Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Enemy territory

Every year, my friend Louise attends the Creation Evidence Expo in Indianapolis. She attends the entire event. Sits patiently, politely and quietly through the lectures, and occasionally stands up and asks pointed questions that simply, elegantly and respectfully break down their arguments. She always invites other skeptics to join her, but not many have the patience or desire to put themselves through such an event. 

Similarly, Jamie Bernstein, Ashley Hamer and Katie Hovany have all attended the AutismOne conference in Chicago… with Jamie almost getting arrested for being there.

Skepchick commenter Buzz Parsec once attended an Andrew Wakefield lecture.

We all know about Hemant’s trips to churches.

Lots of skeptics do it… head into enemy turf to learn about the other side… or to confront the other side… or because they accidentally walked into the wrong room and they’re afraid to leave because they’ll draw a bunch of attention to themselves so they join Scientology to blend in. Well maybe not that last part, but Carrie Poppy of the JREF did actually become a Mormon. Whatever their reasons, I find them fascinating.

It’s really brave to put yourself in a place where no one agrees with you. To immerse yourself in a culture that stands in direct opposition to everything you. And to stand up there and ask questions that you know probably won’t change any minds but only will bring attention to you and probably paint you as hostile (no matter how unhostile you may be) for the opportunity to plant a single seed of doubt in just one person. That’s pretty bad ass. And I’ll admit, I don’t think I could do it. Though, I’ll also admit that I rarely actually find myself in large groups of like-minded people. I mostly like to agree and disagree with people on the internet, from the comfort of my swivel chair. I’m not that hardcore.

I imagine that the entire experience is exactly like this Awkward Balloons post.

But maybe I should. Maybe my mind would do well to be exposed to ideas I strongly disagree with. Maybe I should face the enemy. Maybe I should plant a seed. Maybe I should let seeds be planted in me… and start using less gross metaphors.

What about you? How far will you go to learn about our skeptical adversaries? Will you go to a woo conference? Would you go to the Creation Expo with Louise? Would you go to a Wakefield lecture? Tour churches? Could you handle it? Emotionally? Intellectually? Could you bear it? Have you done it? Would you do it again? 

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

Featured image via Awkward Balloons.


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. It’s great to interact with people with whom you disagree. I actually found that right wingers have many values (grow your own food, teach your kids manners) that I agree with.

    The problem with debating Creationists in large groups is it gives their ideas legitimacy. You don’t want to do that. Educate them, but don’t debate them on stage any more than you would get up there and debate a 4 year old about whether goblins exist.

  2. Thanks, Elyse! I’ve been riding that Wakefield thing for a year and a half now, maybe it’s time I did something else. But if anyone’s interested in the full boring details, my notes are on Todd W.’s excellent blog (a long with cool wanted posters for various preventable diseases), and a video of the talk is available on Age of Autism.

    My biggest take-away is that if you want to observe and report on it, great, go for it, but if you want to actively challenge them, you really need to be on top of the topic. I did a bit of background reading, starting with Orac’s links, but it wasn’t nearly enough to challenge people who had been living in the anti-vax woo for years. It was still worth doing; the more skeptics investigate and report on this sort of event, the more other skeptics will learn. Science (and knowledge in general, including skepticism) is cumulative.

    P.S. The Awkward Balloons guy does have a point about vanilla ice cream.

    1. Thanks for the shout-out on the posters, Buzz! But thanks even more for venturing into the lecture and taking such detailed notes. You really came through when I wasn’t able to make it there. Appreciate it a lot. And, it probably would not have been as good as if I’d gone, anyway, since I might have blown my cover pretty quickly. Mad props to you.

  3. I live in Utah, and since I’m a gay liberal feminist anti-theist vegetarian who doesn’t like sports fandom, but can’t let something untrue be said without interjecting… Well, every day feels like I’m in enemy territory. Even my family can feel like enemy territory. Though they’re very kind, the stress that keeping my comments to myself while visiting them can build up is amazing. I actually think it would be easier to infiltrate a random church, since I wouldn’t care about offending those people.

    I handle the stress by having people I can cry to when I need to (seems to be how I handle stress). I also just put my headphones on at work when I need to take a break.

    1. Family is the worst. Sometimes my brain starts screaming so loudly I can’t even hear what they’re saying… but fortunately my mouth (usually) has the good sense to lock itself down. Unless I’ve been drinking… which I guess is always.

