Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Skeptic's Hangover

It was a good idea at the time. (skepreview) 
Now that the initial hubbub over Professor Richard Dawkins removal as speaker at the upcoming NECSS conference has died down, I have that same feeling I get after any intra-skeptical argument, and to some extent any extended disagreement I have been involved in or observed.  It's a hangover.   Like most hangovers, I am left wondering was all the vitriol and clambering worth it?  Has anything been accomplished?  Has anything been learned? The last tequila was not 100% agave so why did I drink it?  

I cannot say I agree with the decision of the NECSS board of directors to cut Dawkins.  On the other hand, I would not bet the farm that if I had been on the board I would not have done the same thing.  Whether I would look back at the decision and decide it had been a mistake would be speculation upon speculation.  I have read a lot of speculation on what was motivating the board as a whole to make their decision.  Even with some insights gained by the carefully worded response by Dr. Steven Novella on the NECSS board's decision, there are a lot of unanswered questions.  Exercising charity, I realize that I have made plenty of errors in my professional career only to look back at the aftermath of those decisions and thought "drat" that was the wrong choice.  Maybe the board feels this way, overall maybe they do not.  I cannot fathom them backtracking either, and on that I cannot really blame them.

Now that I have drunk a quart of fruit punch flavored sports drink and the aspirin is finally kicking in, I feel fairly confident in noting that not telling Dawkins he was being cut before making the announcement public was just poor form.  Yes, the result would have been the same.  Still, these are basic manners.  Even if one stipulates that Dawkins is a lout, the dignified thing to do is to be gentlemanly and call the guy.  The conversation would be tremendously awkward I am sure, but being professional is not a bowl of cherries.  Overall, it may be a small thing.  While it takes nothing away from the The New England Skeptical Society, New York Skeptics, or NECSS's skeptical chops, it shows them in a poor light.  The whole affair is simply depressing and tiring. For god's sake Breitbart picked it up. 

While I would love to think in the future the next time one of these cocktail party's splashes upon skepdom, I will beg off and not pay attention, I must admit it.  I do enjoy some bourbon or just a splash of tequila.  Also, I care. I care about this stuff, and not getting involved is so unnatural to me.  

As the reader can tell The Skeptical Review is not dead.  It is hibernating for reasons I do not wish to broach now but may in the future.  I have a idea or two for a few posts.  However, one of them requires the expenditure of a not insignificant amount of money and at least a precious Saturday of my time.  I think it could be worth it if the price to value ratio can improve. We'll see.

Yes, I keep listening to podcasts and reading blogs.  

1 comment:

  1. I think you and I have a very similar take on the matter:


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