Elizabeth, over at Surpluscats has an interesting post about feeling like an outsider in the skeptical community. It got me thinking.
I am not very tall. When I was a little girl, I was very small and very shy. When the time came for me to board the bus for my first day of school, my father stopped me and said, “No matter how big the other kids are, don’t let any of them push you around or tell you what to do. Think for yourself.” It was probably some of the best advice anyone has ever given me.
Unfortunately, on that particular day I took the advice too much to heart and did not listen to which bus I was supposed toÂ board for the ride home. I ended up on the other side of town, nearly giving my poor mother a heart attack when the school bus stopped after that critical first day and I did not get off. Fortunately, the driver of the bus I did get on was kind enough to go out of his way, and after he dropped the other children off, he drove far off his route to take me home as well. In the end everything worked out okay and I learned some valuable lessons.
The lessons I learned on that day encompassed more that just that wonderful first message of skepticism from my dear old Dad. One lesson I learned was that it is important to learn to filter information. Definitely do not allow yourself to be manipulated but be careful as not to be so closed off that you miss the important messages as well.
I also learned (thanks to the bus driver) that for the most part, people are kind and most importantly, we are all on this ride together.
Skeptics have a wonderful community filled with intelligent people from a variety of backgrounds with fantastic and unique outlooks on the world. At the same time, I realize that the skeptical community as a whole can often seem closed off and even inapproachable to people without scientific backgrounds. Skeptics are confused with cynics and elitists and are called closed minded, which is so very far from the truth.
It is important to clear up some misconceptions and to swing open the door to people who perhaps have never heard of the skeptical movement or feel alienated and to encourage them to get on board regardless of educational background or career. It is important that we send the message that skepticism is not a club for the high-brow mentality; it is a way of understanding the world that is helpful for everyone.
I want to get more people on the skepti-bus.
In the weeks and months that follow, I will be working on some fun, creative projects that are geared towards opening people’s minds to the wonderful world of skepticism and to sharing our message with a broader audience and I would truly appreciate your feedback. I would particularly love it if you shared your stories below as to how you first became a skeptic and what it is that you love about skepticism so that I might incorporate those mind opening experiences into future projects. I’d love to hear what gets you excited and why you are a skeptic so that I can work towards transferring that feeling to the people who simply do not understand us… yet.