Way back in the day when Bigfoot roamed the earth and Sylvia Browne was a name that gave Skeptics™ a boner, I first became a Skepchick. And back in those fun and exciting days of yore, I used to do a feature on this here blog called, “The Skeptic Next Door.” I was young and enthusiastic and I just wanted to meet all the super-cool people who were into “debunking” and knew what “pseudoscience” meant. I would invite these people over to my neighborhood whenever they were near Hollywood and I would take them out to eat and do a photo-shoot. I was like the Skepchick greater of Southern California. I would wine and dine people, photograph them and then I’d do an interview and post it on the site. It was a simpler time when all you had to do to get in front of my camera lens was say, “Hi Amy! I’m a skeptic!”
I adored doing those posts. It combined my love of photography with my love of learning and making new friends. And it gave readers a chance to really get to know people they may not have had a chance to meet otherwise.
I want to bring that back. Only now, being just a skeptic, doesn’t quite qualify.
Over the next few months I will be be searching out awesome people in my vicinity (wherever I may be) to photograph and interview and then I will joyfully share that experience with you. Maybe it will be a get to know your scientist or a get to know your local activist or a get to know your science-based entrepreneur. Whatever it is, I promise it will be interesting and photographed!
Today, to kick it off, I’d like to present to you with a, “Get to know Your Skepchick” featuring our network’s very own Veronica. Veronica is the managing editor of our Norwegian Skepchick sister site and she is so much more! I was lucky enough to have Veronica come and stay with me for a few days. She is amazing. She taught me how to make a wine sauce that has changed my life.
I hope you enjoy the interview and my images of her.
Get to Know Your Skepchicks: Veronica
How did you first get involved with Skepchick?
I discovered Skepchick when Rebecca came to a small skeptics conference, called Critical Mass, in Oslo in 2010. I started reading the blog, and spent a lot of time posting comments and interacting with other skepchick regular commenters. The year after, in 2011, I met Debbie Goddard at the World Humanist Congress in Oslo. We connected on the nerdy level, and have been in contact ever since. In 2012 I spoke with some friends, Marit Simonsen and Kristin Carlsson, about starting a Norwegian Skepchick blog. Marit and me spoke to Rebecca in the beginning of 2013, and Norwegian Skepchick was soon up and running together with another four contributors. Later last year we added another two awesome writers.
What do you enjoy writing about?
I grew up in a very religious community, and religion has always been a subject that interests me. Both before and after I became an atheist. These days I’m more interested in feminism and gender theory, both from a theoretical and from a scientific perspective.
One major difference is the dominance of secularism here in Norway. While in the US atheists have to “come out”, with sometimes social consequences, here it’s the other way around. People often keep quiet about being Christians because Christians tend to be stereotyped and viewed as ignorant. Especially liberal Christians struggle to get taken seriously as they tend to be bundled up with the fundamentalist ones. As a humanist I believe in freedom of and from religion.
Unfortunately religious people here too tend to impose their views on everyone else. An unfortunate sharp right wing turn in the last elections have re-ignited the fight for abortion rights. A strategic coalition between the minority government and the Christian Conservatives has had several consequences for especially women’s and children’s rights. The former through a new law allowing doctors to impose their personal beliefs on their patients, and the latter as a consequence of a strengthened dominance of Christianity in religion education. These changes have angered both feminists and atheists. The March 8th parades this year were some of the largest in history.
The skeptics movement over here has been very busy with the alternative medicine industry over the last few years. Skeptics blogger Gunnar Tjomlid has gained a prominent platform these days as one of the major online newspapers included his blog in their feed. He published a book recently about alternative medicine. The Norwegian Humanist Association has also contributed a great deal to alternative medicine awareness through their campaign “Ingen liker å bli lurt” (Nobody likes to be fooled/tricked).
What type of science do you do?
I’m a PhD candidate in accelerator physics at the University of Oslo. We’re working on the next after next generation of big expensive particle accelerators. Instead of accelerating particles through a vacuum tube with the help of strong electric and magnetic fields, we try to make them accelerate even faster by letting them surf on a wave in the electromagnetic field of a plasma. To make this possible is a matter of fine tuning. Preliminary research has been performed at Stanford (SLAC) and an international collaboration called AWAKE has an experiment scheduled to launch at CERN in 2016.
What type of activism do you do?
I’m the vice president of the Oslo and Akershus local branch of LLH, The National Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People. We are an organisation with relatively few members compared to the number of LGBT people in our area, but we receive a good deal of public funding which enables us to do a lot of good work. Each year we have a 9 day pride celebration in Oslo, around the last week of June. This year we’re hosting EuroPride!
If you could give one bit of advice to someone who want to get involved in the secular community what would it be?
Find a place that accepts you and respect you for who you are.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us and for letting me photograph you Veronica! You rock!
Stay tuned for more photographic features of fascinating people coming soon! And find out more about Veronica and what happens in her neck of the woods by visiting Skepchick.no. If you are not Norwegian, google translate can be your co-pilot!
All photos by me ©Amy Davis Roth