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Posted by on Dec 28, 2012 in Uncategorized | 69 comments

What Are Your Interests?

Since this is a relatively new blog, I thought we should take a moment to get to know each other. So please feel free to share anything you’d like about yourselves in the comments (well, almost anything), provide constructive criticism, let me know if you’d like to guest post, and — most importantly — give me suggestions for future posts. I tried to do something similar on my FB page, got lots of great suggestions, but I’m having a hard time locating them all in my FB archives. So I thought I’d try to do this here instead. Any comments or questions would be greatly appreciated.

Here are some general areas that I plan to focus on. Please feel free to make specific suggestions in any of these areas (or any others; if I’m not qualified, I’ll find a network colleague or guest blogger who is):

Scope of skepticism (I’ve covered this once, but I think it merits a recap)

Traditional skepticism

Atheism, agnosticism, and ignosticism

Atheist Activism

Anti-theism

Famous/historically significant atheists & freethinkers

Accommodationism/Confrontationism (covered once, may merit a recap)

Science Advocacy

The “Dangers” of Science

Eugenics

Freethought

Feminism (including schisms within feminism & feminist theory)

“Political Correctness”

Privilege Theory

Rape Culture

Sexual Harassment

Blogosphere Issues

Freedom of expression, speech, and association

Philosophy of aesthetics (art, music)

Determinism/Compatibilism/Free Will

Causation and Correlation

Extremism

Politics (including socialism, Marxism, and Communism)

The intersection between law and religion

Evo Psych (from a lay-woman’s perspective)

Evolution (from a lay-woman’s perspective)

Adaptationism (from a lay-woman’s perspective)

Mind/body dualism

Pop Culture

SJWs

Postmodernism

Nietzsche

Existentialism

Law

Secularism

Current Events

Nothing

The meaning of life!

 

Thanks for playing. — M

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Hartwell/5800135 Michael Hartwell

    I can’t tell you what to write, but I can tell you what I write at http://www.younghipandconservative.com

    Economic criticism of the “Buy Local” movement

    Economic fallacies in politics and popular culture

    Economic science

    Skepticism in the news

    Comptemporary politics

    My own experiences with members of various subcultures and movements

    Clearly, these are subjects that interest me. I noticed in a previous post you introduced yourself as a believer in a form of socialism. I would like to read a post of what you mean by that, and arguments/evidence/experiences convinced you of that stance. Do you follow Marxian economists? What lead you to take that stance even after living in the former USSR?

    • bluharmony

      I’m happy to oblige, though my answer might be a touch idealistic, and I’m aware of that.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Hartwell/5800135 Michael Hartwell

        I look forward to it.

  • A_citizen_127

    I am a middle aged married physician and father. I like to play chess, read, ride my bicycle and window shop on ebay. As my time is fully occupied, I have don’t have much freedom to do other things – but am happy with my lot

    As to skeptical interests, although I am about as atheist as one can get without being religious about it, I am wary to linkages between sociopolitics and the scientific/skeptical enterprise. A positive danger exists of harming thought through preconception and orthodoxy. The A+ movement and FtB in particular have been damaging and divisive.

    Of particular interest to me are my own intellectual shortcomings, of which I have many. This keeps me from being too focused on the “sins” of others. In particular, I am aware that the vast majority of ideas shared are not novel and arise from our subconscious rather than our ration. This is why intelligent people can believe odd things.

    All conclusions do not have equal validity upon scientific testing. However, the above does mean that there is a certain “equivalence of process” among us all.

    • bluharmony

      Excellent comment. I agree with you about FTB and A+, and tend to write a lot about those issues already. I should have listed bias and logical fallacies as categories that I also plan to write about. When it comes to bias, my own is of particular interest because it is, by definition, largely invisible to me.

    • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

      I too am wary of linkage between a specific set of socio-political beliefs and rationalism/skepticism. On the other hand, I see nothing wrong at all with people taking on socio-political issues from skeptical point of view. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee a particular political stance on an issue, but it does mean you have to bring evidence and logic to an issue in a way that non-skeptic political argumentation doesn’t necessarily practice.

