My latest post on INSIGHT looks into Open Minds

Recently I drew your attention to a new skeptical group blog edited by Daniel Loxton over on skeptic.com called INSIGHT. It’s got a great group of skeptical voices writing for it including Blake Smith, Robynn “Swoopy” McCarthy, Jim Lippard and many others, including me!

Insight LogoToday my second post went up, and it’s all about the source of a well-known skeptical quotation or aphorism. “Keep an open mind – but not so open your brains fall out” is one of those sayings that skeptics love to repeat and post online. If you keep any eye out for it, you’ll see it attributed to a wide variety of people from Carl Sagan to Richard Feynman to Bertrand Russell. And of course now in the era of Internet memes it regularly shows up on social media with a picture of someone next to it.

So who was really the original source of this quote? I’ve long wondered that and have been digging into it periodically since at least 2011 – and so have several others. And just in time for Carl Sagan Day this week, I’ve finally posted what I could find out about it and brought together the results that three other researchers uncovered. It turns out this week might actually be the 75th anniversary of this saying – but the anniversary has nothing to do with Carl Sagan’s birthday at all! So head on over to my latest post at INSIGHT and find out the truth.

My first post ran early in October, and concerned the news of UK medium “Psychic Sally” Morgan getting into a dispute with skeptical campaigners. It’s quite unusual that I ever get to write about a breaking news story, and that one was a doozy. Morgan’s husband and son-in-law were caught on video making physical threats and homophobic slurs toward a skeptic who was quietly distributing leaflets on the sidewalk outside an event venue.

There have been many other great posts on INSIGHT. Jim Lippard wrote a terrific obituary for skeptic Gerald LaRue. Blake Smith looked into the question Who Invented Pasteurization? – a topic he had first explored at Ignite Skepticism at DragonCon.  There have been many more.

So make sure you check the INSIGHT main page periodically or use the blog RSS feed to subscribe to the blog. Or you can hit my author page at INSIGHT and see just my posts.

Please check out the new INSIGHT skeptic blog!

There’s a new skeptic group blog I’d like to call to your attention. It’s called INSIGHT at skeptic.com, and is supported by the Skeptics Society and Skeptic Magazine. It just launched in September with a fantastic slate of skeptic writers on board. I’ll be writing there too – my first post (on ‘Psychic’ Sally Morgan) just appeared on Friday.

Insight LogoI’ve always tried to maintain the theme of this blog as technology and skepticism, and resisted the temptation to post on other topics. Sometimes that has meant that some posts here are kind of shoehorned into the format, like the ones about my fascination with skeptic history.  But it also means  that sometimes I’ve had things I wanted to write about that I simply didn’t, because the post wouldn’t fit in here.

INSIGHT solves that for me – now I have a place to post general skeptic commentary that does not explicitly relate to technology or the Internet.  Fear not, I will still be posting here on explicitly technical topics. In fact, I may do crossover posts where I explain the high level skeptical part over on INSIGHT and link back to a nitty-gritty technical post here.  Stay tuned!

I’m also very excited to now be writing alongside some great skeptics. The blog is edited by my good friend Daniel Loxton, who I’ve always felt a kinship with because of his dedication to pure scientific skepticism as well as skeptic history.  Other bloggers include my VirtualSkeptics co-hosts Eve Siebert and Barbara Drescher and the founder of Skepticality podcast Robynn “Swoopy” McCarthy. Plus many other great folks including Jim Lippard, Blake Smith, Mike McRae, Laurie Tarr and many more!

I recommend you go read Daniel’s introductory post to the blog as well as the wonderful Eugenie Scott’s guest post which kicked the blog off.  Please subscribe, link to it on social media and recommend it to your friends!

Please help update my skeptic podcast census

Podcast IconBack in May 2011 I attempted to measure the amount of skeptic podcasting being produced and generated some interesting statistics.  In April 2012 I ran an update post attempting an overall census of what podcasts were out there, and found I had missed a bunch the first time through.  This post is an attempt at updating the data once again.