      How do I still have relatives?

  4. I have a few experiences none of which really convinced me there was much point.
    1. This is passive, but I started listening to religious radio of various faiths outside of and including Christianity. I pretty much immediately got frustrated that whenever someone would introduce their belief it wouldn’t come with any sort of indication of what would possibly justify having the belief or even acknowledging that this was a question worth asking or needing an answer.

    2. I decided to be more “out” about atheist and secular topics on facebook. This led to some interesting conversations, but generally postings didn’t lead to any response at all and when they did the discussion tended to be pretty vacuous (i.e. when discussing market theory discussion goes them: market fixes everything me: well in order to exert a market pressure you need to have choices and visiblity, detailed examples, etc. and in this case a lot of that is missing so how would the market be able to signal a change? them: market fixes everything)

  5. I couldn’t do it. I try to calmly and rationally engage friends and colleagues when such topics arise, but I get frustrated too quickly when I butt my head against normal human mental inertia to interact in such a manner with the truly devoted anti-empiricists.

  6. I had a blast at a UFO Conference once in PA. My head almost exploded during the crop circles presentation, but for the most part, it was an eye-opening and enjoyable experience. It is so good to see the people on the “other side.” I also participated in a ghost hunt at a sci-fi con a few months ago, which I promised to blog about but still haven’t I should work on that… :-)

  7. Oh and it does help to go with like-minded friends. Brian Gregory and I had to lean on each other for support during some of the UFO stuff. The best part was the band at the end that no one could stand.

  8. Ignorance and a belief in pre-science superstitions are the problem, and I guess I have some qualms with calling the ignorant and those who succumb to traditional and culturally entrenched beliefs our enemies. Crap, I guess I’m a tone troll now. On the other hand I’ve enjoyed the past reports from these clandestine incursions but I’m not sure if there is very much value. I wonder if passing out scientific literature outside an event and being willing to have rational and calm discussions would be more effective.

    1. Of course they’re not ACTUAL enemies. I was being hyperbolic.

      I don’t think there’s much use for THEM for us to be there. But I think there’s a lot of use for US to be there. Hearing first hand the arguments we are fighting against is incredibly valuable. We don’t have to wait for these ideas to be scurrying around the internet before tackling them. Its… you know… spying. And while they may not be the enemies, their ideas certainly are.

      1. Yea, knowing the arguments before a school board meeting or something like that is absolutely essential. The main issues I see with the very religious and their willingness to doubt science and established facts is that they are already predisposed to ignore a lack of facts by holding an even more outlandish position of worshiping and obeying a deity who has not bothered to provide them with one spec of tangible evidence as to his existence. That starting point usually renders any and all arguments to the contrary at least moot or even hostile and denigrating.

  9. I just started attending a new class on Creation/Evolution at my evangelical church (I’m still in the closet as an atheist).

    If week 1 is any indication, I doubt anybody is even going to be willing to listen to evidence. The entire lesson felt like a big vaccination against reason and evidence. Actual quotes like “if you have doubts, you just have to put them on the shelf and trust what the Bible says”. Lots of Bible verses, no actual discussion of evidence yet.

    About a week ago, I actually gave the teacher a copy of Jerry Coyne’s book “Why Evolution is True”, explaining that I had become convinced that the actual evidence is compelling, despite the theological issues it might create. He says he will give it a read with an open mind, but based on the first lesson, I don’t have any confidence that will really happen.

    I’ve told him its not my intention to disrupt the class, but if he asks the class a question, I may just have to pipe up with an answer…

    1. Ask your teacher which universities will accept the class as credit toward a science degree. That ought to shut him up.

      1. It’s more of an adult “sunday school” than it is an actual academic class, so that’s not even a consideration.

        1. @Bradc Well, even better. My mom is getting a degree as an older adult. Any meeting place that’s called a “class” and has a “teacher” and what’s more is using a science term (evolution) has given itself the right to be scrutinized. I’d still ask them to provide transcripts which demonstrate the teachings, then bring them to a Biology professor at a local university. Then publish the results in the local newspaper. Teaching this nonsense is harmful. It’s not cute and it’s not a joke.

  10. I have to say I’ve been at various events and things in my life that were woo-ish or whatever. A good chunk of the time I was working. (Being a reporter and all). In fact, I would say that the job exposed me to all kinds of people I didn’t agree with, and I had to deal with it because my *job* was to ask questions.