      In fact, I would go so far as to say you’d have to put a very artificial set of constraints on skepticism to not carry it over into areas that are at least potentially politically controversial. To name a recent hot topic, the efficacy of gun control or the effect of gun availability can be evaluated using available study and datasets. Similarly, claims on the ostensible link between video games and real-life violence. (In fact, I’ll link to a very good debate on the latter topic, which was very much based around conflicting evaluations of data: http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201212180900 .) Where one comes out on support of actual policies depends on the interplay between ones values and the evidence at hand. (For example, I’m very strongly anti-censorship and would argue that there needs to be a strong, unambiguous demonstrated effect and a high standard of evidence before you even entertain the idea of restricting access to media, and that data on video games and violence simply hasn’t met that standard.)

      Where A+/FTB/Skepchick* have failed is that they’ve tied their skepticism to an extremely narrow party line, not to mention that their arguments for their position are about as irrational, emotive, and groupthinky as they come. It’s highly ironic that just 6 months ago, Greta Christina wrote a spot-on post on the relationship of skepticism to political issues, only to fall very far short of that standard in her subsequent writing: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/06/13/litmus-tests-skepticism-social-justice/

      *(Damn, I wish I could just find one label for this clique and stick with it. I was thinking “Atheismplus” was going to be it, but it appears at least some of the big names at FTB have been finding the A+ Forum too embarrassing even for them and have begun throwing that group under the bus.)

      • Karmakin

        My take is the writings of a LOT of people involved in this whole mess are a whole lot different than they were 6-12 months ago. Maybe I’m being too charitable, but I do think there’s been a VERY distinct shift as of late.

        • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

          The polarization and hardening of positions has been noticeable on all sides. I wouldn’t have pegged Justin Vacula to be an A Voice for Men contributor either, but sustained attack from a group of self-proclaimed feminists will tend to have one looking for those kind of ports in the storm.

          • Karmakin

            I’m not even talking about a hardening of positions.

            I don’t think that Gender Feminism and Equity Feminism are a matter of going to a more extreme version of the same belief. I think they’re entirely incompatible, to be honest. Now, humans are good at having multiple incompatible ideas in our head at the same time, cognitive dissonance and all that,

            One seeks to push down and put away gender roles and stereotypes and the other seeks to reinforce them in order to empower a specific group. Entirely 100% incompatible.

            And yes, I’m saying that I’ve seen a movement (and not just in A+ proper) of Equity Feminists embracing Gender Feminist ideals for whatever reason.

          • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

            They are very different, but more to the point, I think it’s a problematic framing, because it basically consigns practically any feminist to the left of Christine Hoff Summers and Camille Paglia into “gender feminism”. And anybody who’s taken more than a casual survey of “gender feminism” knows that’s a pretty wide range of positions on gender issues. By that definition, everybody from Andrea Dworkin to Susie Bright to Betty Friedan is in the same camp.

            Of course, it is true that we’ve seen people like Greta Christina increasingly close ranks with outright radfems when pushed, but again, I think that’s due to a polarization crowding out any kind of nuance at all.

          • bluharmony

            I’m to the left of both of them, and I simply don’t identify as a feminist anymore. Problem solved.

        • A_citizen_127

          You are right, from what little I have seen of my few visitations there. However, for me the whole FtB enterprise is tainted. They can shift where and as they will. They are no longer interesting, and I avoid conferences and magazines where they are featured.

      • A_citizen_127

        If the position is that we can use skepticism and rational thought to make choices given an equivalent understand of what is important – we would have agreement. In practice, this is almost never the case, and at most skepticism can lend insight into our different valuations.

        Gun control is an example. If you primarily value practical safety (personal and public) it becomes sensible to restrict guns and ammo to the state, with the possible exception of muzzle loaders for hunting. If you primarily value individual liberty and justice, you will not criminalize harmless behavior (responsible ownership of assault rifles).

        The trouble is that is SEEMS that we can bring reason to bear on important social and moral issues, but the links are incomplete, tenuous and controversial. Like A+ and FtB, we debase science and reason when we tell people how to live their lives and how society should be run with these pseudo justifications.

        There are matters of fact. Facts can inform social policy. Reasoning and skepticism have roles to play here – but not beyond.

        • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

          Well, I think it’s true that moral, and by extension, political values are influenced by basically pre-rational ideas, personality traits, and socialization. Darryl Bem and George Lakoff have done some pretty important work in this area. Fact-based decisions are still going to be made in light of those values, and that’s why reasonable people can disagree a great deal. The moral vanity of the A+, etc. crowd is that they seriously believe that they’ve arrived at their values through pure reason and commonsense application of widely agreed-upon moral ideas. I think they’ve done anything but.

          Still, there are clear applications of fact that can be brought to bear for or against arguments made in the service of larger political ideas. For example, the claim that women cannot be impregnated through rape, rendering rape exceptions to abortion restrictions moot. This is, of course, total bullshit (to use Penn & Teller’s term of art), and if someone totally opposes abortion under any circumstance, they have to own up to the fact that this means in many cases forcing women to carry their rapist’s offspring to term. No easy end-run around that fact.

          In terms of gun rights, I could very well see somebody who is freedom and justice oriented on the issue making an exception for assault weapons based on evaluation of the damage that an assault weapon can do if it gets into the hands of the wrong person. Or, conversely, allowing for the occasional tragedy to defend principal. Balancing facts versus principals does not always make for easy choices.

          • A_citizen_127

            An interesting thought is that probably few actually think that they themselves are vain. I suspect that most think that they have come to their own ideas with the commonsense application of reason. There are some analogy with religion here.

            The reality is that almost all ideas are recycled, and at best we as individuals make at most somewhat novel combinations. Neurobiology and functional MRI studies demonstrate that decision making occurs in our preconscious. What we think of as our conscious decisions and conclusions are actually post hoc rationalizations.

            I like very much your ideas of using reason to lay bare our impossible attempts to have our cake and eat it too. There is also a danger.

            Many positions which are sensible in theory can lead to barbarism in the extremes. I would not keep company with a barbarian who insisted that a child victim of rape be compelled to carry her fetus to term. I would not keep company with a barbarian who did not allow a neuro developmentally immature infant the full protection of human rights.

            Much of our humanity is enhanced by balancing, by allowing insensible contradictions but humane choices – where logic alone would drive us to extremes.

            Thank you for considering my words. You are very much worth talking to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Samfucious Sam Iredale

    How about something on misconceptions? That is, when someone takes a common position based on a common misunderstanding that should be easily corrected with just a little bit of information.

    One example of this is where creationists thing the theory of evolution states that eyes evolved separately for each and every individual species. (I heard this in an interview with Richard Dawkins once). The interviewer, who was of a creationist bent, didn’t know or understand the concept common descent, or how it applied in this case.

    This is what immediately comes to mind. But I’m sure there are other common misconceptions I’m just not thinking of.

    • bluharmony

      Good idea. The one I hear a lot is, “If humans evolved from chimps, then why are there still chimps?” Makes my head explode.

      • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

        Or, no one has ever observed a chimp give birth to a human. [eyeroll] Right up there with “Evolution isn’t scientifically demonstrable, because no scientist was around for evolutionary time to observe it.”

  • Ingemar Oseth

    Given recent events with A+, FtB, and similar extremist groups, perhaps something about the historical struggles among sects of the early Christian church would add some much needed perspective for the rational-minded among us.

    • bluharmony

      Thanks for the idea!

      • http://www.facebook.com/morgan.bergstrom.7 Morgan Bergstrom

        I’m a big fan of Roman History and the schism between the Arian and Nicean sects (around 4th century AD) is one of the earlier accounts of Christians beating the holy hell out of each other. It’s something about whether Jesus the Son is subservient to God the Father. Probably has to do with the concept of pater familias be a hold over from only a couple generations back. Anywho it might work as a jumping point for the blong.

        • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

          One can certainly draw other parallels – the Sunni/Shia split in Islam, for example, or the many, many splits in the history of socialism and communism. In fact, one of the things I find fascinating about the history of state communism is how in a matter of decades it managed to reproduce several centuries of Christian history, going from a small and persecuted sect to a full-blown non-theistic version of a state church, through several schisms that were every bit as dramatic as the breaks between Orthodoxy, Catholicism, and Protestantism, and the outright Inquisitions that were pursued to shore up each of the newly emergent dogmas.

