Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ethics for Skeptics

Okay. New plan.

I'm really not getting a lot of time for commentary - obviously. Fatherhood is not ridiculously taxing, but I already didn't have a lot of time.

But there is always stuff I think should be propogated, even if I haven't time for much added thought.

So I'm going to make an effort to send that stuff out - even if all I can add is a line or two of thinking.

For starters, here is a Statement of Ethical Principles for Skeptics from the Greenwood blog.

It is clearly declared to be a first draft (and even if it were we'd quickly find ourselves in the "you can't make me" territory that was part and parcel of the War Over Nice.

A few things leap out at me as being issue-worthy:

3a) Don’t overstate your case. Caveat your statements appropriately.

I'll agree with the first part for the most part - no time to get into the really nitty gritty of when entertainment value in order to maintain your audience may trump the absolute interpretation of that. But the second part... sigh... caveats are death when trying to reach the scientifically challenged. It is a sure fire way to bore the living shit out of them and thus lose them. Let the actual science speak to the precise truth - it is our job to propogate the message as far and wide as possible.

For the most part the satire, humour, use of force and personal attacks portions are all in line with my position. They may be (heh) overstated and too cautionary but as a starting point it's a good beginning.

11b) Be aware of, and in control of, your own emotions.

Again I agree completely on the surface. But I suspect that the author's intent is that we should always be calm and kind. Perhaps not, but I think that the easy interpretation of this in that manner leads us straight down the "passionless automatons" route that was at the centre of much of the early debate that followed Phil Plait's DBAD speech.

I'm just sayin'.