Afternoon Inquisition

AI: The Skepchick Confessional

As our high holy days are fast approaching, take a moment to wander into the Temple of Skepticism and reflect on your thoughts and actions of the past year. Perhaps you’d like to step into the Skepchick Confessional and unload your conscience? Maybe you have a dilemma for which a Skepchick of the highest order may offer some advice? After all, we want to ensure that your soul (or lack thereof) is in the proper condition prior to being in the actual presence of real, live Skepchicks.


Come on in. Tell me your sins. Ask me for counsel. Penance may or may not be meted out.

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

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  1. Can I get some Halle Berrys for the sin of arrogance and proselytization of personal opinions?

    And intolerance of others, be they ever so humble?

    And certitude of my inerrancy?


  2. My greatest skeptical shame: I use those melatonin pills you find in the herbal supplements aisle to help me sleep.

    I know they’re bullshit. I’ve read the studies. But the placebo effect seems to still work even though I know that’s all it is.

    They’ve become a part of my nightly going-to-bed routine, and I have a very, very, very hard time falling asleep without them.

  3. In the past year I have committed the sin of Not Doing the Math by buying lottery tickets. I am also guilty of, on one occasion, Not Checking Snopes First.

  4. lately i’ve been feeling slightly superstitious. I keep thinking that if I tell someone that something good might be coming my way that it won’t happen.

    I also have been tempted by lotto tickets, but have so far resisted actually buying any.

  5. Not unless I can keep it private, carr2d2. Too much real shite going on right now.

    The worst I can think of that I can talk about is when my MD and VA friends ask me to buy them a WV Powerball ticket (when the jackpot is a ridiculous number of dollars), I usually kick in a buck for one for the heck of it.

    I know that the chances of winning are the same as being hit by lightning while being eaten by a Great White Shark in the middle of the Sahara, but WTF. At least the money goes to WV schools and they need every dime they can get.

  6. I have a real one – how does myself, essentially an agnostic, yet definitely a skeptic, deal with MILITANT atheists, who are often also part of the skeptical movement, and often the face of the movement , when I SOMETIMES ( though definitely not always ) disagree with their continuous attack mode.

    I do not like organized religion AT ALL, but to each his own device, as long as that device does not harm myself, my loved ones or my community at large ( and yes I know that the harm sometimes can take a circuitous route ). I believe it was the Buddhist philosophers who first coined the expression ( not in these exact words , of course, and maybe it wasn’t the Buddhists at all): everything in moderation. Good , simple, stuff. Overzealous, uncompromising, radical anything is tough to deal with if it ain’t you who is the radical group ( just try discussing counterpoints with any Freudian, radical Islaamist, or a superstring zealot ).

    Thus, while I firmly believe that fundamental or radical religionists (sic) threaten my world, I’m not certain that Richard Dawkins and his disciples’ tactics are effective in dealing with these people and I sometimes wonder if this radical branch of our movement is counterproductive.

    So, I confess – I don’t agree with all that is in the skeptical movement. Hopefully that just makes me sane and if not, must I attach one of those opus dei spikey things to my leg as penance?

  7. How ’bout some tasteless evil? This one goes back about 10 years.

    I once called into a radio station’s ‘All 80’s Request’ show, to request the song Sheena Easton song “9 to 5”.

    Not too evil?

    Earlier that day, a woman took her newborn child in her arms and jumped in front of a subway train. They played it, cut it off after the first chorus, apologized for playing it, and called me a very sick man.

    If there was a hell, that would have guaranteed my ticket to its deepest reaches.

  8. Forgive me Skepchick for I have sinned, it has been 28 years since my last confession. For the past few months, I have been thinking of dressing up as a mormon and offering to sell people rectangular chocolates in gold foil. I thought the mormons would feel much better if everybody finally saw the real golden plates.

