Posts Tagged 'Blogging'

The More I Learn, The More I Realize How Little I Know

Well, damn it’s been a long time. I never wanted to be one of those people who let their blog fall into disrepair, but here we are. My last post was made in February. FEBRUARY!

I always enjoyed writing and putting in my own two cents on things, but for awhile there it was beginning to feel like a chore. I think that I was trying too hard to blog on a regular basis, and to make scheduled posts and so on, so it started feeling like homework instead of an enjoyable passtime. After a certain amount of time had passed it felt like I had let the blog die and I was a bit ashamed about all of the promises I didn’t fulfill, and the comments that I didn’t answer. I definitely let myself down.

So here I am about 6 months later hoping to rectify the situation. I want my blog to continue, and I want it to be fun again! So I’m starting with this post, and I’m resolving to make no promises about future posts. I don’t promise to post on a regular basis, I don’t promise to post about certain topics, and I don’t promise to respond to all comments although know that I read them all and take them to heart and appreciate the feedback and challenges! I’m just going to write about what I feel like, whenever I feel compelled to.

Now to the title of this post: The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. It’s a saying I’m sure you’ve all heard in some form or another (I feel like it’s something I read in the Bible once upon a time, but I’m not sure), but it’s related to why my posts here started tapering off. It might have just been my experience, but when I suddenly realized that I no longer believed in God and started going down the path of skepticism, I felt like everything was clear and that I understood that all of those paranormal things were bunk and I was prepared to handle every argument thrown my way.

I felt like suddenly I was in on the big secret, like I became that one kid in a group of kids that didn’t believe in Santa. I was given some special knowledge that all of these weird things the people around us believe and preach are simply the result of thousands of years of storytelling and indoctrination. I have to admit that it made me a bit arrogant. I didn’t become like that caricature of the atheist as the person who can’t keep his/her mouth shut when someone says “god bless” after a sneeze, but whenever something of a religious or paranormal nature would come up in conversation I had thoughts running through my head saying how can someone really think this crap and that’s so ignorant, and so on.

My blog became a bit of an outlet for that. When I read something loony or came across a ghosty website I would post it up and poke fun without giving it any kind of serious thought, secure in the knowledge that my naturalistic world view was right and that I didn’t have to give these things any further consideration. I even found myself parroting things said by some of the leaders in the skeptical community, without thinking twice. I cringe at that, because as a person who is trying to be a good skeptic, that’s the worst way I could go about things.

But, I’m not worried about that now, because skepticism is a learning process. As someone who previously would believe just about anything if it was under the guise of Christianity or if it made even a little bit of superficial sense, learning to think critically and to think for myself was a long process, and one that’s still ongoing. The more I learn about the universe, about science, and about how to think critically, the less I realize I know, and the less I feel qualified to be repeating things on my blog, so consequently the less I began to write.

In recent times I think I got a lot better at just writing what I knew, taking things at face value and thinking about arguments on my own without just re-hashing someone else’s. But after awhile I felt like I was completely over-stepping my bounds by trying to speak authoritatively on anything besides my own personal experiences. I stepped away from the skeptical community for awhile, I even stopped reading Pharyngula for awhile (shocking, I know), plus all of the other atheist and skeptical blogs that I used to love reading.

I think it’s good to step out of your little world for a little while, but I’ve definitely missed blogging and I’m back to trying to keep up with all aspects of the skeptical community, and it’s great to be back! Sometimes you get stuck in a bubble of only seeing and hearing things that you agree with, so stepping out of that helps you to get a better perspective and to see things from other peoples’ points of view for a change. Here’s a really great TED Talk that’s somewhat related:

Wow, well I’ve been writing for a long time and who knows if anyone will even read this! I completely forgot where I was going with this…hmmm…

I’ll try to conclude here, what I’ve been trying to say is (and I want to be clear that this only applies to me and not all skeptics) that I was getting a little too wrapped up in the skeptical community, to an extent that I was turning off my critical thinking at times and just following along with what I read and heard from people I admire. I’ve tried to expand my influences and gain some better perspective and understanding, so now I fell ready to pick up the blogging game again and think for myself more rather than constantly deferring to authorities. Sound good?

