Saturday, February 7, 2009

Cocktail Party Physics: skeptic etiquette

Cocktail Party Physics is a skeptical/sciencey blog that I read only occasionally. I really should read it more often because the contributors are very smart and entertaining. Allyson Beatrice wrote an interesting post on skeptic etiquette. I often struggle with the same issues. Do I say something to the person who is about to spend money on some new detox scam or has hired a psychic for a reading? Do I point out the implausibility of the latest conspiracy theory to the credulous? I guess the answer varies. It depends on how well I know the person and how much I want to continue to know them. Sometimes it's better for some people to keep our conversations to weather and sports. If your faith in whatever is so tenuous that simple questions can shake that faith, then it might be difficult for you to hangout with me.

Here are some snippets from Allyson's post, skeptic etiquette:

In the face of my very scientifically brilliant co-bloggers, this post might seem ridonkulously dumb, but this problem has been weighing heavy on my mind, and I'm trying to work it out...

...Michelle is convinced a ghost is turning the lights on and off in her kitchen. Michelle sees ghosts and troubled spirits in every electrical problem and broken radio. But dude! An OLD LADY DIED in that apartment! she exclaims. DUDE! Something like SEVENTY BILLION PEOPLE died since the dawn of humanity. An OLD LADY DIED EVERYWHERE! I holler...

...I told her that the universe is wonderful enough on its own. Space, stars, planets, black holes, galaxies, suns. The fact that out of all the elemental soup, people like us have evolved to walk and talk and create art, music, white wine, patent leather stacked mary jane shoes, Cocoa Puffs cereal, truck nutz, chocolate chip cookies, surf boards, and the Neiman Marcus cosmetics department is AMAZING. All by itself. Saying, god did it is heartbreaking. It pisses on the sheer wonderousness of it all, you know? I dont need more. The universe doesnt need to be imbued with the mystical to make it more special. Its like salting a pot of soup in someone elses kitchen without permission. Its awfully presumptuous, and, well, more than a little rude.

Here is a link to the full article: Cocktail Party Physics: skeptic etiquette Thanks to the Bad Astronomer for this great post on his blog.

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