Skepticism

Congrats Becca and Sid

In case you missed it–Rebecca and Sid got married at TAM.  So bummed I couldn’t be there, but so happy I could see it on JREFmedia stream!!

Updated by Jen: Here’s the embedded video, starting with Jay Novella’s directorial debut! Skip ahead if you just want to see the ceremony.

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112 Comments

  1. Holy science, I turn my back for barely a minute to start wasting my afternoon with a mediocre Bond movie, and suddenly I’m missing all the gossip. Dammit, you guys. (By which I mean many congratulations to the happy couple, of course.)

  2. Congrats you guys. That was as awesome a wedding as I’ve ever seen on the Internet. (The pop-up ads for online psychics on the video stream were a nice touch, I thought.) Snark aside, we’re all very happy for you both. Cheers!

  3. I woke up this morning, lamenting the fact that I was missing TAM (again! I’ve never been – NEXT year for SURE). I found that it was all being streamed on Ustream, and what luck! An SGU podcast set to begin.

    The wedding looked like a lot of fun, but c’mon – Rebecca MUST have been in on it. Doesn’t she have to sign the marriage license before the ceremony or something? Or are the rules different in Nevada?

    I hope you guys get it up on YouTube soon. (And tell Jay he’s gotta get the G Hunters up quick – I had to miss half of it).

    “There are ghosts in this wall every 16″ on center!” – WIN

  4. Very cool! I’m so glad for the live stream. I know my marriage will never top that, in probably more ways than one. So, congrats!

    @Yossarian:

    COTW

    (I heard the anguished cries between the lines of congratulations, too. )

  5. @bug_girl:

    Man, it really was hard keeping quiet about this!I almost mentioned it in at least one comment here, and nearly replied to Rebecca on Twitter about it as well… that woulda sucked!

    But yes, congratumalations are in order for the newlyweds! :-D

  6. @Gabrielbrawley: I thought it, but thought better of saying it.

    People are odd. On the one hand they profess to be Rationalists while simultaneously, on the other remaining in thrall Bourgeois Conventionality.

    It’s a strange schizophrenia, to hold two such drastically differing paradigms within one’s head, keeping two juggeling clubs in the air in one’s mind all the time. It must be very tiring, deciding at every moment which ideology to follow, which person to be.

    My sincerest Comiserations

  7. Awwww congratulations to Sid and Rebecca. May you have many sexy, skeptical year together!

    I always cry at weddings so I’ll watch the video later when I don’t have makeup on and I don’t have to be to a party in 20 min.

  8. @Yossarian: COTW!

    And congratulations to Rebecca & Sid!

    This AM I was showing a semi-Luddite friend of mine what Twitter was and all of a sudden I’m sorta shouting, “Holy crap, Sid & Rebecca got married!” and she was confused and a little alarmed I think.

  9. I was honored to be there! It was ever-so-romantical, and I was vaklempt. Sid especially seemed so *present*, in spite of the craziness. It was quite moving!

    Without skipping a beat, Michael Shermer’s talk started right in time. Imagine my surprise when I snuck out for a pee to find the wedding party in the hallway. I got a great shot of the bouquet toss, which I’d like to get back to the bride–what’s the best way to do that?

    Congratulations Rebecca and Sid! Thanks for sharing your day with us!

    Skeptics in love!

  10. i’m not sure why i’m even going to bother with this, but i can’t help myself.
    @russellsugden:

    It’s a strange schizophrenia, to hold two such drastically differing paradigms within one’s head, keeping two juggeling clubs in the air in one’s mind all the time. It must be very tiring, deciding at every moment which ideology to follow, which person to be.

    it’s called the human condition, and if you think you don’t do the same thing, at least on some level, you’re kidding yourself.

    love is not rational. it’s fucking crazy. it is entirely human, and completely ridiculous, and utterly beautiful.

    i for one feel privileged to have been here to share this day with rebecca and sid, whether or not you approve of the cultural institution they chose to show their commitment to each other.

    congrats, kids :)

  11. I hate surprises!
    Oh well – at least it was a great, happy surprise.

    Good luck, youngsters.

    Now go forth and… you know.

  12. SQUUUUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

    I am soooooo happy for you both. Fuckin’ awesome! I am so happy that Rebecca’s family (genetic and chosen) were there.

    Just lovely.

    Many, many congratulations.