  9. @ThickMcRunfast: Maybe I’m the thick one, but I don’t get why it was evil to request the song Morning Train (9 to 5). It’s a bouncy love song as I recall. I understand that someone killed herself earlier that day, but I think the connection is pretty week.
    I remember when I heard about the space shuttle Colombia explosion on the radio and the next song they played was Major Tom by Bowie. I thought that was pretty wrong.

  10. @halincoh:
    In order to deal with your “militant atheist” issue, you’re going to have to follow this prescription.

    First, make a list of the things that people do or say that you consider “militant atheism”. Second, compare that list the actual documented behavior of supposed “militant atheists”. I suspect that if you are honest in both steps, your problem with Richard Dawkins will magically disappear.

  11. The only thing wrong I can think of doing recently is saying that I went back to my part time job for the summer, when really I’m just going for a walk and then reading in the park (reading for my summer class, then for pleasure. Just finished “Boys Will Be Boys”, started “Freakonomics”, on deck are “Guns, Germs and Steel”, and “I am America, and so can You”.)

    I guess we can agree lying and pretending to be earning tuition money for down the road are bad, but what else am I going to do, work? (well yes eventually).

  12. @Briarking

    Since the woman was holding her newborn child when she jumped in front of the subway, requesting a song with “My baby takes the morning train” as the chorus is incredibly scummy.

  13. Walking to work this morning, a black cat walked across my path. I was so distracted, that I then walked under a ladder. There was nothing for it but to duck into a fast food joint to grab a packet of salt to throw over my shoulder.
    While I was there, I figured, what the heck, and bought a lottery ticket. Fortunately, I had my cell with me so I could call a psychic hotline and find out my lucky number for the day.

    I wasn’t feeling all that well at work, probably because I had to walk a couple blocks after the ladder incident to get the salt, so there was some delay. At lunchtime, I went over to the Naturopath’s for a homeopathic remedy. I felt better, but it didn’t get rid of the headache, so I ducked into the acupuncturist for some pain relief. Aahhhh!

    After work, I skipped my appointment to get my kid vaccinated. He’s only 33, you know, and I’ve heard that its bad to get it done when they’re too young. I’m not worried about autism, because he’s probably past that, but I do worry that maybe it might cause alzheimer’s cause, you know, they’re both brain things.

    Instead, I stopped in at my chiropractor’s to get some neck manipulation. I didn’t really need it, but hey, what can it hurt?

    When I got home, I put on Oprah, which I’d taped yesterday cause I knew I wouldn’t have time to watch then. All in all, a good day.

  14. @Briarking:

    Maybe I’m the thick one,…

    No argument here. It’s called dark comedy.

    I remember when I heard about the space shuttle Colombia explosion on the radio and the next song they played was Major Tom by Bowie. I thought that was pretty wrong.

    If “Major Tom” was a happy, peppy love song, I’d agree with you. But, it wasn’t – sooooo no dark comedy.

  15. @halincoh: well, being of similar “can’t-we-all-just-get-along” temperament, i tend to look at it like this:
    there’s room for a diversity of opinions and tactics. we atheists and skeptics disagree on probably more things than we agree on, and i think that’s good…it keeps us from getting too monolithic and dogmatic. i enjoy discussion and like to attempt to find common ground with believers, but i don’t think everyone should be that way.
    in fact, i think the more militant among us fill a very important role: they are loud, and brash, and they get the attention of the public. By being out there on the extreme, they move the middle, and this is good for all of us.

  16. @ carr2d2 – your comment: “by being out there on the extreme, they move the middle, and this is good for all of us” rings true, but only because of our diversity. I guess we are yins to their yangs. A normal curve is a normal curve and tails are needed in both directions.

    @sethmanapio – regarding your comment, “I suspect that if you are honest in both steps, your problem with Richard Dawkins will magically disappear.” Let me think about that … nawwwww … still got problems with him. It’s not the content I have problems with ( I LIKE the content ), it’s the delivery. Carr2d2 says is DOES move the middle and that’s good enough for me, but I do think I’m gonna get me one of those spikey things, Yee-haw.

