minority of atheistic scientists and 90% of the world’s population (those taxpayers, on whose good will the existence of science and the stipends of most of said scientists depend).

Jerry Coyne, however (with whom I often disagree, especially on scientific matters), does have a point that Scott and the NCSE should address: if the National Center for Science Education claims neutrality with respect to the relationship between science and religion, then why — as Coyne observes — do they list on their web site (under “recommended books”) a plethora of obviously biased books on the subject? Why does the NCSE feel ok to endorse the vacuous writings (as it pertains to the alleged compatibility between science and religion) by pro-religion scientists like Francis Collins, Ken Miller, and Simon Conway Morris, to name a few? Either these books should be ignored, or the NCSE should also recommend the (equally questionable) works of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and so on. Either science can neither prove or disprove gods, or it can, the philosophical/methodological distinction cuts both ways. Genie, what’s up?

Now back to Dawkins. As we have seen, he claims that we would be better off being on the offensive against religionists, because we’ve got the evidence. Oh yes, and because Christopher Hitchens is a better rhetorician than Ann Coulter (though he doesn’t look half as good, unfortunately). The latter is certainly true, but to pick on Coulter is to stack the deck much too obviously on one’s side. The real problem is that, pace Dawkins, evidence has nothing to do with it, because this isn’t a scientific debate. Look, even the most outrageous version of young earth creationism cannot be scientifically falsified. Wanna try? Consider the following: if there is any obvious evidence of the fact that evolution has occurred, it ought to be the impressive and worldwide consistent fossil record. Moreover, using the geological column as a way to date events during the history of the earth predates Darwin (i.e., it was invented by creationists), and we keep discovering new intermediate fossils further documenting evolution every year.

But a staunch creationist will argue (I know this from personal experience) that god simply orchestrated the whole appearance of fossils and intermediate forms to test our faith. As stunning and nonsensical as this “theory” may be, it makes the creationist completely and utterly impervious to evidence: the more evidence you bring up, the more he feels validated in his faith, because faith is belief regardless or despite the evidence. Now Dawkins will say that these people are irrational ignoramuses, and they certainly are. But that misses the point entirely: the lowly creationist has just given the mighty evolutionist a humbling (if unconscious) lesson in philosophy by showing that evidence simply does not enter the debate. If evidence is out, then we are left with sheer rhetorical force. But there too, atheists are easily outmatched: Coulter notwithstanding, there are armies of professionally trained preachers out there who will trump Hitchens — in the eyes of their constituencies at least — even when the latter is perfectly sober. And the important keyword here is “constituency,” since these are the very same people that turn around and elect a creationist board of education, causing endless headaches to Scott and collaborators, headaches that are not in the least helped by Dawkins-style posturing.

And really, look at Dawkins’ prescription here. According to him we should be even more “contemptuous” than the religious fanatics are; we should “really hurt” with our “sharp barbs”; we “can’t lose” because truth is clearly on our side. One almost gets the feeling that if Dawkins had the resources of the Inquisition at his disposal he might just use them in the name of scientific Truth (a philosophical oxymoron, by the way). Thanks for the public relations disaster, Dick!

What are we to do, then? First, learning some good philosophy wouldn’t hurt the likes of Dawkins a bit. That way they would finally appreciate that Genie’s position is not just a matter of pragmatism, and it has nothing to do with intellectual cowardice. Second, and more importantly, we really need to turn to psychology and sociology, the sciences that tell us how and when people change their minds. If we want a cultural change, we need to understand how cultures change. And by the way, let us remember that scientists are most certainly not immune to the same problem of walking around with a mind a bit less open than one would hope. Dawkins may like to think that science is about free inquiry that inevitably leads to people accepting new discoveries and renouncing old ideas based on the weight of evidence and rationality. If so, he hasn’t practiced science in a while (indeed, he hasn’t). As physicist Max Plank aptly said: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Analogously with creationism: changing minds is a painstaking, largely unrewarding, capillary job, which the National Center for Science Education does superbly. Dawkins & co. should simply get out of the way and let them do their work.

[Note: I became aware of this latest much ado about nothing debate through a fairly well balanced post by Paul Fidalgo at the DC Secularism Examiner, where you will find additional quotations from the various parties involved.]

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “RATIONALLY SPEAKING”

Oh Dear God, They Found a Real Crocoduck

Posted in Friendly Atheist by Skepdude on March 2, 2009

Ray Comfort doesn’t need to ask for a debate with Richard Dawkins anymore.