    (By the way, to all those who aren’t in it, when you cover local politics it’s sometimes hard to bite your tongue and you’d be amazed at how often reporters do argue a bit with their subjects — at least I did, because it drew out more interesting answers. I dealt with a bunch of people in Florida, and one said he was a former CIA station chief in Thailand, and would talk about “interrogating” Communists. Yeah, that was interesting, shall we say).

    Now, there are all sorts of ways to do this. I don’t think anyone at a “pro life” rally I went to had any illusions about my leanings. And I don’t buy a lot of spiritualist stuff.

    But I do draw certain distinctions, inline with Jacob V, I think. I know people say that asking folks to be nice is being a tone troll, but as I get older I find that roaring in, guns blazing, isn’t always the way to go.

    For example: I covered the American Indian Aids Institute for a bit. (This was like, 20 years ago). HIV/AIDS was and is a gigantic issue among Native people. The numbers were just outrageous (the rate of increase from the CDC was appalling – literally from zero to 700+ reported cases in under five years). And for some smaller groups (the ones that number in the hundreds) you really had to bring up the possibility of extinction. Scary stuff.

    Now, a few times they had gatherings taking about treatment options — remember, there wasn’t that much in the way of options in 1993. AZT was for some people just too toxic, and left people feeling worse. So they would turn to “traditional” methods.

    Did I think that asking the spirits for help was going to change anything? No, but telling the guy “you’re dead anyway, more than likely” didn’t seem terrifically helpful either.

    And I have traveled a bit, and interacted with people whose beliefs in many ways I might find pretty awful otherwise (in places like Morocco and Jordan). But I do think it’s important for skeptics of any stripe not just to deride the stuff they think is ridiculous, but to understand why people believe it. And the answer isn’t just ignorance or stupidity.

    This doesn’t mean you don’t call people out. But it does mean you try ask yourself, “what would I be doing in that situation?”

    At the anti-abortion rally for instance. I didn’t think much of the people there. Now, admittedly, the GOP hadn’t yet gone all crazy-right-wing yet (this was the mid-90s). But it was interesting to hear people’s stories, about why they were doing what they were doing. I don’t agree with it. But absent thinking a bit about what drives people, well, of course it would seem silly that any woman there would vote for this kind of stuff.

    Demolishing a creationist argument is really shooting fish in a barrel. That’s the easy part. But it requires a little more work to say, Hm, how is it that this kind of thing exists now? Religious fundamentalism isn’t so ancient — there’s more than one historian or social scientist who has pointed out that it is a very, very modern phenomenon. (This is true for both Christianity and Islam). So why? In the 19th century there were Biblical literalists, sure, but the idea that it should be part of the public, political sphere is new. Why? Creationists aren’t all just pig-stupid-ignorant.

    Going to these kind of events and such might help answer that kind of thing, if we’re willing to listen to people for a bit. And knowing the answer to why it happens is part of combating it — FSM knows, you can’t develop a viable political strategy if you are ignorant of the other side’s motivating factors, you know?

    Maybe I go on too long like this because I have been reading Dan Fincke’s blog. He has been saying “don’t call people stupid” and it got me thinking hard about how I engage people.

    And no, I don’t see any of it as “enemy” territory. Not usually, if the people involved aren’t crazy violent neonazis or something.

    I dunno, I don’t want to derail, but the idea of entering events like a Creationist conference gets me thinking because I did so much of that kind of stuff for a living, you know? And I can’t say that people knowing I was a reporter mightn’t have changed things, a sort of Heisenberg principle of journalism. (But that would require a kind of top-down discipline that few groups that aren’t cults have).

    1. Great comment, Jesse. When I discuss environmental issues I try to emphasize that I’m sharing information, not preaching. With Creationists I think it’s most important to hand them studies and ask them point blank what is wrong with the methods. Ball is in their court.

      By the way I think the term tone troll is one of the most offensive around. Asking people to be nice is suddenly evil? What the fuck?

      1. Tone trolling is a problem. We shouldn’t have to always be nice.

        Example: Greta Christina wrote a post about how respecting women will get you more sex. (In context of harassment policies and in response to the way women are treated at cons.) I tweeted about it. A man came back to me and explained that this was condescending and offensive. If we want respect, we can’t assume guys want sex.

