Ben Radford - Skepticism 2.0
Posted: 02 November 2009 08:06 PM   [ Ignore ]
Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  174
Joined  2007-02-21

Ben Radford is is one of the world’s few science-based paranormal investigators, and has done first-hand research into psychics, ghosts and haunted houses, exorcisms, Bigfoot, lake monsters, UFO sightings, crop circles, and other topics. He is managing editors of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, and editor-in-chief of the Spanish-language magazine Pensar, published in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The author of many books, including Media Mythmakers: How Journalists, Activists, and Advertisers Mislead Us, and Lake Monster Mysteries: Investigating the World’s Most Elusive Creatures (with Joe Nickell), he also writes online at LiveScience.com and MediaMythmakers.com.

In this discussion with D.J. Grothe, Ben Radford surveys the current issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, which is focused on “Skepticism 2.0” and the future of the skeptical movement. He describes various articles by contributors to the issue such as Daniel Loxton, Jeff Wagg, Karen Stollznow, Blake Smith, Heidi Anderson, Reed Esau, Tim Farley and others. He talks about blogging, podcasts and youtube and the opportunities they present for new skeptical outreach. He explores ways national skeptical organizations can collaborate. He talks about why it is important to build on the important work of skeptical luminaries such as Carl Sagan, Ray Hyman, James Randi, Martin Gardner and Joe Nickel, and how to do so. And he also talks about his sacrilegious board game Playing Gods.

http://www.pointofinquiry.org/ben_radford_skepticism_2.0

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 November 2009 01:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  1
Joined  2009-11-03

Thanks to DJ and Ben for the SkeptiCamp article plug!

Ben’s explanation of what SkeptiCamp is can be shortened to: “community-centered and participant-driven skeptic conferences” or even shorter “homebrew skeptic conferences.”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 November 2009 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15362
Joined  2006-02-14

So this discussion was about skepticism 2.0:  bringing a model of continuity with the great past skeptics to a new generation, using new ideas and new technologies. The internet is one good example of such a technology. We heard about ideas for passive transfer of skeptical information online, such as blogs, podcasts and YouTube videos.

We also heard about ideas that would involve new ideas of skeptical communities, in particular a skepticamp idea that was described by Ben Radford as an updated version of a grassroots coffeehouse discussion, but on a larger scale.

Why in all this good discussion was there no mention of the skeptical online fora? Why was there no mention of CFI’s own forum?

The forum is a paradigmatic skeptical community. It is a paradigmatic example of skepticism 2.0.

The forum is an updated version of a coffeehouse discussion among the grassroots. The difference between the forum and skepticamp, which makes the forum far more important as a movement, is that it goes on twenty for hours a day, 365 days a year. It never ends. People from all over the world can come to the CFI forum, people without the time or means to travel across the country or around the world to go to a conference or camp. It involves much larger groups of people.

The forum is intrinsically interactive. It is not a place one goes to for passive entertainment or learning, or for one-way communication in a response column, but rather to get to know one’s fellow members, for ongoing debate and discussion of the issues.

Fora in general and the CFI’s forum in particular are paradigmatic examples of Skepticism (and Humanism) 2.0. What we do every minute of the day and every day of the year is quite unique and unlike anything else mentioned in the magazine or on the podcast. It surprises me that this was never mentioned in the podcast, and that it was only given the barest of passing mentions in the magazine.

[ Edited: 03 November 2009 07:32 AM by dougsmith ]
 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 03 November 2009 10:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2009-09-23

Ben and DJ talk uncomfortably around an issue with regard to editorial involvement…

Almost as if they’re both talking about a specific writer in this specific issue, but without mentioning anything specific.

Would have appreciated knowing what the issue under discussion actually was; it felt like listening to two friends talk about something that they’re actively hiding from you.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 November 2009 05:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2009-11-26

Now I have discovered this forum, I will post the email I sent in response to the show (and to Skeptics Guide to the Universe, one of my current favourites)........

Thank you so much for your shows, Point of Inquiry and Skeptics Guide to the Universe. I am discovering my scepticism rapidly and find your shows enlightening. I only wish I had time to listen to all the back catalogue to catch up!

A recent episode of PoI talked about the Skeptical Movement and where it will go next. I had some thoughts and recorded my idea/question in the attached 3 minute clip (sorry its so long). Feel free to play it on your shows or edit it out and cut to the chase.

