Skepticism

why aren't there more skepchickS in the media?

Any other writers, artists, or media personalities lurking out there on the Skepchick forums or blog who would like to talk about how we skepchickS (as opposed to THE Skepchick, Rebecca, or THE Skepchick website) can get more media exposure?

I think it’s great that Sam Harris, Dan Dennett, and Richard Dawkins are getting air time for nonbelievers, but where are the women?

Donna

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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15 Comments

  1. Getting media exposure is all about having a sensational story. So all you need is a sensational story that the media will want to air.

    It's that simple. It's not that easy though …

    Nudie-calendars are definitely a step in the right direction though.

  2. Well, one thing Dawkins, Dennent and Harris all have in common is writing atheist books that got a lot of attention. So clearly some skepchick needs to write an inflammatory atheistic book. I'd volunteer, but I'm busy with college.

  3. And speaking of inflammatory books. . . . Who wants to start a pool on how angry the response will be to Victor Stenger's God: The Failed Hypothesis?

    The God Delusion by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is number nine on the New York Times Best Seller List dated February 4, 2007; Sam Harris's atheistic response to critics, Letter to a Christian Nation, sits at twenty-six. In interviews, both men have directed readers to an additional work that continues the "new atheism" trend: God: The Failed Hypothesis (Prometheus Books, January 30, 2007.)

    In God: The Failed Hypothesis, physicist Victor Stenger argues that science has advanced sufficiently to make a definitive statement on the existence or nonexistence of the traditional Judeo-Christian-Islamic God. He invites readers to put their minds—and the scientific method—to work to test this claim.

    After evaluating all the scientific evidence—the studies done by reputable institutions on the power of prayer; the writings of philosophers who have puzzled over the problem of God and of good and evil; the efforts of biblical scholars to prove the accuracy of holy scriptures; and the work of biologists, geologists, and astronomers looking for clues to a creator on Earth and in the cosmos—Stenger concludes that beyond a reasonable doubt the universe and life appear exactly as we might expect if there were no God. He convincingly shows that not only is there no evidence for the existence of God, but scientific observations actually point to his nonexistence.

    Five bucks says the first religious person to review Stenger's book complains about his lack of expertise in theology. Yes, this is a foolish gambit, but one of them will go for it. It goes without saying that criticizing a Dawkins-type bloke for lacking experience in theology is tantamount to saying that the vast majority of religious people are ignorant of that which they worship. At the same time, such a claim actually reinforces Dawkins's argument that it is dubious in the extreme to call a young child "Christian" or "pagan". Surely, if an interested amateur, an Oxford professor, cannot grasp the material then we have no business attributing religion to children. I find it difficult to resist the conclusion that the theologians are taking themselves to task for not teaching theology to the billions of people who need to understand all the details of their God.

    I'm still a little disappointed people seem to be overlooking Carl Sagan's book from beyond the grave, The Varieties of Scientific Experience. Maybe Sagan just doesn't make people angry.

  4. Sylvia Browne's Agent (or whatever she was) just tried to trash Randi by calling him an atheist. The funny thing is Sylvia herself is definitely not a christian, but following her own, home-made religion.

    The sad part is, this probably made a whole bunch of people close their ears to anything Randi had to say about Sylvia :(

  5. Ann Druyan gets a little press now and then, but some may see her as riding on Sagan's coattails. (She's made major contributions to a lot of his books.)

    Jill Tarter also gets some attention some time because she works on a sexy topic (SETI).

    But yes, the field is sparse.

  6. Julia Sweeney?

    Meera Nanda isn't famous, partly because she writes on topics a step removed from American culture (Vedic creationism, for example) and partly because she's, well, "academic". I discovered her work via Alan Sokal's essay "Pseudoscience and Postmodernism: Antagonists or Fellow-Travelers?", which I heartily recommend to everybody. Nanda's book Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodernist critiques of science and Hindu nationalism in India also got a thumbs-up from Daniel Dennett in Breaking the Spell.

    The field is all too sparse, but all it takes is luck and pluck to change that.

