Dec 10 2010

Supporting Skepticism

I rarely take up space on this blog simply to ask for support, so I hope you will indulge me. I also know that the skeptical “movement” is a very loosely organized collection of people who have some overlap in world view (a basic respect for reason and intellectual rigor) but are otherwise diverse in beliefs, politics, and even some values. Many self-identified skeptics don’t like belonging to “movements”, or even attaching labels to themselves, and resent any attempt to talk about skepticism as a movement or organization.

But like it or not, we are a movement. We are collectively trying to make our society and the world at large a more skeptical place, to raise the level of appreciation for science, logic, and reason and to counter the influences of superstition, mysticism, and fraud – some just by educating themselves, but at the other end of the spectrum by direct activism. It is a Herculean task, especially since fraud and superstition seem to pay very well, and so the forces attempting to make the world less skeptical are generally well-funded.

Everything that we do takes resources. The end of the year is a good time to consider supporting the various non-profit organizations that are promoting the skeptical world-view. The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) has their year end fund-raising campaign, the Season of Reason. This year they have an anonymous donor who will match any donations up to $100,000, so if you do plan on donating to the JREF now is the time to do it. I am a big supporter of the JREF, and in the past year, under D.J. Grothe’s leadership, the organization has grown tremendously. They are branching out into many new educational projects and are really helping take the skeptical movement to the next level.

Another non-profit skeptical organization deserving of support is the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI). This is the group that really got the modern skeptical movement going, and they continue to tirelessly promote scientific skepticism, most prominently through their publication The Skeptical Inquirer. SI was my introduction into the skeptical movement, and I still read each issue cover-to-cover. I am also now proud to be a regular contributor to SI through my column, The Science of Medicine (I was also appointed as a Fellow of CSI earlier this year).

You can also support skepticism by joining and supporting your local skeptical group. There are dozens of local groups in the US alone, and many internationally, including many meet-up groups like Skeptics in the Pub and Drinking Skeptically.

And finally, I hope you will consider supporting the humble efforts of the NESS, including this blog, Science-based medicine, and the Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast. We also organize the annual NECSS meeting with the New York City Skeptics, and are always looking for ways to expand our activities and reach. You can donate to the NESS through paypal, or just contact me (snovella (at) for other methods.

Thanks for your indulgence.

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