Hello world!

I have a confession to make: I’m a lurker. I lurk my ass off in my favourite blogs and very seldom comment, reply or +. Even though I think very highly of these brave bloggers, I’m often not brave enough myself to wade into the bogs of eternal stench and misery that are the comment sections. I prefer my blogs clean and sanitized and in my Google Reader where even the temptation to peek at the comments can’t reach me.

So what has me tentatively wading into the mire? I’ve run into a problem. You see, I’m a skeptic, an atheist, a freethinker and many other associated categoricals. Freedom from religion (and similarly regressive ¬†thought patterns) is a thing I value greatly. Encountering the online community of skeptics and atheists was a homecoming to likeminded folk who would understand me. So although I’ve remained silent, I’ve appreciated those¬†who haven’t.

So the problem is this: what does a good skeptic do when a member of their family becomes not just a believer but a purveyor of woo, SCAM (Supplements and Complementary/Alternative Medicine) and Deepak Chopraisms? Do they live and let live? Or do they fight back with their reality-fu? So it’s decision time for me. I find myself in this position where my family member is no longer just wallowing in their own little pile of woo but is starting to spread it around to others. I have to decide what to do. The fate of my relationship with this person (and the future of this blog) hangs in the balance.

There’s a bit of a dichotomy emerging in the skeptical/atheist movement right now with two camps forming. From my perspective, one camp is intent on using their skepticism and rationality to improve themselves and those around them, while the other is primarily using their skepticism and rationality to justify whatever ideas they already possess. The second camp doesn’t seem to want to complicate their worldview by incorporating new data and ideas or changing their minds about things. That’s not to say that they aren’t right about some or even most things but that they aren’t really looking to use skepticism as a tool for self-improvement.

I belong to that first camp. I believe we skeptics have a duty to keep ourselves and those around us honest and grounded in reality. If we care about people, we should care about whether they are behaving like good, rational people. I require solid evidence for any claims that would dramatically alter reality as understood by science. The people I love and respect should as well. I am fundamentally a person of action rather than words, but I hope to use this as a guide to my own journey through helping my family member to overcome these woo mind traps.

I think I’ve made my decision.