Sep 2

806-fatiguesWhy does it matter that Rebecca Watson, founder of Skepchick, and Amy Roth, of Surlyramics, got unfairly ‘booted’ from Dragon*Con, yesterday? Actually, why does it matter that this isn’t even true, and that they packed up and left on their own? After all, the organized promotion of science and skepticism seems to be going on fine without the Skepchick brand (who seem to have denounced every major skeptic org or conference by now), and plenty of hardworking skeptical activists, writers, researchers, and entertainers are going about their business, their work more deserving of attention than the latest Skepchick manufactroversy.

I think it matters, though not nearly as much as doing actual skeptical outreach, to point out the crumbling foundation of the Skepchick organisation, which used to be built on women promoting skepticism. They no longer focus on skepticism, or even women’s rights. Their model, now, is creating controversy where none exists, to boost traffic and increase sales.

All you need to do to notice the official Skepchick story isn’t completely credible is to compare the blog post of the incident with the tweets of the incident. But I wanted to hear from people who were actually there, and so, sent out a few texts and emails.

Turns out, Amy and Rebecca were not only well aware of the rule they were breaking (selling merchandise which wasn’t make exclusively by/for your fan table, in this case, Skepchick), but continued to attempt to skirt the rule, completely aware of what they were doing.

After setting up their table in Skeptrack, having complained about being placed near Skeptic and JREF tables, Amy was told by a friend from the Spacetrack that they had been warned by administrators about selling unrelated merchandise. Amy makes her Surlyramic brand jewelry for their specific organization, as a fundraiser; something she has done in the past for many other orgs (this is why her products aren’t considered exclusive to Skepchick, since Amy’s “Surlies” are an independent brand).

Amy then moved her wares to a table in Spacetrack, after discussing the rule, and deciding her jewelry might look more relevant in that area. This is an obvious attempt to skirt a rule she was clearly made aware of.

The main point of the fan table rules (which are free, btw) that Rebecca and Amy seem to be missing, is that they ARE NOT merchandise tables; they are free promotional tables for your club. They allow you to sell products that were made exclusively by or for your club. If you run a business (like Amy’s Surlyramics or Rebecca’s Skeptical Robot brands) then you’re required to sell your wares in the proper area, at a merch table, which you pay for.

It’s also quite unlikely that Rebecca and Amy were treated “like garbage”, or at least for no reason; from those who were operating a nearby fan table, the fan table staff were helpful and kind. It’s not unreasonable that a staffer would start to become less friendly when dealing with table operators that continue to break the rules, despite being warned multiple times. Conversely, Amy was heard saying “Well, I’m not sitting next to these idiots” while they moved their wares from Skeptrack to Spacetrack (a remark obviously meant for the various skeptic orgs they were surrounded by).

This attitude may be surprising to those who haven’t had first hand encounters with Watson or Roth. They are cold, unwelcoming, cliquish people. But these attitudes might be put up with if these women had any regard for promoting skepticism. Their obvious distaste for even being near other skeptic orgs, how willing they were to move their table in favour of sales, and how quickly they rage-quit the conference after finally being told to remove their wares that broke the rules, makes it clear they have no interest in promoting skepticism and more interest in promoting themselves and their wares.

This tablegate is just another example of Skepchicks continued disinterest in skepticism. The Skeptrack is a labour of love, with many guests attending, at their own expense, because they value the opportunity to do outreach. Conversely, Rebecca conveys an attitude that she is doing Dragon*Con a favour by attending and performing for free (ignoring the fact that Dragon*Con has literally hundreds of other guests who are far more well known and draw far larger crowds).

I have essentially paid hundreds of dollars to perform for free for a for-profit organization, whose representative berated me.

That’s a big deal, especially for someone like me who lives on a blogger’s salary.”

(Her bold)

Skepchick wasn’t “booted” from Dragon*Con. They were asked to remove products not related to Skepchick. They chose to pack up and leave, likely because most of their products are Surlyramics and Skepticial Robot. They then chose concoct a story that they were unfairly kicked out of the convention because of a rule they weren’t aware of. A complete fabrication.

I believe this: it matters that they lie. It matters that they pretend to be interested in skeptical outreach, but simply use the community for their own personal gain, all the while being divisive and hostile towards nearly all skeptic organizations. I think there’s value in continuing to point out their bullshit.