Even if none of that made sense, I had fun writing it and that’s what it’s all about! Right? Right???

My Mom’s History with Religion (Part 2)

The following is a guest post from my mom, I hope you enjoy it an I’m interested in hearing your thoughts!

Hi everyone, I’m back. Sorry I am taking so long to post another piece. It has been a struggle deciding what thoughts, feelings and information to share about my life. The struggle is about respecting boundaries…mine and others. Something that is helping me make decisions in this regard is this new favourite saying of mine by an unknown author; I heard it on one of the latest episodes of “Being Erica”…

“Life they say can turn on a dime. In a world that constantly shifts beneath our feet, the only thing we know for certain is how we feel. The love we have, the fear we hide from, the pain we push away…give them a voice and the rewards are peace of mind and a peaceful heart.”

During the process of composing a future post about how psychology has influenced my life, I have been finding myself constantly questioning “How relative is this to the rest of the content of Lindsay’s blog? Are people really interested in knowing about my personal struggles? What in the world is my intention for sharing this information with Lindsay, her spouse (the only people I actually know that read this blog) and the anonymous strangers that read this blog?”

So I feel a need to preface any possible future posts with this one. I need to express up front that I feel like some sort of interloper on this blog. Even though Lindsay has assured me that whatever I write is okay, I am still having trepidations. Even though I am quite motivated and feel my intentions are honourable I still need another shot of encouragement, reassurance and permission that this is the right forum to tell my story.

I can somewhat justify that my history is part of Lindsay’s and therefore has some relevance to her blog on the basis that my story has influenced her life directly and indirectly. My intentions have a great deal to do with providing her with a bigger, clearer picture of who her mother is. Also, the process of writing this is helping me focus on the parts of my life that I think are most valuable to share.

My initial interest in telling my story was sparked in my early thirties when I briefly attended a bible study group. This group began each session with someone telling “their story” with the intent of showing how God was working in their lives. I remember being in awe of those who volunteered to do so. First and foremost, I admired their ability and willingness to articulate and share their innermost struggles with others. I also envied them for being able to express their most authentic selves, something I desperately wanted to do, but felt I couldn’t without betraying the confidences I felt I owed to others. Finally, I was amazed at the creative ways they were able to see the big picture and create a story out of their lives. In essence they were speaking about the cards they had been dealt, how they coped, and how everything shaped them into who they were today. In addition, I appreciated the positive outcomes that their collective stories offered. It didn’t matter so much that they attributed their outcomes to God, what mattered to me was the inspiring messages of hope that I always took away. It was then that I first realized and had come to believe in the healing power of sharing one’s story. It was a healing that seemed to occur not only within the teller but to the listener as well.

So over the past few decades I have persistently tried to tell my own story hoping for the restorative qualities I believed it would provide me and ultimately my family. My attempts took many forms mostly involving journaling and talk therapy. My major stumbling block was always the feeling that I would be betraying another’s confidence so I mostly limited myself to letting my inner life unfold within the confines of a therapist’s office. Unfortunately, what I have finally come to realize is that in the effort to protect others I was sacrificing my own authenticity and in a sense I was betraying myself. Is this making sense to anyone?

Sharing my innermost thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and hopes with a counsellor definitely helped me find peace of mind, yet it still felt like it wasn’t quite enough. More and more I felt as though I needed to share my authentic self with my family and the community at large. When my husband left me in September of 2009, I immediately began to feel less constrained about speaking about my past. While his leaving wounded me deeply, it also opened me up to new possibilities. Suddenly I was able to be myself more with my children, friends and other family members. It has been a huge relief to be able to talk to them about some of my struggles and it is my hope that in the knowing, my children especially, will gain something…whatever that may be.