    I am off to do the happy dance…

    @RussellSugden

    How strange, gee I didn’t hear anything that would indicate a higher power, a dichotomy of ideology, or irrationality.

    Only a really lovely committment of two people in love. I think their ideology is quite intact.

    Now go away.

  13. @russellsugden:

    I mean, I’m highly skeptical of the conventional institution of marriage just as many of us skeptics are starting to be for funerals (see Richard Dawkins at Douglas Adams’ funeral). The standard way of doing things is full of religion and sexism and all that, and if I were to get married I would certainly change a lot. I have no understanding of people who say they are so happy at weddings. I’m happy to see people actually go out into the world and care and love each other, not make empty promises.

    … but none of what I watched from Rebecca and Sid’s makeshift TAM wedding had anything to do with shoving off “Rationalism” for “Bourgois Conventionality.” People can do whatever they want — I can sing christmas carols and maintain my atheism perfectly well if I wanted to -.-

    Again, congrats to Rebecca and Sid, I hope you both have many happy days ahead of you to share.

  14. My favorite part was when Rebecca and her attendants (bridesmaids?) sort of scurried off to put her dress on. There was a joyful exuberance or something in their gait that made me smile.

  15. @bug_girl: Agreed! It’s a good thing I don’t comment very often or I would have completely blown it.

    My favorite part (other than “I do”) was seeing Rebecca’s family come onstage. They looked so happy, and slightly bewildered. :)

  16. Wonderful and awesome… I am in tears now. The wedding at the end was pretty entertaining too. ;)

    Congrats to Rebecca and Sid – go have a litter of little skeptic babbys (if you so choose)!

  17. I can’t help thinking that it’s a real shame that someone has taken the chance to have a pop at marriage.

    Now I don’t know either of the happy couple, but I suspect that they got married for the same reason my wife and I did just over three years ago – because they love each other.

    All that stuff about deciding which ideology to follow – what a load of crap. What is there about skepticism that prevents one from getting married? Being a skeptic doesn’t prevent us from giving presents at Xmas, it doesn’t prevent us stuffing our faces with chocolate at Easter and it doesn’t stop me crossing my fingers when looking at the lottery numbers, so why should it stop us getting married? Or am I missing something.

    All I saw was two people, very much in love, expressing that love in front of their friends, family and peers – something that no doubt predates any organised religion. The whole thing almost brought a tear to my eye, and my wife would tell you that i’m the most unromamtic man on the planet.

    All the best for the future to Sid and Rebecca. May you have many happy years together.

  18. @russellsugden: Spock, Spock, Spock…, humans are compelled to follow their feelings and acquiesce to their needs regardless of rational arguments to the contrary. Thus are the failings of our race.

  19. Hey everyone! We’re still at TAM but I just wanted to thank you all for the lovely comments. We’re just happy everyone else seemed to enjoy it as much as we did!

  20. Yay! Congrats!

    Still though, Sid i would keep an eye on her. Her facebook still says Interested In: Men and no mention of a relationship change :O

    ;)

  21. [Insert DSTOC Here]

    I think its awesome how you guys did this.

    But, my biggest question is, do I address Skepchick as Rebecca Watson, or Rebecca Rodrigies, or Rebecca Watson Rodrigues? If it is the latter, can I just say RWR?

  22. I definitely extend my congratulations to you two, since this is obviously something that made you happy.

    But I feel the need to come to the defense of russellsugden a little bit, because I don’t understand why non-theists would marry, either. You don’t need a piece of paper to celebrate your love. My girlfriend and I have been living together for 15 years (come September) without any government involvement.

    Now if Rebecca and Sid’s wedding was just a ceremony and not a legal marriage, THAT would be awesome and very romantic!

  23. @Briarking: For the same reason homosexual couples want to be able to be married, I imagine. My husband and I got married, with a secular ceremony, mainly because it made sense in my state to legalize our union under the eyes of the state. If we’d had the option of getting civil unioned, we’d have done that.
    Marriage is kind of a redundant commitment if you have already pledged your love to each other, but sometimes you need those protections and sometimes you just want to have the big damn party. Marriage isn’t a religious commitment if the ceremony isn’t religious. Certainly no one who knows us assumes that our wedding or marriage are religious in any way…

    As a side note, I would be fine with marriage ONLY being a religious ceremony and then anyone who does not want to be religiously married could get secularly civil unioned, and everyone would have the same protections. Of course, I would want to change my marriage to a civil union, then, if I could without incurring any fees.

