If you are new to being a skeptic or are interested in learning more about it, the links below will prove invaluable.
Most important to remember is that a skeptic is not (necessarily) a cynic. A cynic is essentially a nay-sayer. Someone who will take the most negative connotation or meaning from a situation or who always starts with a negative premise.
A skeptic is someone who requires evidence before they will accept assertions. The wilder the assertions – i.e. the more they contradict what is already known to the skeptic – the more evidence is required to justify that novel position.
For those interested in exercising their rational minds in the world we live in, I can think of no better book to start with than Carl Sagan’s “Demon Haunted World: Science as a candle in the dark”. This superbly written work is a must read for establishing, not only your skeptical toolkit, but why such a toolkit is needed in the first place. He discusses the actual harm that can come about by not challenging superstition and pseudo-science and does so in the engaging and grounded fashion that is such the hallmark of Dr. Sagan’s work.
Next stop is the podcast “The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe” (SGU). I already detail my impressions about it in the linked-to blog entry so I won’t go on about it here.
Then there are a series of good websites, one of my favorites is Phil Plait’s “Bad Astronomy” blog. This started off as a website highlighting bad science (particularly astronomy, duh) in movies and other published venues. The moon hoax debunking is brilliant and well worth the rather extensive read. Phil has branched out somewhat and his daily blog covers topics ranging from interesting astronomical happenings through to foolish legislation based on poor understanding of science, to the invasion of “Intelligent Design” (aka creationism) into the science curricula of our nation’s classrooms.
Appealing to a somewhat less science-focused, but still rigorously skeptical community is Rebecca Watson’s “skepchick” blog. Rebecca’s sometimes sardonic wit is legendary in the skeptical community. She is extremely adept at getting to the heart of an issue, clarifying it and, if warranted, poking fun at it. She also participates in the SGU if you want to hear her in her element. The blog actually has several contributors which adds diversity but also means there is a fair amount of content.
PZ Myer’s “Pharyngula” blog. I have just recently started reading PZ Myer’s work and am impressed so far but I don’t know enough to comment yet.
The “Amazing Randi’s” website “James Randi Educational Foundation” has some good information although I tend to find it a little hard to read. There is information there on TAM (The Amazing Meeting) that is supposed to be a mecca of all things skeptical. I hope to attend TAM6.
From any of the above resources you will find links to still further skeptical sites and information.
Posted under Skepticism
This post was written by Marc
on April 29, 2008 at 4:06 am