Jun 4

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This month brings a very special Monthly Manga Doodle—two, in fact! Get a hand drawn ink of Jacques Cousteau by donating any amount. Your donations help support indie art and celebrates science! Explorer and inventor, Jacques Cousteau was born June 11th, 1910. Donate any amount and receive a Super Mario inspired Cousteau!

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As a special bonus, you could get one of five manga doodles of Alan Turing, born June 23rd, 1912. The top five highest donations given until the 23rd will get the British mathematician in addition to the French explorer of sea life!

Get Jacques Cousteau with any donation amount!

The top five highest donors by June 23rd get a bonus Alan Turing!




May 19

Don’t criticize The Oprah Winfrey of Skepticism™.

Many Skepchicks and self-described feminists have bullied me. There are many other women who’ve experienced similar hatred from women like Watson, Hensley, Roth. The difference is that I don’t presume to speak for all women in secularism and skepticism. They do. They speak of “women in skepticism experience _____” and “women atheists” think X.

They dismiss the opinions of women who don’t agree with some of the things they do. These feminist leaders aren’t listening.

Rebecca’s brand was built on the idea that women in skepticism are chicks. She made a mess with bringing sexiness and partying into the idea of promoting women in skepticism, however well intentioned. It’s a mess that she isn’t doing a good job of cleaning up.

I’m sure in the early days of podcasting, a snarky skeptic chick was novel. It’s old now and the movement has grown; there are plenty of women who do real-world education, research, writing, outreach, organising and popularising who deserve the resources, attention, and speaking positions that are squandered by Waton to promote her stale self-serving pseudo empire.

This is a comment I left on Ron Lindsay’s post Watson’s World and Two Models of Communication

May 9

Atheism is a religion in the same way that not-stamp-collecting is a hobby. In a similar way, skepticism is an ideology about not using ideology. Not when we want to know the difference between what is true and what we simply want to be true. Mysticism is about answers; skepticism is about questions. It’s not so much criticizing your conclusions, as it is the methods you used to get to them. If you evaluate a claim using methods that decrease bias and account for error, you are being skeptical.

So, when I hear people who self-identify as skeptics say that “______” needs to be applied to skepticism, I wonder how they can so fundamentally misunderstand the point of skepticism (insert your worldview in the blank). The absolutely most important thing about skepticism is that it is doesn’t investigate through ideology. Claims about reality should be tested free from our personal views because reality has demonstrated over and over again that it doesn’t necessarily align with those worldviews.

But the world we live in is so devastatingly lacking in critical thinking skills that it’s necessary to band together and promote skepticism through local groups and organizations…a movement. What people like PZ Myers, who claimed to “divorce” himself from skepticism because he feels it is anti-atheist, don’t seem to realize is that there are going to be people in the skeptic movement with different philosophical, social, and political views from your own because skepticism is for everyone.

“Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them.” —Peter Ustinov

Skeptics are united, not by belief, not by denial, but by doubt. We promote the fact that it’s even easier to be deceived by ourselves than by others. The hard part is actually applying this to ourselves (realizing we may indeed be deceiving ourselves, instead of simply noticing self-deception in others). But we all have different worldviews and sometimes these views make us purport ideas which are testable claims, and sometimes they are value judgments. The challenge for those of us who want to promote science-based thinking is to realize that the price we pay for having skepticism be for everyone is that we must work together, even with those we may disagree with.

What’s really going on when you want ideas from your social or political views added (+) to skepticism is that you want those ideas protected from skepticism. But the point and greatest strength of skepticism is that it is critical of all -isms. All of them. When you start wanting your ideas protected from criticism, that’s when you stop being a skeptic.

May 8

I’ve been working as an illustrator for almost 10 years, and I can’t count the number of times people admit to not being able to draw, yet seem to wish they could. Perhaps, as most claim, I don’t understand why people who want to draw just don’t do it because it comes so naturally to me. But, I’ve come to the opinion that even if you think you can’t draw, you should.

I love getting drawings from others. My bedroom wall has my favourite manga drawings from my summer students who take my “Learn to Draw Manga” JSANO School of the Arts program. And don’t we all love getting drawings from those we love, too, even if it’s not “good”? I try to persuade my family, my friends, and my boyfriend to draw something for me, every once in a while. The reason? I love looking at something someone has created and seeing a glimpse of their thinking. It’s really interesting to me to see how people are solving creative problems and how their using their imagination.

I encourage you to draw. Don’t be scared. Don’t worry about making “mistakes” or what it ends up looking like. Just doodle away! Keep making more and more. Draw anything!

