By Reporter X
For the first time in years, an event at Bolingbrook’s Clow UFO base sponsored by the Interstellar Alliance for the Advancement of Science did not turn into a riot. Instead, participants watched what was billed as a “conversation” between two popular skeptical bloggers, Jennifer McCreight from Blag Hag, and Barbara Drescher from ICBS Everywhere.
“Instead getting sprayed with riot foam, the audience got to see two strong women talk about their very different visions of the skeptical movement.” Said Donald K. McCarthy, spokesperson for the Department of Interstellar Affairs. “We’re sorry about the body scans and extensive probing. We still remember the Pamela Gay riot.”
After the audience took their seats in front of a stage guarded by Men in Blue and Arcturus Shock Troops, interstellar media sensation Rwock Dulack introduced the two bloggers and said they would talk about “The Human Female Prospective on the Future of Scientific Skepticism.” He added that IAAS is concerned about discord from women within the skeptical movement. While they plan on monitoring the upcoming “Women in Secularism” conference, they felt the conference lacked diversity of opinions.
“We choose these two women, because they represent two clear directions the skeptical movement on Earth can take.” Said Dulack. Dulack added that the IAAS had no opinion on which direction the movement takes, as long as it leads to humanity accepting skepticism, or at very least, prevents the spread of homeopathy into the interstellar economy.
Drescher started the “conversation” by stating that the skeptical was in danger of becoming co-opted by ill informed young people.
“These young people foolishly believe that you can become a skeptic by saying you’re a skeptic. They substitute blogs for the great skeptical books. They think witty tweets can replace rational discussion. They want to win debates, not learn about scientific truth. They want to take skepticism into issues it shouldn’t tackle. If they would only listen to the great minds that built this movement. Then skepticism wouldn’t be in crisis.”
McCreight stated that Skepticism has the chance to experience a renaissance if the movement embraces new ideas, new issues, and allows young people to have a voice.
“I’m sorry if I don’t have time to read the ‘great’ skeptical books.” Said McCreight. “I’m too busy practicing skepticism in my PhD program.”
McCreight added that the skeptical movement should become involved in more issues, like religion, and politics.
“We can only debunk Bigfoot and UFOs so many times. No offense to the aliens here. Skepticism needs to be more relevant to the lives of everyday people. Otherwise it will stagnate and once again be a haven for old guys with white beards.”
Drescher interjected that skepticism has no place in discussing religion itself.
“If you would only read the great books of skepticism, you would understand that science cannot prove or disprove God. God is not a scientific question.”
Answered McCreight, “That might have been true when the men of skepticism still had color in their beards.” McCreight added that she agreed with Richard Dawkins that religious claims, such as the origin of the universe, should be subjected to the scientific method.
“Otherwise, if you have a god that doesn’t interact with the universe, and doesn’t make its presence known, it might as well exist only in our heads.”
Drescher then accused McCreight “and her ilk” of trying to purge religious people from the skeptical movement.
“You would remove Pamela Gay, a great educator and science communicator from our ranks. You would silence an effective voice because she is a Christian! Who would you replace her with? Rebecca Watson?”
McCreight denied that she wanted Gay removed from the skeptical movement.
“We all have areas of our lives where we don’t apply skepticism. In my case, Harry Potter makes me go squee. In her case, a 2000 year-old carpenter makes her go squee.”
McCreight then said she suspected that Drescher wants atheists to be a silent minority in the skeptical movement.
“Some of the old guard are afraid of atheists speaking out. They say we’ll alienate the public if we speak about our beliefs. They’re afraid the skeptical movement will be tarnished if the public knew that there were atheists in it. Well imagine someone saying that DJ Grothe or James Randi needs to be quiet because they’ll give the impression that gays support the skeptical movement. ‘Oh, how can we gain support in the Red States if the gays won’t be quiet?’ Well I am an atheist, and I support the teaching of evolution, I oppose alternative medicine, and I support the scientific method. Aren’t I a skeptic too?”
Replied Drescher, “If you want to be an atheist, fine, get off of my yard. If you want to play in the skeptical yard, go write a peer reviewed paper to persuade the skeptical movement to change the definition of ‘skeptic’.
“Special human guests” were then brought in to ask questions. Sara Mayhew asked if both women would mention her new book on their blogs. Before the panelists could answer, Men in Blue escorted her away, and then reminded the guests that they were instructed not to promote any products or Internet sites.
Miranda Celeste Hale stated that she disagreed with McCreight’s assertion that there is such a thing as male privilege and that she was tired of men and women telling her that she “just doesn’t get it.”
Replied McCreight, “I understand your frustration. I think if you spent a little more time doing research, you would get that male privilege exists.”
Drescher added, “And if both you read the great books of skepticism, you would get true skepticism and then educate your friends about the error of their ways.”
Both women glared at Drescher.
PZ Myers then asked Drescher why she thought there were non-skeptical atheists, when atheism is a very rational way of thinking.
“Bill Maher.” She replied.
Hemant Mehta asked Drescher why she considered him a “marginal” member of the skeptical community. He added that he is also a teacher, has covered skeptical issues in his blog, and spoken on how math can be used to teach critical thinking.
“When you change your blog’s name to the “The Friendly Skeptic” then we’ll talk.”
A man, who called himself “Elevator Guy,” asked McCreight why so many skeptics were upset at him for asking Rebecca Watson up to his hotel room. He added that he’s made many women “happy” and wanted to do the same to Watson.
McCreight replied, “Your (Expletive Deleted) may be kind of big, but approaching a woman at 4:00 AM in a small elevator is not cool.”
Elevator Guy then turned to Drescher.
“Now don’t take this wrong, but I think you’re a very intelligent person and I enjoy your blog. Would you like to come to my hotel room and read these great books of skepticism to me?”
Drescher snapped, “If you had read my blog, you’d know that I’m married!”
Elevator Guy started to accuse Drescher of not applying skepticism to the institution of marriage, and applying agency to her wedding ring. Drescher started to turn red. Before she could speak, Men in Blue tried to escort him away from the mike. When he refused, the Men in Blue used an agonizer to subdue him. As he was dragged away, he cried, “But we weren’t in an elevator, and it isn’t 4:00 AM!” Dulack assured Drescher that the Men in Blue would make sure he never bothered her again for the rest of his life.
Both women concluded by stating their vision for the future of the skeptical movement.
Said McCreight, “I see a movement that accepts young and old. Where male privilege is kept in check, and the leaders are open to new ideas. I want to see a skepticism that’s evolving, just like marriage is evolving.”
Countered Drescher, “I want a skeptical movement that has more Hal Bidlacks, and fewer JT Eberhards. Those who are left in the movement should be fully versed in the great books of skepticism! Skepticism shouldn’t be a homeopathic solution diluted by atheism. It should be a pure movement dedicated to teaching critical thinking and science to the general public. Both religious, and non-religious!”
After the “conversation,” both women shook hands, and stated that they enjoyed the experience. Both were sad that their time at Clow UFO Base would be wiped from their memories. McCreight said she enjoyed learning about alien lifeforms. Drescher said she was moved to know that other intelligent beings have also embraced “scientific skepticism.”
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