Sunday, April 19, 2009

On Skepticism and Distractions

Been awhile since I wrote. Mostly been working and waiting for the onset of the nefarious symptoms I'm supposed to get without a thyroid gland. So far, nothing of note, which tells me that the whole thyroid thing is overrated, based on my extremely scientific survery of 100% of the thyroid patients in this immediate house. Maria has more symptoms of hypothyroidism than I do. I mean, skin's a little dry, but we guys are only happy if we're scratching SOMETHING, right? Some other mild symptoms, but nothing I really need to bring up.

OH! Time for a completely unrelated commercial break!

Remember, if you don't get the stuff with aloe, you might as well get sandpaper.

Welcome back.

One key to not going crazy thinking about the KANSIR thing is to stay distracted. One thing I've done is become a Major Force in the skeptical movement. We're a group of people who are busily promoting science, common sense, and evidence-based reasoning when making decisions. You know, things like "say, the rates of autism are clearly unrelated to the number of childhood vaccines babies get, so let's vaccinate against polio and hope for the best" or "hey, any magician worth his salt can do what those psychics are doing, so maybe there's a trick to it and I shouldn't give someone like Sylvia Browne $700 to talk to me for 20 minutes on the phone about my future love life." Wacky stuff like that.

How did I become a major big-name famous skeptic?

You have to show you have a sharp mind and a gift for communicating. You need to understand as much as you can about the non-scientific claims you are refuting. You build up a reputation as one of the go-to people, get invited to big-time symposiums, write books, develop a web presence, and generally become one of the most hated people on Earth for the people peddling the nonsense you are arguing against. (Yes, I'm thinking about you, John Edward.) This is an awful lot of work.

But I don't have time for that crap.

Your other option is to write a positive review of Phil Plait's latest book and hope he mentions you on his blog. That guy is a King Maker. (Really, go buy his book. You'll love it. Then tell him you learned about it from Famous Skeptic Christian, and that he should totally introduce me to Jewel Staite.)

How do you know when you're a big-name famous skeptic?

That's easy. When you have ARRIVED, you will get email from David Mabus.

My fellow big-name famous skeptics reading this are right now nodding little rueful nods, while the rest of you are shrugging confusedly. I have been there.

This is Eric Mabius, who stars in Ugly Betty. This is not the same guy.

David Mabus is an online crusader, or e-Nutball, who has amassed a huge list of elite skeptics like James Randi and myself. Every few weeks, we all get an email that contains gems like this:
In the capitalist totalitarian period, “conventional” opposition to the prevailing form of life is impotent and ineffective. The revolutionary forces which were to bring about freedom are assimilated to the all-embracing system of monopolistic controls.

I have used *UNCONVENTIONAL* methods to wage war against the CAPITALIST SYSTEM.....

Concerning this NEW ATHEISM: An *aggressive* ideological product of one-dimensional capitalist society which is completely blind to the real issues and problems of the day.

James Randi is now in the PROCESS of terminating his challenge. Guess why. Why does it take *two years* to terminate something which was never real in the first place?

James Randi would *obviously* refuse to pay for something which represents the TOTAL NEGATION of everything he believes in and stands for. This little *no-name* runs around attacking everybody and everything which does not conform to his ONE-DIMENSIONAL SCIENTIFIC view of the world. This stinky old man needs a bath.
This goes on for pages. He drones on about Nostradamus a lot, too, which is not the normal sign of someone who's got it all together. He's from Canada, so I don't understand why he doesn't have ready access to the pharmeceuticals he urgently needs.

Despite the near-universal frustration and pity everyone on his list feels whenever we hear from him, the first time his name shows up in your inbox or blog comments, you cry a little tear of joy. You have finally arrived.

What do you like most about being a big-name famous skeptic?

The easy answer would be all the fast cars, cheap drugs, and loose women. But honestly... well... no, I think that's probably it. The cars, drugs, and women. I was going to say something about intellectual and ethical satisfaction, plus the feeling of community. But come on.

And it all works! Being involved with local and national skeptics organizations has totally distracted me from my medical weirdness. That'll be handy, as I'm just a few days away from my radiation treatment.

More later!


Geek Goddess said...

I feel really left out.

Heidi said...

Geek Goddess, we need to have the P names. Plaitt, PZ, Phlebas. . .

If only there was a p word that we could use to describe women and put skepti in front of it.

Hold on, let me go pet my cat for a moment.

Geek Goddess said...

@ Heidi.


Powder puff? Pretty?

The Science Pundit said...

Congrats on being targeted by David Mabus. You really have arrived!

Podblack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Podblack said...

Well, I was on a Mabus-Abuse mailing list with "Randi... Myers, P... Richard Dawkins... Tim Kammer... Hemant... dozens of ''...the Skeptic Zone people... Skepticality..." and others that I didn't recognise but had permutations of 'rational' and 'truth driven thinking' and the like in the urls, back in '08. Wasn't THAT flattered, but did wonder why...

...Clearly it's the the choice of site-name. Urgh. Change may be inevitable. :/

Daphne Ross said...

Congratulations! Being targeted is certainly an indicator of your Skeptical Fabulousity!

Not as significant as being stalked by HeidiHo but certainly a sign that you have some potent skeptical mojo!!

The Man Version said...

If being stalked by Heidi was the hallmark of True Fame and Power, we would all be equal under the benevolent rule of Penn Jilette.

Janet Emma Wise said...

"He's from Canada, so I don't understand why he doesn't have ready access to the pharmeceuticals he urgently needs." - Oh, I do love that quote.
Seriously, why don't you have your book in audio form on iTunes? I would never waste time sitting and reading when I could be doing something useful.

Joe Anderson said...

Eleven Years now, nothing but the Charmin Plus. Even carry a roll in my flight bag.

Wait, what was this about?