The internet, and now Web 2.0, has transformed the skeptical community. For one, it has made it into much more of an actual community (albeit largely a virtual one). Blogs, podcasts, email newsletters, Youtube videos, and websites have brought a new generation of skeptics into skepticism.
It has also fostered a collaboration among existing skeptics that simply did not exist before. Prior to Web 2.0 my skeptical activism was largely confined to a small local group, a print newsletter, and the very occasional national meeting. There were three national groups all doing their own thing, and about 60 local groups toiling away in relative isolation.
Now skepticism is a vibrant and growing international virtual community.
I am proud to announce the latest project to emerge out of this broader community — SkepticBlog. I am very excited to be a part of this new group blog, which is not the work of any individual but of a diverse group of dedicated activist skeptics.
The blog emerges out of another product of this born again (pardon the pun) skeptical community — a pilot reality TV show called The Skeptologists. The show is the brainchild of Brian Dunning and Ryan Johnson, who continue to work tirelessly to make this show a reality. If they succeed — putting a no-nonsense, full-monty skeptical show on mainstream TV — it will be a major coup for skepticism, perhaps a game-changer.
Ryan Johnson, who will also be contributing to this blog, is the producer and director of The Skeptologists, and the originator of the idea. Co-producer, Brian Dunning, is already famous in skeptical circles for his excellent podcast, Skeptoid. He is also the host of The Skeptologists.
Brian and Ryan pulled together for the pilot a team of skeptics with diverse backgrounds, but all with a passion and ability to communicate skepticism to the public. I was honored to be asked to join that team, and am glad that I was able to squeeze the shooting of the pilot into my busy schedule (I almost didn’t, and that would have been an eternal regret). I continue to enjoy success with my podcast, The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe, and my existing blogs (NeuroLogica and Science-Based Medicine, as well as contributing to The Rogues Gallery) — but a tv show would be a jump in audience of at least 2 orders of magnitude.
Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, is already an established science blogger. He has built one of the most recognized brands in skepticism and blogging with his Bad Astronomy site (now hosted by Discover magazine). He is the author of two books, and recently was made president of the James Randi Educational Foundation. (He also has a tremendous singing voice.) As busy as he is (like the rest of us), he had to think carefully before agreeing to put anything new on his plate (or Plait, as the case may be), but eventually saw the potential in working on such a project as this blog and so enthusiastically jumped in.
Michael Shermer has already built the greatest name recognition as Mr. Skeptic. He is the founder of the Skeptic Society, publisher of Skeptic magazine, the author of numerous books, including the seminal Why People Believe Weird Things, a columnist for Scientific American, and has been the face of skepticism on hundreds of documentaries. Yet — he has never had a blog. His participation here will be his entry into the world of blogging. Anyone familiar with his crisp and accessible writing style will see that it will be a natural fit for him, and I think he will enjoy the open and intimate format that blogs offer.
Kirsten (Kiki) Sanford entered the world of skepticism with Web 2.0. She already hosts a popular science podcast, This Week in Science, and maintains an excellent personal blog, The Bird’s Brain. She has decided to dedicate her career to improving the public understanding of science — something for which she had already demonstrated considerable talent.
Mark Edward could be the template for the lead character in the new CBS show, the Mentalist. He used to work for the “other side” as a stage psychic, but came over to the side of light and now uses his mentalism skills to expose fakery and deception. He provides a unique insider’s perspective into the world of fraud that the rest of us lack.
As popular as some of us may be within the subculture of skepticism, our combined fame pales in comparison to the international celebrity of Yau-Man Chan. He came to fame as one of the most popular contestants on Survivor, and became a geek-icon by literally using brain consistently to beat brawn. It turns out Yau-Man is also a dedicated skeptic. He sought out Brian to join The Skeptologists team, and now joins us on this blog.
The SkepticBlog, however, is more than just a way to promote The Skeptologists. It is a serious group skeptically-themed science blog, and represents a collaboration across many of the biggest institutions of organized skepticism. From the outset we will post daily blog entries, and hope to build this site into an important hub of skeptical activity online.
We also plan to invite guest submissions, and may even regular contributions, from others in the skeptical community.
This blog does not belong to any one person or group — it is a blog of the skeptical community.