Originally posted August 14, 2013
Skepticism is bumming me out.
What’s a skeptic to do? Serious allegations are swirling in Skepdom over the past couple weeks regarding sexual assault, making people feel uncomfortable by sexual innuendo, not taking allegations of a sexual nature seriously, misogyny, and even rape. There are arguments and counter arguments made with individuals arguing differing facts around and around. I would state the general tone and tenor of discussing such incidents demands a calm and sober disposition, but disappointingly, it has not appeared. One would hope for a respectful discourse from the skeptical community when internal debate ensues. However, from the online debates starting with Dr. Phil Plaits ‘Don’t be a Dick’ speech up to the recent Block Bot discussion, calm and respectful discourse has not been the name of the game.
The number of people who engage in the online discussions appears to be a fairly small, but repeating group of people who are involved. I suspect for every person hitting the comment sections of blog posts and tweeting away, an order of magnitude of people do not get involved. Either that or the skeptical community is only about 100 people in the United States and 200 worldwide which I hope is not the case. Not everyone loses their shit, but it just seems skeptics are poor at endeavoring to maintain emotional detachment when we are discussing ourselves.
This emotional response is natural. Skeptics are humans. These are genuine issues with much at stake for all involved. Despite our best efforts, we feel first and think later. I am having an emotional response to all the hubbub. I clearly have a lowered desire to listen to my normally beloved skeptical podcasts. It is not that this topic of internal fighting crossed into the podcasts I enjoy, it’s just that skepticism itself has taken a general hit with me. Is this rational? No. It is real with me? Yep. I doubt I am the only one in this regard. Perhaps the drama and turmoil increases listenership? Not for me; the whole thing is a real downer. As much as I have thought and still think I found ‘my people’ within the skeptical family, skeptics make up one dysfunctional family.
Despite my reticence, I did listen to the The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, and the interview with Dr. Michael Mann on climate change was worth it. I followed this by listening to the latest Skeptics with a K, and the section on woo woo in a British Cat owner magazine was fantastic. Also in the episode was a rare miss by the Merseyside lads on Charles Darwin allegedly being baffled on how the eye could evolutionary form due to natural selection. (The lads missed that the oft raised quote by Darwin is taken out of context, and Darwin after the quotes goes on to describe how the eye could be form via natural selection.) The latest Skeptoid on the Patterson-Gimlin film ended on a sympathetic and touching note, which is rare. Still, I have waived off listening to other skeptical podcasts. I just have. I am on a slowdown, but I still feel meh by skepdom's latest brouhaha.
Despite skepdom’s inability to internally communicate and stay rational with internal disagreements and issues, I think the work of skepticism should and must continue. Don’t be me and let it get you down. Be bigger than me and just get on with it.