Afternoon InquisitionEventsSkepticism

AI: TAMarind

Things have been a bit hectic over here at Skepchick HQ. We just finished up SkepchickCON at CONvergence and it was a HUGE success. Special guests, PZ Myers of Pharyngula, Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Sadie Crabtree of the JREF helped us to pack the rooms and helped to make this the best event we have organized yet. Thanks guys!

Also, the Skepchick party was fantastic! Newly appointed director of Skepchick organization (I may have invented that title but it’s true) and all around kick-ass gal, Kammy helped us throw the best three-nights-in-row-party ever! Thanks to all the volunteers, new friends and old who stopped by our party and our track rooms. It was awesome.

We have also been trapped in the midst of what has been described as Elevatorgate.

And in a week we are hopping planes and trains to what is surely going to be the best and busiest TAM ever!

We are frantically finishing up preparations for a free TDaP vaccine clinic. We are wrapping up a literal ass-load of Surly-Ramics and Skepchick buttons and shirts to have at our tables. Rebecca is putting the finishing touches on plans for her variety show and almost every Skepchick in attendance is preparing for at least one panel or workshop.

We are busy bees. We might be lacking sleep. We are definitely very excited.

So in honor of all the kicking-ass AND in honor of the launching of our AWESOME NEW sister site in spanish I thought I would lighten things up with an sweet and simple Afternoon Inquisition.

Tell me dear Skepchick readers, what is something that has made your life better via learning about science, critical thinking or skepticism? In what ways can you envision feminism, critical thinking or skepticism improving the world in the future? Why should we keep up all this hard work? Give us a little sugar.

*Bonus question: Are you going to be at TAM this year or any other events and if so will you please come say hello to me?

* Tamarind or Tamarindo is a sweet and sour fruit that is often made into jams and candies.

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. “what is something that has made your life better via learning about science, critical thinking or skepticism?” Always keep questioning my own assumptions; don’t let confirmation bias limit your ability to learn new things. Even the commentroversies enhance this, sometimes (though there is a limit to their utility, I think). As I get intrigued or infuriated or entertained or frustrated at what people are saying, it keeps giving me a chance to go back and think, well, why did I have that point of view and why did I disagree with that other one? I come to skepticism from a fairly easy road…there was no watershed moment and I haven’t had to change a lot of my basic beliefs to fit in. But I keep questioning, and skepticism encourages that questioning…if my evidence is wrong, I want to know about it. And this questioning attitude leaks over into areas that I don’t consider to be part of ‘skepticism’ per se…things that don’t necessarily have evidence behind them. It’s the back and forth, the willingness to engage and listen to each other that makes the community vibrant. Even in the most polarizing topics, I think there’s some background listening that goes on from many people, checking their assumptions and refining them as appropriate. TAM is going to be fun. (Hee…and Jeff just brought me up the mail while I was typing…LOVE the new island Surly :))

  2. The greatest thing I have learned is that I know a lot less than I once thought I did. It has been humbling to realize the years I spent “following my gut” instincts have led me astray. I thought I was so damn good. Now I realize I was just misinformed, or, dare I say, uneducated.

    Today I more easily admit that I don’t know something instead of just going with what I think is plausible at the moment.

    Critical thinking and skepticism are the future. Regardless of what other non-sense is spread around the world, none of it will provide any kind of advancement. Only the science will move us forward. The only question is how many people will remain deluded and how many will help advance us through science.

    Feminism seems lost in the world of opinion, indignation and political rhetoric. I very rarely see anything that references a peer reviewed study where data and hypotheses can be evaluated and debated. That is unfortunate because feminism can be important in bring more people into the fold of science based critical thinkers.

    TAM, no, I won’t be there.

  3. Skepticism, science and rational thought cured me of religion. And it’s amazing how complete the cure has been, not one single relapse. Rational thought has been known to cure a number of thought disorders so all your efforts are not only worthwhile but necessary. And I’ll be at TAM!

  4. It’s given me the ways & means to navigate among the 31 flavors of fundies in my town.
    I hope I’ll see you at Skepticon 4 where I will say hello, buy a Surly or two, help you find a damn fine chicken fried steak and I think I owe you and a few others a drink or two that I’ll be happy to pay up on!

  5. Being surrounded by wonderful people, such as yourself, has made me a better person.

    Hearing directly how certain situations make women feel, comfortable or uncomfortable, has made me a better person.

