I have 2 questions. The first is: what does the AI stand for? This is driving me crazy. There’s almost always “AI:” at the beginning of almost each new article and I don’t know what it mean. I bet it’s something very obvious… The second and possibly more important question is how should I get my sister into skepticism? She doesn’t seem that brainwashed and is relatively smart, but it seems that she is also ignorant or neglectful of important things happening in the real world.
This question wasn’t directly sent in to me but I volunteered to answer it so here we go…
To answer your first question, AI stands for the Afternoon Inquisition. The AI feature is something that we have been doing here at Skepchick for many years. We write a quick post and then ask you wonderful readers to give us your thoughts on the topic. Often times we try to keep the AI short and light-hearted and keep the longer more thought intensive topics for regular posts. It is our way of keeping you engaged and keeping us hip on what the community is thinking about.
At the end of each AI post we are supposed to write this:
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.
But we have gotten lazy. Sooooooooo very laaaazy. I promise we will try to remember to post the explanation at the bottom of our entries from now on. Thanks for reminding us!
As for the second question, well this depends a lot on what you sister is interested in to begin with. Find a topic that she likes and then investigate it with her. Show her fun things that have to do with the topics she is already involved in. Maybe it will have to do with the science of the moon, or some type of technology or some aspect of design. It could be anything. Without knowing your sister specifically I can’t tell you what will spark her interest but the whole world of science is essentially about learning and understanding how things work. So find something that she likes already and dive into it. Set a goal to find some interesting facts she didn’t already know about the topic she likes then explain how we use the scientific method to verify those facts.
As for being skeptical once you have a love and understanding of science the skepticism will follow. No one wants to be scammed or taken advantage of so you could show her some of the tricks used by psychics, alt-med pushers or by marketing companies to con her out of her hard earned cash. Does that bracelet really give you better balance? Is that skin cream really better or just more expensive? What makes that juice “super”? What toxins are people detoxing from? You get the idea. And you can always send your sister links to interesting stories written here on Skepchick or depending on her age, stories from Teen Skepchick. The goal of Mad Art Lab is to post stories that are inspiring and are inspired by science and skepticism so you can look there for fun topics too.
And here is a shot in the dark, maybe watch Cosmos with her? It’s on Hulu. It’s an oldie but it’s still really relevant and hugely inspiring. And they are working on a remake of it slated to come out in the next few years produced by Seth McFarlane and staring Neil DeGrasse Tyson. So it would give you a chance to discuss which one is better and give you some quality family science time that doesn’t require you to talk too much. ;)
If you can give us some more info on what your sister is interested in then I’m sure the readers can offer you up some other potentially relevant links in the comments!
Got a question you would like some Surly-Skepchick advice on? Send it in! We won’t publish your real name, unless you want us to and creative pseudonyms get bonus points! Just use the contact link on the top left of the page.