  24. To all the Spocks here: Yes, marriage is irrational and ultimately unnecessary but the same could be said of wine, chocolate, jokes, art, cloud-watching, kissing and thousands of other things that make life worthwhile. Even skeptics have to draw the line somewhere.

  25. @Vengeful Harridan (Elexina): Yeah, my girlfriend and I have always said that if we ever get married it would be for monetary purposes. We’ve already had a couple of “big damn parties” on anniversaries.

    But that raises a whole other topic. WHY does the State (and most insurance companies) insist on marriage as a prerequisite for these protections? It reeks of the whole church/State/separation thing. I have to give her SSN and other ID regardless, I should be able to name whomever I please as my tax break/beneficiary. I know the ceremony doesn’t have to be secular, and a couple could just nip off to the JoP and sign the paperwork without any ceremony. So what’s the difference (to the government) between marriage and just living together?

  26. Congratulations Rebecca and Sid! I was honoured to have been there. Love was definitely in the air at TAM 7!

    Best of luck to you both!

  27. @Briarking:

    Why get married? Health insurance. Conveniently, the love of my life happens to have a penis, and I have a vagina, so he became eligible for health insurance at my place of employment once we made our relationship legal. Otherwise we would not have done so. That sucks, as that option should be open to everyone.

    I would love for the state to get the hell out of relationships.

    But this is about The Happy Couple–congratulations!

  28. infinitemonkey:

    But, my biggest question is, do I address Skepchick as Rebecca Watson, or Rebecca Rodrigies, or Rebecca Watson Rodrigues? If it is the latter, can I just say RWR?

    I certainly hope its the latter, that way we can pronounce it rawr.

    And of course, more congratulations to the crazy kids. ^_^

  29. @russellsugden: Wow, thanks god Russell was not the surprisee, he may shoot anybody telling him “I love you” :-D Easy as it is to be skeptical about marriage, this topic can be subject to scrutiny and discussion ANY OTHER TIME without ruining an otherwise personally pleasant moment.

  30. @Briarking:

    But I feel the need to come to the defense of russellsugden a little bit, because I don’t understand why non-theists would marry, either.

    well, if simply wanting to make a public committment to each other while surrounded by friends and loved ones isn’t enough, maybe there’s a practical component.

    Sid & Rebecca are citizens of different countries. So far, their relationship has been mostly long-distance. Just maybe they’d like to live together some day? Being married can grease the wheels on the immigration paperwork. Like it or not, it’s a fact in the real world.

    You can argue that marriage is a meaningless ritual, but being married is also a legal status that confers certain additional benefits. Why do you think so many of us are trying to offer it to gay and lesbian folks?

    And apart from all that, there are people who recognize the power in standing up and committing themselves to another person, witnessed by everyone who cares about them.

    Not everyone feels that way, of course. I kinda feel sorry for them.

    Rebecca & Sid: congrats again! I was delighted and honored to help put your wedding together in my own small way. Thank you for including me. Love to you both.

  31. Does this mean I have to give up my straight-girl-crush on Rebecca? In the same way that many straight women crush on Rachel Maddow (Maddowsexuals) because she’s so smart, funny, cute… so it is with Rebecca.

    Congratulations!

  32. @Briarking: @Jen:
    @jenea:
    @carr2d2: @Rats Acre: @sporefrog: @James Fox:

    Sorry for the mass reply.

    From reading posts it seems a lot of people still hold to the christian idea that the “proper” expression of love is marriage and that I said I disagreed with love.

    Well, last part first, I’m against marriage be it secular, civil or religious. Not love and human connection.

    The fact that most people read my being against marriage as being against love (Who called me Spock? A double insult from a regular poster who must have read before I have Asperger’s) shows just how deeply, even amoungst self-proclaimed skeptics the idea that the only “proper” relationship is to be married.

    I can hardly believe most posters don’t think that it’s possible to have a loving, caring relationship without a legally binding contract.

    What’s next a secular Bris?

