Skepticism

I don’t wanna be an old fart

This has nothing to do with skepticism but I wrote it on my personal blog the other day and got a lot of comments and emails so I figured it might stir up some interesting conversation here. I’ve heard people say in the past that skeptic meetings are often filled with a bunch of gray haired old people, but that seems to have been changing over the past few years. I think I’m the oldest Skepchick blogger, although I’m pretty sure we have 2 or 3 readers who are older than I am. Anyway, this is to follow up on Rebecca’s age post.

I hesitate to write this because I don’t want any of my older friends to read it and get mad at me, but the old people around me are dragging me down. I am tired of hearing people complain about sex on TV (I mean the Sopranos is so old news already), about the way popular music sucks, about how all the movies are made for and marketed to young kids, and so forth. Those are all the things I like! I love that taboos are being broken on TV. I like music by young, hip artists — including some hip-hop. I am quite sure that most of the movies I like best are targeted toward 19 year old boys. What’s wrong with me? I don’t think I’m having a mid-life crisis. My tastes have always been this way. I love change. I love the future. I love the way young people reinvent themselves with every generation. No, I don’t want to be young again. There’s too much pain and anxiety involved. But I find people who are younger than me, people in their 30s and 20s, to be much more energizing and fun than people in their 60s. My older friends were around to experience the 1960s and many claim to have been hippies. What the hell happened to them to make them turn into such conservative (not politically) old farts? I need some more younger friends. The closer I get to 50, the less I want to let myself turn old. No, I don’t want to act my age. I guess someday I might look my age, but there’s nothing I can do about that (or rather, probably nothing I will do about that). But I sure as hell can stop myself from turning into grandma. I know some of my older friends feel the same way but for the most part, they’re not pulling it off. I hope that’s not bad news for me. Sigh. 

So, to tie it back to the beginning and make it about skepticism, what can we do to keep from turning into old farts and to keep the skeptic movement young, fresh, and fun?

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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52 Comments

  1. Being an “old fart” is TOTALLY a choice. At 51, I’m one of “2 or 3 readers who are older than I am.” And I’m sorry, but nothing you say in this entry fits me. (Just for the record I was voted “most likely to die a virgin” in college where I majored in Drama, so maybe you go the opposite way when you get old?)

    I play World of Warcraft where most of my best friends are under 18, which can be interesting and challenging when the conversation turns to things you can’t talk about with under age people. I read comic books, belong to most of the tech sites and listen to “emo music” like Within Temptation, Evanescence and Epica. I watch hentai. I support polyamory . . I don’t practice it cuz it’s hard to find even ONE man my age who can get it up reliably. I am a naturist. I am a radical anarchist. I support the elimination of any law that seeks to control what people do with their own or other consenting people’s bodies. The only health issue you will hear me talk about is not getting any . . .you know.

    I have been told by my children that I am a 12 yo boy in old woman clothes and I should grow up. I tell them, you can make me grow old, but I will NEVER grow up.

    Maybe we should start our own version of the Red Hat Society?

  2. maybe you go the opposite way when you get old?

    gwenny, cool! You may be onto something there! :-)

    I think the Red Hat Society exemplifies what I mean. They think they are acting young and hip but — NOT!

  3. I think the Red Hat Society exemplifies what I mean. They think they are acting young and hip but — NOT!

    I got invited to join about two years ago. I freaked out. I guess I hadn’t noticed I was getting old. ::cries:: Are you sure they think they are young and hip? Someone needs to write them a couple of reality checks.

    I think what we can do, and it probably means defying some sort of natural tendency, is just to make sure our groups are inclusive of younger folks . .especially the youngest who are loud and offensive . . . and keep our own selves flexible and adaptive.

  4. I wonder if skepticism skews toward older folks because we’ve had time to see the danger and damage that various faiths and woo-based philosophies pose. That said, that doesn’t mean it needs to be stuffy.

    I’m 42.

  5. what can we do to keep from turning into old farts and to keep the skeptic movement young, fresh, and fun?

