Skeptic Week – a proposal
Posted by Don McLenaghen on January 30, 2013
Every year at the start of the academic term there is a tradition of freshmen week…this is a period of time where new students have an opportunity to get to know the services of the university, its social activities and interest clubs. These are crowded events and students are often overwhelmed by the sheer quantity and variety of possibilities.
There is one group…almost exclusively, that has learned that this is not the best time to ‘reach out’. These people know propaganda and how to hit their target audience …these people of course are the church groups and clubs.
Often after the BIG event of club day, there are, official or not, days or weeks where one religious group or another take over the common space to promote their agenda and recruit members.
WHY NOT US?
We could provide push back at these events by confronting the tables of Islamists or Christians or whomever and challenging their ideas but that would be perceived as too aggressive…insensitive…bigoted. It also misses the real target. We are unlikely to ‘deconvert’ or enlighten those at the tables but the real prize are those students who are walking by…who are curious…who are seeking answers.
It is time we take a page out of the religious promotional book and put it to some social good.
I propose that we, the Vancouver skeptic community, create a Skeptic Week that will occur during the first month of the new semester at every academic institution possible.
Sounds good, but what will it be?
First, it must be digitally focused. What do I mean by this? Skeptic Week should be an online resource that provides dynamic up to date engaging info-graphics. These should not only be ‘screen’ based but in a format that can be easily printed out on a simple colour printer…it should be as universally accessible as possible for skepticism…knowledge, should be accessible to any wishing to use it. Be they at UBC, Langara, Winnipeg or Timbuktu…we are speaking for and to a global community.
We need to create clear and simple categories of information so that when packaging these info-nuggets we can reach not only the choir…those knowledgeable in logic and science…but we must also reach out to those who are lacking basic facts…who may have never been asked to use their rational mind. We are providing the open door that the inquisitive or questioning mind may walk through.
It should be divided into various size settings; there will be some venues that will allow many tables with lots of space for educational material and well as informative interactions; there will be some that will be smaller and some may only allowed one table in a small hall…we must plan to be present in all possible arenas to ensure the maximum penetration. We must do our best to leave no mind behind.
The internet already has a great number of reasons available, such as Skepticism 101, but the format has not been tailored for a kiosk presentation like found at universities…battle the religious and purveyors of ‘woo’ on the same battle fields.
The light of reason is in constant battle with the darkness of ignorance and dogma. We cannot afford to relinquish any ground, shy from any frontier, give up on any ‘soul’.
The inertia of the present conditions have given the atheist/skeptical community a push in a positive direction but the peddlers of woo, the purveyors of dogma are out there pushing back…taking every advantage to recruit and promote their faux truths. There may be a time when the inertia of history swings against science, in favour of irrationality…we must be ready to defend the ramparts of knowledge and defend the gains our society has achieved. We must never let another dark-age smother the light of reason again.
This is my proposal, I hope I can count on your support and let’s move forward…Skeptic Week awaits!