  • Chill Chick

    I’m very interested in cognitive biases and how to avoid them or at least catch yourself falling victim to them. Also the zeitgeist and how it changes over time. E.g. the idea of inevitable human progress is very recent and only dates back to Victorian times. Before that it was pretty universal to think that humanity was in decline and the past was a golden age. Also attitudes to sex and to humanity’s relation to the earth have changed radically.

  • Clare45

    I am one of those most despised of creatures, according to FtB- a science/health newspaper columnist. Therefore I get a little hung up on semantics as you may have noticed! I am not particularly interested in philosophy but I like logic. Any of the topics listed are fine with me.

  • Ronlawhouston

    More on the intersection of law and religion would be nice.

  • Ingemar Oseth

    This suggestion will most likely be a dud due to a general lack of interest. Strategy is of seminal importance to the future growth of the atheist/humanist movement. The subject is complex, fraught with misunderstanding by the general populace, and routinely ignored by opinion leaders, but without a solid strategic framework most human endeavors are destined for failure.

    You might consider a series of essays/videos devoted to the introduction of strategic thought and planning to your readers. With these concepts in mind, members of the movement can begin to develop a consensus around a viable, long-term strategy which will propel us forward to eventual victory. Yes, victory, because like it or not we are at war with religious mysticism, intolerance, and ignorance.

    If you are willing to undertake this challenge, I suggest you start with an introduction to the ideas of Gen. Karl von Clausewitz while carefully avoiding the pitfall of reducing them to maxims.

  • An Ardent Skeptic

    Book reviews…

    • bluharmony

      Ah, I’ll start with Pinker then.

      • Stephan Brun

        Levitt/Gross wouldn’t be a too bad second, I think. Useful to have the book that set Sokal off examined, as it seems quite ignored at present. Of course, Sokal/Bricmont wouldn’t be a bad third. And Hoff Sommers. And Vincents Self-Made Man. The list just goes on ….

  • WetCoastAtheist

    I’m of the opinion that you don’t have to be ‘qualified’ to write on a subject if all you are doing is drawing attention to the subject or are just asking questions, so I say go ahead. I think it would be a different thing to give a talk at a conference though, as you would be looked on to give an informed and educated and professional talk…. well, unless you were giving a talk at a xtian conference, where false promises and exaggerated claims reign supreme, where talking out of your ass is a natural.

    My interests mostly involve science denialism and other woo. We all swim downstream in the middle of a river of woo that we don’t usually see ….. until we turn around and try to swim upstream against the current. Chakras and reikki and psychics, oh my :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/temy.beal Temy Beal

    This kind of blogging is a whole new thing for me. I’ll try to understand it. FtB ws an extremist group!? Do tell. On the other hand, if you’re not an extremist….why bother? I also agree with the commenter that one needs no qualifications to write a blog other than desire, hopefully some civility, and…uh….what was I saying?

    • bluharmony

      FTB as a whole has never been extremist. That would be very unfair to the many talented and rational bloggers who write there. About 6-7 bloggers who are either still there or are now gone are extremist in their feminism and, also, intellectually dishonest. Many Skepchick bloggers are extremists, and strongly supported by their allies on FTB.

      • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

        More importantly, the owner along with the co-founder and top blogger at FTB, Ed Brayton and PZ Myers respectively, have both thoroughly aligned themselves with the extremist camp within FTB. Everybody else is there at the largesse of Ed and PZ, and I have to wonder how long Justin Griffiths has left.

        • bluharmony

          Yes, Brayton & PZ are the leaders, and thus they create the problem. Moreover, they’re not “feminists” in any helpful sense. Zvan, Benson, Christina, and McCreight are the back-up vocals. Watson is the maiden in distress. Or something like that…

          • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

            I thought the woefully-misnamed Surly Amy was the maiden in distress. I wonder if she’s been attacked by any dangerous t-shirts lately.

          • bluharmony

            You’re right. Watson is the warrior princess; Surly is the maiden in distress.

  • http://www.facebook.com/james.spiller James Spiller

    Cognitive dissonance, and confirmation bias (not least, our own).

    Kindly, James

    • bluharmony

      Bias is what I plan to attack next.

