On PZ and Michael

This is your skeptical movement on Muhammed Ali.

This is your skeptical movement on the Sweet Science.

My first reaction to PZ Myer’s post lambasting Michael De Dora was that PZ was an evil bastard who no longer had a place in polite society.  I’ve since calmed down.  It’s here where I place the obligatory statement that I indeed have a personal relationship with Michael, which is what I think this all comes down to. Since NECSS, I’ve been trying to be a bit more skeptical in my day-to-day life, and part of that is thinking in terms of evidence.  One of the speakers at NECSS and I spoke about the PZ/Michael rigmarole at dinner, and he had some things to say about it.  “The reason you feel that way,” he told me, “ is because Michael is a friend of yours. He is my friend, too, and that was my initial reaction, as well. But the more I thought about it, I realized that if PZ Myers were on the radio, no one would bat an eye.  No one gets shocked when Howard Stern is Howard Stern. PZ’s is a polemicist, and his blog is a persona, to great effect. I generally agree with his point against Michael, but don’t like the way he said it, and generally favor the way Michael makes his points, even if I disagree with some of his points themselves. In the end, I don’t think we skeptics and secularists should scold others for having a different style than we have.” … continue reading this entry.

The Temptation of Misrepresenting the Past

Old_books_-_Stories_From_The_PastAs some of you may have seen, one of Lisa’s posts and one of mine have been nominated for inclusion into The Young Australian Skeptics Blog Anthology. I’d like to congratulate my fellow nominee, and say I’m very happy the two of us got noticed. I’ve been a writer for a while, but I’ve never been published in a real like… Book, so this is pretty cool. I’m really happy about it, and I imagine Lisa is too.  The closest I’ve ever come to this is when, instead of writing his own article about Elliott Spitzer, a Boston Globe reporter decided to quote mine. There’s only one slight caveat… I’m not crazy about the article that’s been chosen. … continue reading this entry.

One more on the relationship between atheism and skepticism

I’d like to make a few comments on Jake Dickerman’s piece about Michael De Dora’s recent talk concerning the relationship between skepticism and atheism. (A fuller version of my thinking on this topic can be found at Rationally Speaking). … continue reading this entry.

Why Skeptics Should be Atheists

Enrapt audience at SkeptiCamp2009 (photo by Mitch Lampert)

Enrapt audience at SkeptiCamp2009 (photo by Mitch Lampert)

Editor’s note: this is a rebuttal to The Quixotic Man, about De Dora’s talk, “Skepticism Includes Atheism (So Deal With It),” at SkeptiCamp NYC 2009. TQM’s post can be found here.

Jacob, it was nice meeting you at SkeptiCamp NYC 2009, and thanks for inviting me to join this back-and-forth about skepticism and atheism. We  seem to agree on at least one thing, that the conversation is worth having. I tend to think we agree on more than just that, and that some of your “disagreements” with me, outlined in your post Monday, are actually due to poor communication work. I suppose the following will tell us if I’m correct. (On the topic of communication, I’d like to quickly thank Scott Stafiej, Michael Rosch, and Julia Galef for clearing up some of what I meant in their responses to your post. They did such a wonderful job I urge everyone to read their comments, because I can’t cover everything even in a 2,000-word essay).

Skepticism Includes Atheism (So Deal With It)

Let me briefly provide some background on my talk. … continue reading this entry.

Why Skeptics Don’t Have to be Atheists

Skepticamp2009-DeDora

Michael De Dora speaks about atheism and skepticism at Skepticamp NYC 2009.

[You can read Michael De Dora's response to this post here, and an additonal commentary by Massimo Pigliucci here.]

A disclaimer.

It is Sunday Night.  I have just returned home from Skepticamp NYC.  It’s been a long day, I may not be thinking my best, and right now I’m getting ready to piss off… I dunno, maybe half of you.  Joy of joys.  Let me go back a step.  Right before we broke for lunch today, Michael De Dora Jr. gave a talk he called “Skepticism Includes Atheism (So Deal With It).”  After the talk, I pulled Michael aside.  “Hey Mike,” I said.  “I’ve been writing for the Gotham Skeptic and, well I’m like the only person still writing two pieces a week (okay, sometimes Page does too…), and I’m really trying to find a way to only write one this week.  So I’m going to write up why I think you’re totally wrong, and if you want, you can have my Thursday spot to refute everything I say.”  He agreed.

I’m an idiot.  I should have just found a way to turn some skeptical story into a dick joke.  Oy.

This is always true, but sometimes, like right now, I feel it should be stated loud and clear.  The views expressed here represent only me, Jake Dickerman.  They are not representative of everyone who writes on the Gotham Skeptic or the NYC Skeptics in general.

Why Skeptics Don’t Have to be Atheists … continue reading this entry.

Controversial atheist subway ads come to NYC?

Today, many New Yorkers will notice the new ads that have gone up in 12 of the city’s subway stations. The ads are promoting BigAppleCoR.org, the official website of the Big Apple Coalition of Reason, an umbrella group bringing together numerous local secular and humanist organizations including the Center For Inquiry | New York City, New York Society for Ethical Culture, Secular Humanist Society of New York, and Jolly 13 Club, among others.

Over the past week, the ads have received an unprecedented amount of press from local, national, even international news media, and Michael De Dora Jr., the Center For Inquiry’s executive director and spokesmen for the Coalition, is being quoted left and right  due to the alleged controversial nature of the signs.

So what does a controversial advertisement have to say in order to get this much press? … continue reading this entry.

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