Do it.

And send it to me!

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By anonymous Mayhew family member

May 5

PZ Myers, a biologist who used to blog about science, announced he is “officially” divorcing himself from the skeptic movement. This is good news for people who want to promote scientific skepticism, because Myers doesn’t promote skepticism anyway.

The reaction he expected at this announcement:

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The reactions he gets:

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Myers, like many other FreethoughtBlog bloggers, has been spending most of his time fueling internet drama that most people don’t know/care about. I’m glad he’s making it clear that what he’s doing isn’t skepticism.

May 3

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Richard Feynman was born May 11, 1918. This months’ manga donation doodle celebrates this Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist! As always, you can get your hand drawn and signed manga doodle simply by making a donation of any amount.

Buying these science themed drawings not only celebrates a love of great thinkers, but also helps fund an indie artist like myself to keep on creating. Your support means a lot to me.

Please Donate!

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Previous Months: Darwin Day, Einstein Day, Da Vinci Day

Apr 27

The Rising Star grant is my new fundraiser to send young talent (between ages 18-30) to the Amazing Meeting 2013. So far, it will be sending 6 rising stars to the event this July, in Las Vegas. Keep donating!

JessicaCastillo

Jessica Castillo

Currently studying philosophy at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Jessica plans on pursuing a career in education. She’s 29, has two lovely daughters, and many different passions in life all stemming from overwhelming curiosity and a genuine love of learning. Ultimately, she’s eager to become an advocate for skepticism and education.

 

 

AnaRuiz

Ana Ruiz 

Ana was born in Miami Florida, with parents from Cuba. She grew up as a Catholic Christian, but converted to evangelical Christianity in her early teens. As a devoted evangelical Christian, she became disillusioned after attending University. She moved to New York when she was 12 and has lived there ever since, currently working as a freelance web developer, with the hope to go back to school after her daughter gets a bit older.

 

SashaHalasz

Sasha Halasz 

Sasha graduated in May from Moravian College with honors in Neuroscience. She was very involved as an undergraduate in many clubs and organizations including serving as president of her campus neuroscience club and volunteering for local community partners. She has been very engaged in research throughout her undergraduate career and recently completed a yearlong study of a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease for her senior thesis. She is a strong advocate for science research and outreach and has traveled to the past two Society for Neuroscience national conferences as well as Capitol Hill Day in D.C to promote a scientific perspective. She has a particular interest in health and medicine and will be attending medical school this August.

KyleSanders

Kyle Sanders

Kyle is a C-130 Air Force pilot currently stationed in Little Rock, Arkansas, graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2008, and has since been engaged in local groups at each of his duty locations. With a passion for science communication, he is also an artist creating a new a comic strip, “Carbon Dating”, for web and print about science and relationships, written specifically for the skeptic audience.

 


BrandieHesseBrandie Hesse

Brandie is a fourth year history student and the University of Calgary and upcoming president of the University of Calgary Freethinkers Club, which produces a club podcast and organizes local events. She intends to complete a double major in philosophy, obtain a PhD, and become a research professor and author of books on the history of religion. Her passion for activism focuses on humanism and the elimination of discrimination, and is interested in future involvement in politics to promote these goals.

 

TrentBrusky

Trent Brusky

Trent is a musician and the creator of Dropfox, a project dedicated to providing music to secular, freethought, science, and skeptic podcasts, having produced tracks for Oddments, Dogma Debate, Meet the Skeptics, The Skeptic Zone, and Skepticality. He is also an engineer technology student and State College of Florida and hopes to work in alternative energies in the future.

Apr 6

davinci

Leonardo Da Vinci was  born April 15th, 1452. Celebrate this Renaissance man’s love of art and science with a hand drawn manga doodle—yours with any donation amount! Your support means a lot to indie artists like me. Thanks so much.

Make a donation and you’ll receive a hand inked manga drawing of cute little Leo and his smirking gal.


Mar 8
Pinterest Picks!
icon1 Sara E.M. | icon2 Fashion | icon4 03 8th, 2013| icon3No Comments »

Some cute picks with mints and pinks, from my Pinterest!

Source: yesstyle.ca via Sara on Pinterest

Source: yesstyle.ca via Sara on Pinterest

Source: yesstyle.ca via Sara on Pinterest

Source: yesstyle.ca via Sara on Pinterest

Source: sammydress.com via Sara on Pinterest

 

Follow my Pinterest, here!

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