  • http://www.facebook.com/morgan.bergstrom.7 Morgan Bergstrom

    Put me down for pop culture, mind/body dualism, all the gender stuff, aaaaaaaand determanism. It’s funky to think someone can see my future or past depending on the speed and direction of their movement. Wooooo science!

  • Karmakin

    I guess if I’m posting here regularly I should post here.

    I’m a systems guy. I’m interested in systems, be it political, economic, ethical, community, whatever. I’m interested in how all the gears come together. Atheism for me is actually primarily a question of morals, ethics and culture. The question of the existence of god is less important than the implications of the existence of god, and what effects does it have on our various systems (Tip. It’s rarely a good effect)

    Needless to say, among those lines I enjoy playing games, reading and watching sci-fi/fantasy/alt history, and so on.

    • bluharmony

      I agree with your view of atheism. Without those things, what we believe about god is not relevant to our well-being. It may be relevant, however, to the value we place on knowledge and absolute truth.

  • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

    I’ve been reading and commenting on your blog for a while now, so this is a good opportunity to introduce myself.

    I’ve been blogging (on and off) and blog commenting under this handle for over 5 years now. At first one topics related to sexuality and sex work, and have been increasingly interested in rationalist topics over the last several. The two are related, actually, because I first started blogging to counter the huge amount of misinformation that was being disseminated about the effects of pornography and the nature of commercial sex in general by the religious right and radical feminists alike.

    In offline life I was until a few years ago an academic-track grad student in the admittedly-obscure field of fungal taxonomy, before changing paths, deciding I really wasn’t cut out for the workload of a proper scientist, but loved science, photography, and imaging, and have since successfully pursued a career as a microscopist and lab tech and informally as a community educator in microscopy and mycology. There is part of me that still misses sitting in academic seminars having long debates on species concepts, and I still maintain an active interest in evolutionary biology, which is why I eat up blogs like Why Evolution is True and Evolving Thoughts. It is also why both pop evolutionary psychology and ignorant dismissals like Rebecca Watson’s really get my back up.

    Politically, I lean toward the small-l libertarian end of the political left. That tends to put me at odds with conservative/MRA types on one hand, in that I don’t think the socioeconomic status quo or racial and gender hierarchy is a good thing and activism to change it is warrented, however, I don’t think throwing individual rights under the bus or putting ideology before people in pursuit of social justice is at all a good thing, which puts me on a collision course with the social justice warriors of the world. Unfortunately, it also put me at odds with large segments of both the atheist and sex-positive communities, including a number of people I used to think of myself as closely aligned with. (Two years ago, I would have never dreamed that Greta Christina would be saying the kind of things she’s saying now.)

    BTW, if there’s any topic in amongst the things I’ve listed that interests you, I’d be glad to do a guest post on it. No worries if you’re not interested, though.

    • bluharmony

      I’d love a guest post, it’s good to know more about you, and please feel free to choose whatever you feel most passionate about. :)

      • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

        I’ll have to think about a topic. Some that come to mind:

        * Misconceptions about evolution – not the ones anti-evolutionists spout, but honest misconceptions about how evolutionary mechanisms operate. Kind of a “What you think you know about evolution is wrong” article.

        * Controversies in evolutionary theory (gene- vs group-level selection, relative importance of horizontal vs vertical gene transfer, genetic drift vs selection, importance of epigenetics, adaptationism and its discontents, etc.)

        * Gender politics and labels (Or why I ultimately don’t care whether people call themselves feminists, MRAs, or purplepeopleeateritarians, labels shouldn’t be used to shut down important conversations about gender. Also, why I find demands to label oneself as “feminist” to be intellectually dishonest to a stunning degree.)

        * The relationship of scientific evidence to political issues, using controversies on whether or not to ban pornography and violent video games as an example of the application of studies to political issues

        • bluharmony

          All of those sound great. You’re welcome to guest post more than once, too. I don’t always have as much to write as I do right now.