If you don’t want to listen to the clip, my point is that the Skeptical Movement need to be much more easily accessible and it currently fragmented. Latent skeptics (like me) need to do a lot of work to discover their identity properly. I have been enjoying a long journey amongst philosophy books, podcasts, blogs and even youtube clips of “Randi”. However, if you want the movement to grow as effectively and rapidly as, say, a religion, you need to capture the masses of skeptics (who are short of time and attention) with a “bible” or “manifesto”. This must be supported by all the fragments of the movement and used to connect all - as a “nexus”. I suggest a one page summary that everyone agrees on - a sort of “10 commandments” equivalent. Maybe each of the leading thinkers could contribute one bullet point to the manifesto so it has “provenance” and “authority”. For example: “A Skeptic is willing to question all knowledge and theories, including their own”. Once agreed, this should be on a webpage and in all publications along with key references to the contributors to the movement (like yourselves). (maybe this could be called SkepticBook, or SkepticsUnited or SkepticNexus?)

Maybe this already exists and I missed it? Did I?

Thanks again for your efforts and work.

Andrew UK

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 November 2009 08:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  66
Joined  2007-08-11

afd/Andrew:
  This has been tried before, in a number of ways. There may be more reasons it didn’t work, than attempts at doing it.
  Some atheists/skeptics are going to be fundamentally opposed to anyone trying to create a secular analogue to the 10 commandments or bible. It may be a reflexive reaction to the idea that a new religion is being foisted on them, something they may have been desperately trying to escape, or merely that it reinforces a simplistic worldview when reality is complicated and nuanced.
  Would it contain humanist statements? Would this push away atheists who aren’t humanists (like myself)?
  Would it try to “bridge the gap” and be inclusive of theists - giving weight to the idea that religious belief is equal to non-belief?
  Or the opposite, taking a strong stand against the belief in gods or the supernatural - that it is a negative force in society?
  Do you think it should be an open document, free to be edited by the community wikipedia style, or as you seem to infer - a static document?
  My wife and I just became “Friends of the Center”. I chose to give money and support to CFI because of how I saw it differed from other groups. There are some people I may not agree with, and there are certainly people in CFI who wouldn’t agree with me, on any number of topics. But, without going into detail here, there were things about what CFI is doing on the local and national level that appealed to me over other organizations. There were also specific issues I had with other organizations that turned me off from them. I would encourage CFI and other groups to work together, but they have differing, though often overlapping, goals/missions.
  I am also a member of a very small number of other organizations, because of specific issues that they support.


dougsmith:
As for this forum, I think it’s good to have it and indeed it may not be given the “props” it deserves (it is featured prominantly on the navbar of the cfi site, and that the show comments are crossposted as PoI comments on the show notes page is really good. Maybe it’s a bit too close to “1.0” than “2.0”, by which I mean it’s not dynamic like new social media - one strength of YouTube and other sites is that content can be brought into or interact with other websites easily. Blogs can easily link to one another and feed information through RSS.
It’s a pretty closed system (you have to sign up specifically to this message board to use it, and that account stays here), and it seems like it’s barely supported by the localized real world branches (looking at the sparse posts in the forums for each branch). CFI DC is active on facebook and meetup.com, but I see one poster was dismayed that according to these forums - nothing was going on in the nation’s capitol. Melody Hensley quickly replied, but maybe the “open forums” of facebook and meetup are better suited to organizing and communicating IRL activities, and that’s where a bulk of the interest is?

Again, the forum posts being used for comments on the PoI show notes page is really good integration. Is this done in other ways? The new podcast “Center Stage” doesn’t seem to have a forum, but it seems the infrastructure is there to do it. Maybe this is being worked on or there was a decision not to do it like PoI.

Is there work being done to try to push discussions in various other forums into this message board (i.e. meetup.com and facebook message boards)?

 
Kevin

 Signature 

“Our world was brutal, immoral, smug and conventional. We had unbounded contempt for all those who did not sin as we sinned.” Jim Tully Circus Parade

“Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” - John Milton Aeropagitca

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 November 2009 12:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15362
Joined  2006-02-14
KevinISlaughter - 28 November 2009 08:56 AM

dougsmith:
As for this forum, I think it’s good to have it and indeed it may not be given the “props” it deserves (it is featured prominantly on the navbar of the cfi site, and that the show comments are crossposted as PoI comments on the show notes page is really good. Maybe it’s a bit too close to “1.0” than “2.0”, by which I mean it’s not dynamic like new social media - one strength of YouTube and other sites is that content can be brought into or interact with other websites easily. Blogs can easily link to one another and feed information through RSS.
It’s a pretty closed system (you have to sign up specifically to this message board to use it, and that account stays here), and it seems like it’s barely supported by the localized real world branches (looking at the sparse posts in the forums for each branch). CFI DC is active on facebook and meetup.com, but I see one poster was dismayed that according to these forums - nothing was going on in the nation’s capitol. Melody Hensley quickly replied, but maybe the “open forums” of facebook and meetup are better suited to organizing and communicating IRL activities, and that’s where a bulk of the interest is?

Again, the forum posts being used for comments on the PoI show notes page is really good integration. Is this done in other ways? The new podcast “Center Stage” doesn’t seem to have a forum, but it seems the infrastructure is there to do it. Maybe this is being worked on or there was a decision not to do it like PoI.

