AI: Resetting and refreshing

After the debauchery that was SkepchickCON last week, it’s amazing I survived to make it to TAM 7, which is where I am today.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, The Amaz!ng Meeting is sponsored by the JREF and is a place for skeptics to gather, learn, talk and drink. I’ve been to every one since TAM 4 and I intend to go to every other one I can.  TAM is my “Mecca.” It’s where I go to renew, refresh and revive my skepticism, my friendships and my perspective on life. I never come back from TAM without a brand new set of ideas and a renewed excitement about everything we do.

How about you? What do you do to refresh and revive your skepticism, in a world full of pseudoscience and shams?


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


Maria D'Souza grew up in different countries around the world, including Hong Kong, Trinidad, and Kenya and it shows. She currently lives in the Bay Area and has an unhealthy affection for science fiction, Neil Gaiman and all things Muppet.

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  1. I live in a tiny, conservative, Texas town that has little to no skepticism. I’m trying to find ways to refresh and revitalize my skepticism, but without the motivation and help from my surroundings it’s rather hard.

    I can tell you how deal with the non-skepticism in this town though: tons of alcohol.

  2. I put on my fuzzy Bug Girl slippers, my Masala Pajamas, A Real bathrobe, and my genuine Sam Ogden codpiece and listen to one of the fine podcasts available such as SGU, Skepticast, Skeptic Zone, and most recently, the Cosmic Tea Party.

  3. @tmarie: I’ll drink to that. Usually, I’ll haunt the blogs, listen to some podcasts. Watch some mythbusters. Chat with you guys online. That kind of thing. Wish I was at TAM. Heck, wish I could have hooked up with tmarie and sam for a tiny texas tam.

  4. I just invoke my amzing powers of OCD-they feed on themselves. At work, people have started to run screaming when they hear the phrase “logical fallacy” coming out of my mouth-they are afraid I’m about to go on another tirade. Its all I talk about.

  5. Podcasts, blogs, and books are all good. But what I find most helpful personally is sitting down with my kids and playing with them. They have no real preconceived notions about things. They have very vivid imaginations which leads to some entertaining explanations when I ask them questions about what they’re doing or when they ask me a question about why or how something is the way it is and I respond “Good question, what do you think?”

  6. I SO live in a little liberal bubble, and I live in Phoenix, Arizona. But I also live in Central Phoenix. Within 1 mile from me there are at least 3 gay clubs/bars and of course, Gay Denny’s aka Jenny’s. So sometimes, I get a wiiiide awakening. Like when Jan Brewer because Governor after Napolitano went to DC, and I read up on Brewer and went, craaap, I live in Arizona!

    I just hang out with my heathen, poly, pro-choice, gay loving friends. And get drunk. And watch “Sex with Ducks”. Then I feel better that there are indeed sane people out there.

    Until one of those friends starts talking about sun signs and moon signs and Venus and Leos…and I groan inside.

  7. While podcasts are fantastic, my mind will often wander during them. Books really draw me in when I’m feeling unfocused. A quick trip the the half-price bookstore can land me a stack of science books to explore at my leisure.

  8. @Aric: I can sadly only really listen to Podcasts when I’m cleaning or doing something else mundane around the house. I need to start burning them for long car trips. My best friends live 37 miles from me one-way and are still within Phoenix city limits…and I live smack dab in the middle of the city…and tomorrow I have to from them to freakin’ EAST MESA…ok, I know what I’ll be doing tonight: burning podcasts.

  9. @marilove:

    I love listening to podcasts while cleaning or doing other mundane activities. I’m currently going through the whole SGU archives — everyone was so… awkward sounding in the beginning episodes.

    Interesting, I grew up in Phoenix, AZ and currently live in Tempe, AZ while attending Arizona State University! It’s pretty sane living right next to the university, but my girlfriend lives in Mesa, i.e. the Mormon capital of Arizona. And there’s still plenty of woo coming out of certain departments at ASU…

  10. @sporefrog: Yes, omg, Mesa. The gay non-profit org I volunteer for got a bunch of tickets to dinner theater up there a few weeks ago. We were like…are you sure you want a bunch of gays and gay lovers to go to MESA? hahaha.

    We need to have a Skepchick Valley of the Sun meetup someday. ‘Cuz I know we’re not the only ones.

    Oh and I LOVE Sedona (gooorgeous) but the Woo that comes from it is *insane*.

  11. @Gabrielbrawley:

    You betcha!

    Have you guys ever seen the Palin church videos? They stretch the limits of the word “insane.” I’m at the university library so my searching powers are limited, but I think this is one of them:

  12. @marilove:

    We need to have a Skepchick Valley of the Sun meetup someday. ‘Cuz I know we’re not the only ones.

    I was wondering if there were any skeptical activities around here. I assumed we were too far away from the action.

    And yeah, we get the guys patrolling around campus holding signs like “HOMOSEXUALS WILL BURN IN HELL,” while screaming, frothing at the mouth, and brandishing their bibles. One of my female friends (who is straight) likes to go give big lesbianish kisses to her female friends in front of them. It’s quite hilarious when logical discussion fails (as it always does with people like that).

  13. @sporefrog: Saw a great video where the biggots were picketing a gay bar. Several of the gays came out with a boom box and started dancing really flamboantly right by the protesters. Who more or less ran away from the scary gay dance. Oooh, scary gay men dancing.

    I wonder how many of the bigots go home and beat off to their memories of your friend kissing a girl.