The debate is already over. Comfort and banana-pal Kirk Cameron have lost.

The Creationism proponents used to say that if evolution were true, we should expect to see a crocoduck (a crocodile/duck transitional form) in the fossil records:

crocoduck

They said we haven’t seen that hybrid, thus evolution is untrue.

Now comes news of a new fossil that was found…

The unusually intact fossilized skull of a giant, bony-toothed seabird that lived up to 10 million years ago was found on Peru’s arid southern coast, researchers said Friday.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT THE “FRIENDLY ATHEIST”

How not to fight religious superstition

Posted in Rationally Speaking by Skepdude on October 28, 2008

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “RATIONALLY SPEAKING”

In the summer of 1835 the editor in chief of the New York Sun, Richard Adams Locke (a descendant of John the philosopher) started publishing articles relating to the increasingly stunning discoveries of astronomer John Herschel. With his telescope placed in a good observational spot in South Africa, Herschel had unearthed astronomical evidence of lakes on the moon! Over a few days, Locke reported, Herschel’s observations had confirmed first the existence of herds of animals, then of intelligent beings, and finally even of houses of worship on our close planetary companion. The New York Sun’s sales shot up, and New York was awash with talk of the new scientific findings.

Of course, Locke’s reports were actually a hoax, though he was astonished to find out that many people kept believing them even after it was revealed that Herschel (who was, in fact in South Africa at the time, unaware of the scheme) had never made any of the alleged claims. Locke’s was an exercise in ridiculing superstition with the aim of forcing people to realize how gullible and silly their beliefs really are, thereby prompting their abandonment. It failed spectacularly.

What prompted Locke’s experiment was the fact that although astronomy was very popular that year, since Halley’s comet was due to reappear after the summer, many New Yorkers considered it further proof of intelligent design in the universe! You see, obviously God is so powerful that it can throw large celestial objects around as He pleases, the (by then well known to science) laws of mechanics be damned. Locke, much in the fashion of his fellow countryman, Richard Dawkins, thought that the United States was a wonderful place full of energy and promise of change, which would be even better if only Americans could rid themselves of religious nonsense (on the latter point, of course, I am firmly with both Dawkins and Locke). Hence the idea of the hoax, and the sour disappointment that must have followed Locke’s witnessing of New Yorkers’ reaction to it.

The 19th century moon hoax is described in a new book by Matthew Goodman, The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York. It may be difficult to imagine people who lived only less than two centuries ago seriously taking a random block of ice as evidence for a divine creator, but it’s likely that readers of the 23rd century will react with equal astonishment to the news that half of Americans at the dawn of the millennium couldn’t see the obvious fact that we are animals closely related to chimpanzees and gorillas.

The serious question, highlighted by the parallels between the two situations — is how do we fight superstition. Locke and Dawkins may be amusing to their respective fellow intellectuals (yours truly included), but obviously their sarcasm doesn’t do the job that they intend for it to do. Just in the same way, one might add, that Joe Sixpack or Joe the Plumber surely don’t find The Daily Show with Jon Stewart very funny. Then again, on this blog I recently praised the sarcastic approach to religion used by Bill Maher in his recent movie, Religulous. Along similar lines, a recent National Public Radio commentary on Duck Soup, the classic Marx Brothers movie, reminded us of how biting Groucho and brothers’ social satire could be, in that case making fun of the Great Depression that had started only three years earlier, and that among other things had wiped out the Marxs’ savings, forcing them to go back to acting to make a living (who said there was no positive side to the economic collapse of the nation?).

Satire can change the world, which was the point of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, where monks who translate Aristotle’s writings on comedy are mysteriously killed because once we can make fun of the gods we do not take them seriously anymore, and all hell breaks lose, so to speak. (You are of course better off reading the book, but Sean Connery was certainly charming in the lead role of the corresponding movie.) It has been said that anyone can write a tragedy, because all it takes is to put black on white the way life actually is. But intelligent comedy about society takes real genius, from Aristophanes to Shakespeare, from Groucho to Jon Stewart.

The trick that some get right, but Locke obviously did not, is to aim the satire at the right level and at the right audience. Maher’s critique of religion is much less intellectual than Dawkins’, and therefore all the more effective. Most people don’t believe in god because of the intricacies — such as they are — of the ontological argument. It is therefore senseless to explain to them why the argument doesn’t work. But when Maher was confronted by a Jesus impersonator who asked him “What if you are wrong?” he simply replied, “Well, what if you are wrong?” There is of course a kind of theological gymnastics that can get you out of that one, but the blank stare on the fake Jesus’ face was priceless: it had clearly never occurred to him that there was a chance that he was the one who picked the wrong religion. Oops!

