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I’m in the Choir. Preach to Me.

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We hear this piece of complaint, or advice, or admonishment, depending on the circumstances, quite a bit: “Don’t just preach to the choir.” It’s a bit ironic particularly in skeptical circles where many of us have left the types of organizations that have choirs. I consider myself part of the choir of skepticism and science. And sometimes, I just need a good old fashioned preaching to.

I’m on the train back home after a weekend in Chicago at ChiFi. Except for some lovely panels with Farscape’s Gigi Edgely, I spent the entire weekend at Skepchick-related events. Jamie Bernstein put on a fabulous weekend of programming on all kinds of skeptical topics, and I was excited to be a part of various “The Science of…” panels. I also stuck around to hear my friends discuss other topics, things like “Skepticism and Philosophy” and “Science and Art.”

These are not new topics to me. Again, I’m the choir. I’ve been around the skeptical block. I even had some Mad Art Labbers on my Learning Space show specifically to talk about the intersection of art and science. I came away with a few new facts and tips, but mostly, it was a rejuvenation. This weekend was a replenishment of my inspiration and love for communicating science and skepticism. Watching friends, acquaintances, and colleagues talk about the same topics I’ve hear before was by no means a waste of my time, but instead a nice refreshing reminder of why I love to talk about these topics.

It’s all too easy to let the passion slip away in the daily grind. The last few months of my life have been especially hectic, and I’m looking forward to some professional changes in the near future. In the chaos, I’ve been feeling like I was on auto-pilot, losing my inspiration to teach and communicate. This can happen, and probably does happen, to all of us at some point.

So yes, it is important to reach new audiences with your messages. And yes, it’s productive and stimulating to get beyond the “101” level of a topic of discussion and delve into the deeper issues and nuances. But sometimes, it’s important to energize your base. That’s why I’m not so worried about preaching to the choir every once in a while. There’s no need to despair when your audience comes back week after week, right?

So thank you to those of you who helped rekindle my passion for exploring and spreading the word of science and skepticism out there. I treasure the safe places we make to ask questions and listen to each other. And I sure as hell love geeking out with you all.

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5 Comments

  1. This was the very first event of its kind for me and it was amazing how welcoming and energizing and FUN the weekend was!

    As for “preaching to the choir”, back in the days of his Air America show, Senator Al Franken responded to accusations of preaching to the choir by pointing out that the other side does it all the time and it is damn effective. It is how they rally their base politically, how they keep them engaged, energized and on message. There is no reason we can’t use this power for good rather than evil!

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