  17. My General Physician plays a radio station in the waiting room that features Dobson, Ken Ham, etc.
    I’ll wear my iPod when I go and listen to SGU, Skepticality, or Point of Inquiry to drown it out.

  18. I’ve committed the sin of cynicism (which is almost as fun to say as “cinnamon synonym”), when the last thing skeptics need is a skeptic who fits the stereotype of a cynic.
    @MiddleMan: Yes, however that may be appropriate.

  19. @tiger kitty: All 3 of the serious relationships I have had have been with women whose names begin with the same letter, and my wife’s name and 1 of the others begin with the same syllable. Somehow, I’ve only once called my wife by the wrong name of the 3.

  20. I enjoyed being pagan (with all its BS occult / new age beliefs) more than I enjoy being skeptic (& non believer). And, yes, I know what I said is basically saying “I enjoyed a lie more than I enjoy the truth.”

  21. @Tressa: I know of where you come from and the only advice I can give you is: don’t try to enjoy it. You’ll only disappoint yourself.

    The great thing about being a part of a group like a pagan coven (or whatever you called it), or any small, religious gathering is that everyone involved is there for the good feelings and intentions those gatherings bring. This is usually what I heard and experienced in the few groups I was a part of.

    My cure for the post-pagan blues? Get involved with groups that do things you enjoy. I bet somewhere you’ll find a similar mindset of people that give you the uplift you miss.

  22. @Tressa: I was pagan too. And I think you might have hit it with the “I enjoy a lie more than I enjoy the truth”.

    Because I miss my faith. I miss believing in, well, mostly everything. Every time I pass a pentacle, as the thing that used to symbolize my faith, it makes me slightly jealous, and slightly nauseous. I want to believe in something, on some level, and I’ve had that desire since I was very young. I don’t think a five-year-old looking for god is very common.

    But… “I believe” has turned into “I want to understand”. Which is wonderful.

  23. @Tressa: For a while after I became an atheist I was jealous of believers because they had a community, got to get together weekly to sing, and believed in something. As I gradually acquired a community (folkies) that sang and as I developed beliefs rooted in evidence, I found that I could enjoy life even more than I had when I had been a Xian.

  24. Religious gatherings can still be fun as an atheist/agnostic. It’s just that there’s the gnawing feeling of doing something bad for not believing in the crap that’s being proclaimed as truth by everyone else.

    By the way, I went to my grandfather’s funeral this Saturday, and I must say that I’ve attended better, definitely more interesting, and possibly even more emotional religious proceeding on a goddamn live roleplaying event. Where everyone present knew fully well that it was all pretend and makebelieve.

    I sometimes wonder if this exposure to and faking of deeply religious experiences in a makebelieve world where gods actually do exist (and will not hesitate to fry your fuckin’ ass if you displease them), somehow makes it easier for people to see the parallels with real-life religions, and decide they too will believe in one less god than the religious.

  25. @halincoh: Well, I did say if you “honestly” do both steps. I mean, if your actual issue has nothing to do with militant atheism and everything to do with Dawkins being snotty and irritable, then sure, you’ve got a point.

    But the charge of militancy is generally poorly defined, and when defined, generally inappropriately applied. I would (and have) argued that Dawkins is too willing to give ground and too willing to accommodate common wisdom at the expense of truth.

    Some posts on that can be found here.

  26. @tiger kitty: So does a handbasket have front-seat or back-seat steering?
    What is the legal speed limit on the road to hell?

    Seems like having no driving experience at all might even prove to be an advantage …

  27. For all the supernatural entity stuff, organized religion does have a long history of kick-ass mind hacking. Take the confessional–getting something off of our chest and having another person hear you and forgive you, that’s some heavy stuff right there. I have long wondered if we shouldn’t rescue the confessional from the church, take it out into the street, and man it with a lawyer (for the attorney-client privilege, of course). Give everyone the benefit minus the dogma.

    As for me, I confess to a deep-seated core belief in karma. Not so bad, right? Right?

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