Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm still looking for the place where he's a Dick...

Interesting piece on Skeptic North this morning.
I think my headline kind of sums up my position well.
How exactly is he being a Dick? Is the simple fact he approached a relation with this argument the reason? It seems so.
I've said before that being a jerk about skepticism is best left behind when talking with those you love. Erih sucessfully does this. His argument is clear, direct, well reasoned and even tempered.
As skeptics we must be able to approach those we care about most. It doesn't mean we will be successful, but if we can't try to nudge them, the people who trust us the most, in the direction of reason, then.... I don't know what, but then something is fundamentally wrong, don't you think?
Eric does everything right here. If this constitutes being a dick, then we truly must all be dicks, or do nothing at all.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Quit boring me please!

Skeptics are not scientists. There are scientists who are skeptics but skeptics are not scientists.
We are NOT doing science. Our role is to communicate science to the public - largely at a grassroots level. For the most part that means talking to people at their level, touching the message in terms that speak to them.

I've said this all before.

I just read a post by a blogger who I have some personal connection to who time after time writes the most soulless, robotic feeling posts.  I don't wish to call them out personally - this isn't about that. I don't want to get petty with the in fighting.
What it is about is that my ire has been tweaked.

We are NOT communicating in scientific journals to scientists. Very few non scientists have any patience for flogging through BMJ abstracts. Skeptical outreach cannot read like that. It must entertain as much as it informs.

Many of us skeptics are outrageously enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is fun and infectious - write like that.  Many skeptics are fantastically clever, capable of great wit - write like that.  Many skeptics are masters of untangling mysteries. That is compelling! (How many books, films, & tv shows are about mysteries?) Write like that!  People respond to values-based language.  You can write like that without misrepresenting facts.  Write like that!

For crap sake! Quit doing a disservice by writing in a tone intended for a minute specialized audience. I know you feel the need for precision and specificity. Newsflash: the public could not care less. The scientists have done their job. You don't have to do it over again. What you need to do is translate it. Simplify it. Make it entertaining - for a large diverse audience.

Put some life into it!