    At risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, in this context the word “fresh” comes off as pointless marketing-babble. The only time the word has had a clearly-defined meaning for me has been in contexts like non-wilted lettuce, non-rancid meat, and yeast infections successfully treated. (Sorry, but tampon ads that use the term are apparently written in a different language than the one I know.) Other than that, it’s a feel-good word that appeals mainly to microcephalics and suffers from a lack of meaning. There’s no need to keep the skeptic movement “fresh” any more than there is a need to keep it “fuschia.”

    As for keeping it “fun,” the prescription is really simple. Unless you have a paying job teaching or promoting critical thinking, just don’t do something if it isn’t fun. And don’t encourage other people to do it if it isn’t fun. That alone will go a long way to keeping it fun. For most of us, skeptical thought is a hobby. Hobbies aren’t supposed to hurt. If it does, you are doing it wrong.

    As for keeping it young, the only way to do that is to gather up all the people 40 and kick them out of the movement. I look forward to joining the rarefied ranks of Randi, Plait, Myers, and others in about six months.

    Perhaps the problem I’m having here is that I’m very – perhaps some people would say arrogantly – comfortable with myself. I don’t feel a particular need to be young or act young or listen to young peoples’ music, just to radiate some conformist vibe to the up and coming skeptic stars. I’m very comfortable with my accomplishments in the field of science and bleeding-edge engineering; I’m quite pleased to have had the opportunities I’ve had and I think I’ve made the most of them; I’m perfectly comfortable being branded an “intellectual;” it is OK with me that I am socially low-key, preferring a wine and cheese reception to a Skepchick party; I like my sense of humor, which has been called wry and obscure; and I’m perfectly comfortable with my sexuality, which is decidedly not conventional. If people don’t like who I am, that’s fine by me. If people do, that’s delightful to me.

    All those people in the movement who aren’t like me are doing important, cool things that I respect. I have trouble imagining a person more different from me in personality than Rebecca Watson, but I respect her accomplishments so much that I’ve done something to honor her that takes years of serious effort to accomplish and is extremely hard to do.

    There’s room for Rebecca in this movement and room for me, and room for everyone else, too. We need to be welcoming to that whole spectrum of skeptics. But we don’t need to all be like one particular view of one particular sub-population in the movement, and we certainly don’t need for the movement to project such an image as a whole.

  6. I’m 25 and sometimes I feel out of place even hanging out with 30-year-olds.. especially if they’re snooty and ‘old’. Youthfulness is where you’re in a constant state of discovery and rediscovery, life is still a celebration, rather than a commiseration, you’re still open to new ideas, music, trends, and ways of living. Being old, to me, is the opposite of all that.

    When I go back to visit my home town of Melbourne I’m going to make it a point to drop in on the skeptics in the pub gathering. I just hope that it is not just all old people agreeing with each other about the declining state of the world – that’s not skepticism, that’s what old people do. I hope, however, that I will be pleasantly surprised. When I move back permanently I would want to do more to get involved with the Australian skeptics, to breathe some youthful vibrancy into it.

    ——————

    “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older and they stay the same age.”

  7. bluecollarscientist:

    The opposite of fresh is stale… No-one wants to be part of a movement that is stale. That requires making an effort to keep it fresh. Either you genuinely don’t understand this concept, or you just wanna be nit-picky about language.

    I’ll go so far as to provide an analogy. A stream, when it is not running, sits and becomes stagnant. A fresh stream is constantly moving and flowing. In the same way, we can keep the skeptical movement fresh by keeping it moving forward, progressing, breathing new life into it.

    You know, I think sometimes people mistake ‘skeptical’ for ‘anal’. You don’t HAVE to write a 1000-word dissertation on the merits of a word’s definition – plus, words don’t have definitions, only usages! For fuck’s sake, as if you don’t know what is meant by usage of the term ‘fresh’! Holy shit-balls on a slice of toast, dude…

  8. I feel compelled to comment here.
    Chronologically I am 53 yrs old.

    Psycologically I am about 18. (I know I spelled that wrong and I am appropriately embarrassed about it. I just can’t figure out how to spell it correctly so I just left it like that hehehe)

    Physically I feel about 80 most of the time.