        • http://twitter.com/FemWho Feminist Whore ♥

          I’ve been wanting to do a vid or something on the downright whorephobic reaction that feminists have to evo psych theories of sexual selection. They hear that economic cost/benefit risk analysis language (along with the rest of game theory language) and they jump on this “how dare evo psych call us all whores!” bandwagon and they look no further into what evo psych actually says re sexual selection. What it actually says is that all women do a cost/benefit risk analysis, but it still puts the choices in a hierarchy – with long-term pair bond at the top (no naturalistic fallacy here, it’s usually considered the most ‘evolutionarily sensible’) and with short-term overt explicit exchange at the bottom. It’s the typical nuclear family is best hierarchy, that’s what the problem with evo psych is, but feminists don’t seem able to get past the ‘omg is evo psych calling us whores’ reaction. It’s sad because the nuts n bolts of evo psych foundations offer an opportunity for serious feminist defenses of women’s sexual and reproductive rights. Feminists who continue to ignore these nuts n bolts are doing themselves (and all women) a big disservice. IMO anyway.

          • bluharmony

            Ignoring reality is never the way forward. I also wonder about the whole “whore” concept. How offensive would it be to say that all women use their sexuality to get what they want (while they can)? Because that seems largely true to me. And even if I’m completely off base, denying the truth still isn’t the way forward.

  • A131313

    You’re an absolute idiot. Stop spamming places with your stupid blog. You have nothing worth saying and nobody of any intelligence wants to listen to you. You are a waste of the internet.

    • http://twitter.com/iamcuriousblue iamcuriousblue

      For all the convoluted debates about what constitutes “trolling”, examples of it are actually quite straightforward.

    • bluharmony

      Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you took the time to click on the Ad Sense ad in the upper right-hand corner. xo

  • A131313

    Stop spamming places, you moron. Nothing you say is worthwhile.

  • qbsmd

    Since you’re an attourney, you’re better qualified to talk about legal issues facing the atheist-skeptic communities than most other atheist-skeptic bloggers. I’ve been in situations where someone in a semi-official capacity at a semi-official function gave a sort-of prayer, and wondered whether they crossed a line or not. I’d like to have something to reference about what precendents have been set and what could be and has been successfully challenged in court on various relevant topics.

  • Richard Drumm

    Outreach astronomy is my thing. So I suppose that “Science Advocacy” might fit the bill… You can Google my name with the word astronomy & see me chatting up some Girl Scouts to get a taste of the wackiness…

    • bluharmony

      If you’d like to write a guest post about astronomy, please let me know. That would be wonderful.

  • http://twitter.com/PSLaplacian PS Laplace

    Hello!

    I’ve been reading here since the network started up, but I’ve mostly lurked. Of the topics listed, I’m most interested in postmodernism, philosophical aesthetics, and the intersection between law and religion. I’m also interested in feminism, privilege, rape culture, etc. — but there’s a lot of debate on that currently in the atheist blogosphere, so in some ways I’d prefer other topics, since the chance to discuss and debate the latter three come up fairly frequently.

    I’m a graduate student in mathematics, so my main skeptically-oriented interests are innumeracy and other forms of mathematical illiteracy (even in the skeptic community!), and the philosophical/epistemological (actually, quite empirical!*) foundations of mathematics. Certainly if you were ever interested in a guest post on those topics, I’d be happy to oblige.

    *This is controversial ;)

    • bluharmony

      Nice to meet you and welcome. I would love a guest post on any (or all) of those topics. In fact, I’d like to see as many skeptical and rational viewpoints in different areas represented as possible.

  • jolie

    some more random thoughts:

    victimless crimes

    evidence based politics/medicine/…

    limitations of free speech, political correctness, burning books, “save spaces”, punishability of denying the Holocaust and the fundamental difference between the believes that “the Holocaust did not happen” and “the Christian God does exist”

    why logic is rather useless on finding out how the world came about

    assisted suicide

    civil disobedience

    +1 for confirmation bias

    • bluharmony

      Great suggestions. I’m working on one of those now.

  • An Ardent Skeptic

    So, Bluharmony, there seems to be a huge interest in cognitive dissonance, and how we fool ourselves. Carol Tavris’s and Eliot Aronson’s “Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)” is absolutely the best book I have ever read on the subject. Armchair wrote a review of the book and put it up on the JREF site. Here’s the link:

    http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?ltr=M&t=104711

    • bluharmony

      Great, thank you. BTW, I link to Armchair’s Site, but not yours. I should be including both, right?

      • An Ardent Skeptic

        Armchair and I are a team, and have been for over 20 years. Both blog sites our both of ours. Armchair and I spend hours discussing issues before either one, or both of us, write about them.

