Posted by mattusmaximus on March 19, 2012
**Update (3-20-12): In the spirit of promoting unity, as opposed to divisiveness, among our community in regards to the Reason Rally, its organization and promotion, etc. I would like to give my friend Phil at Skeptic Money a shout out. That’s because Phil has really put his money where his mouth is, because his company – Polaris Financial – is the first corporate sponsor of the Reason Rally! I think we could take a lesson from Phil on a few things…
So I just read a fantastic post by my skeptical colleague Hemant Mehta over at The Friendly Atheist about the upcoming Reason Rally in Washington, DC this coming weekend (Saturday, March 24th). Hemant is one of the organizers of the Reason Rally, and he and a lot of other people have basically been working themselves like crazy to get this thing together. Indeed, it promises to be a historic event: the largest gathering of secular/atheist/non-religious/skeptical folk ever in our nation’s capitol. Check out the Reason Rally’s website if you haven’t yet…
This brings me to Hemant’s post. It seems there is a LOT of complaining going on in our community about some of the speakers at the Rally. Here are some points from Hemant’s post…
So there’s a week to go before the Reason Rally and the complaining is already in full stride. As if all the organizers and volunteers don’t give a damn about reason and are just letting anyone with a pulse onstage…
… Look, the organizers spent a long time listening to the suggestions of dozens of people (representing tens of thousands of atheists) regarding who should speak at the Rally. They did everything in their power to contact all the “big names” that people said they wanted to hear at the Rally. They rustled up and managed the hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding needed to put on an event of this magnitude. They got every major organization in our movement to work together to make this work — and that’s not an easy thing to do. They had to deal with the speakers complaining about their prominence on our website (yep, it happened).
Just about everyone believes in something irrational. Including atheists. So, yes, you’re going to hear people at the Rally who hold ideas we think are completely unreasonable. Maybe even harmful.
If we got rid of every speaker who held an irrational belief, there would be no one left on that stage. …
… You can argue that the Rally needs higher “standards,” but you’re missing the point. This isn’t just about us. This isn’t just about spreading science and atheism. This is about drawing attention to our movement. This is about getting media attention. This is about getting all those people not attending the rally (or who don’t even know there are so many other atheists out there) to notice us and maybe — just maybe — get the courage to come out of the closet or attend a local atheist gathering. … [emphasis added]
There are many more good points that Hemant made in his post, and I generally applaud him for sticking to his guns. I, for one, think that he and the other organizers have done a damn fine job of putting this whole thing together (despite the fact that I have my own criticisms, which I shall keep to myself, thank you.) And I say that not just as an onlooker, but also as someone who, like Hemant, helped to organize a major conference (though nothing on this scale!) in Chicago back in 2004. As such, I can appreciate the headache that Hemant and his colleagues are dealing with now. It was enough of a pain that I don’t think I ever want to do it again, so bully for the Reason Rally organizers!
All that said, folks, I think all of this complaining and infighting is in many ways a good problem for our movement to have. It shows that our skeptical/atheist/reason-based/anti-woo/whatever movement has grown so large that it is getting to the point of divisions showing. That’s called growing pains, folks; and note the important word in that description: growing 🙂
Posted in religion, skeptical community | Tagged: atheists, conference, event, Godless, Hemant Mehta, movement, national mall, nonreligious, organizer, protest, rally, reason, Reason Rally, RR, secular, secularists, separation of church and state, skeptical, skepticism, skeptics, speakers, The Friendly Atheist, Washington DC | 3 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on May 28, 2010
As if the whole debacle of anti-vaccination guru Andrew Wakefield’s pathetic attendance at his rally (only about 100 people showed up – some “rally”) wasn’t hilarious enough, the following photo was acquired from the Age of Autism website…
It seems that the Countering Age of Autism blog has a “fill in the caption” contest underway to see who can come up with the most snarky caption making fun of Wakefield. Have at it! 🙂
Posted in humor | Tagged: Age of Autism, alt-med, alternative medicine, American Rally for Personal Rights, Andrew Wakefield, anti-vaccination, anti-vaccination movement, anti-vaccinationists, anti-vax, anti-vaxxers, autism, AVM, Big Pharma, Chicago, conspiracy, green our vaccines, health, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, Jenny McCarthy, Lancet, mecury, medicine, mmr, protest, rally, squalene, The Friendly Atheist, thimerisol, vaccine, Wakefield, Women Thinking Free Foundation, WTFF | 1 Comment »
Posted by mattusmaximus on May 28, 2010
I just want to provide a quick follow up to yesterday’s post about how the Women Thinking Free Foundation’s (WTFF) crew from the nascent Hug Me! campaign skeptically ninjaed the anti-vaccination rally hosting uber-douchebag Andrew Wakefield. It seems that since I blogged about it, the story has exploded all over the skeptical blogosphere, with the famous photo of Wakefield getting skeptically pwned making many appearances 🙂
The two skeptical ninjas shown here on either side of Andrew “Douchebag” Wakefield are Jamie Bernstein and Bruce Critelli. In the words of another of my skeptical colleagues, these two “are the mayors of Balls City!” Indeed 😀
Jamie recounts her experience of the rally over at The Friendly Atheist – feel free to follow Jamie via Twitter .@UAJamie
Bruce shares some really interesting video he shot at the rally
Of Bruce’s video, the most unnerving part was, to me, a story that Wakefield told the “crowd” (less than 100 people is hardly a crowd) with one woman who was talking about her son…
About 15 years ago a mother from London approached him and said “Do not judge me too harshly Dr. Wakefield, but when I die I am taking my son with me. You see, I’m all he has. I’m the only one who loves him.”