    All that being said, I am seen by younger people as just a bit on the goofy side. But I do agree with gwenny, I would much rather hang out with younger people. They inspire and energize me. I think more like a GenX’er than a Boomer and confuse the shit out of my family and company. I Like it that way! I collect Star Trek memorabilia and die-cast model cars. I love computers and graphics and action/sci-fi movies. I’m a kid at heart and I couldn’t care less if someone thinks I’m weird. I like my life just the way it is. I love reading this blog and what people like Rebecca write in here. It gives me hope for the future of the country to know that there are very intelligent younger people out there expressing there views and becoming politically and socially connected. I’m proud of you guys :o) I’m honored that you let me hang out here.

  9. I’m 27, which apparently counts as young. I’ve never been affiliated with any non-online skeptic/atheist groups. There’s a few reasons I’m personally not involved:

    1) Lack of time (I’m a full-time grad student and have a part-time job)
    2) Lack of transportation (no car, poor public transit where I live)
    3) I’m introverted and not all that enthused about going to meet a group of people when I don’t know a single one of the participants.

  10. I think I was born old. I was a skeptick for as long as I can remember. I amd drawn to lold things. But I also love new music, books and movies. I don’t care for rap. But groups like “Tegan and Sara” and “My Chemical Romance”, “The Killers” are great. Michael Chabon is an amazing writer, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is every bit as much fun as Carl Sagan and as far as sex, I’ve been waiting for it to taper off, to allow me to think of something else for a few minutes but it doesn’t seem to ever let up. I still remember every woman I have ever been with in vivid detail. I loved them all even if only for the night. I am a lot younger than some of the posters. 36. But I have often felt old, tired, beaten down. I think that is what old is, being tired and beaten down. Then again it might be the fact that I have been a heavy drinker for 21 years, maybe that is what makes me feel old. Or maybe I am just a freak.

  11. I’m 22, I also write about music in my spare time. Does that make me young and fresh? I have been a skeptic for a short time now (became official when I started listening to SGU last year) and I have never noticed the skeptical movement as being old and unhip. Although, as a nerd I probably don’t know what “hip” really is. I’ve found the Skeptic movement to suit my nerdy needs perfectly. Smart, funny, and willing to give morons a good hassling. I am not sure how to get more young folks in on the skeptical movement, but Simpsons references and making fun of quacks is what won me over.

  12. You don’t have to worry about being an old fart for all that long – maybe a few decades tops.

    Though given you also considered being a vampire a good thing…how does a geriatric vampire get around? Seeing Dracula hobbling around in a walking frame just doesn’t have the Mystique of a 30’s something Drac – and how does he open up pretty necks when he wears false teeth?

    And seeing Vampirella with blue/purple hair dye, depends, and driving a Volvo is just wrong….

  13. Well, I am an old fart, and proudly so! I wave my freak-flag of Old Fart-dom high!

    And another thing– I am sick to death of all this sex on the television! It’s just awful! –I keep falling off.

  14. writerdd wrote:

    Fresh = not the same old boring stuff over, and over, and over, and over again….

    Well, decades ago I watched James Randi do a brilliant takedown of Peter Popoff on national television. Now Popoff is back purveying the same old junk he was purveying before. And Randi, I notice, is out there taking him down again, just like he did before.

    Now, writerdd, you know I respect you a lot, but I’m unclear what you mean here. Should this be ignored because it is the same old stuff? Is it boring? Or is it only some old stuff that is boring?

    I think it is not boring, and I think the movement can and should respond to it every time it comes up. It is the nature of humans to get fooled from time to time. And we seem to get fooled in very similar ways from generation to generation. We are all prone to making the same kinds of mistakes. That means we will be responding with the same kinds of answers as the years pass.

    I think the skeptical movement should respond to those kinds of mistakes, whatever they are, even if we have to do it over, and over, and over again. A lot of the stuff we deal in is dangerous; false belief leads to death and suffering. I don’t want to turn my back on the antivaccination issue just because it has been covered by someone else before. Kids lives are at stake, and the parents making these errors deserve to be exposed to the evidence, even if they weren’t around to hear the truth of the matter back when antivaccinationism was all trendy the last time.

    Maybe you don’t mean Popoff and antivaccinationism is boring. Maybe something else is boring. I don’t know – I’m merely telling you that I’m not finding “fresh” to be meaningful here. Point out for me some fresh woo, and then I might understand better, but seriously – I’ve been around the block. I haven’t seen anything new in a long time.