It seems there was some untapped demand for a good catalog of skeptic podcasts – that 2012 post is the number 3 most popular single post on this blog for the last year!  Podcasters have told me they see new listeners coming to their sites regularly, referred from there.  Noticing that phenomena, Shane P. Brady took the data I generated there and turned it into an interactive catalog called Skeptunes.  I encourage you to give it a look.

One of the things I noticed in the 2012 survey was that the number of different skeptic podcast titles seemed to be topping off around 100, and it looked like there was a slight trend downward.  It’s always dangerous to extrapolate from real-world measurements like this, so I didn’t draw much of a conclusion.  So now that more than a year has gone by, I think it’s time to measure again and see what is actually happening.

I’ve started with my data from last time, and looked in Skeptunes, SkepticsOnThe.Net and of course iTunes for any new ones I missed. But I’m sure I still must have missed something. Check out the list in the rest of this post and let me know which ones I’m missing.

Read more of this post

Content Roundup for September 2013

Monthly Roundup Icons 2It is time once again to do a link round-up of all the content I was involved in this month. That includes blog posts here and elsewhere, my podcast and webcast appearances and more.

September was a short month for blog posts after a very productive August. My one blog post here was a very important one that I recommend you read. Meanwhile I did have a pretty full slate of podcasts and webcasts, so there’s plenty of material to catch up on.

I’ve also got the most popular posts I made on social media. From Twitter, two of my tweets this month made my personal top 50 list. One was the 13th most retweeted and another took the number 33 slot on that list.

And of course to show that I’m practicing what I’m preaching, I list my contributions to crowdsourced projects this month.

Read on to see what you might have missed…

Read more of this post

Content Roundup for August 2013

I haven’t done a month-end round-up post in a while – since the beginning of the year in fact. Since there was a ton of good content on the blog this month, I thought I might revive that.

I kicked the month off with a bang with a software review of the infamous Block Bot that sparked many reply posts and conversation. But interestingly enough, despite the old adage of how courting controversy is best for blog hits, that post was left in the dust by the most-read blog post in August (more than 2.5 times the traffic). You’ll have to read on to find out what that one is.

I’ve also got the most popular posts I made on social media, my podcast and webcast appearances and more.

Read on to see what you might have missed…

Read more of this post

#TAM2013 In Memoriam presentation

For the last four years, I’ve researched obituaries of people relevant to skepticism, and compiled them into a memorial presentation at The Amazing Meeting in July. I think it is important that we take note of the passages in our community, just as other communities do. I was inspired by the annual memorial presentation at the Academy Awards, which serves the same purpose for the motion picture industry.

The presentation for TAM 2013 consisted of 60 people who died between July 2012 and July 2013. It is just about exactly 5 minutes long, and at TAM it ran during the morning coffee breaks in the main room. If you missed it at TAM (or want a second look) you can watch the presentation here. Scroll down below the video for a list of the people included and links to further information about each.

Read more of this post

Content Roundup for November and December 2012

You may have noticed a lack of activity on this blog. I’ve been taking a break over the holidays. It was sort of a “skeptic sabbatical” to recharge my batteries and come up with a game plan for 2013. Regular posts will resume here presently.

I wasn’t totally idle during the last two months.  Not only did the Mabus story leap back into the headlines, but I was still doing Virtual Skeptics and some other stuff.  So here’s a rundown of what I did post or create during my so-called sabbatical.

Below are links to the content I’ve been involved with in the last month. It includes this blog as well as the material I post on other blogs, my podcasting activities, my best posts on Twitter as well as key shout-outs or mentions elsewhere.

In an effort to practice what I preach, I also document on a monthly basis what my contributions are to several skeptic-relevant crowdsourcing projects.

Read on to see what you might have missed…

Read more of this post

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 14,407 other followers