    That there is any type of ceremony inducting people into any kind of perminant union is marriage. There is no real difference between a union officiated by a community anointed preist and a community apointed registra (from an alien’s point of view they’d seem identical)

    It seems the marriage meme just wont die…

  33. @russellsugden: I must have missed the part of my marriage that had anything to do with Christianity… Weird.
    As for “proper”? No, not there either. Simpler, yes. What’s right for us, yes. Not for everyone, no. No one should get married unless they want to, but no one should be afraid to get married because people will judge them on false premises. Sometimes people just need health insurance or want to ensure their kids are provided for, and so many states make it very difficult to do without actually getting married. Why do you think gay couples want it? Not because of god, for the most part, but because of what else marriage enables and eases.

    As I said, civil unions had been an option, we’d have done that. If they become an option, and it weren’t prohibitively complicated to divorce in NY, we might still.

    I think you’re inferring religious sentiment where, in practice, there no longer is one.

  34. Congratulations to you both! What an amazing surprise. May you have a lifetime of happiness and skepticism together. :)

    Some of the comments that have been posted here got me thinking quite a bit about the issue of reconciling our emotional nature with our aspirations of rationality, and I put together some preliminary thoughts about it on my blog. I think the former must be an integral part of the latter, otherwise we are ignoring reality and that surely is not rational. Read if you like!

    http://www.blogosaurusvex.com/2009/07/14/emotions-and-skepticism-early-thoughts-seeking-feedback/

  35. @Anthropologist Underground:

    In the same way that many straight women crush on Rachel Maddow (Maddowsexuals) because she’s so smart, funny, cute… so it is with Rebecca.

    Don’t bogart the Maddow. I’m in love with Rachel, too. (Don’t wanna marry her, though — don’t want to piss off Maria *and* russellsugden.)

  36. @russellsugden: As you were not at my ceremony, it’s really not possible for you to make a blanket statement which includes all ceremonies. Yes, we are husband and wife. Property? No. Ownership? No. Sorry to disappoint, but your views don’t express the reality of my marriage -thank fsm!

  37. @russellsugden:

    Interesting.

    But in your hyper-skeptical mind, is it possible that:

    1) What a marriage means to the married couple may not necessarily mirror your opinions of it?

    2) A marriage in the 21st Century need not be an endorsement of marriage in the 14th Century?

    Anyone who thinks Masala-Skeptic is in any way my property does not know either of us.

  38. @russellsugden: If I understood correctly, at the time you expressed your “commiseration” to Rebecca and Sid because of their marriage, and you took their behavior to be inconsistent with their skepticism. You seemed to assume that a) skepticism is about pure rationality, b) marriage is non-rational, c) both are irreconcilable.

    But marriage would be irrational insofar as it obeys religious motivations, because it is religion that is irrational. Since Rebecca and probably also Sid cannot really be taken to be suspicious of religiosity, the only possible reason for their marriage to have stemmed from irrationality fades out, such that their decision must indeed have been rational/skeptical even if the outcome has been the same as that of some other people’s irrational decisions. That some people drive cars for no reason does not mean that you can’t drive a car for a reason.

    I’m pretty sure Rebecca and Sid didn’t get married to e.g. be finally able to have sex with one another, or for any other religious constraint. Therefore, excluded irrationality, the remaining behavior, no matter how married, is inevitably rational :-)

  39. Let’s not forget that there are a multitude of practical reasons why two people who live in two different countries would want to have legal recognition of their relationship. Immigration being the most obvious one.

    My partner lives in US and I live in the UK and for us to be allowed to marry would make so many things easier (and affordable) but with us both being men, we sadly don’t have that option (or a civil union for that matter.)

  40. A question about Civil Unions:

    Do any of the states that have civil unions allow mixed-gender couples to get civilly unioned, or is marriage the only option for heterosexuals?

    As for why get married at all: You can have all your ducks in a row regarding your Living Wills, even have notarized copies of the paperwork on your person, and some idiot hospital employee may still refuse to let you visit your dying partner because his/her family asked them to. Sure, you can sue later, for what little good that does. There simply is no substitute for pre-existing government recognition of one’s relationship.

  41. As far as I know, the Civil Unions Act is solely for same sex couples, as it is here is the UK.

    And apologies as I also forgot to congratulate the happy couple. Good on you both!

  42. @russellsugden: You can think whatever you want about marriage. Guess what? This wasn’t your marriage. It was someone else’s, and it’s really none of your damn business why the people involved chose to do what they did. It’s also pretty low to hijack a celebratory thread so you can have your own personal soapbox.