    One final comment: If I find an issue boring, I simply don’t deal in it. I deal in the topics I find interesting. But I don’t suggest, and try not to even seem to suggest, that others who are interested in that topic shouldn’t cover it because it is the “the same old boring stuff over, and over, and over, and over again….”

    The reason, of course, is that this stuff, and more, needs to be confronted.

    anyvainlegend wrote:

    The opposite of fresh is stale… No-one wants to be part of a movement that is stale. That requires making an effort to keep it fresh. Either you genuinely don’t understand this concept, or you just wanna be nit-picky about language.

    Some other possibilities your puerile false dichotomy doesn’t consider:

    – You underestimate the extent to which the same topics resurrect themselves over and over again, requiring similar skeptical attention over and over again.

    – You seriously underestimate the amount of consideration I’ve given this issue over the years.

    – You don’t actually know what you are talking about when you say that it “requires making an effort to keep [the skeptical movement] fresh.”

    – You want to score points with a cheap ad hominem about my being nit-picky, instead of understanding my criticisms and providing a thoughtful response.

    I suspect all are true.

    In the same way, we can keep the skeptical movement fresh by keeping it moving forward, progressing, breathing new life into it.

    It’s a beautiful turn of phrase, Gorgias.

    But I actually do things as part of the skeptical movement, and you haven’t provided anything constructive here. What should be done that would keep things “fresh?” What are some of the things to avoid, that would make things stale if they were done? You don’t say. Writerdd doesn’t say, but at least she frankly acknowledges she doesn’t know. I suspect you don’t know either.

    Even Skeptics in the Pub is a 25 year old idea that just got repopularized via the internet. That’s a great thing, I’m all for it, and prefer a Stone IPA myself. But it isn’t “fresh” under the definitions I’m hearing. (I’d go so far as to guess that 25 years ago, it wasn’t new, but was being brought back after a hiatus, too.)

    You know, I think sometimes people mistake ’skeptical’ for ‘anal’.

    You only think this is so? You will learn….

    For fuck’s sake, as if you don’t know what is meant by usage of the term ‘fresh’! Holy shit-balls on a slice of toast, dude…

    Yes, I don’t know what it means. But it is because you, like that emperor of note, aren’t wearing any clothes: the people who are using it don’t know what it means. Until a coherent and concrete explanation of the meaning can be provided, it is nothing more than beautiful words. Maybe calling for skeptical “freshness” is inspiring to some, but it doesn’t really mean anything.

    If you are on a sports team, the coach or manager offers you some inspiring words. If you are in the military about to enter battle, you get the same treatment from your commander.

    But in both cases, you are also told how to actually play the game or fight the enemy in the manner most likely to succeed. What I’m seeing here is incompetent coaching.

  15. what can we do to keep from turning into old farts and to keep the skeptic movement young, fresh, and fun?

    Just to reiterate and expand on the brief answer I offered in my first comment:

    – If you don’t like a subculture, don’t join it. There’s no need to bellyache about sex on TV just because your contemporaries do it. Don’t confuse your friends with your contemporaries, and don’t confuse the people you admire and want to emulate with people the same age as you.

    – Admit to yourself that age doesn’t mean a hell of a lot, and that people of a certain age don’t all act a certain way. All of you (I hope) got over your fear of and prejudices about blacks, gays, orientals, women/men, the developmentally disabled, and so on. Work on getting over the ageist bullshit next, because it is just as ugly as the other prejudices I’ve listed.

    – If you don’t find a topic fun or interesting, if you don’t find thinking about a subject fun or satisfying, if you don’t find a particular communication style fun or satisfying, just don’t do that stuff. Find something you like and do that instead.

    – Be true to your own personality, pursue what you want for yourself, and make sure your participation in the skeptical movement meets your needs, not someone else’s.

    – Following the evidence is fundamental – you can’t be a skeptic without doing that. Beyond this, apply your own standards to your own activities within the movement, not someone else’s. Choose your own message, your own medium, and your own level of participation; don’t have someone else do it for you. Don’t believe you have to have a certain level of “achievement” or gain a sufficiently “high profile” in the movement to be a success – because that’s bullshit.

