My friend Tim Farley is a tireless promoter and advocate of critical thinking. He writes the What’s The Harm? website, categorizing the appalling harm done by antiscience. He created a This Day in Skeptic History app. His most important work is probably the development of Skeptical Software Tools that make it easier and more efficient to be a skeptic.
He spoke at TAM 2012 about these tools, and what each of us can do to make the world a more reality-based place. That video is now available online:
He makes a lot of excellent points; in fact, I find really nothing there to disagree with. We do waste a lot of effort and time online – in many cases trying to score cheap points when there are far more effective things we could be doing. And there are tools that can help make that happen – Tim talks about quite a few in his TAM talk. I use Web of Trust myself, and I’ve been meaning to look more into rbutr. You should take a look yourself.
When you find something attacking reality, it’s easy complain about it on Twitter or Facebook. It feels good and makes you think you’ve accomplished something. But there’s a reason this is called slacktivism. One of the most important things we can do is follow through. That’s why when I talk about antivaxxers I almost always tell people to talk to their board-certified doctor and see if they need to get their boosters, and put my arm where my mouth is. That’s why I will often tell people to contact their representatives in government about issues – and then do so myself. That’s why I went into Boulder a few weeks ago and helped get people to send letters to Congress in support of NASA’s planetary exploration… and that worked.
What issue burns in your mind? And what exactly have you done about it?
The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has just opened registration for its annual skeptical extravaganza, The Amaz!ng Meeting!
TAM is arguably the world’s premier critical thinking conference, and certainly one of the most fun. I’m always torn between listening to the speakers and gathering with the friends I’ve made over the years — and meeting new ones. It’s fair to say the audience is a major reason to attend TAM.
The theme this year is "TAM 9 from Outer Space", and it’s obvious why with speakers like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Pamela Gay (one of my favorite people on this planet), Bill Nye (The Science Guy), and hey, me. And the list keeps going: Carol Tavris (who gave a very popular talk last year at TAM), Jennifer Michael Hecht, Penn & Teller, Jennifer Ouellette, PZ Myers, Genie Scott, anime artist (and totally cool chick) Sara Mayhew, and, of course, the Amazing One himself, James Randi. The list goes on and on, so go check it out!
Did I mention the MC this year is the one and only George Hrab? Yeah. Awesome.
Also, as usual, there will be a ton of workshops, panels, and other extracurricular activities. I can’t stress enough how much of a blast this meeting is. It’ll be July 14 – 17, 2011 at the South Point Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Registration is now open. I hope to see you there!