A really nice thing happened to me today and I wanted to share. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you'll know that I kinda started getting into this skeptical thinking stuff due to the nonsense that a particular company was putting out. Some time later this year, I'll have a wrap up post on Medis. The full story is here, here and here.
For the last three years, along with blogging, I have been a presences on the yahoo board for Medis. Poking fun at Medis lemmings who were so married to the hype, they watched their money drop from $35/share down to below $0.35/share. What a nose dive. Totally predictable.
Anyway, I recently got a letter from someone who was given a "tip", to invest in Medis and spent some time on the Yahoo boards. He introduced himself and asked about medis. But then followed up with a general letter about nonsense. It went as follows:
I sometimes despair at the current state of our citizens ability to think for themselves.
Just consider Scientology, a belief that states that aliens live inside us. And the "E" meter, they use, nothing but the ohm meter you can buy at radio shack.
I blame it mostly on our educational system.
Obviously I am quite familiar with the claims of Scientology and this blog arose directly out of the sentiment of the first sentence. But I have come to really love the skeptical movement. I find most of the blogs smart, uplifting, funny. The podcasts I listen too do not delineate a bunch of cranky curmudgeons whining into a microphone. And I do not blame everything on our educational system. I wish it were just that easy. So I wrote back:
If you arent already familiar with the skepticism movement let me be the first to introduce you to it.
When I started blogging it was in response to needing a place to organize and present my thoughts on one single issue: Medis. When first heard about it it seemed like it could be OK. Another power source...great! But having a lot of experience with the battery market, it soon became obvious to me that things were not adding up. Whenever a quantifiable metric regarding the 24/7 was presented, li+ always clearly bettered it. Then I became aware of rationalizations that were being used to justify it. At the time I could not identify the problems, I just knew that it didnt make sense.
So I started a blog, pointing out the inconsistencies. But I didnt work on that blog for months after that first couple of posts. Then, while researching "The Secret" because of something my sister said, I came across this site. That then lead me to other sites. The author of that site personally encouraged me to write. And write I did.
Soon I came to realize that there is a whole segment of the population who were doing what I was trying to do: exposing fraud and nonsense. With utter nonsense like homeopathy, the secret, antivaxxers, and so on and so forth, you'd think this group of people would become disheartened like you are describing. Nothing could be further form the truth.
For the most part (but certainly not all the time) these are the smart geeks you knew in high school. Right now there have been millions of man-hours dedicated to the very same activities like I was doing exposing medis on a scientific level.
If you havent become part of the movement, even in its most passive form, I would recommend it. Here are some good places to start:
(you'll have to search, I dont wanna waste time by forming links for all these)
New England skeptical society
respectful insolence (who organizes the skeptics circle of blogs)
James Randi Educational Foundation
Skeptics guide to the universe
Digital Bits skeptic
The Amazing Meeting (TAM)
This list is barely comprehensive and doesn't even come close to covering even the biggest resources. In this group you'll find thoughtful, respectful (and not very respectful), people who are scientists, musicians, comedians, and average joes like me.
In it you'll see that scientology is but a small portion of the nonsense out there. But you'll also find that it doesn't need to get you down. This movement is growing every year and that alone makes me feel great. Importantly, its not just education, its lazy thinking instilled by religion, parents, greed and well, laziness that contribute to this state of things. Most people simply are missing the motivation to ask "What if?" or "how?" and don't enjoy pointing out sloppy thinking from politicians, clergy, and purveyors of a whole realm of nonsense.
If this is new stuff to you, I hope you spend a little time becoming familiar with these resources. There is so much to learn, not just on one topic or another, but about people in general and the universe around us.
What do you think? Would you have written something different to get people involved?