    – In turn, respectfully refrain from applying your own standards to the skeptical activities of others in the movement. If Sylvia Browne strikes you as boring/old news/whatever, use your manners and refrain from suggesting that Rob Lancaster is wasting his time.

    That is what you can do to keep the movement vital.

    There’s one thing that will never help the skeptical movement, and that is this:

    – Suggest that the movement should conform to a particular PR vision. Frame this vision in terms of “what can we do to keep from turning into old farts and to keep the skeptic movement young, fresh, and fun?”

    This question is prejudiced; it very straightforwardly suggests older people have no role and can’t contribute because they are all the same – they’ve been labeled with the damaging and often inaccurate stereotype “old farts.” My grandparents were old people once, and I learned a lot from them. The skeptical movement would benefit a lot by having a few hundred or thousand people like my grandparents involved.

    The question values only fun, and does not recognize the possibility that doing some things involves hard work that isn’t really fun, but can still be enormously satisfying. By doing this, it devalues people who make very important contributions – or even cuts them out of the movement entirely. The phrase judges as inferior those who do not maximize a stereotype of youthful fun in their activities and identifies them as being inadequate and incorrect in their motivations.

    The question sets up a conformity test for membership in the skeptic movement, and that test is improper. It is perfectly proper to recognize that racists, sexists, and so on aren’t properly skeptics – they’ve not followed the evidence. It is in no way proper to suggest that everyone in the skeptic movement should contribute to that movement having an appearance of youthfulness and recreation. There is room for serious people in the movement, just as there is for comedians.

    Bottom line: Everyone who follows the evidence needs to be allowed to be part of this movement. Strength through diversity and all that.

  16. I am 37, well almost :-), and I do love pop culture also. I hate this discourse that everything popular is trash. Popularity is not given, sure it is not hard to do a popular movie or a popular music when you throw a lot of money on advertising and production, but that doesn’t mean that people will buy anything if you throw money on it. There is an history of great flops in all the entertainment industry.

    I love them, and I do not think that the fact that movies (or even music) have lots of clichés is not at all a problem, even the so called cult movies use a lot of clichés, they only choose from a different set.

  17. Wow, blue collar scientist, this topic has really touched a nerve for you, hasn’t it?

    I’m certainly not saying that older people — or even old farts — don’t have a place in the skeptic movement, or anywhere else for that matter, although I would like to see a mandatory retirement age in Congress and the Senate because I don’t think a bunch of old people should be pushing their outdated views on the future generations through legislation. There are some dinosaurs in the Senate, particularly, who really need to roll over and make room for some fresh blood already.

    I just don’t want to become an old fart or surround myself solely with old farts. More power to anyone who is or enjoys being a fuddy duddy. But just like I advise fundamentalist Christians, don’t try to make the rest of us that way. It gets so tiresome listening to old people complaining about society is falling apart, it’s not like it was way back when, how terrible TV (and movies, music, fashion, manners, the use of profanity, video games, texting, grammar usage, etc.) have become, yada yada yada.

    P.S. I don’t mean “old fart” or “fuddy duddy” to be insulting, but I think they are generally understood terms.

  18. Thats one thing I have to agree with. The ‘Old Fart’ brigade seems to dominate politics in the western world, and at time its drives me nuts. Fundy Christians, Ex-hippies, Monarchists (I’m from Oz), and people generally stuck in the 60-70s white-picket-fence mindset, dominate (if not have a monopoly) on the political scene.

    While this could be a good thing – experience and such – it appears that they are incapable of comprehending modern ideals – equal opportunity, gay rights, immigrants, internet, etc. It is quite literally outside their experience and very few seem capable of adjusting to it.

    But this is where it gets interesting – some of the ‘old farts’ seem quite adaptable, where as other seem fossilised. And for some reason the fossilised ones have a majority in politics. Can any ‘old fart’ be adaptable – that is can they adjust to the modern world, or is it ‘once ossified, always ossified’.

    Everone gets old eventually, and I would like to think I would be one of the adaptable ones – I personally seriously dislike some of the ‘new crap’ in the way of music, art, attitudes, and the ‘me first’ culture which are prevalent toady. So I am I ‘old fart’ in the making or just someone with opinions?

