Saturday 10 January 2009

Polarisation of the Populace

It was nice to read Rebecca Watson’s top tens of 2008, listening her top ten people who have contributed the most to the cause of Skeptisim, Science and Enlightenment and on the other side of the coin, the top 10 douche bags who’ve done their best to promote pseudoscience and miss information, often at a terrible human cost.

I was also recently listening to Quentin Cooper’s Material World Podcast and noticed that a number of the celebrities who were taking in an interest in science and climate change where among some of the performers I saw at Robin Ince’s Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People just before Christmas.

Putting these two pieces of information together, it seems as if more and more celebrities and the public in general are starting to make a conscious decision on where they stand regarding this issue and are declaring their hand.

Perhaps I am just viewing things from too deeply from within the Skeptical community of which I am starting to become involved. Maybe this gives me the false impression that many people are starting to stand-up and be counted. I suspect that the effect would be far less noticeable from a general more disinterested populace. Although the recent success of Ariane Sherine’s “Atheist Bus Campaign” suggests that maybe there is some wide spread interest.

It has felt recently as if the small community of individuals interested in science reason and critical thinking (to work in my blog title) seems to be encompassing many well known comedians and musicians. It’s reassuring and pleasing to see that some of the most talented of these share some similar thought processes to me. (I was going to stick a list of names in here, but decided against it as it would be incomplete).

It is of course disappointing when public figures with the ability to sway the public opinion promote pseudoscience and superstitions. Especially when it is a celebrity I liked. Damn, why does Jim Carey have to support his mad wife, I liked him!

However after listening to Maria Maltseva on this weeks Skepticality Podcast she opened my eyes to a potential danger behind this polarisation. I personally view the dogmatic, inflexible, contradictory and incompatible doctrinarians of established religions as one of the seeds of hatred, oppression, violence, war and terrorism that we could well do without. Anyway, I certainly wouldn’t want the polarisation of views between Skeptics and Believers to harbour seeds of hatred that could lead to conflict beyond healthy debating. Fortunately, I’ve found the Believers who’ve visited us at “Skeptics in the Pub” in London to have been brave and charismatic individuals and I hope we can continue to debate and drink with them in the amicable way that I know we can.

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