        See, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal. But essentially what he’s saying is that if we want respect, we should ask for it nicely. He’s under no obligation to respond to our demands, so if we don’t behave, we don’t get our safety cared for. We don’t get to walk around without fear. Because we didn’t make all the right moves when asking for something we deserve. Because some men might object to mention of a single benefit from the policies… even if they agree with everything we’re asking for. We should know better than to take that tone with them.

        Tone trolling is a way to keep people in line. To tell people their anger is unjustified. People shouldn’t have to be nice when nice isn’t on the table. People shouldn’t have to be nice when their voices are hoarse from yelling up, trying to be heard, and being ignored or repeatedly silenced. Nice is not always an effective strategy.

        Imagine if Rosa Parks asked politely if she could have that seat.

        1. I think it can be abused, though, as an excuse for flaming, which derails just as much.

          Back to real life, though:
          As I touch on in my post below, tone can also be strategic when dealing with someone whose beliefs are radically different. We all are aware that different tones do provoke different responses in real world interactions and (if we choose to give it thought) we consciously choose our tone, knowing the possible outcomes. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t sometimes say, “Screw it, I’m not going to mince words with these f#*©€@~¡!s” Sometimes that’s what it takes to show nasty people you’re serious. So, is it better to subtly influence people or make a bold, contentious statement? I guess the only answer is: It depends on the situation.

        2. @Elyse well, I should have made myself more clear. I’m not talking about someone expecting to be nice after decades of racism.. I hope that would have been obvious, Elyse. I’m not talking about the basic right to stand up to misogyny.

          What I’m talking about are assholes who spew rudeness for no apparent reason whatsoever toward someone who makes a relatively benign comment (maybe they made a misstatement on chemistry or something) and is than called a moron, for example. I don’t mean Creationists, just someone who made a misstatement.

          I stood up for someone like that recently and was called a tone troll. I was even told by the blog author not to visit if I was going to stand up for people. Good luck to atheism if they’re going to encourage shit like that.

        3. Maybe we should work on the definition of tone trolling, then? Yours (with the Greta Christina example above) is a good one I think.

          But aside from that… I’ve not always been “nice” to people — remember, my job involved engaging people. And lord knows I’ve annoyed my share of local pols. And dealt with people who were decidedly not “nice.”

          There is a vast difference — at least for me — when I am going in to argue with the born-again Christians on my own time rather than when I am working. I just thought about it re: this discussion. When I go in and I don’t have a story to file, I am much more willing to dig at people. When I have to get into their heads a bit I don’t do that. I think it might be that in the latter case I have to get information, stuff I don’t know already.

          I know evolution is the best damned theory we have for explaining most of biology. I don’t know how the other guy experiences a creation “science” meeting, or what brought him there, if you see what I mean. If you don’t know the latter, how the hell can you stop it before it gets to that point?

          That said, I just noticed that a lot of the time — and I do it too — there’s a tendency to say stuff like “they hate women” or “they are a bunch of ignoramuses” or “those people are racist jerks.” That all may be true. But it’s not much of an explanation and I submit that given that we want to combat these ideas, it isn’t all that helpful.

          Sun Tzu: know your enemy, and know yourself, and you will win one hundred battles. Know yourself and not your enemy and you will suffer a defeat for every victory.

          I was thinking also in terms of the political work my father did in the labor movement. A lot of the people we knew were progressive, but many were not. The core of radicals he knew and worked with had to find a way to engage the more mainstream labor movement. Because otherwise defeat was certain. So telling your fellow workers they were all victims of false consciousness and fools wasn’t going to work.

          So the trick seemed to be engaging people on issues they could agree on — for example, nobody wanted a pay cut, and the idea that people should control their workplace was one many folks could sign on to.

          Or take Paul Trumka’s speech to the UMW around the time Obama was elected. The UMW has a famously fraught racial history. Trumka nailed it tho, in terms of telling people that they may not like black folks, but the white candidate is the one who doesn’t seem to have a problem with mine owners slacking on safety standards, and in a mine that stuff kills people.

          I guess I am getting off topic. I keep thinking about this in terms not only of getting a peek into people’s heads but how to make the fights people ere care about work. Because to my mind the fights that matter are the ones you win — I don’t care if someone made a good effort, I want to win, at least in politics/ policy. And the original post got me thinking about it again.

