Skeptic resources

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.

Demon Haunted World: Science as a candle in the darkFor 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.

Other resources:

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.

Suburban Tap Fries – Excellent

French FriesSuburban Tap caters to a pretty active crowd and it’s a basic pub at heart. The fries here are surprisingly good. I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised as, so far, I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve had on their menu. I’m pretty sure these are the pre-fab kind of fries (a la Burger King) but their texture and taste are great. 4 out of 5.

Halloween 2007 pictures on Flickr

Marie Antionette and the headless guyI’m slowly moving my pictures from my own, locally hosted, gallery up to Flickr. There’s a wider audience there and, quite frankly, the local gallery is a bit onerous to maintain. There are *thousands* of files involved so any updates and backups take quite a while to complete.

These pictures were taken at Michelle’s office’s annual Hallowe’en party. The costumes there are usually quite spectacular and this year was no exception!

I *knew* there was more to Mary Ann … “Gilligan’s Heist”

If you’re so in love with “Gilligan’s Island” that you can’t stand to see it defamed, don’t watch this. If you’re a part of the real world and remember the show for what it was – a bad time waster after school when you should have been out playing with friends – then you’ll find this amusing in a Quentin Tarantino kind of way.

If they made this into a full length film, I swear I’d watch it!

And, for what it’s worth… Mary Ann all the way!

Volley Soccer

Wow! Talk about a “Young person’s sport” . I suppose it’s safe to say that the golf set is unlikely to adopt this as their winter sport…

I used to play some volleyball after work and I think that, in a week, I could have got off maybe one of the shots these guys are doing each time the ball comes to their side (I would have needed the week to recover after smashing into the floor…).

Trip to Ellijay

Over there over here fallsWe spent the weekend at a great little cabin up in Ellijay, Ga.
The cabin was located on a really steep hill on 6 acres of property. It was very nicely appointed, having everything you would need to spend a week there except food. We took the opportunity to visit and hike in a couple of local parks, Fort Mountain the first day and, after a great twisty-turny drive, Raven Cliffs Falls.

The hikes were pretty long for me, I’m not much of a walker (I run for exercise, drive everywhere else :)) but it was a satisfying romp in the woods and I got some nice pictures out of it. Click on the picture of the falls to see more.