    How does one define an adaptable and fun ‘old fart’ who is being cautious and sensible, as opposed to a dried out old fossil who seems to be stuck in the ‘good old days’? Or will there always be a hostile generation gap?

  19. On keeping the skeptical movement young:

    I agree that our chronological ages don’t matter that much. btw: I’m thirty-something.
    Take me, I got a master’s degree….in art. fine art. So how is it that where i work i’m the biggest proponent of science?
    And as skeptical as i am, i still haven’t convinced by best friend that the moon landing actually happened. She’s too “skeptical” of my skepticism. But i’m working on her…
    For me, the key is drawing people to science & skepticism from as many differing and varied backgrounds as possible. But i have no clue how to do this.
    The problem, as i see it, is how to get people interested in thinking critically. [that’s what i think we are all about.] If someone learns this when they are young, it’s easy to convince them of skepticism. But most people only learn it later, if at all. And trying to persuade them is like rolling stones uphill. Chances are somebody is going to get hurt.

    just ask Sisyphus….

  20. Lyc, Maybe that’s why I think vampires are so cool. Forever young. Oh well about the blood sucking, not being able to go out during the day and all those minor inconveniences. I just wish I’d been converted about 15 years ago.

    BTW, I think the Baby Boomers invented “me first.”

  21. @WriterDD

    But as a thought exercise – a vampire say from the 1900’s – physically appearing as a 30 something, but really 100+ years old – would they be an ‘old fart’ or could they keep up with the times?

    In other words – is being an ‘old fart’ defined by physical age and the degredation of the body/mind or ‘mental age’ by adapting to the current social mories? Can even the most ossified ‘old fart’ stay young at heart, or is it inevitable they’ll become the standard ‘Grumpy old man/woman’ or will even the most open minded person become frozen in their mindset as the brain ages?

    But being a vampire is better than a mummy. While you may not be able to be a Vegan vampire, it stil’ better than being a wrinkly ‘dried up’ old mummy. :)

  22. Lyc, as far as I can tell from contemporary vampire stories, these creatures are pretty cool. But then again you do have the old fart vampires like Dracula and even some of Anne Rice’s characters who just can’t adapt. So I guess you’re right, keeping a young body doesn’t really help! :-)

    Yeh, I’ve never desired to be a mummy.

  23. Buggirl;
    My opening bids (money I will donate to JREF):
    $100 to watch you and dd jello wrestle nude.
    $200 if You 2 tag team me.
    Double bid if within 10 minutes you can force me to say: membracids rule! spittlebugs suck.
    No substitutions. I dont want any ringers; I know some readers are martial artists or powerlifters.

  24. I’m in my mid-forties, and I’ve been a nerd all my life, and while I could pass for cool among the nerds, I never fooled the cool kids.
    That having been said, even though I’m oldish and responsible for a family, the part of my brain that makes me think about science and skepticism also makes me try new things, listen to new music and feel comfortable hanging out with the 20ish geeks in my office (some of whom are the cool kids now), much more so than my chrono-peers in the marketing and customer service zones.
    I have and am a grown-up, but I’d still rather try something new than something old, think about what I’m hearing, and I hope my daughters will follow and grow up in the Skepchick tradition.

  25. I am 30 unsucessfully fighting off 31 (because that would mean that I am “in my thirties”).

    Anyway, I’ve actually been battling recently with dressing my age. It happened when I went to go buy a pair of shoes. I just wanted some simple skater shoes like I always get. But I couldn’t find any that “were my age”. I really can’t see myself buying shoes that I’m pretty sure the 14 year old skating in the mall parking lot I passed by was wearing.

    There’s nothing worse than seeing that guy who’s pushing forty and dressed like some kind of gangbanger. Pants around his butt, gold chain, fubu shirt. That guy doesn’t look cool, he just l0oks sad. I don’t want to be that guy.

    I’ve also recently discovered some “emo” music like My Chemical Romance and I keep asking myself if I should be listening to it. It sounds great but I don’t really have that kind of angst anymore and the average age of their fans is 16. When you are 30 (not in your thirties, mind you) you are far more self-assured and confident in who you are. It may also have something to do with not having buckets of hormones pouring through your veins.