To conclude, I am unaware of a forum that provides atheists an opportunity to tell their story. So, perhaps in addition to Lindsay’s unique and creative way of telling her story, the telling of mine, will provide further inspiration for others to speak of theirs. That is one of my hopes. I think it is important to know what you don’t believe and why. Equally as important is to know what you do believe and how you came to believe that. Would you like to know more about me? More of what I believe? Is this the right place to voice my story?

Pseudoscience of the Month

You may have noticed that lately I’ve lacked inspiration for posts – I’ve been feeling a bit like all I ever talk about is atheism. I have so many ideas for upcoming posts about atheism, but I didn’t want this blog to only be about my skepticism of religion, I want it to be about my skepticism in general. I suppose the reason that I’ve resorted to posting mainly about atheism is that I spent most of my life immersed in religion, so I have a lot to say on the subject.

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with writing what you know, but I feel like if I’m going to continue to identify myself with the skeptical community I ought to give these things that I dismiss as pseudoscience a fair shake. I think my reasons for dismissing things such as astrology or ghosties as pseudoscience are sound, and I don’t feel that I need to spend years researching the subjects to realize that they’re just not plausible. But I recently started reading Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer, and it has helped me to realize that there’s a lot to learn about science and nature and humanity from critically examining these weird things that people believe.

So here’s the plan. Each month I’m going to choose a pseudoscience or a topic that’s popular for skeptics to look at, and immerse myself in it. I’ll read blogs about ghosts, listen to podcasts about cryptozoology, I’ll subscribe to relevant Google Alerts, and I’ll look at the best evidence in favour of those things I don’t believe in. I’ll also read what the skeptics have to say on the subjects, and I’ll form my own opinion by blogging about what I learn. Sound like fun?

“Pseudoscience of the Month” is a poor name – any better ideas?

Here are some ideas for months I have so far (I’m taking suggestions):

  • Astrology
  • Creationism
  • Ghosts
  • Psychics
  • Near Death Experiences
  • 9/11 Truth
  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Climate Change Denial
  • The Anti-Vaccine Movement

Oh btw: I’m not doing homeopathy ever! It’s been beaten to death by other people and there’s no way I can spend a whole month reading about dilutions and sugar pills.

I also want to tackle some common sense ideas, things that I go along with but that skeptics are…uh…skeptical of. I can only think of two for now:

  • Organic Food (is it really healthier/better for the environment)
  • Positive Thinking

December will be the first month, what do you think would be a good topic for that holiest of months? The historicity of Jesus? Creationism? The “America is a Christian nation” myth? Although all of those things may go against my initial push for starting this “of the month” thing – which is to not limit myself to talking about religion all the time.

I also want to invite any of you that have blogs to join me – the more the merrier! I’ll link to your posts and we can all learn from each other.

Sound like a plan?

Women and Skepticism

If you’ve ever been to a meeting of skeptics, chances are you’ve noticed a big gap between the number of men and the number of women in attendance. When I started this blog I remember trying to think of what would set my point of view apart from the thousands of other skeptical blogs out there. All I could think of was that it might be interesting that I was formerly a believer of many of the things I now criticize, but it took some comments on my gender to make me realize that being a female skeptical blogger is actually pretty rare.

I’ve never gone and counted, but in my anecdotal experience most skeptical, atheist, and science-related blogs are written by men. So why is this? Skeptifem recently blogged about this, and her thinking was that it’s because women are busier, as we are generally tasked with looking after the kids or the home. I have no doubt that this contributes to the lack of ladies at skeptical gatherings, but I think there has to be more to it than that, otherwise we should expect women to also be underrepresented at things like Mind, Body, Spirit Festivals and in Church activities, no? Thankfully, PZ Myers recently posed the question on his blog:

So I’m going to try something a little different. Instead of telling you my opinion, I’m going to forgo the essential principle of blogging (which is “Me! Me!”) and just ask people, especially women, to leave links to their godless/skeptical feminist blog or make suggestions or gripe or tell me what these stupid male-dominated conventions have to do to correct the imbalance.

