A funny thing happened at work the other day.  Let me explain...

Last week while teaching a class, two of the students let it slip that they believe that in 2012, the world will end.  I can't resist that kind of skeptic fodder, even if it is coming from a couple of 12 year-olds, so I had to engage them in discussion. We wasted a lot of time (I blame myself....and wolves), and devoted a much smaller portion of our time to playing music than I'd like, opting instead for debunking a ber-jillion apocalypse-myths.

Yesterday, when those kids came back, one of them whipped out a copy of Skeptic Magazine to show me!  I assure you that I made no such suggestions to him, and he had no idea about my skeptic blogging.  He told his dad about the conversation, and his dad, no doubt sensing that his son's curiosity had been piqued, grabbed the first magazine with 2012 that he found, and gave it to him to read. 

Looks eye-catching to me!

That beautiful cover was designed by the talented and active Daniel Loxton, who helped us out at Skeptic North by providing us with content on our first day.

I asked the student what he thought of the magazine (remember, I'm still playing dumb at this point: "hmmm...Skeptic Magazine, eh? Sounds interesting!").  The student got the magazine a few days prior, and had already worked through more than half of it.  I soon couldn't contain my glee any longer, and I started flipping through the pages pointing out things to him:

"See that guy there?  That's Daniel.  That's my friend!"
"See that guy there?  That's Michael.  I drank a beer with him!"
"See that guy there?  That's Randi...you should really read his stuff wherever you see it"

On the last point, he replied, "Yeah, I read that one already....it's pretty good" (spoken in his 12-year old nonchalant way).  While I was working with the drummer (who did not get the magazine), the first student was re-reading the articles in the meantime.

To put this entry into other words:
  • Two of my students were scared that the world was going to end in 2012.
  • I dropped my skeptic-bomb on them.
  • One of the kids got interested.
  • In his interest, he sought out a Skeptic outlet for information (because it looked catchy and appealing)
  • He enjoyed it.

This, my friends, is why I do this.  If ever you feel like you're banging your skeptic-head against a wall and making no impact at all, I ask you to remember this entry.  Skepticism, in conjunction with artwork and engaging writing, is inspiring people....people who might not otherwise have heard of us if we didn't try to engage them.  I consider this a great tag-team victory for Daniel and myself, and I think we have a lot to be proud of.

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I think I may have to call epic fail on the Toronto Star.  They posted a story that Sarah Palin has posted her resume on LinkedIn.

While you still can, I recommend you go check it out.  In case by the time you read this, the link has been taken down, I'll post some screen shots of the page:

Okay, I'm no fan of Palin, but there is no WAY this is legit.  Palin may be one of the most ignorant and foolish people to ever set foot in the halls of government, but she IS a former governor, and that means she has intellectual politic-type people around her to stop this kind of stupid thing from happening.  It's true that she's been letting her facebook status get the better of her (is that even possible?) lately, but this is just to conveniently worded: it's just slick enough to look like a regular resume posted by a regular person (though all the information can be easily gathered from her Wikipedia page), but without the plausibility that a former governor and inexplicable GOP superstar would do something so absurdly plebeian.  The problem is that Palin is not a regular person: she's a freaking former state executive, not some schlub looking to get a job at the Toronto Star.

Toronto Star: You fail.

Don't publish just anything because you think it will add to the "Sarah Palin is Crazy-and-an-Idiot" chorus.  That headline is long-gone, and you haven't realized that she's an idiotic footnote to history.

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A news story on the CBC got under my skin this morning.

A new study by the American Academy of Pediatrics was published linking 'explicit' lyrics with violent and aggressive behavior. This sort of story creeps into the mainstream media every few years, so I can't get too worked up over it.  Just let me help put this into context.

The study (or at the very least, the CBC article relaying the study's findings)  makes that most un-critical of logical fallacies, seen so often when people seek to point the blame at some form of media for some form of social ill: confusion of correlation and causation:

The report's authors cited research findings that children who listen to explicit and violent music lyrics and video may become more aggressive, antisocial and promiscuous.
I must give the CBC some credit when they correctly pointed out the logical fallacy:
"The problem with the evidence is that they don't know whether someone turns to that type of music because it reflects their lifestyle or whether the music is actually influencing their lifestyle," Wing said.

Logical fallacy aside, a very similar article was published just yesterday, citing Hardcore music as the cause of several murders and assaults.   Hardcore music is a blend of hip-hop, metal, swear words and amps that go to 11.  One of the more *ahem* famous hardcore acts is the Insane Clown Posse.

Murderers....who shop at Party City.

Do I even need to go into why these correlations are incredibly stupid?  I thought not.  An 8th grader can tear this idiocy apart.  I wonder why people are so eager to blame music (and for that matter, video games) for violence.  The cynic in me would say that bad parents, teachers, and officials who are to blame by setting such a shitty example and for propagating a wide-spread and deeply-entrenched system of inequality that awards/punishes people based on superficial things such as race, gender, sexual preference, and for continuing the un-checked slide into brutal poverty of millions who had been financially abused in the last 30 years of hyper-free-market capitalism which rewards not work, but investment, thereby creating a generation of disenfranchised and disaffected youth who see no way out of their station of life for themselves or for their loved ones.

Or, it could be Dig Dug and Metallica.

 Won't somebody please stop him!

