Science

Skepchick Tracts!

Yesterday’s topic about Demon Haunted Hotels has spawned a number of interesting responses. I love hearing ideas for skeptical activism, and even more than that, I love hearing about people who can make them happen.

Blake Stacey mentioned Skepchick Tracts, which I happen to think is a hilarious idea. If it were just a skeptical version of a Chick Tract (with all the related preachiness intact), I don’t think it would work, but if it were uproariously funny, I think you’ve got something there. I wouldn’t mind taking a stab at writing one or two — who here can draw in the Chick fashion? If you’re interested in helping out, e-mail a sample drawing of a Chick-like panel to me at [email protected] Those of you who have story ideas, post them here!

I also like The Labour Humanist’s sticker idea. That sounds like it might be right up Demon Haunted Hotels’ alley, so I’ll pass that along if Jon (who has posted in response to yesterday’s blog) hasn’t seen it yet.

Keep brainstorming, folks, as I’m liking what I’m seeing. I’m off to New York for the weekend, but I’ll check in on Monday.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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17 Comments

  1. Most of what I draw looks more like xkcd than a Chick tract, but I'd love to follow up my suggestion with some actual writing. I can think of three possible tracts right off:

    First, we need to address the E-word. It's a topic everybody cares about. So, one of the top priorities has to be the tract I shall provisionally title Dinosaurs and Deep Time. Second, I'm strongly tempted to do an astronomy-themed tract called, say, Made of Starstuff. Finally, we need to help people realize that skepticism isn't just about challenging religious ideas. Skeptical thought means using your "Yankee ingenuity", acting to the world like you do when you face a used-car dealer. We're not grouchy curmudgeons out to ruin everybody's day; we're just streetwise in the Universe.

    I doubt one could convince many people that skepticism is a virtue by attacking their most cherished beliefs. Instead, what if we put together a tract or two about "tuning up" your own brain, making skeptical thought a self-help program? I recommend, therefore, that Tract #3 be The Baloney Detection Kit.

    Above all, I agree with Rebecca that these comic books should be screamingly funny!

  2. I can't quite figure out how to make basic risk analysis "screamingly funny," as Blake says, but can we add that to the list of comics to put out? It's a huge failure on the part of society that people have NO IDEA how to consider relative risks.

    Maybe one of the comic panels could have someone driving their car in busy traffic (or a busy school zone!), while simultaneously eating a hamburger and arguing with someone on their cellphone about the dangers of leukemia from power lines.

    Too subtle?

  3. I'm gonna have to go ahead and say that Blake Stacey has, more or less, cornered the market on writing these Skepchick Tracts. Bravo!

    That said, I'd have to go a little further and suggest an issue of Skepchick Tracts specifically dedicated to false mediums and psychics.

    It could perhaps take place on the set of a Montel-like show, with a Sylvia Browne-esque psychic (Call her Allison Van Edward to cover a few of our targets). Our favorite Skepchick Protagonist could then appear on the show and show up Ms. Van Edwards by demonstrating the methods of cold reading, using ear pieces and audience plants, etc. You could call this issue "Mind over Mediums" or "I'm getting an F…for FRAUD"

  4. Personally, I don't like the look of Chick's style. I think something looking like Sinfest is much tidier looking, and much more inviting to glance over than Chick's bible-quote-laden crap. Too much writing just kills my motivation to check it out, since in essence, a comic is supposed to be telling the story with images, not several paragraphs of text. Otherwise I'd read a book instead.

    As for size, yes, it should fit inside a bible, otherwise the hotel people are going to find it and toss it out. Unless you get the hotel owner's permission, in which case you might even be able to get them distributed to all the rooms by housekeeping, just like the Gideons.

  5. Unless you get the hotel owner’s permission, in which case you might even be able to get them distributed to all the rooms by housekeeping, just like the Gideons.

    Not going to happen. You could propose it, but they'll just say no. Then you could claim religious persecution, but then any judge who wants to keep his/her job will rule that atheism/skepticism isn't a religion.

    Then again, the legal precedent of atheism not being a religion might just be worth it.

  6. I still think the court is where this needs to be fought unfortunately. But I fear the biggest problem is that there is no case to be made.

    They're not forced to put those bibles there, that's a voluntary act by the hotel management. The hotel owner is still the final judge about what does and does not get distributed to every room of his hotel. And sadly, there's far more christians than atheists or skeptics, so the cost/benefit of complying with the Gideons' request and put a free bible in every room is not so easily dismissed as the request to put a copy of "some book" which might (and probably will) offend a large percentage of the future guests staying at his hotel.

    Otherwise, rooms would end up full of advertising and other such crap. And often, they are. Even if the skeptical message isn't advertising, it will be treated as such. The most you could hope for is that the bible in every room is considered to be advertising too, although that wouldn't serve any purpose either.

  7. What might be an interesting idea is to have every TAM5 attendee take their hotel room bible and pile it on a big stack at the end of the hallway.Or even take it down to the lobby and make a big stack there. Not damaging it or defacing it or anything, just sending a message that here is a bunch of people who object to having a bible forced on them in their bedroom.

    It might be quirky enough to get a bit of attention in the local newspaper, especially when combined with a few references to Deamon Haunted Hotels, and our preference for Sagan's non-fiction over christianity's fiction.

  8. Hello again from the UK.

    Still loving this topic! If someone out there can write some sparkling copy and some nice cartoons or pictures, please be sure to put some templates up on a web site. People could order them, but we could also buy some sticker paper for our printers and print off our own copies for that next time you've booked into a hotel.

    By the way I've plugged this site on a blog entry I've done on this, ahem, "pressing" issue. Laters!

    http://tinyurl.com/yekevw

  9. Obviously, the best way to get this spread around is to make it available and easily replicable. That means having a downloadable PDF or something that people can print out themselves. Perhaps something that can easily be folded in half and pinned together to make a little booklet of a couple of pages.

    I agree that "defacing" the bibles with disclaimers stickers and such, while being a funny thing to do, must not be associated with the skeptical effort. It'll only play into the fundies' cards. An either/or kind of thing.

  10. I would like to suggest that emulating the drawing style of Chick tracts isn't really important, it's the storytelling style that needs serious mocking. In a Chick tract, the villains and heroes are instantly recognizable, with every bit of behavior both stereotypical and excessive. Only the "transitioning" characters depicted in any way like normal people, as they're the only ones that readers are supposed to identify with.

    So, to the artists reading these comments, I say volunteer away. Draw better than the Chick artist(s), and have a more meaningful message, as well.

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