Is there work being done to try to push discussions in various other forums into this message board (i.e. meetup.com and facebook message boards)?

The problems you note are all true, but they do not stem from an inherent weakness in the forum discussion topology itself, rather they stem from an unwillingness (at least heretofore) to use the forum to its fullest. Some of these problems stem from the particular forum software package we use, but far from all of them.

Facebook and meetup are great for organizing people, one to many, but not for fostering (online) organizations, many-to-many. That is, they are not good at actual discussion. (Except offline).

[ Edited: 28 November 2009 12:54 PM by dougsmith ]
 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 November 2009 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  66
Joined  2007-08-11
dougsmith - 28 November 2009 12:48 PM

The problems you note are all true, but they do not stem from an inherent weakness in the forum discussion topology itself, rather they stem from an unwillingness (at least heretofore) to use the forum to its fullest. Some of these problems stem from the particular forum software package we use, but far from all of them.

Facebook and meetup are great for organizing people, one to many, but not for fostering (online) organizations, many-to-many. That is, they are not good at actual discussion. (Except offline).

In the olden days of BBSes (I ran a WWIV board), message forums were part of the main structure, aside from online games and downloading, they were a main draw. When interBBS networks were built, some of the forums could be shared among many seperate BBSs, and on those you would have the social groups mixing with one another, but the board at large was still solely controlled by the sysop, and had curatorial powers over the posts that would appear on his site. I don’t know if your software allows such a thing, or if it’s been considered before, but I’m sure there are a number of forums on different sites that would fit well with one another. It would increase posting activity but still be pulling primarily from a pool of fairly “like minded” people.

If not public forums, I know most message boards have private forums for admins, etc. It may be worth it to test the idea with an administrator level forum for exchanging ideas between organizations on social networking, messageboard modifications, etc. (the “danger” there is if one site didn’t have proper security set up or implemented correctly, the contents may be exposed)

I do think that having a dedicated messageboard is still a good idea for the reasons you mention, I guess optimally there would be some merging of posts from outside the system to avoid repetition (as in replacing blog comments on PoI with message board posts).

Kevin

 Signature 

“Our world was brutal, immoral, smug and conventional. We had unbounded contempt for all those who did not sin as we sinned.” Jim Tully Circus Parade

“Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” - John Milton Aeropagitca

Profile
 
 
Posted: 28 November 2009 03:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15362
Joined  2006-02-14
KevinISlaughter - 28 November 2009 01:23 PM

In the olden days of BBSes (I ran a WWIV board), message forums were part of the main structure, aside from online games and downloading, they were a main draw. When interBBS networks were built, some of the forums could be shared among many seperate BBSs, and on those you would have the social groups mixing with one another, but the board at large was still solely controlled by the sysop, and had curatorial powers over the posts that would appear on his site. I don’t know if your software allows such a thing, or if it’s been considered before, but I’m sure there are a number of forums on different sites that would fit well with one another. It would increase posting activity but still be pulling primarily from a pool of fairly “like minded” people.

If not public forums, I know most message boards have private forums for admins, etc. It may be worth it to test the idea with an administrator level forum for exchanging ideas between organizations on social networking, messageboard modifications, etc. (the “danger” there is if one site didn’t have proper security set up or implemented correctly, the contents may be exposed)

I do think that having a dedicated messageboard is still a good idea for the reasons you mention, I guess optimally there would be some merging of posts from outside the system to avoid repetition (as in replacing blog comments on PoI with message board posts).

Thanks for the thoughts, they are all interesting and useful. The issue here is that our software backend is not in my hands, but is part of a site-wide package that has centralized and limited tech support. The support efforts now are going to very specific, larger-scale site upgrades, and forum functionality in particular appears to have been left very much on the back burner. The present software is really not optimally designed for fora at all, and would require some pretty significant reworking (or ditching in favor of a dedicated forum software package) to be really optimal, but I fear that is not in the cards since it would increase support overhead and I have been led to believe that we don’t have the resources.

CFI only has the one forum; I doubt we could easily merge fora with outside organizations. I would be leery of it myself without knowing and agreeing to policies, etc., which could easily become something of a headache. There are also higher-level institutional political issues that I imagine would derail the effort or at least make it difficult to implement.

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 02 December 2009 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  4
Joined  2009-11-26

Notwithstanding the possiblity that a Manifesto or Constitution gets negative press from the me too “Commandments” camp, I thought I would experiment with a site and see if anyone wants to contribute either bullet points or links to skeptic resources. Not trying to reinvent the wheel here - merely provide a quick landing point for the New New Skeptics of 2.3 and 3.0 in the future.

http://sites.google.com/site/skepticsconstitution/

Thoughts? Comments on that website appreciated.

[ Edited: 02 December 2009 09:05 AM by afd ]
Profile