        We’re very flattered that you wish to include our sites in your blogroll. I should say, however, that I don’t know how much, if anything, we will be adding to the sites in the future. Still, I think we have written a few posts in the past which have merit, so the sites might be worth including in your list for that reason.

        Our “Skepticism & Ethics” site is here:

        http://www.skepticismandethics.com/2011/10/who-are-skeptic-illuminati.html

        (The above link is actually to a specific post on our site – our favorite post. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Wagnon/100001137738693 Mark Wagnon

    Quantum Activism

  • http://www.facebook.com/beth.hedrick1 Beth Hedrick

    I look forward to reading.

  • http://twitter.com/alanbrookland alanbrookland

    What surprises me most about some arguments put forward by ‘skeptics’ is a seeming naivety about how science is performed in the real world. There seems to be a strong ‘Popperian’ vibe put forward that scientists always look first at evidence, abandon theories as soon as a contrary experiment is performed, are never led by political or ulterior motives, don’t let preconceived ideas get in the way of championing the work of their colleagues and are generally paragons of neutral intellectual thought.

    That school was pretty well discredited by Kuhn back in the 60s, but it’s like The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was never written. Just as bad is the appeal to authority which tends to sneak into these debates too. You can sometimes get away with that if the authority you’re referring to on a subject is a genuine expert, but I’ve too often seen statements by members of the skeptical elite just taken as read, with any attempts at dissent dismissed out of hand.

  • alephsquared

    Hi bluharmony

    I’ve been commenting around here and elsewhere on the net under this ‘nym for a while. I’ve studied linguistics, anthropology, music and mathematics at the university level (at colleges/universities) but haven’t actually gotten a degree (yet). But those are my main interests. As you might guess, given our past interactions, I’d be most interested in the feminism/gender stuff on your list — but, really, anything up there would be fascinating. I like learning pretty much anything, which is partly responsible for my lengthier than usual sojourn through higher education. My interests within skepticism are pretty standard, but speaking generally and academically, I presented research at a national conference on how Louis XIV’s attempts to control music actually gave musicians the [msuical] language to write subversive material, which led to an ongoing research interest (stalled, currently, since I simply don’t have time for it anymore) in similar historical events. So artistically, I’m mostly fascinated by the ways artistic and aesthetic languages operate under censorship and other dictatorial control.

    As far as guest-posting goes, I’d enjoy the opportunity to have a longer and perhaps slightly more formal discussion on feminism/gender/etc. with you. We’re definitely from different “sides” of this debate, but I feel that we’ve managed to have some constructive discussion nonetheless. I don’t know if something like that would interest you or not. But regardless, I look forward to continuing discussions on these lines in comments should you write posts on the subject.

    • bluharmony

      I would definitely be interested in having discussions on gender issues without the vitriol that tends to accompany them. I think we could all learn best from each other that way; or at least fully understand where the other side is coming from.

      Also, I’d be fascinated to read anything on your research about Louis XIV’s attempts to control music. Fascinating topic!

      Thank you for being a reasonable voice in this discussion, and for taking the time to listen to both sides before forming your opinions. I recognize it and sincerely appreciate it.

  • Astrokid NJ

    I am an Indian living in the US for over a decade now, and I am an MRA and an MGTOW.
    I became a single-issue MRA in India many years ago, to address this issue.
    Love, Marriage & Sex in the city-498A but I had absolutely no idea that what I was doing was even called an ‘MRA’. I was just fighting for justice. With that in the background, several years later in the US, I found the atheist community and was delighted to find it.. led by scientists from whom I could learn a lot.. the naturalistic underpinnings of “know thyself”. I was always interested in science, and am an amateur astronomer. I remember watching Jonathan Haidt’s video on why we have the values we do.. how conservatives and liberals set different weightages on each individual value. In this journey, he said “Are you committed to (discovering) the truth?” and that resonates with me all the time. Beyond the atheist community, I didnt have enough time to explore the skeptic community (JREF et al).