There was a lot of interesting discussion, so I recommend looking at the comments. Personally, I think it largely has to do with it being less socially acceptable for a woman to be outspoken, confrontational, and intellectual. I’m not sure what the solution is to this issue, maybe you can post your suggestions in the comments, but I think that promoting female skeptics is a good place to start. If more women are seen to be participating in skepticism at least online, then maybe we won’t be seen as a novelty simply by virtue of our gender.

So I’ve gone through the comments on that thread on Pharyngula and compiled this list of skeptical blogs/podcasts/websites that happen to be created by women (hopefully I didn’t miss any, there were over 600 comments). Enjoy!

Feel free to add more links in the comments!

I also want to take this opportunity to say that I’ve been wanting to find other contributors to this blog since my posts are so sporatic, and this whole topic of women in skepticism has made me think that it would be great to get some other women posting on my blog. If you’re interested (even if you want to cross-post from your own blog), shoot me an email through my contact page.

The Frustrations of Skeptical Blogging

I never wanted to be one of those people who started a blog only to abandon it when I got bored, but here I am just over a year into my blogging and I haven’t posted or responded to any comments in a couple of weeks. I have been reading the comments and I thank you for your feedback, but I just haven’t been able to find the motivation to come here and respond to anything, or to come up with any new material.

I just want to do a little bit of thinking out loud…

When I started doubting my religion and that lead me to the wonderful world of skepticism, I felt like the fog had been lifted from my brain. I was free to ponder whatever I wanted, no longer worrying about a tyrannical god monitoring my thoughts, and I began to exercise my curiosity. I felt so much joy in the clarity that skepticism was bringing me, something that I had never felt when I was held back by religion and faith. So, of course, I wanted to share that with people, so I started this blog.

I think maybe people have a tendency to assume that others think the way that they do, so when I started to think skeptically I couldn’t understand how someone could, for example, believe that psychics were legit, when it was so obvious to me that they’re lying or deluded. So when I started my blog I would just kind of post things to make fun of the silly woos without really backing up my thoughts, things that I thought other people would agree with. Now when I look back at that I’m just embarrassed, so part of my lack of motivation to blog lately has had to do with me wanting to distance myself from my past mistakes. I’m considering deleting some of that old stuff, but I don’t want to feel like I’m just hiding my errors.

It’s also a struggle to get across some of the things I’m discovering that help me wade through the vast amount of information that’s out there, to get to the true stuff. I’ve never been particularly good at teaching, but I really want people to know the things I’ve been learning in books (recent ones I’ve enjoyed are Godless, Letter to a Christian Nation, The Demon-Haunted World, and I’m currently reading Voodoo Histories and it’s fantastic). I guess I have trouble understanding that not everyone is as into these things as I am. So I’ve tried to steer my blog more in the direction of discussing my own everyday experiences and how they relate to my skeptical outlook – I hope that’s come across. I think my favourite post of mine has to be the one about my childhood Bible. I guess I’m a little unclear about what I wanted this blog to be, so maybe that’s why I’ve just opted to be silent the past little while? I don’t know…

What really frustrates me, is when people just don’t get the point of what I’m trying to say. I admit that that’s as much (if not more so) my own fault as it is the reader’s, but, okay I’ll give an example… I recently posted about some red flags that could help someone spot bullshit. One of them was about how testimonials aren’t reliable evidence, and then someone comes and posts a testimonial! I just had to laugh after I saw that, and then I started thinking “what am I even doing with this blog?” It feels like nothing!

I guess over the past couple of weeks I’ve been more and more feeling like this whole Struck by Enlightning project has been an exercise in futility. I was going to just shut the whole thing down, but now I’m reconsidering. As Socrates said, “the unexamined life is not worth living”, and if anything this blog has forced me to examine my life, my words, my beliefs, my flaws.

