For a while I’ve been planning a talk about what it’s like to be what Skeptics call “a Woo” and about my journey from there to being one of the folks running Skeptics on the Fringe.
“Woo” is a term I dislike for a bunch of reasons, mainly because labelling people makes it too easy to stop thinking about them as people and stereotype them. No-one should do that to anyone, but we are Skeptics, dammit: we should think, especially when we are complaining that the defining group of this other group is that they don’t think. Irony, much?
I had a couple of hours of driving to do tonight, appropriately enough visiting Ash Pryce founder of Edinburgh Skeptics and then Keir Liddle founder of Skeptics on the Fringe. I used the time to sketch out the structure of the talk and identify the key points I want to make. It’s now sitting as bullet points on my laptop.
I hate bullet-points because PowerPoint doesn’t kill presentations, bulletpoints kill presentations. I prefer slides – if they are used at all – to be images rather than words. The bullet-points will become my speakers notes. I could even use this as an opportunity to learn Prezi.
So I need to get some images together. This glamour-girl from the 1920s in my grandmother. Come to the talk when I eventually give it and you’ll see why she’s there. Somewhere I have a supercute pic of my dad with me slung under his arm when I was about two years old, and if I can find that I want it in the slides, failing that there’s one of him in what looks like a bishop’s mitre. I think I still have my O’level certificate somewhere. And I want to include some book covers, some podcast logos, stuff like that. As it says here, the talk is about a series of small epiphanies.
It’s going to take a chunk of time to put together yet, but I hope it will explain why intelligent and rational people are still attracted to Alternative Medicine, reincarnation and similar things, that it will interest scientists and atheists lucky enough to have been raised that way, that it will reassure skeptical activists that skeptical outreach really is worth it, and explain why Phil Plait was right when he said Don’t be a Dick.
I’ll be keen to do this talk at Skeptics in the Pub and other appropriate events once I’ve finished the slides. Contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to discuss dates.