Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Skeptical Superpowers Activate!

This weekend is the first planning meeting for the very first ever Skepchicamp which will be held in Chicago early next year. I am unbelievably excited and nervous about this venture. Though, as more people contact me, excited about the idea, the nervousness is decreasing and the excitement is approaching “mind blowing”… I might actually have to appoint an excitement czar to help me keep my giddiness in check.

The awesome thing about Skepticamp is that it’s organized by the participants… everyone brings in their superpowers, and put them in a room and BAM! Skepicamp! (I’m probably forgetting a couple steps, but whatever.)

So today, I ask you, Skepchickal Super-heroines and heroes, what are your skeptical super powers? What would you bring to the table at a Skepticamp (or do you want to bring to Skepchicamp)? If you have no super powers, what ordinary skeptical skills do you possess (or wish you possessed) that, if you were to inhale radioactive gas from an insect’s breath, might become superhuman?

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


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. I have the ability to stare at irrational believers of all sorts with lazers of pure “… you don’t honestly believe that, right?” coming out of my eyes, wilting their false egos until their voices drift into nothing and they wander away, mere shells of their former selves.

    I also make a mean chocolate mousse pie.

  2. Shit! I just realized I don’t even have a skeptical super power…

    Maybe I need to get into a car accident at the Fermi Lab.

    Unrelated: Does anyone have a car I can borrow? I need to go run some errands in Batavia…

  3. I had Skeptical powers once. Then I grew skeptical of them, and they vanished. Never did find them again.

  4. Statistics are powerful. When people understand statistics, good prevails. When people do not understand statistics, evil triumphs. What I’m saying is, statistics are like The Force. Unfortunately I’m not much of a Jedi. I think I’d feel much safer with an energy sword capable of severing limbs than I would with Bayes theorem.

  5. My skeptical superpower would be the ability to transfer vision to the misguided so they could see their own hypocrasies and gaps in logic, and to give them the gift of a fricking sense of humor about it all.
    My other superpower would be the ability to tie my shoelaces without bending over.

  6. When debating, I can completely shut down my emotions.

    If I had real superpowers, I would be half man, half monkey, and when I get someone’s dna, I can mimic them and their powers-an Infinite Monkey.

  7. I think we are skeptics because we all have super powers.

    We can sense bullshit a mile away.
    We smash faulty arguments with logical brains of steel.
    We can see the future through scientific discoveries.
    We crush our nemeses with our critical thinking.

  8. @Elyse: Yeah, like mixing drinks.

    When you taste my chilli, just after you start seeting and before you lose the feeling in your tongue you’ll question everything you ever held sacred, and when it passes out of your system, well I’ve been told by christian friends it caused them to question their belief in a merciful, loving god.

    I make my own “special sauce”. Back when I was a student after several abortive attempts to make moonshine (it tastes awful no matter what you add), I came across a paper regarding the extraction of capsaicin from chillis and turned my “still” into an extraction column and haven’t looked back since.

    Gram for gram, pure capsaicin is ~5000 times stronger than standard chillis.

  9. @Elyse: To be honest I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting a toddler eat it without written consent.

    However, I do do a slightly less kick-ass, more rounded flavour mutton phal suitable and mango lassi suitable for skeplings.

  10. @russellsugden: When you taste my chilli, just after you start seeting and before you lose the feeling in your tongue…

    I’ve never understood the desire to make food painful or to equate the Scoville units of a dish with it’s quality. Either food tastes good or it doesn’t. I can understand that what one person describes as good chili could be inedibly hot to someone else, but that’s just variation it taste. What you are describing here is culinary sadism not cooking.

  11. @infinitemonkey:

    You can have it, totally… but given your un-Christian sexual persuasion, I think you may already possess that power. You are also able to convince people at parties that you do a Liza impersonation that would make Judy Garland weep.

  12. My current powers are my ability to anger others, I hear it’s very frustrating to debate me. If I could have real super powers, I’d like to be able to punch people through the radio

  13. Super powers? Hrm… not so much with the having.

    Moderately favored abilities of questionable usefulness? I can draw comic type things for promos and such.

  14. I can ramble endlessly about astronomy. But I think the skeptics already have someone that’s good at that.

    I can eat microwave popcorn like nobody’s business.

    I can be really, really skeptical of hair products.

  15. The skepchickal superpower I currently have: listening and asking questions.

    The skepchickal superpower I don’t currently have but would like: boobies.

  16. I have convinced many people that they were NOT abudcted by aliens (it involves stuff not trying not to laugh at them) and have even been THANKED many times over. Oddly, my people are happy to find they have not been abducted by aliens.

  17. First: This is my very first comment after lifting a self-imposed, grad-school-related ban on blog-commenting and other extra-curricular activities. Hooray for passing prelims!

    Superpowers include: I live in Chicago, am a statistician (health/medical research) and have insider connections to Chicago’s world of beer. I’ve done a pretty decent job of making my artsy husband less popular in social situations by teaching him how to spot and point out stats-related limitations in medical research news reports.

  18. I am immune to the siren calls of ghosts, I sleep peacefully while others are abducted by aliens, save time by not needing to go through any superstitious rituals, I laugh at devils that seem to possess others, and I sleep in on Sundays.

  19. My super power is the ability to procrastinate better than anybody else I’ve met.

    The super power I would like to have would be the ability to see people say things that I think are wrong and be able to not say anything, no matter how stupid their comment is. Depending on the context of course :P

  20. @apfergus:
    Statistics as the Force? Yeah, that works for me, though since I’m an econometrician I might count as more of a Sith.

    I would like to be able to go up to people and exorcise the stupidity from them by crying “The Power of Bayes compels you! … with a 61% probability”

  21. I’m a fount of eclectic knowledge. People are constantly baffled by the topics I know something about. Just the other day I got an email out of the blue from a woman translation a book from English to Norwegian who needed help translating kale, collards and beet greens, and I was able to help.

    With a bit of radioactive insect breath in me I could respond to any woo claim with a library of damning research instead of my current response of “You’re a stupidhead!”

  22. By far the most useful power would be the ability to make people have that “Aha!” moment of finally getting it. Making “the click”.
    Doesn’t even have to be a super(natural) power.

    Never mind knowing all the answers yourself, what you need is a way of getting other people to know it too. Exorcise the bullshit.

  23. @slxpluvs:

    In that case I wish to revise my superpowers:

    I can produce cartoonish and other comic-like items for promotions AND wield a nice pair of corseted argument winners.

    Simultaneously if required.

  24. Queef on demand. A really handy superpower to wield when any uber-conservative Christian Republican carnivore attempts to “pray for me”. I’ll say “Why thank you very much and just let me respond by saying pppffffftttttpppffffff…pfffttttt” My inside voice refers to it as “The Deal Breaker”

  25. My superpower is to find reputable resources to refute any pseudoscientific argument faster than a speeding built. (Ok well faster than loading a gun that can fire a speeding built.) Go Batgirl.

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