  43. Now Jen, be fair – It was also kind of dickish to offer condolences for a wedding when it’s obvious from that video how happy the two of them are.

  44. @Jen: The last thing I will say on this (as I’ve made myself emminently clear with regards my opinion on marriage) is that if one elects to make the personal public, that is to say announces in the market sqaure the details of their private lives, then one can’t expect one’s choices to be uncritically received.

    It would be disingenuous in the extreme to assume that the only discourse acceptable in the public forum to be effusive praise.

    If one does not wish to have one’s private life critically appraised then it should remain private. I keep those aspects of my life that I prefer not to be critically examined publicly, private.

    I had, foolishly it seems, assumed that a posting on a skeptical-community-based website, where other postings are open for critical comment, critical comments would be welcome. I have always assumed the “blogosphere” to be akin to, and subject to the conventions of, public debate rather than private discourse.

    If free speech mean anything, it means saying things some people find unpleasent to hear. Yeah I went there.

  45. @russellsugden: Just so that you don’t make the same mistake again, a) Skepchick is a blog and b), according to Wikipedia,

    “Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries.”

    Blogs can be more or less scientifically hard and more or less scientifically soft; you’ll probably find either component to some degree and, as a human being, you’re a generally assumed to be able to discern when the content is personal and when it is hard-core science. No matter how Vulcanian, if you merely performed an optimized keyword search with confidence scores and a threshold above 65%, you’d get that the co-occurrence of “congrats” and “marriage” strongly correlate with a personal entry.

    Once so identified, and if you are so against personal things, you can refrain from commenting and wait for the next brainy discussion.

    Plus, the use of the word “commiserations”, if truly meant, suggests that you were able to spot the private nature of the issue. If so, your comment cannot have been truly guided only by public debate considerations, and you’re merely trying here a very feeble defense.

  46. Arf, arf: “I do indeed enojy this place,” should of course be enjoy.

    And I do.

    Even when I’m awaiting moderation. I love being moderate … d.

  47. @russellsugden: People are odd. On the one hand they profess to be Rationalists while simultaneously, on the other remaining in thrall Bourgeois Conventionality.

    ——–

    No, they claim to be skeptics. SKEPTICS. That is, they are skeptical. A skeptic is one who doubts truth claims absent some kind of evidence to support them, and since marriage is evidence (action) that supports a truth claim (I want to spend my life with you) it’s actually perfectly in line with skepticism.

    On the other hand, you claim to be a rationalist, yet you cling to the outdated, unscientific concept of Bourgeoise Conventionality as if marriage were an invention of the middle class circa 1890, which it very obviously isn’t. You ignore the possibility that human beings may be genetically predisposed to monogamy (it certainly crops up often enough in disparate cultures) and any other evidence based reasons that marriage might persist, because your “rational” philosophy argues that we shouldn’t be the kind of apes that we are.

    That’s not skeptical or rational. It’s just your own irrational and evidence free prejudices that you are smugly labeling as “rational”.

  48. @russellsugden: No matter how much the ceremony is reworked and reformed the core of marriage remains the same. Husband, Wife, Property, Ownership.

    ————–

    I think you may not understand what it means to be a skeptic.

    You see, if you were a skeptic, you would actually examine the relationships of real couples and the legal structure of modern marriage before making this kind of statement. You would discover that in some areas of the world, this contract is strictly voluntary for both parties and continues to be for the duration of the contract, while in other parts of the world, it is not. This would lead you to the conclusion that there are substantive differences in these contracts, for example, one implies ownership and the other does not.

    But of course, you seem to have no interest in real marriage as actually practiced by real people in the real world, or for the various reasons that said people might choose to enter into this contract. Instead, you prefer the made up world in your head, and the meaning of marriage in it.

    And that is what makes me a skeptic, and makes you an asshat.

  49. I can’t believe someone used this thread to start a discussion.

    Anyone who believes marriage is a religious institution has sadly fallen victim to the religious propaganda. Marriage is a legal right (with various legal benefits), not a religious right.

    Anyway, I already gave them both my best wishes at TAM.

    And I still think Rrrebecca Rrrodrigues (with the rolling R) sounds too good not to use …

  50. Right. That’s it.

    This is a congratulations thread. If you want to have an esoteric discussion of what marriage means, we’ll give you another spot.

    Keep the asshattery out of this thread, please.

    Just show the love and move along.

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