So I think I’m going to keep plugging along. I overloaded a little bit and now I’m rebooting and I’m going to try to take it easy. I’m going to try to get back to blogging about things that interest me, and I hope some of you are entertained.

Alright thanks for letting me indulge in that rant!

I’ll wrap this up now but I do want to make it clear that I really appreciate everyone’s comments, there have been some thoughtful and some provoking ones lately and although I haven’t responded to them due to my little blogging detox, I have read them all and discussed many of them with my husband.

Okay I’ll shut up now! I’m not even going to read over this so sorry for any spelling errors or if it doesn’t even make sense. I just wanted to put it all out there.

Something a Little Personal & Douchebag Campus Preachers

Hello readers, if you stop by here regularly enough you may have noticed that I haven’t been posting lately. This is because of stresses that are going on in my life right now. I have had plenty of time to blog, but I’m having difficulty concentrating so I have a zillion unfinished drafts of posts.

I just want to let you know that I’m going to try harder to focus. I have drafts that I intend on finishing, comments that I will respond to, and a hoax countdown that I will resume. I promise!

So this post isn’t a complete waste, there was an amusing picture posted on Friendly Atheist today:

What an ass, I’m glad those men are making him feel uncomfortable. He should feel uncomfortable. If he thinks that love (or even simply lust) between two consenting adults should be eternally punished he should be ashamed of himself. Do preachers really think they’ll win converts by displaying their bigotry like this? Especially at Yale, which is where this picture was taken.

And serious, WTF, Democrats? Feminists? And these are lumped in with Thieves? What a random assortment of words. I wonder how he narrowed it down. I wonder why gangster rappers, but not gangsters? I wonder why potheads, but not drug dealers?

Thankfully there’s no such place as Hell, because I’m at least 8 of those things.

What’s the Deal? – ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss

Okay I have to ask…

2 or 3 of the total daily views of this blog come from people who type “ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss” into a search engine.

I don’t get it…help me out?

I’m Back!

I haven’t made any new posts in awhile, but I’m missing blogging so I’m back!

I suppose that the reason I stopped was that I was making mistakes in my reasoning and getting off track of what I wanted my blog to be about, and I was getting frustrated with myself. But that’s not a good reason to stop, so I’m going to make a commitment now to start blogging regularly again. Thank you to the people who have commented recently, it’s these comments that have encouraged me to start up again. I’ll try to respond to many of the recent comments.

I just want to comment on a few things before I get back to my regular blogging…

I found that a lot of my recent posts were just poking fun at strange beliefs, and that’s not what my goal was with this blog. I also want to express my excitement with regards to learning about science. I’m a very positive person, so I want to make an effort to blog about what I enjoy. I’ll still be pointing out pseudoscience and bad reasoning, but I want to balance that with talking about cool discoveries and interesting things I’m learning about.

In one instance I posted in the comments section of a post that I wanted someone to show me the evidence they had for the paranormal. They responded with several links to studies, and I didn’t give them much more than a cursory glance. I asked for the evidence (though I should have specified what I was looking for evidence for) and I should have given the responses to that request more of a look, but I was dismissive. I wasn’t worried that I would see evidence that would challenge my world view. I welcome a challenge to my world view. Rather, I had no interest in reading over what was given to me. From now on, when I ask for evidence, I’ll look at what’s given in response to that. And if I’m feeling particularly ambitious one day, I’ll read over what was given to me in the comments of that post. I also want to add that my response to that situation was not representative of people in the skeptical movement. I’m a rookie at this, and I’m learning more and more each day.

Some people had said that I had swapped Jesus for James Randi, and this is not true. I admire Randi, sure, as I admire many other scientists and skeptics, but I do not worship him, I do not follow him blindly, and I do not believe that he has all of the answers. I just wanted to make that clear.

I think I’ve dealt with everything I wanted to talk about for now, but if anyone has any questions or comments about my hiatus please post them here :)

I’m happy to be back, now on with our regularly scheduled program…


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