Tag Archives: skepticism

More Women in Skepticism

I’ve started a new blog!

More Women in Skepticism: A Handy Guide to Addressing Sexism within the Ranks

I’ve started a blog to list strategies skeptics can employ to increase the number of women within the ranks. Each day I will post one recommendation that will hopefully provide insight into a woman’s experience within the skeptical movement and a suggestion for a behavior (either to engage in or refrain from) that skeptics can perform if they want more women working for their cause. I have found that it’s always easier to have a productive discussion if it is limited in scope, which my blog is. If all goes according to plan, it will be a space in which people can discuss a woman’s experience without hyperbole and derailment, and maybe open a few minds. I welcome comment and suggestions, especially from people who have experience recruiting members to organizations.

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Feminist Friday–Creepy Behavior Is Creepy

Yes, I’m Going Rogue. The Transatlantic Blonde is on vacation, and without a deadline I got behind. True, it’s Sunday, but “Feminist Sunday” lacks a certain panache.  Besides, I didn’t really have a post topic specific enough to write about until basically today, and I was tired of glurging all over the computer. And then a few things that have been brewing in the skepticism movement about sexism and feminism bubbled to a pitch heated enough for me to actually sign in and comment on the Pharyngula blog and so I realized I did have some simple points to make about men and women and behavior in general.

Can't Help Being Creepy

At the end of this post is the wordy explanation for what convoluted path through the Internet inspired me to write today. Long story short, I am interested today in the simultaneous denial and justification of creepy behavior of men towards women, which is a topic I feel lends itself towards a numbered list.

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Skepticism, Sexism, and the Party Line

On the Skeptical Movement
Last week I stepped out of character and got involved in an Internet drama, or ruckus, or brouhaha, or morass, or cluster, or whatever word you want to use to describe it. On an episode I haven’t heard (#211, from August 4, link opens a Quicktime page/file) of a podcast I listen to (The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe), the panel of Skeptical Rogues (which includes one woman, Rebecca Watson) interviewed a woman, Carrie Iwan, who is a co-author of a blog I don’t read (Skepchick)–for no particular reason; I just don’t really read blogs as a rule–about her impressions of a skeptical event I didn’t attend: The Amazing Meeting #7, presented by the James Randi Educational Foundation. A rough transcript of the interview (with commentary and editorializing), should you not want to listen to the whole podcast or even download it, can be found here.

On Sexism in the Skeptical Movement
So this interview happens that I don’t even know about for a while, because I didn’t go to The Amazing Meeting and thanks to still having a lost iPod I am behind on my podcasts. But I’ve been a faithful and reliable participant in the SGU forums, and eventually a conversation that started in the thread about Episode #211 was splintered off to address the more general topic of Sexism in the Skeptical Movement. You can read those links at your peril; I’m not really going to refer to them, but wanted to link to them for context. They are very long, and a mess of topics on which different people stay focused to varying degrees.

Long story short, the average listener/participant/TAM attendee is shocked and outraged that anyone–particularly a woman–would suggest that the skeptical community is sexist to any degree, and then they turn around and say that women who suggest it are looking for problems and are fracturing the community and distracting it from its larger purposes.

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By George Eliot

I’ve read this before and loved it. I recommended it to someone recently and got a hankering, and with some freer time coming up I thought I would go for it. I am also done with my library books. I am all of three pages into chapter one but I have thrilled to the prelude.

Dorothea Brook really is amazing. I remember the book’s ending but not much of the middle and I am excited all over again to follow her from maiden to destiny.

Yeah, I don’t really have anything else to add except that I really am more disappointed in Tertius Lydgate than I ever have been before, and that I thought the Fred/Mary storyline wrapped up kind of fast. What struck me the most, however, is that scene outside the billiards parlor with Fred, Tertius, and Featherstone or Farebrother (the naturalist preacher) regarding gambling, redemption, and desperation. I also am left wondering what happened to the Causabon fortune after all. Reading this book now is like visiting a friend, and I don’t really want to close-read it anymore. Sure, there’s lots buried in there worthy of term papers, but this time I only want to point out one thing: some good, old-fashioned, pro-medical industrial complex, psuedoscience, alternative medicine skepticism.

    The high standard held up to the public mind by the College of Physicians, which gave its peculiar sanction to the expensive and highly-rarified medical instruction obtained by graduates of Oxford and Cambridge, did not hinder quackery from having an excellent time of it; for since professional practice chiefly consisted in giving a great many drugs, the public inferred that it might be better off with more drugs still, if they could only be got cheaply, and hence swallowed large cubic measures of physic prescribed by unscrupulous ignorance which had taken no degrees.

This is from a book written by a woman in 1872 about 1829, mind you. Acupuncturists and chiropractors could learn a few things from her, and I don’t mean get a better understanding of small-town politics in post-railroad era England.

Anyway, although he’s too old for the part, don’t you think James Callis of Gaius Baltar fame would make an excellent Lydgate in a movie adaptation? Ah, the thwarted ambition! Sigh, the pathos!