    By the way, I found some age-appropriate skater shoes.

  26. To blue collar scientist, there’s nothing wrong with ad hominem arguments when the person you’re ad-homineming is a worthy ad-hominemee…

    I really feel (and I don’t think I’m alone here) that you took the topic and ran off down Tangent Lane… something about defining “fresh” or some nonsense… when everyone else in these comments understands what the author is discussing. It is about aging, but feeling young, and how skepticality fits into the picture. You seem to think we’re trying to workshop PR ideas on how to present skepticality in a fresh, vibrant, “bubble-gum for any occasion” style to the rest of the world.

    For what its worth, old people are the ‘cool’ of skeptical science. The book-writers, the populizers: they’re mostly over 40. And that’s fine!
    But freshness comes from injections of new ideas, from people like the skepchicks.

    It doesn’t come from people who have to argue the point about everything. My comment about freshness wasn’t a paper, or an essay… it was a friggen comment. It didn’t need proposed actions, or references, etc. I was contributing to a blog conversation, not submitting a paper for peer-review. You’re applying a writing criteria of your own to my comment.
    Let me just say, it this kind of long-winded arguing back-and-forward, with dot-points, and way-too-much-effort is what is puerile. If that’s not nit-picky I don’t know what is! You’re setting all my straw men on [email protected]!!! Aaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

    You didn’t actually explain how your comments are not nit-picky… and therefore, my “dichotomy” has not been shown to be false.

    God-damn some ‘skeptics’ are annoying!!! They’re like dogs with bones. I don’t think I’m gunna disagree anymore with some people on these websites who always have to be right…

  27. Skeptigator:

    Wow. You are really defining yourself by your age there. I’d suggest the old adage, “if the shoe fits…” (and is comfortable, and looks good) “…wear it.” Seriously. I do not think wearing a pair of sneakers that may also be worn by a 14 year old makes you ‘that guy’. Same goes for music, I suppose. I had no idea before reading your comment that I might be violating various social mores by buying the wrong album.

    You seem to be thinking a lot more about this than I ever do and I have a couple of years on you. Just wear and listen to what you like and to hell with those that would gainsay you. At 30/31 you are certainly old enough to decide what you like without looking to everybody around you.

    For further reading, I suggest The Big Orange Splot by D Manus Pinkwater. (Selected specifically for its age-inappropriateness.)

  28. A fresh breeze ( wind speed 19 t0 24 mph) invigorated me to produce a fresh (original) idea so I freshened (cleaned up) up and went to try to pick up a freshman (first year college student). I said: hey babe want to get lucky? She replied: Fresh (impertinent,impudent)!

  29. “So I guess you’re right, keeping a young body doesn’t really help! ”

    That, and being dead is sort of a drag. (Do vampires ever fart? I’ll bet they smell bad if they did.)

    “what can we do to keep from turning into old farts and to keep the skeptic movement young, fresh, and fun?”

    1. keep from turning into old farts: Invent potion of youth.
    2. keep the skeptic movement young: Mass market potion from item one to skeptics (this may be a hard sell).
    3. keep the skeptic movement fresh: include a sheet of fabric softener with each bottle.
    4. keep the skeptic movement fun: quote Futurama episodes at length, duh.

  30. S**t. I’ve been going through this exact thing this past year. I am a 37 year old mother of two. Everyone I work with is middle aged (40-something) male and the women I work AROUND that are in my life stage (getting late child-bearing years) dress like frumps and have little concept of any good pop culture. I discovered pop punk/emo music in earnest this past year (MCR, The Used, Jimmy Eat World, etc.). I feel rather out of place at Hot Topic. They think I’m browsing for my kids. There is no one to go with me to shows even if I could…

    People in my age group are enormously preoccupied with raising kids, paying bills, getting masters degrees in their spare time, socializing with their relatives, etc. I’m a multitasker so I can do that and still find time to be informed about skeptevents. More so than the age thing, I’d love to find more FEMALE friends that think like me. I don’t ever have much of anything in common with those I meet at nonbelievers groups, or virtual skeptics groups. I don’t think I’m normal.

