Posted by Don McLenaghen on June 7, 2010
Let me tell you about my night with Deepak. Myself and a group of skeptics went to pass out information pamphlets at a performance of Deepak Chopra at Vancouver recently. We did not want to be too confrontational; wanting instead to reach out to those who have been taken-in by the mis-speak of Deepak. When asked by friends what we were doing I was at a bit of a loss; we were not exactly picketing or protesting Deepak – that would have been more aggressive and confrontational. To say were ‘just skeptics’ handing out notes seemed weak. It is also true that a number of skeptics are passive and live the skeptic life but don’t want to ‘preach’ or promote the cause. Then it struck me (well a friend of mine), it was skeptivism…skeptic activism.
Skeptivism is what we as skeptics do best. Like political activist we are acting…educating…we are casting a light on issues that the broader population should know about. Skeptivism is the effort that skeptics do to advocate for skeptism. We need more skeptivism because as quick as we shine the light of reason and science on one quack another shows up. At the Deepak event I heard, for the first time, about a ‘new healer’ who uses chromotherapy healing that seems to be the next big thing in the metro Vancouver.
To that end, how can you get into skeptivism.
First be informed – subscribe to Radio FreeThinker on iTunes (while at it, you might also subscribe to Skeptoid and SGU). Check out some blogs like Pharyngula or SkepticBlog. Check out science sites like Nature or Scientific America.
Second, get connected – checkout Sceptics-in-the-Pub, Café Scientific. Join a group – UBC FreeThinkers or Center For Inquiry. All on Facebook
Third, get involved – check out events in your community, talk (not yell) to your friends about skeptic issues (global warming, anti-vax, alt-med), and don’t let your friend think fiction is fact.
Lastly, be effective – Skeptivism is advocacy and education it is not mounting the barricades and eliminating the enemy (Skeptic warriors do that work). It is not directly confronting the hard-core believers but in ensuring the deceived, ill-informed and gullible are given the knowledge they need to exercise their own skeptism. It is also to make sure whenever the pseudo-scientist/Quack-med/New-ager tries to convert and confuse another flock of people, we are there to provide an alternative…a lifeline from the misinformation, illogical and (often) false information pushed by those who profit from the unskeptical.
Now get out there, it is Skeptivism in action!