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It’s official: Texas GOP bans critical thinking

by Donald Prothero, Jul 18 2012


No matter what our political or religious persuasions in the skeptical community, we all hold to some basic ground rules of skepticism. We all agree that critical thinking and questioning authority is a good thing, that humans are easily misled into all sorts of errors of logic, and that it’s easy for any of us to be fooled. Many of our skeptic books are largely about the topic of critical thinking, and the recent efforts by the Skeptic Society to promote critical thinking courses in colleges and universities across the nation are just part of this. Every meeting of CSI, JREF, and other skeptical organizations remind us that critical thinking and questioning authority are essential to getting past the garbage that clutters human thinking and behavior.

In emphasizing critical thinking, we are fully aware that there are powerful organizations (especially religious and some political organizations) that don’t want us to think critically, don’t want us to ask questions, don’t want us to challenge their authority. Many of us are deeply involved in battling religious interference in science and science education, or political interference in scientific and educational decisions made by organizations with clear agendas that don’t stand up to critical scrutiny. Many of us were raised in Sunday School classes where we asked tough questions and were told to shut  up, or to stop disrupting class, or something to avoid the fact that the Sunday School teacher had no good answer for that question. We can imagine powerful politicians and their people chatting among themselves privately that those damned skeptics keep messing things up, and we have to stop their interference. Continue reading…

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Why Bigfoot and Aliens Will Continue to Be a Focus

by Brian Dunning, Jun 07 2012

Appealing to the target demographic

Bigfoot and aliens — groooan — are so outdated. Right?

Yes and no. They’re outdated, so far as the amount of work left to do to educate the general public; almost nobody takes them seriously anymore. But they’re not at all outdated as far as being in the public consciousness. Almost everyone knows about them, and that’s critical to the mission of science education.

To make headway in critical thinking, we need to start with common ground from which it’s easy to see the reasons why a given subject is unscientific. It’s easy to talk about Bigfoot with almost anyone and have them agree to the low value of anecdotes, logical red flags, and (thanks to the current TV show) the unreliability of ideologically motivated proponents. Continue reading…

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Reason Rally Rocks

by Michael Shermer, Mar 27 2012
Shermer leading the Reason Rally Cheer (photo by John Welte)

Yours truly, leading the Reason Rally Cheer (photo by John Welte)

March 24, 2012 marked the largest gathering of skeptics, atheists, humanists, nonbelievers, and “nones” (those who tick the “no religion” box on surveys) of all stripes on the Mall in Washington, D.C., across from the original Smithsonian museum. Crowd estimates vary from 15,000 to 25,000. However many it was, it was one rockin’ huge crowd that voiced its support for reason, science, and skepticism louder than any I have ever heard. Anywhere. Any time. Any place. It started raining just as the festivities gathered steam late morning, but the weather seemed to have no effect whatsoever on the enthusiasm and energy of the crowd…or the speakers and performers. The organizer and host David Silverman and his posse of tireless staff and volunteers pulled it off without a hitch. Organizing big events can be an organizational nightmare, but they did it, marking what I hope is the first of many consciousness raising events in the civil rights movement for equal treatment for us nonbelievers and skeptics. Continue reading…

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Puppets Like Skepticism, Too

by Kirsten Sanford, Jun 12 2009

This week I was interviewed by Farrah, a puppet on the Hoggworks Studios video podcast called The Rant Puppets. He asked me about bird smarts, critical thinking, crystals, PZ Myers, and chiropractic medicine. I liked his hair. Enjoy…

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Target Audience

by Ryan Johnson, Dec 16 2008

 

I ran across a comment on the blog that I wrote last week. It caught my interest.  

Ejdalise wrote:

Not to say you guys won’t get there, but . . . I don’t know; perhaps it’s where I live, but I don’t often meet people who would be considered your target audience. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I thought about it for a bit, and wondered, why would he make that type of comment?  It didn’t take that long to realize that what is happening at least in terms of Ejdalise, is that many people don’t really understand our goals and intentions for this program, and thus think that we are aiming to create a show that is aimed at our smallish, yet active skeptical community. This is just not so.  

In order for a TV series to be successful in a “real” way that’s judged in the scale that will even make a blip in the Nielsen ratings, one must create a program that is consumable on the national, dare I say, international, scale. Too bad really, because that means that we have to create a show that must be, hmm how to say this correctly well… just easily understood by the general TV viewing audience. 

If we went out and created a TV show “For the Skeptics by The Skeptics” We wouldn’t last a season, probably only two episodes.  Forget the major networks, it wouldn’t get off the ground. As big as the community is, we’re not nearly big enough…yet. Continue reading…

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Tying Up Skepticism with a Pretty Ribbon

by Brian Dunning, Oct 24 2008

I would like to have a drink with the master purveyor of harmful pseudoscience, author and direct marketer Kevin Trudeau.

It’s all well and good for us to sit back and snicker at Kevin Trudeau for being a scumbag and selling snake oil, but it’s also true that he’s kicking our ass. Absolutely kicking our ass. He makes millions of dollars selling useless products, and the skeptical community makes virtually nothing offering only scientific fact. As a consequence, Kevin Trudeau has more marketing dollars and spreads his message much wider than we could ever hope to. Continue reading…

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