Similarly with the audience. I’m sure the overwhelming majority of people who watch The Daily Show are cappuccino-drinking, New York Times-reading, Volkswagen Beetle-driving unabashed liberals such as myself (alas, I sold my Beetle when I moved to New York, to reduce my carbon footprint, but you get the point). But his show is so popular that clips of it appear not only on YouTube, but on CNN and other “mainstream” media outlets, thereby greatly enlarging the audience, and likely reaching people who may drink cappuccino but don’t read the New York Times. Some of these people will recognize the commonsense humor that Stewart displays, and may begin to appreciate the absurdity of, say, Sarah Palin’s contradictions on pork barrel spending, and so on.

The world isn’t going to change just because of humor, of course. Nonetheless, today’s New Yorkers really would think it completely silly to look at a comet as proof of intelligent design in the universe, thereby further reducing the scope of supernatural so-called “explanations.” If well done, comedy can help open up people’s minds and prepare the terrain for more serious discourse. But enough of this, I need to go to a comedy club in Manhattan tonight which is featuring The Daily Show’s Aasif Mandvi. Tickets – $15 (plus mandatory drinks)!

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “RATIONALLY SPEAKING”

Richard Dawkins gets mail, too

Posted in Pharyngula by Skepdude on September 18, 2008

Maybe he and I are going to have to have a competition to see who gets the nastiest letters. We do get a slightly different perspective on Christianity than most, I think, since our view is of a near-constant flow of letters like this one:

Warning! Uses Christian language!

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “PHARYNGULA”

Richard Dawkins Cursing

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on August 29, 2008

Well reading out loud e-mails from various cooks that are cursing at him.

Skepnews – 8/7/08

Posted in Uncategorized by Skepdude on August 7, 2008

  • Richard Dawkins, Islam and the UK school system – “Teachers are bending over backwards to respect home prejudices that children have been brought up with. The Government could do more, but it doesn’t want to because it is fanatical about multiculturalism and the need to respect the different traditions from which these children come.” – Amen, Richard, amen!

Too skeptical yet not skeptical enough

Posted in Skepbitch, Skepticism by Skepdude on July 22, 2008

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “THE SKEPBITCH”

Last week I chatted with a stranger and the topic turned to skepticism, “I don’t like that skeptic guy on TV. He’s a snob. All he says is ‘No. I disagree. You’re wrong. It isn’t true. I don’t believe in that’.”

Sound bites, editing with an agenda, and yes/no questions can portray a skeptic as a naysayer.

However, we don’t want to be gratuitous skeptics either.

That doesn’t help our objectives, or our profile.

It seems that skeptics can be too skeptical, or not skeptical enough.

How can we find a happy (non-paranormal) medium of skepticism?

Not that I claim to be the perfect skeptic. I don’t think there is such a thing. I can’t cast the first stone of skepticism, I’m still learning all the time, but I know when a skeptic has descended into leniency, or dickheadism…

And there will always be someone who’ll label you as a dogmatist or a cynic. Meanwhile, someone else will accuse you of being irresolute and wishy-washy – for saying the same bloody thing…

Since we’re talking cliches and catchphrases, here’s a skeptical motto or mantra to remind us that we’re aiming for logic, rationale and reason, rather than high-functioning autism.

Effective skepticism is about educating others, and educating ourselves.

When we educate others we teach critical thinking, dispel myths and explain how the world works.

This is NOT Proselytizing. This is NOT preaching. This is NOT converting. This is NOT dogma.

It’s simplistic to frame skepticism as a kind of religion; or atheism as another form of theism.

A gathering of atheists is not a church congregation. James Randi and Richard Dawkins aren’t messiahs. The similarities might make it easier for us to understand one thing in terms of another, but the differences make the meaning.

Educating ourselves is about research, knowledge, reassessment, re-evaluation and keeping an open mind. This is our skeptical maintenance, to be skeptical of ourselves. But this also requires an understanding of the beliefs and practices that exist. This is not a rote, aggressive, obnoxious dismissal and premature ejaculation rejection of, say, the opinions of Christians or psychics.

Now you know why no one will have sex with you but yourself…

It’s kinda obvious to me that a skeptic should be an amateur anthropologist, and an amateur psychologist.

Unless they just want to be a fucking snob.

Sometimes, skeptics make the very worst skeptics…

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE ORIGINAL ENTRY AT “THE SKEPBITCH”