Things have been quiet on the skepticism front for me lately. You've no doubt noticed that this blog has become sadly quite dormant. I haven't been to many Skeptical events of late, and I haven't had much energy for getting involved in debates or arguments on the twitters.
There are multiple reasons for this. I have a new job, and its taken a while to get into the swing of things. There's the natural waxing and waning that happens with hobbies now and then. And probably most importantly, there's my terrible habit of epic procrastination.
Brexit is the kick up the arse I've needed for a long time now.
Through all the arguments, the memes, and the panic, one thing is clear: There is a severe problem with how the government, media, and the public promote and understand information in the UK.
There's been 17,000 different leaflets through the door, all declaring themselves the definitive version of "The Facts". There's been memes, rhetoric, and hysteria a-plenty. Misinformation and lies have been in the air for weeks, and all of it has taken hold.
Somewhere, lost in the maelstrom, are the real facts. They have been well presented in an easily accessible format by a variety of independent organisations-FullFact.org springs immediately to mind. However, despite them being only a quick search away, they seem to have been largely ignored by so many, on any and all sides. It reminds me of this old post I wrote about medical research a few years ago now.
What this whole mess has done is to spark up my love for skepticism again. I have a renewed passion for the skill of critical thinking, and for encouraging others to embrace it. But that can be a hard path to tread without coming across like a patronising bell-end, especially when shackles are high all around. It's also frankly hard to promote something that takes time, effort and concentration when you work long hours and get very easily tired and overwhelmed.
For a few years now, a group of skeptically-inclined friends and I have been thinking about making a podcast. We've had a couple of test runs and have really enjoyed it, but haven't been able to produce something regular and worthwhile. Plus, its a flooded market.
Skeptically-themed podcasts are generally of a high standard. But they're mainly about researching something to its utmost, then telling the listener what the truth is. I love podcasts like this, but they take a hell of a lot of time, preparation, patience and organisation to make.
Brexit has made us realise we need to get our asses into gear. And its made us look at what we want to do from a different angle. We need something quick and regular. Something that we can do in a discrete amount of time per month, which isn't going to leak into the rest of our lives. Something that will consistently give us, and anyone who chooses to join us, that thrill of discovering something new.
More importantly, we aim to showcase how:
- Skepticism can be quick and easy
- The process is often more important than the answers
- Its about being a good person, and being good to those around you
- Disagreement is healthy and positive
- "I don't know" is often a valid, reasonable, and entirely acceptable answer
- It can be really goddamn fun, especially when you share it with friends
- There's beauty and interest in even the most dry and staid of subjects
These skills have been invaluable to me, in more ways that I could have dreamed of. This project is about finding news ways of delivering that message to anyone and everyone. It's going to be so grass-roots its at risk of being eaten by birds, and we don't quite know where it will take us yet.
Tonight is the first Last Tuesday. We're just at the planning stage now, so don't expect anything to come out soon. But there is a frisson of excitement rumbling, and its such a great feeling.