I had a fantastic time on the Skeptic Canary Show today. The hosts, Tom Williamson (blog/Twitter), David James (blog/Twitter), and Paul Hopwood (blog/Twitter), are lovely and intelligent gents who do a great deal of much-needed and important work for the skeptic community, both in the U.K. and online. We had an interesting, fun, and thought-provoking discussion about a variety of topics, including:
- Skepticism and skeptical activism
- The scope of the skeptic movement (and the difference between skepticism as a movement and skepticism as a methodology)
- Applying skepticism to the testable claims made by religions
- The crucially important role that rhetoric and effective communication play in skepticism/skeptical activism/the skeptic movement (i.e. determining and making use of the most effective method of informing/persuading/communicating in any given situation and adapting one’s message and argument to whomever our audience happens to be, always making use of the principle of charity, the importance of acknowledging the fact that many people hold on to their irrational/potentially dangerous beliefs for emotional reasons and thus almost certainly cannot and will not be persuaded by facts alone, the brilliance and wisdom of Ray Hyman’s “Proper Criticism“, etc.)
- The fact that many of the things that I teach in my rhetoric/composition courses (critical thinking, why it’s absolutely necessary to support all claims and assertions with evidence from quality sources, how to determine whether or not a source is reliable/credible/etc., applying skepticism to everything we read (including our own writing), etc.) can also be valuable tools for skeptics/skeptical activists.
- Teaching how to think instead of teaching what to think
- Teaching critical thinking
- Atheism, how/why/when I became an atheist, and how being an atheist in the U.K. is almost always a very different experience than being an atheist in America
- Catholic childhood religious indoctrination and Catholic guilt (and my experience with both)
- Skeptic conferences/events (primarily TAM, QED, and SkeptiCamp)
- TAM 2013 (only a month away now! :) See my recent post about it here)
- And, with the help of my favorite Bob in the world, Bob Blaskiewicz (who very kindly took the time to call in during the show), we discussed the Skepticism Across the Curriculum workshop that Bob and Eve and I will be doing at TAM 2013.
- (& I’m sure that we talked about lots of other interesting things that I’ve forgotten to include here (I haven’t yet had the chance to listen to the entire podcast of the episode))
Thanks again to Tom, David, and Paul for having me on! Be sure to listen to the Skeptic Canary Show live each Wednesday (or download the episodes/podcasts) and visit/”like” the show’s Facebook page if you’re so inclined.