  7. Ok, I'm replying to a bunch of comments at once…

    I've been reading Sagan's book, and it's very good. It's cool because it's based on lectures he gave, and the slides are included in the book. I'd love to see Ann Druyan get more press. I've heard her on a copule of podcast interviews recently and she is very articulate.

    Regarding the reviews of Dawkins, etc, that claim the authors do not understand theology. All I have to say is that those people do not understand the main body of religous people in the United States (the target audience for these recent books). I used to be a Catholic and a born again Christian in several different denominations and non-denominational churhces. None of the protestant groups were even remotely interested in theology, nor were most of the people in the pews at the Catholic church. In fact, most born again Christians consider theology to be a bastardization of the word of god which is allegedly perfect as written and open only to interpretation through direct revelation to the hearts and minds of individual believers. It's a shame that these theologians don't realize that no-one in the streets gives a crap about what they think and debate, and the average religious person considers theologians to be, for lack of a better word, evil.

    And, I am off to Amazon to look up Stenger’s book… and am waiting for Julia Sweeney's but was disappointed to see that it has been delayed until 2008.

  8. I feel like I'm dragging this thread off the rails, but so be it! Russell Blackford, who has read a great many more philosophy books than I have, has said the following about the "anti-Dawkins backlash".

    Dawkins' books are best-sellers because he communicates brilliantly on topics that thinking people care about. The God Delusion is no exception. When the smoke clears, it will be apparent that this is an important book — sure, it may not make a terribly significant contribution to academic philosophy of religion (though I do not consider it negligible, even in that regard), but it has made a strong, clear, and thoughful contribution to public debate on immensely important issues to do with how religion should now be viewed, and what its future ought to be.

    Its key message — that there is something horribly wrong, even creepy, about labeling a young child as, say, "Christian" or "Muslim" — is surely correct. Young children are in no better position to understand, and agree to, bodies of religious doctrine than to understand economic or political doctrine, but no one would point to some three year old and say, "Hey, look at that little libertarian girl" or "… at that Keynesian boy" or "… that Marxist kid."

    […]

    I suspect that real philosophers of religion are going to find TGD naive, or kind of argumentatively thin, but I haven't seen anything from those quarters as yet. I've also been reading Graham Oppy's much more sophisticated (and less accessible) Arguing About Gods, but haven't had a chance to talk to Graham about either book. However, Dawkins' discussions of fine tuning and the ethics of belief are worthy of philosophers of religion grappling with, IMO. His discussions of the more traditional arguments for the existence of God are fine for their purpose but don't say anything new.

    Cambridge University Press offers an excerpt from Oppy's book. It looks solid but quite, ahem, scholarly.

    OK, I'll stop my thread-hijacking for today.

  9. No problem with thread hi-jacking, I think this is a fascinating topic. I've only read one review where the reviewer got that Dawkins was often being ironic and funny in The God Delusion. People take this topic so seriously, they just miss the humor. I laughed out loud quite a few times while reading the book, and thought to myself "Wow, this guy is not as stodgy as he comes across in his other writings."

  10. Thanks, writerdd — now I don't feel so guilty about using people's (virtual) space!

    You have a good point: people don't think religion is a laughing matter, when we really could benefit from a more jovial temperament. To quote Ecclesiastes, "Then I commended mirth, for man hath no better thing under then Sun than to eat, to drink and to be merry."

  11. That's why I like Mark Twain and a Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. He made you laugh while poking at the ridiculous aspects of religion. His describing Noah's Ark should make anyone realize how goofy it all sounds.

  12. You know, I' don't think I've ever actually read that Twain book. But until my husband finishes my 3 walls of book cases, I am worried that if I buy any more books, the stack on my night stand will topple over and kill me during the night.

  13. Writerdd, the Amazon link to Letters From Earth…that's a book of short "essays" and can be read in bits and pieces in the bathroom or the like. But I know what you mean, my apartment is reaching its book limit. I'd buy more coffee table/art books, but I can't handle them. Moving them several times from CT to Texas was real fun, too.

    I have a dream office/study. Someday…

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