    With the elevatorgate fiasco, and the prior “why are you calling me a female? you should call me a woman” fiasco.. I started studying the gender issue thoroughly. I wondered why is society so unwilling to see the male perspective, or have any empathy towards them? I have lost almost all interest in the atheist community.. simply because I dont see them “committed to discovering truth” in matters that are peripherally related to atheism. There’s a widespread religion-is-the-greatest-source-of-misogyny meme in this community.. which is one factor that blinds people.. that havent studied why the past was the way it was (w.r.to genders), or that such memes are being used to shove feminism on us and that all male-pain is being suppressed.

    Very few women talk about male pain as well. This lesbian feminist, with a womens studies background, in the process of writing a book.. shape-shifted into a man for several months.. and at the end of says “Women have no idea what it means to be a man. I am glad to be a woman. We have so much more privilege”. . Self Made Man, Part 1, with JuJu Chang, edited by Joe Schanzer for 20/20.
    Men are no better, when dealing with other men’s pain. esp Conservative men (along with conservative women). This fellow Excusing the men who ran away. The new film ‘Polytechnique’ sidesteps the old norm of ‘women and children first’ believes that men should sacrifice themselves protecting women whenever there is any danger.

    My study led me to shocking feminist laws in the US that have been devastating men over the last 40 years, for e.g Comment of the Week — A Life Not Worth Living. And the apathy of media towards them, and the feminist involvement therein.. which made sense when I encountered The Lace Curtain, and Noam Chomsky’s work The Manufacture of Consent

    “Our hypothesis is that worthy victims will be featured prominently and dramatically, that they will be humanized, and that their victimization will receive the detail and context in story construction that will generate reader interest and sympathetic emotions. In contrast, unworthy victims will merit only slight detail, minimal humanization, and little context that will excite and enrage.”
    —E. S. Herman and N. Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent:

    I also studied some academic work that amongst others explores:
    Is There Anything Good About Men?: How Cultures Flourish by Exploiting Men
    while finding the larger MRA/MGTOW community and I am now most at home with them, and have learnt immensely from them.. i have learnt the biological and psychological underpinnings that make society favour women.. for e.g Women are wonderful and so on and so forth. As the brilliant James Onen put forth:

    My observation is that the Men’s Right Movement is doing to feminism today what New Atheism was doing to religion in the 2000s – i.e. debunking it, openly and boldly. There is much discussion among them about the ideology of feminism through a skeptical examination of feminism’s (outrageous) claims, a reality based analysis of human nature as applied to interaction between the genders, etc. I find it to be a refreshing community of men AND WOMEN who don’t give a damn what people call them, but recognize that there is a deliberate and concerted effort to demonize men, and infantilize (rather than empower) women, by feminism…
    MRAs are doing to feminism what “skeptics” should be doing – i.e. placing under critical scrutiny, and exposing the inherent flaws within the ideology.

    In the end, what baffled me is that the atheist and skeptic communities which pride themselves on evidence based work.. are just so clueless w.r.to these biases, historical knowledge etc. Or maybe they are not clueless.. but are scared to talk about it (maybe thats why Dawkins shut up). They are pussified. The way emasculated FTB-males behave disgusts me.

    Maria’s blog is one of the few blogs that I read. She has courage to say things and examine biases that nobody else is doing. for e.g the acknowledgement of mens pain.. and the comment earlier about women’s sexual power..which they arent going to give up anytime. (I also read the Prussian’s blog. I look for diversity of opinions which challenge our beliefs. The overdose of US modern-liberal viewpoints bores me.. so The Prussian’s classical-liberal viewpoints excite me.. maybe because I am also one LOL)

    After that long rant: I would appreciate it if you can blog about the below..

    “Political Correctness”: PC is the modern plague, and I have read about its origins in “Cultural Marxism”. This is something only those on the Right are wiling to talk about.. and the Left (SPLC) has even dismissed as a conspiracy theory. This is a great topic for skeptics.

    Nietzsche: In his works he has said that Religion will be replaced by other dogmatic movements.. and the world will be plagued by wars over those dogmatic movements. Great predictions. I think atheism will do well with a popularization of his thought.

  • http://www.facebook.com/temy.beal Temy Beal

    Please excuse my ignorance. I don’t really know what to do here…does this mean I should have my own blog someplace and have it listed here?

    • bluharmony

      Sure, if it’s a blog I like. :)