One of my oldest friends in the world, Shannon Burns, is a recent introduction to the Skeptical-with-a-Capital-S world and I thought it would be interesting to get her perspective as a relative newcomer.
Shannon is my best friend from college so I am clearly and unapologetically biased, but I am thrilled to share this smart, cool, skeptical woman with you all! Also, she totally sucks up to me in this interview and I didn’t have to pay her or anything! Old friends FTW! :)
Itâ€™s all Mariaâ€™s fault.Â No, really.Â I recently calculated that I have known her for about half my life.Â She and I were best friends in college and were pretty inseparable until she was lured several hundred miles away by sunnier skies and her now husband.Â But we have remained friends throughout the years.Â One of her emails about two years ago ended with â€œcheck out this blog â€“ I write for them semi-regularly as Masala Skepticâ€.Â Of course, this was followed by a link to Skepchick.Â At the time I was on leave from work because I was going through cancer treatment.Â So, while I had plenty of time to read the blog, I was not in the right frame of mind to really make any sense of what I was seeing there.Â I bookmarked the URL and thought maybe I would get back to it someday.
Fighting alternative medicine.Â I had always been suspicious of the claims that these people make, but I had generally just shrugged them off.Â I thought most people didnâ€™t really believe in them, but I hadnâ€™t done a lot of research and hadnâ€™t really given a lot of thought to the harm they caused.
I probably still wouldnâ€™t know about the community at all if not for Maria.Â I know there are a lot of grassroots efforts going on and the word is spreading, but I think the first hurdle to overcome in being a part of the community is finding it.Â The next step for some (as it was for me) is to figure out what skepticism actually is.Â It seems obvious in hindsight, but it took me a bit of poking around.Â I started reading Skepchick and would follow links to other sites that were mentioned.Â I would spend some time looking at those sites, create a few bookmarks, and then come back to them later.Â It took a few iterations through that cycle before I understood that what I had been introduced to was something bigger than a just a few people writing blogs and creating informational sites.Â And it took that initial digging to get a good sense for the underpinnings of this community.
My favorite blog is Skepchick.Â I am biased of course, but itâ€™s true.Â I also listen to the Skepchick podcasts, and have been enjoying the Curiosity Aroused segments.Â Topping my non-biased list of podcasts are subscriptions to Skepticality, For Good Reason, Point of Inquiry, and Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe.
I would educate people about the concepts behind homeopathy.Â Before I became a part of the skeptical community, I really only had some sort of vague sense that homeopathic medicine was something less than real medicine.Â I knew it wasnâ€™t regulated in the same way as regular medicine, and I knew a lot of remedies played into peopleâ€™s misguided thinking that things labeled â€œnaturalâ€ are somehow better.