    Learning how to overcome my own cluelessness through critical thinking has made me a better person.

    I will be at TAM9 and DragonCon 2011 and I’m sure I will see you and Johnny there.

  6. Unlike some others I was never religious, nor did I believe in astrology, homeopathy, dowsing or woo of any kind really so skepticism never had any effect on me in that respect.

    Reading all the science and skeptical resources has however helped me to better present the pro-science viewpoint. Just recently I was able to convince a new mom to get her kid vaccinated!

    I’m not going to TAM but if I were I would totally stop by and say hi!


  7. I have been a skeptic for almost all my life, and read many books on the subject and entertained many arguments before hitting the blogs at all. However, I have still learned plenty at the blogs, and still am. What I’ve learned the most about, however, is feminism.

    I have learned that, much like quantum theory, if you think you understand everything about feminism, you don’t understand feminism at all.

    I have learned that while I may think male circumcision is bad, or want to say guys can suffer domestic abuse too, or be raped, I need to shut up. There is a time and a place to talk about these things. They aren’t during feminist talks. All it’s doing is distracting attention from the people who need to be listened to.

    I have learned that when I hear something that makes me, as a man, feel put down or discriminated, it is probably my privilege talking. It is probably the same feeling that causes Christians to complain of being mistreated, and that I need to take a day or two to process this information, and re-evaluate it later. 99% of the time, I decide that my initial feelings were misplaced.

    I have learned that feminism is not easy.

    I have learned that though I may fancy myself rational, and above sexism, I am not. I am a sexist. Much like courage is not about being free of fear, neither is feminism, for a man, about the absence of sexism. It’s about facing those feelings and overcoming them, no matter how painful, or hard.

  8. My parents got me into science, reading lots of Asimov and having good teachers got me into skepticism. I honestly cannot see (doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened in some other universe, though; wouldn’t do to have someone accuse me of confusing my own lack of imagination for reality) how I would find the world so amazing if that weren’t the case.

    Unfortunately, I’m not looking at any cons other than maybe MileHiCon.

  9. I admit that I identified as an atheist for quite a while before I found myself thinking I was a skeptic. Since I started trying to look at the world with skeptical eyes it’s helped me to evaluate the tidal wave of b.s. information I get via the internet and media. I feel like this has helped me personally to avoid the hysteria and diversions that easily overtake so many. I also find myself inspired by humanity’s scientific discoveries and achievements. I have found genuine wonder, awe, and optimism in science which is something I never found in religion. I love this community because reading the varied arguments and issues makes me think and helps me solidify where I stand on matters that I never really put much thought to (specifically: Elevatorgate.) I love that I found this web community and appreciate what you awesome bloggers do :) I hope the recent brouhaha hasn’t discouraged you all. Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth, seeing the amount of female strength within the storm has been inspiring to me. Keep doing what you do, wish I was coming to TAM or Comicon but I am already attending a different con (Gencon yeah!) this year. Maybe next year!

  10. What skepticism has done for me? Well I am not afraid of the dark, of the demons, ghosts, spirits or what God has in store for me. I look back on that part of my life and I simply am not the same person. Science has unlocked my imagination to the known and unknown. Nothing makes me feel more alive than exploring the real world I live in. I think one of the challenges that I have faced in skepticism has been voicing my opinion. Until recently, I NEVER shared my opinion in a public way to anyone. Sam O had an inquisition question a while ago about why some do not post comments. I started posting after this. It is easy to be right about things when your opinion is kept to yourself. So when formulating a response to something such as lets say feminism, I will read my comment and I find out where I actually stand on something. I see places where I do have biases and/or false beliefs. As for why to keep up the good work…I hope you guys know how much you are appreciated! I would be wondering around in the dark, scared, being chased by pretend demons.

    1. @ greeenstone: I was the one who asked that AI, about being intimidated by the audience. And in a lot of ways, I still am (intimidated, I mean). I am glad that I was able to help at least one person :)

      Unlike many here, I was never a religious person. I like to say that I was raised catholic, therefore I don’t do organized religion. So I can’t say that skepticism helped me that way.

      What I did learn, was how much intolerance there is on the atheism and skepticism front. Reading some of the things here, I never realized how very little I know, or how completely naive I have been over the years. And perhaps most importantly, how much of a misogynist I really am. Reading posts like Rebecca’s and others are helping me to overcome that.

      Thank you, Skepchick, for helping me to see how much I need to grow.

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