Remember when those Judas Priest fans committed suicide, and people blamed the lyrics so much that they were put on trial?  Or how about people blaming Led Zeppelin for the rise in satanism because they're songs supposedly contained satanic messages when played backwards? I clearly remember people complaining about a man with a clock around his neck singing about an emergency service.  Remember that other song that encouraged a kid to attempt suicide by drowning himself in a vat of acid? 

There is a good reason that this stuff is easy to make fun off:  It's extremely idiotic.

I hope to one day live in a world where people will start to look for causes of violence and abuse, not just correlations disguised as such.  I wonder how Hitler dealt with people calling his favorite ICP album "violent"? 

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Available for download

*sigh*  Remember when I used to be able to be a regularly-writing skeptic and not a self-promoting dink?

Well, at the risk of self-promoting again...

In case you missed the live recording, the latest episode of Skeptically Speaking is now available for download from the website or from iTunes.  I haven't listened to it yet, but I remember feeling how good it went immediately after I hung up on Skype.  I think we had a really interesting, and multi-faceted discussion and I hope you go and take a listen!

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Remember when I said that I'll be on Vancouver's Radio Freethinker show tomorrow? Well, I'll also be on Skeptically Speaking, this Friday, at 8:00 pm EST with some of my fellow Skeptic North compadres to discuss Canadian Skepticism. It's going to be a round-table discussion with four Canadian skeptics that occupy very different roles within the skeptic community. Should be an informative, engaging discussion!

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New Skeptic North post

Why are there so few humanities experts in the Skeptic community?

I try to look into it over at Skeptic North. Go check it out.

Or wolves will eat you.

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I'm going to be on Radio Free Thinker this Tuesday, Oct 6, hosted by fellow Skeptic North author, Ethan. The content of the interview will be based around that homeopathy-kerfuffle from a few weeks ago. It's not going to be a live interview, so I won't be taking questions.

Unless you mastered the flux capacitor by then, you can't ask me a question. And if you do, I would have remembered it from when we recorded it.

So there.

So listen.

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And yes, this photo was staged. I had to call upon Michael's acting chops, and I think he did quite well.

He came to speak in Toronto last night to give a talk based on his "Why People Believe Weird Things" book.

I've written some attacks against Shermer's libertarianism in the past, but this talk was, by and large, just a Skeptic lecture. It reminded me why Shermer was one of the first skeptics to get me inspired, and get involved in this community in the first place. Thanks to the CFI for bringing him up here!

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For the past few months, I've been behaving like a coy-tool, making allusions to some "big project" or a "Secret thing". It's been frustrating for me to keep it secret so long (as far back as mid-July, right after TAM), and it's a huge weight off my shoulders to finally be able to release the news.

Skeptic North, the world's first ever Pan-Canadian skeptic blog is now online!

I won't bother telling you too much about the blog here, I'll instead ask you to check out the site, check out the authors we've got, and keep checking! (You could also check out my first entry for the site.)

I'll instead talk a bit about what my experience has been like.

I'm the founder, and editor-in-chief of the blog, and 90% of the time, I felt like J. Jonah Jameson. I would wake up in the morning, hop on my computer until around 2:00 pm, do some rage, go to work (my actual job), and the first thing I did upon coming home was check my inbox (which kept getting more and more full as launch date drew closer), and I'd work on the blog all night until about 4 am, insert some more rage, then finally get a few hours of rage-sleep before starting the process again.

I kept forgetting to eat: indeed, just today, I prepared my dinner at midnight. Odd, that.

Still, it was a weird, ragey-kind of fun. This has been an absolute labour of love, and I would work on a project like this for a whole year if I was forced to, and continue to do it all on my own dime. Canada needs a larger skeptic voice, and it's high time we stepped up our game.

I'd like to send out a few thanks: Firstly, my technical/web adviser who very patiently dealt with all my panicky-questions whenever I screwed up some code or kept on him about my fear of one part of the site working or not working on time or whatever. I'm going to keep him anonymous, but I can send you to his site, whose videos I've featured before. Show them some love, and show them some laughs, because his help was crucial to this project.

Secondly, I'm standing on the shoulders of Desiree and Scott (who are also members of the blog), who, during TAM and immediately thereafter, set up an efficient communications infrastructure for Canadian skeptics, in which a lot of the blog-formation discussion took place. Without their tireless (?) work, the blog would have maybe 5 authors, and I would have made a lot of Canadian skeptics really mad at me.

Thirdly, thanks to all the other members of the blog. We got a lot of pretty significant talent, and I'm humbled to be working alongside you all.

Finally, thanks to everyone who has been a supporter/reader of this blog over the years. This blog hasn't been in operation for that long (less than 2 years!), but your support, feedback, criticism and communication (especially when you send my posts around) have really helped me grow as a writer, and as a skeptic. Thank you, all. One day, I'll have a book written...and I hope to call on you again for your kindness, your support, and your $19.95 CDN.

But don't worry, this blog will still be active (you WERE worrying about that, right?). I'm going to use this blog to be the political-skeptic I am, and also to post the occasional astrophoto. Not all of my posts here will make it to Skeptic North, but a few will.

Thanks again, and keep checking us out!

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Oot and Aboot with Some Canadian Skeptic - Designer: Douglas Bowman | Dimodifikasi oleh Abdul Munir Original Posting Rounders 3 Column