  14. @Gabrielbrawley: LOL this reminds me of the time I was at my (non gay) dive bar with my gay friend Justin, who gets very obviously gay the more he drinks. We were all outside waiting for his mom to get her butt out so we could go home, when a cop car rolled up. Justin quietly stuck the drink he had (so illegal) in his pocket, and held tightly to the 3 or 4 stuffed animals he was carrying (won in one of those toy claw game things). It was new years’ and I believe he was also wearing a tiara.

    The cops started to ask a few questions, when Justin said, in his gayest voice possible, “Happy New Yearth, do you want a stuffed animal as prethent?” and then he did this little dancey move.

    The cops slowly backed away and drove off.


  15. Also, that dive bar used to be a cowboy-biker bar (it’s still got that at its heart, but a lot of buildings have popped up around it so a lot of younger people go there now as well, which is odd…), but they were all weirdly accepting of Justin, who wasn’t quiet about his gayness.

    Once, though, on his birthday, he was wearing some beads, a birthday tiara, and carrying around a little gift bag. Some guy came up and said, “What, is that your purse, fag?” And Justin quiped, “Yes, want to hold it for me while I pee?”

    We LOLED forever, the bartender refused to serve the jerk, and I think the homophobe newb left.

  16. @VoxMachina: As a bit of non-sequitor, I have a question about some stuff I’ve heard on POI. Its an opinion question, and I don’t think it would be appropriate to ask on the forums. If interested in getting your opinion asked of you, please msg me via facebook. My name is a link to my page. If you have to be my friend before you can msg me, simply reference skepchick in the request.

  17. @Gabrielbrawley: “When do they post that anyway?”

    It’s mid-Saturday afternoon usually. (Juice grabs it for me right away.) You can also tell by when the first “Who’s That Noisy” posts start appearing on the forum.

  18. @marilove: your first comment struck a note with me.

    I live here in the little liberal bubble in Richmond VA. I too however am confronted by comments like ‘well your moon is in taurus’ among my friends. I think the worst one I’ve heard yet was when I successfully did a fireating trick and friend of a friend claimed “well that’s nothing, I used to date a pyrokinetic.” **WINCE**
    I need to hang out with more skeptics.

  19. I listen to SGU (also going through the archives) and Atheists Talk. Also Science Friday on NPR helps me keep up on science news. Conversations with my wife and daughter also help me feel like I’m not the only skeptic around.

  20. You can read history and see how religions, pseudoscience and shams evolve and change and banish replacing one with another. Or you can look at the stars thinking about how tiny is our planet in comparison. Or you can use philosophers such as Bertrand Russell or Joan Fuster as a desinfecting agents against all kinds of dogmas.

  21. @Didac: You can also look how political the history of religion has been and how religions have been chosen for completely secular reasons. For instance, England chose the Roman Catholic Church over Celtic Christianity because the king did not want to fight against Rome.

    A pod cast which I enjoy listening to, but I have not seen mentioned already, is the Infidel Guy.

  22. “How about you? What do you do to refresh and revive your skepticism, in a world full of pseudoscience and shams?”

    I do this in two ways. First, I read lots of ‘skeptical’ blogs, listen to lots of ‘skeptical’ podcast, and so on. Same as everyone else here really. However, though I enjoy all that, it isn’t really what keeps my skepticism going. Those are just the things that push me to hone it.

    When I really want to juce my skepticism up and re-light my fire. I turn on the news. It usually doesn’t take more than about five minutes before some bullsh/t story about anything from aliens to ass-ology reminds me of how truly stupid and misinformed most of the world really is. From there it’s only about another 60 seconds or so before I’m fired up, angry, and possibly on some rant about how “people just don’t think”, or how, “bloody obvious it is. Why the hell is this on the news?”.

    Depending on how stupid the news is on a given night, it can keep my skeptical fires well lit for some time. Especially when punctuated with everyday conversations with normal people, (eg.. “No.. I don’t think that the fact the work is scheduled for the 13th will have any impact on our quality of work or the delivery schedule.”)

  23. When I want a good dose of logic and conversation, I talk to either my grandfather or my mother. They are two of the wisest, smartest, funniest people on Earth. I used to get drunk and act like an ass when I was in my twenties, too. But then I grew up and grew tired of such silliness.

  24. @marilove: Marilov – I grew up queer in Paradise Valley and then escaped to woo-ville, USA (Santa Cruz, CA) for college. Sounds like a lot has improved in AZ in the past 20 years. All we had back then was Stinkweeds records and the tiny gay section at Changing Hands bookstore to keep us queer punks sane.

  25. @sporefrog: I have a friend who reports that one year when Westboro Baptist came to protest at gay pride festival (or something like that), he and his gay friends stood across the street shouting gay jokes back at them. And some of the WB people were obviously working really hard not to laugh out loud at some of them.

  26. @mrthumbtack: Most of my friends are great critical thinkers, but a few are waaaaay into astrology. It’s sometimes a bit unnerving. I tend to just go along with it, because whatever, it’s harmless. But when I’m drunk I find it hard not to laugh at the ridiculousness of it.

  27. @sporefrog: I did not. I didn’t hear about it ’til the last minute and couldn’t make it. Was also broke. I have been to that particular Irish pub, though. We have a LOT of great Irish pubs here in the Valley. Seamus McCaffrey’s downtown is my favorite. :o)

  28. @ShrinkyD: So many fun queer friendly things in the Valley now, especially Central Phoenix (not sure about Paradise Valley…not my scene lol). PRIDE this year was faaaantastic (and HUGE, biggest turn-out yet; the org I volunteer for sold over 10,000 drinks on SATURDAY alone (not counting Sunday), and we were far from the only booths sellling booze…it was insanity!).

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