    [BTW, for Mothers’ Day today, my daughter wrote me a poem in which she thanked me for not listening to “bad” music like other Mom’s do. I was SO proud. Best present ever!]

  31. @grimmstail

    I don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff. It just happens to come up once in a while during specific but rather odd times. Like buying a pair of shoes.

    @idoubtit

    Oh man The Used, good stuff. You should check out some Industrial/EBM music if you can get into the techno angle instead of just straight rock. Like Seabound, De/Vision, Funker Vogt, Combichrist, XP8, VNV Nation.

    Blow your kids mind with that. Although Combichrist may not be child appropriate.

  32. To comment on writerdd’s main point (or at least the controversial “fresh” point). It’s hard to keep skepticism fresh as far as content since it seems like the same old shit comes back again like Peter Popoff and herpes.

    I think fresh would be more like incorporating “new media” and other means of communicating to and collecting together skeptics. Podcasts, forums, vodcasts, blogs, wiki’s whatever. It’s what brings in new generations. Even as young as I am at 30 I haven’t grown up with the Internet. I only jumped on board in my early-20’s.

    If you are under 25 you have pretty much always had the intertubes and a new way to socialize. We’ll see what the future brings when the YouTube generation comes of age.

    I for one welcome it and I can’t wait to hear their music…

    I think I’ve had too many beers.

  33. I don’t think there’s a problem with the skeptic’s movement being led by older people. I haven’t had the time to explore all of these topics in the depth that say, James Randi has. (I’m 18.)

    I do think there’s a problem with being cynical, ornery, and argumentative. Of these, only the last one may be somewhat productive. Taken together, they impede real progress in educating the general public about science and skepticism.

    I mean, seriously. Would you listen to a cranky asshole, whether he was 18 or 58? I think that’s how skeptics are often perceived, even if they are not being cranky and mean. I’m a harmless-looking girl and people are still put off when I mention skepticism. I have to explain to them that it is not a negative viewpoint–it’s a positive one that advocates reason. And I think the same people who advocate reason may have a tendency to be conservative about future estimates (i.e., be pessimistic and cynical). If untamed, this tendency only grows worse with time and experience.

    But I think the Internet is a wonderful tool. And framing it as a positive social movement would probably do us some good, too.

  34. vreify, for being 18 you are very prescient.

    I do think there’s a problem with being cynical, ornery, and argumentative. Of these, only the last one may be somewhat productive. Taken together, they impede real progress in educating the general public about science and skepticism.

    I’ve written about this on Skepchick several times in the past and I could not agree more.

  35. “I do think there’s a problem with being cynical, ornery, and argumentative.”

    I can be all three but only to family. I try purposefully NOT to be like this to everyone else because its a downer. Many skeptic groups are loaded with cynics.

    Actually, I would love if we had a moniker other than “skeptics” because it has such connotations. Someone think of something more catchy and fun-sounding.

  36. Actually, I would love if we had a moniker other than “skeptics” because it has such connotations.

    Hi idoubtit…. I’m not sure that a new name would help at all. It seems like conservatives and religious folks (are they always the same? geez) take every name that liberals and unbelievers come up with and demonize them.

    The question is why do we — or more importantly why does the media — let them do it?

  37. Well, they are haters after all. They will always hate what threatens them.

    But, I think you can soften the image. No one outright objects to “reason” (even if in action, they are unreasonable), so I would like to adopt or hijack a positivist sounding name. I still like “progressive” or “rationalists” because who thinks progress or rationality is bogus. (don’t answer)

    The media is chaos. You never know what is going to set them off and what big thing will flop. It’s about image. Atheists have come pretty far in the past few years. Younger, hipper skeptics are helping us out too. Need more skepchicks and skepdudes having fun, being smart.

  38. Go hang out at your local Nursing Home. I am an Activity Director & there seems to be no end to our old ladies antics- I have a crew of very progressive, extremely hip & very, very dirty mouthed old gals. The finest mentors one could ever hope for, truly. May they live forever.

    I will say there does tend to be a generation gap, though; while my 65 & up crowd are so cool & fun, their kids tend to be real drags! (Not always the case, but…)

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