The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Skepticism & Love: “I Married a Woo!”

Posted by mattusmaximus on September 13, 2009

Recently, I saw a post on the JREF Forum by Robert Lancaster, a skeptic who is widely known for his website StopSylvia.com – dedicated to exposing supposed psychic Sylvia Browne for being a fraud.  It is fair to say that Robert is a hardcore skeptic, willing to go to extraordinary lengths to expose fakery and hold such liars to account for their actions (like willfully deceiving & bilking the credulous).

However, the content of his post is not what you might think… it is his account of how he met his current wife, Susan, and how he – a hardened skeptic – and she – a believer – gradually grew to love each other to the point of getting married.  In the process, Robert showed how his patience & understanding and willingness to carefully & thoughtfully express his skepticism to one who did not share it eventually won her over.  I think there are lessons here from which many of us can learn…

HPIM3880

I Married a Woo!

Back in 2002, I was going through a divorce with my first wife, and decided to use some of the online find-a-date services in my search for a lady to spend some time with. I settled on match.com, and dated a few women I found there. the third woman I met there was Susan, who ***SPOILER*** I married in 2007.

I came close to not even seeing her profile, because, in the match.com search engine, I had almost selected “religious preferences must match.” I had stated a religious preference of “none”, and Susan had selected “Christian”. I thought long and hard before telling the search engine that a match on religious preference was not a must. I was in the middle of a divorce from a Catholic-turned Wiccan, and my Agnosticism had been a thorn in her side for some time. But I figured that, if I could deal with a Catholic/Wiccan, I could deal with an ordinary “Christian.”

Susan and I started chatting online, the talking by phone, and, eventually, started dating.

On one of our first dates, I was driving, and we were waiting at a red light when Susan said “Hey, there’s that guy I like so much!” I turned to face her, and saw she was pointing out the car window. I looked in the direction she was pointing, and saw a poster of … John Edward.

A few seconds later, Susan said “Why are you banging your head on the steering wheel?” We drove onward, starting a long conversation about cold reading, and my thoughts on “psychics.”

Later, the first time I visited Susan’s home, I found a book by … Sylvia Browne.

Now, many here would have cut and run at that point, if not earlier. Had I done so, I would have missed out on so much…

We often watched John Edward’s show, as well as that of James VanPraagh. I found myself answering lots of questions Susan would ask (“See, now how did he know that?”), and we discussed cold and hot reading in some detail.
Susan started having her doubts about “psychics”, but it wasn’t until she caught a show titled “Secrets of the Psychics” that she finally came to the conclusion that a lot of it was fraudulent. I’d like to think that some of our conversations on the topic got her somewhat “on the fence”, and that tv show was the last straw that tipped her to the skeptical side.

Several years later, it was Susan who insisted that I talk to my Mom about this “Kaz” character who had spoken at her (my Mom’s) church. A few years after that, Forumites were saying “You’ve stopped Kaz – who’s next?” When I talked to Susan about it, she said “If you think that these “psychics are really hurting people, stop complaining about it, and do something about it! Stop Sylvia Browne was the result.

Not long after that, we married in a non-religious ceremony, on the happiest day of my life.

Susan has been my proofreader, my second set of eyes, and my most enthusiastic supporter throughout the SSB project. combine this with the tons of hours I’ve spent away from her and working on articles, and you’ll start to understand how crucial she has been to the site’s growth and power.

Add to all of this the fact that she has stood by me through the whole stroke business, and quite likely saved my life at least once during it, as well as being instrumental in getting the SSB site back up after it was hijacked, and you should see that, if you have appreciated any of what I have done with my Stop sites, you owe a big “thank you” to my Better Half, a former “woo”, for being instrumental in their creation and continuation.

I owe her so much more than thanks, and am more happy than I can say that I didn’t “cut and run” because we differed on some important things.

Thanks, my love, for being all this and so much more to me.

2 Responses to “Skepticism & Love: “I Married a Woo!””

  1. GeekGoddess said

    You two are so sweet.

  2. Thanks for the blog entry! And thanks, GeekGoddess, for the comment!

    By the way, NONE of the automaucally-generated, “possibly related posts” are related at all! They all refer to Susans, but not MY Susan! -RSL

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