Friday, July 20, 2012

Web Exclusive: Divided skeptics gathering at Clow UFO Base

By Reporter X

(This weekend, Bolingbrook’s Clow UFO Base is hosting the Interstellar Alliance for the Advancement of Science’s Third Medical Progress Status Report of Humanity Conference.  Medical scientists in the skeptical community will give presentations on the struggle to end medical fraud and promote science based medicine.  This will also be the first interstellar meeting since 1996 that The Center for Inquiry will represent the human skeptical community. Reporter X filed the following stories.)

No ‘message outer wear’ for human attendees

T-shirts, buttons and other “message wear” are banned at this year’s conference.  The ban is in response to Dr. Harriet Hall, “The SkepDock,” who wore a shirt at last weekend’s Amazing Meeting that read “I feel safe and welcome at TAM” on one side and “Not a ‘skepchick.’ Not a ‘Woman Skeptic’ Just a Skeptic” on the other side.  Many interpreted this as an attack on those who did not feel The Amazing Meeting was a safe space for women, and want all skeptical conferences to have published anti-harassment policies.

Organizer Dr. Steven Novella said that while Hall’s T-shirt could be considered legal under CFI’s code of conduct, he defended the dress code for this conference. 

“I understand that the skeptical community is divided over the treatment of women in skepticism. It is an emotional issue, and both sides raise important points.  But at this conference, we’re trying to create a space where people on both sides can feel welcome.  This is neutral ground in what you’re calling the skeptical civil war.  As we saw with Dr. Hall, even a simple t-shirt can cause conflict.  We can’t have that.”

Novella added that it was more important than ever to present a professional image to the IAAS.

“A look at just a few of the panels they organized show that they are not happy with our progress.  Like, ‘Homeopathy: Are humans really this stupid?’  Oh, and this one, ‘Anti-vaccination movements: Do human’s like to be sick?’  If you think those are bad, I had to talk them out of imposing this panel on us: ‘Carly Rae Jepsen is famous.  Marian Call is not. Remind us why we’re considering letting humans into the interstellar community.’  Things are not looking good.  That’s why we need to look sharp, stay sharp, and deliver a sharp message defending our efforts to teach critical thinking!”

Novella also wants a good start to CFI’s new role as the skeptical movement’s interstellar ambassador.  A role which was held by the James Randi Educational Foundation until last weekend.

“Unfortunately, IAAS events have a history of violence.  Who can forget the Pamela Gay riot?  CFI is in the middle of a difficult transition, and we don’t want to compound their problems.  A dress code will make things easy for everyone.  If anyone wants to wear a message T-shirt, they can do so off base.”

When reached for comment, Hall replied that she was disappointed in the dress code.  

“I was going to wear my,'I’m not afraid of David Mabus' shirt.  I’ll save it for TAM.”

 Orac respectfully insolent towards registration staff

Famed medical blogger Orac showed his famous respectful insolence when the staff couldn’t find his registration.

“I understand that you are under a lot of stress.”  Said Orac.  “But I know you made a mistake!  I am an important skeptic!  Maybe Rebecca Watson forgot to transcribe my files into CFI’s system because she’s too busy entering the female skeptics.”

The receptionist explained that Watson had nothing to do with the file transfers, and all the old JREF files were in CFI’s system.

“Maybe they never got around to entering you.”

“With all the respect you are due,” said Orac, “There is no way they left me out of their system.  My last mailing said that I have over 10,000 privilege points, and I expect them to be honored!”

A representative from The New World Order approached Orac.  The man explained that they had been following him, and had a camera on him to catch the moment Orac had a problem.

After expressing disbelief, Orac said, “That’s nice, but it’s similar to the way TSA focuses on passengers instead of real terrorists.  I know you mean well, but it makes me feel like someone with negative privilege points!  Focus on the person causing discomfort, not the person who might complain about it!”

The representative told the staff member to look up Orac under a different name.  She instantly found him.

When asked how he knew, the representative replied, “It’s not that big of a secret.”

As Orac received his badge, the agent explained that the conference was under CFI’s policies.

“I’m a married man.”  Replied Orac.  “So those policies won’t affect me.  I just want to know when the aliens will give us the cure for cancer.”

“Very soon.”  Said the representative.

“It just makes me mad when I have to talk to my patients, and know that a cure is almost in reach.”

“I understand.”

Stanislaw Burzynski isn’t right, is he?”

“Not even close.”

Surly Amy given ‘Skepticism Under Fire Award’

The IAAS awarded Skepchick and artist Surly Amy their “Skepticism Under Fire Award.”

IAAS President Logog Pisk said the committee cited her continued blogging and artistic endeavors in the face of misogynistic attacks.  He specifically cited her attendance at The Amazing Meeting 2012.

“Though hostility towards the Skepchicks had been brewing for months, Amy paid for 22 women to attend TAM.  She could have stayed at home, and her supporters would have understood.  Instead she went to TAM to be there for her grant recipients.  Though a speaker wore a shirt for three days attacking her, Amy stayed.  Even the JREF’s secret harassment team didn’t help.  Though she left a day early, we were impressed that she showed up at all.”

Pisk held up one of Amy’s necklaces commemorating the 2011 TAM Skepchick Party in Space.

“I will always have fond memories of that party.  One of those includes buying this necklace from Amy.  Her medium is primitive, but her genius is worthy of interstellar recognition.  This is why I firmly believe that when the skeptical civil is over, her art work will live on.”

After assuring Amy that the JREF’s interstellar decertification had nothing to do with her, he handed her the award.  An emotionally moved Amy accepted the award and addressed the audience.

“When I was down I used to look up at the stars for inspiration.  Now I know there are people out there looking up to me for inspiration.  That thought alone will keep me going whenever my skepticism is under fire.  Thank you.”

Please note: All articles on this site are works of fiction.

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