          So Elyse, I’ll put a question to you: do you feel you understand better what’s in these folks’ heads? How to engage someone who might not yet be at the point where they go to meetings like that? Did it give you a better idea of how to approach it?

          Or to put it another way, were you better equipped to vaccinate rather than treat symptoms? That’s what I keep thinking about and I can’t seem to disentangle it from your original post.

          1. I’m hardly brave in person. I couldn’t sit through anti-vax conferences.

            But when Ashley and Katie did, they came away with a much better understanding of what the parents were going through, why Jenny McCarthy and Wakefield are so compelling, and what makes this movement move. It was hugely helpful.

            And as for how to engage people who are still on the fence on the vax issue, I’m just going to say that WTinc and I have been researching that for the last year and a half… and the details will be available soon. My best advice is to frame opting out as an active choice with consequences rather than a passive one. You are not choosing to put off vaccines. You are choosing to not protect your child. Compare vaccines to using child seats or seatbelts. You wouldn’t leave your child unprotected on the road.

  11. Elyse,

    Louise must have worked hard to stop herself from jumping up and yelling your stupid at all the speakers. Creationists say some of the dumbest things imaginable.

  12. My SO’s family is very christian (methodist and baptist) and have never lived outside of the town where they were born. The one couple who travels goes to the creationist “museum” in Tenn. (?). So, I have to be … diplomatic.

    My strategy has been just informational without being preachy. For example, we showed some photos of a trip abroad and it turned into a nice conversation about stereotypes and how ALL people from X country are not alike. We pointed out a bunch of ways the two cultures were alike first, just to build some interest and common ground. They asked a lot of questions because I think they just never had the opportunity to talk to someone different. So, depending on the degree to which people are initially willing to listen (big caveat), I think that tone/approach does matter. We would have completely turned them off if we had gone in all gang-busters, but because we put it in a context that mattered to them, they were excited and inquisitive instead of obstinate and defensive.

    I’m a teacher, though, and have to convince 14-year-olds that things they don’t want to listen to are actually true and important… every day of the week. :-)

  13. I have to say that with clear enemies I just disengage. And quickly. It’s not worth getting beaten up over, even if the offer is made compassionately. For the same reason I am no longer in contact with some family members. I don’t care whether they’re beating me because the voices in their head who command it are from a legitimate religious source or not, I’m not going there.

    But the wider question of should I/we listen politely to ideas we disagree with is simpler: yes, to whatever extent we’re treated politely and feel like doing so. It can be valuable to hear other ideas, but it can also be tedious and repetitive. One racist idiot starts to sound much like another after a while, and there’s only so many ways to phrase “we are gods chosen people and everyone else is inferior” or “climate change is wrong because snow”.

    I work with someone who keenly believes a chunk of the anti-climate-science stuff as well as being devoutly racist, so I get to hear about “new developments” regardless.

    I do agree that if you’re going to argue you need to be quite ridiculously well-informed, not necessarily of the science, but of the rhetorical techniques. A lot of people are well used to using profoundly awful techniques to shield themselves from rationality. Especially asymmetric requirements, whether that be tone policing or evidence quality. I too often find myself saying “since you don’t accept that this is a rational discussion I am unable to continue” to someone who is very angry at the idea that their assertions might need any evidence at all beyond “I know this”, while also demanding that mine need to be certified by the pope and the president. In person.

  14. I know it’s late in the conversation for this but I wanted to throw my two cents in. There are reasons I regularly attend the creation expo. Realistically, I know that I am not going get a room full of creationist to suddenly believe in evolution. I know I am not going to turn fundamentalist Christians into atheists. That’s just not how it generally works. What I can do is ask a few questions that might get a few people in that room to challenge what they’ve been taught. Last year, I challenged a speaker who is highly revered in the creationist world, the interchange ended with the organizer or the expo saying “well if you want to learn about science you have to read scientific publications, not creationists websites.” That is what I call a victory. I was later stopped by another attendee who was upset about god not being allowed in schools. By the end of the conversation he agreed with me and thanked me for my time.

    I didn’t come from a fundamentalist background, nor a really devout religious household. Some of the things I have heard in years past shock me. I didn’t know these people really existed. As I have grown to know them, I realize they are on the opposite side of that fence. This is all they know. It has been so ingrained and so much fear has been instilled they won’t step outside of this comfort zone. No one has taught them to challenge these things. They use and perverse terms that we use. They challenged the group last year to be “freethinkers” by all thinking the same way. So, armed with a lot of understanding and empathy I attend these type of events in hopes of just getting a few people to challenge a few of the ideas spewed. Also, Elyse was right, I live tweet the crap out of it with a lot of snark to keep my sanity.

