Tag Archives: Skeptic History

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.

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#TAM2013 Crowdsourcing Workshop & other videos posted

Additional videos from The Amaz!ng Meeting 2013 have been posted in recent weeks by the James Randi Educational Foundation. Just in the last few days the two workshops I was involved in at #TAM2013, on the topics of skeptic history and crowdsourcing, have been added!

Crowdsourcing

The crowdsourcing workshop featured Shane Greenup of RBUTR, Susan Gerbic of the Guerrilla Skepticism project and myself, discussing how the new technique of crowdsourcing can be applied to skeptical projects. If you follow this blog you know some of the tools and topics we discussed.

The new video from this workshop has a few issues, and thus only includes the parts of the workshop presented by Shane and myself. But Susan had previously posted audience-shot video of her portions of the workshop and the Q&A, so I have compiled all four of these videos into a playlist you can watch right here.  The audio isn’t fantastic but it covers most of the workshop.

I previously captured the live reaction to the workshop on Storify here. There is more information about this workshop including coverage (including an interview with Susan) at the Lanyrd page for the session here.

Skeptic History

I participated in two other pieces of programming at TAM2013, both concerning the history of skepticism. The first was a workshop called Preserving Skeptic History organized by Daniel Loxton. Along with the video he posted some of his thoughts on the workshop and a great excerpt of the comments made by Ray Hyman.

The other programming was the 2013 In Memoriam presentation, which was previously posted on this website.

As of this writing JREF has posted over 50 videos from TAM 2013, they can be accessed via a YouTube playlist here or via the conference directory Lanyrd here.  I recommend the latter link because it can be filtered by topic using the blue buttons on the right hand side. It also includes videos (such as interviews, podcasts and so on) posted by others, for a total of 106 videos!

Content Roundup for September 2012

September finally gave us some time to breathe after the twin excitement of TAM in July and Dragon*Con Skeptrack in August.

It also saw the issuance of my third patent: U.S. Patent #8,266,700 titled “Secure web application development environment“. It belongs to Hewlett Packard, so I don’t get anything from it other than an interesting footnote for my resume.

An unfortunate milestone this month was the return of David Mabus to bothering people using email and Twitter. (He had been posting on YouTube, forums and blogs for a couple of months). That was the reason I posted a how-to on reporting threatening emails this month.

So if you missed any of that, here’s a way to catch up. 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’m also trying to document on a monthly basis what my contributions are to several skeptic-relevant crowdsourcing projects.

Read on to see what you might have missed…

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Content Roundup for August 2012 – Dragon*Con

August didn’t offer much time to recover from The Amazing Meeting before we had to jump right into Dragon*Con. Phew, who has time to read blogs?

Here’s a way to catch up. 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’m also trying to document on a monthly basis what my contributions are to several skeptic-relevant crowdsourcing projects.

Read on to see what you might have missed… Continue reading

Content Roundup for July 2012: TAM was AWESOME

July was all about The Amazing Meeting, both prep work and posts which related to the convention.

There were a couple of non-TAM highlights for me this month too. One was I discovered that back in March, IBM received a second patent in my name (US #8,141,157) on work I did for a subsidiary of theirs over a decade ago.

But the biggest one was the creation of a Wikipedia biography page for me by Susan Gerbic. Thank you so much, Susan, it looks great!

If you missed TAM, or if you were there and wanted more info from one of my presentations, here’s a way to catch up. 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.

I’m also trying to document on a monthly basis what my contributions are to several skeptic-relevant crowdsourcing projects. This ties in with both the workshop and plenary presentation I gave at TAM.

Read on to see what you might have missed…

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Content Roundup for June 2012: TAM is Almost Here!

In June I got very busy with preparation for TAM, so I wasn’t able to maintain the blog post pace I set in May.

But I did post some things over at JREF, and there was some good action on other blogs and so on that you may have missed. Here’s a way to catch up. 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.

I’m also trying to document on a monthly basis what my contributions are to several skeptic-relevant crowdsourcing projects. This is in part because of the workshop I’m presenting at TAM 2012 in July, titled “The Future of Skepticism Online: Crowd-sourced Activism”. I hope many of you will join me for that.

Read on to see what you might have missed…

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Content Roundup for May 2012: Summer is Coming

In May I’ve been getting close to the post frequency I had hoped to. I’ve been shooting for about 3 or 4 a week.  Yes, I know many bloggers post multiple times per day.  I’m what some call a slow blogger, and I’m fine with that.

But even at a slow rate, I know people are busy and can’t always follow the posts. If you missed some of the action in May, here’s a way to catch up. Herein 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.

I’m also trying to document on a monthly basis what my contributions are to several skeptic-relevant crowdsourcing projects. This is in part because of the workshop I’m presenting at TAM 2012 in July, titled “The Future of Skepticism Online: Crowd-sourced Activism”. I hope many of you will join me for that.

Read on to see what you might have missed…

Continue reading