  15. I went with a group to see Nathaniel Jeanson’s Creationism talk in Boston a few years ago. From what I understand, it was more or less a job interview for the Discovery Institute. Anyways, it was mostly the same old stuff, long-debunked arguments, oversimplifications, 50-year-old quotes, etc.

    He did come up with a single argument against evolution that I hadn’t heard before, though. It was based on the Cytochrome C comparisons between different species. He argued that, to visually compare two different species, you’d draw a line – basically a one-dimensional diagram. To compare three species, you’d need to expand into two dimensions. To compare four species, you’d need to make three-dimensional model (the old marshmallows-and-toothpicks project, I’d assume). But he argued that you’d never be able to compare more than five species, because you’d need to make a 4-dimensional model. And that, apparently, is why evolution is a complete fiction.

    For bonus points, there was a little girl a few rows up that was sitting backwards and alternated between visibly praying and looking up to scowl at us skeptics. For extra bonus points, there were a number of African American women a few rows up that were nodding in agreement while Jeanson was talking about the Hamite origins of African peoples.

    I’m not sure if this counts, but a bunch of us got together for a near-Halloween trip to Salem, MA a few years ago. We were there for fun, but we ran across a psychic fair. We were going to go in and skepticize them, but the place was almost completely empty, except for the psychics. All it was missing was a lone tumbleweed, tumbling along. In the end, we just didn’t have the heart to mess with them.

    1. Hi Andy,

      I think I know you… If it was the same Salem trip, I was late and stopped in at the same psychic fair and asked them if they had seen my friends. I figured if they were really psychic, they would know who I was talking about and where you all were. But they just looked at each other quizzically and all said they hadn’t seen you and had no idea where you were. Fail. (There were no customers there when I stopped in, either. :-))

      As for Jeanson’s talk, he obviously never took statistical mechanics or thermodynamics, or if he did, he didn’t understand it. Physicists and engineers routinely deal which mechanical systems that involve hundreds or thousands or even millions of parts, each with multiple degrees of freedom. Treating this mathematically requires using N-dimensional spaces, where “N” is the the sum total degrees of freedom in the system. (For example, analyzing the angle and tension of each support cable and deck segment of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge for various wind loads requires doing this. This is 1930’s (or older) technology, something the bridge’s engineers should have but failed to do.)

      Statistical mechanics and thermodynamics requires extending this to systems with Avogadro’s number of dimensions (6*10^23 * the number of degrees of freedom of each particle in a mole of gas, for example), which, taken to the limit of infinite dimensions, yields the classic laws of thermodynamics.

      For Jeanson to claim the physical universe or mathematics is limited to 3 dimensions is either just plain ignorance or deliberately deceptive.

      PZ has a post about this talk (or maybe a similar one), if anyone’s curious. It was 3 years ago, but odds are he’s still making the same obfuscating argument.

      Aaron Golas has a different take on Jeanson’s CytC model, that it was basically a deliberate attempt to obfuscate. (I think he read Edward Tufte’s book and decided to do the opposite!)

      I’m so glad you guys attended his lecture. I think it is a perfect example of what Elyse is talking about.

  16. This reminds me of the greatness of the James Randi million dollar challenge.

    Years ago when I was working on my first bachelors, James Randi visited my university. He did some magic, but what I remember most was him explaining the million dollar challenge and I remember just *KNOWING* any day now someone was going to win the money. I just *KNEW* mystical things were real, angles were real and the whole Kirk Cameron/banana argument would have made perfect sense to me.

    I grew up and had real life experiences. One day I stumbled onto the SGU podcast and James Randi just happened to be on there. Subsequently, my belief system was changed forever, all these years no one had won the money. I am so glad James Randi waded into ‘Enemy Territory’!

  17. Thanks Elyse! Even though I’ve gone to a couple anti-vaccine events in Chicago, I never went in order to change anyone’s mind. I only went in order to learn more about the other side. The more I can understand the anti-vaxxers, the better I can argue against their philosophy, or even use some of their more successful (but not unethical) tactics.

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