“I didn’t judge,” said Wakefield. “I was moved by the love that a mother must have for her child that she would take his life rather than have him fall upon a society that really didn’t give a damn.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: Age of Autism, alt-med, alternative medicine, American Rally for Personal Rights, Andrew Wakefield, anti-vaccination, anti-vaccination movement, anti-vaccinationists, anti-vax, anti-vaxxers, autism, AVM, Big Pharma, Chicago, conspiracy, green our vaccines, health, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, Jenny McCarthy, Lancet, mecury, medicine, mmr, protest, rally, squalene, The Friendly Atheist, thimerisol, vaccine, Wakefield, Women Thinking Free Foundation, WTFF | 13 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on May 27, 2010
**Update: Check out my follow-up post for more news, photos, and video of this event.
Well, congratulate me folks – I’m now officially part of a squad of skeptical ninjas 🙂
Today, there was an anti-vaccination rally in Chicago, and the king of anti-vax woo & nonsense – Andrew Wakefield himself – showed up. I suppose he decided to hang with his anti-vax homies here in the U.S. seeing as how he’s essentially lost his license to practice medicine in the United Kingdom because of his fraudulent work there.
Anyway, the new skeptical group I’m part of, the Women Thinking Free Foundation (WTFF), caught wind of this wave of woo headed our way (we’re based in Chicago) and we decided, with two days notice, to mobilize and counter protest… and we did! I did not personally attend the counter protest, as I had to teach today, but I and many others were working behind the scenes to help organize it.
The word went out like wildfire across the Internet – via email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and message boards – and we were able to gather a group of about 10 people there. In addition, our WTFF ninjas were able to hand out plenty of pro-vaccine literature to passers-by who might have otherwise thought that Wakefield and his ilk weren’t batcrap crazy. Here are some examples of our handouts we whipped up as part of WTFF’s new “Hug Me, I’m Vaccinated!” campaign…
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in medical woo, skeptical community | Tagged: alt-med, alternative medicine, American Rally for Personal Rights, Andrew Wakefield, anti-vaccination, anti-vaccination movement, anti-vaccinationists, anti-vax, anti-vaxxers, autism, AVM, Big Pharma, Chicago, conspiracy, green our vaccines, health, Hug Me, Hug Me I'm Vaccinated, Jenny McCarthy, Lancet, mecury, medicine, mmr, protest, rally, squalene, thimerisol, vaccine, Wakefield, Women Thinking Free Foundation, WTFF | 33 Comments »
Posted by mattusmaximus on June 16, 2009
I don’t usually delve into strictly political waters, but recent events in Iran have compelled me to share some important information with the readers of this blog. One of the key things that drives all skeptics & scientifically-minded folk is the spirit of free inquiry. Without the free flow of unfiltered information, science & skepticism in their purest & most useful forms wither.
Well, right now in Iran, there seems to be a revolution of sorts in the offing. There are huge protests, numbering in the 100s of thousands for days, alleging widespread & deep fraud on the part of the Iranian government and incumbent president & hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The challenger, a moderate politician named Mir Hossein Mousavi, is stating publicly that he will not accept the results of a fraudulent election, and he is demanding a revote.
Unfortunately, the Iranian government has responded violently to these protests, and they are also attempting to impose a media blackout. This includes kicking foreign journalists out of the country and keeping them locked in their hotel rooms so they cannot cover the events unfolding in Iran. In addition, the Iranian government is also attempting to silence dissent on the Internet by shutting down popular websites such as Twitter and Facebook.
This is where you can come in. I found the following information on a thread at the JREF Forum:
If you have geek skills, an extra computer/server, and an interest in undermining fascist censorship, please help! Here’s how you can set up an anonymous proxy server to help Iranians bypass the Internet barriers.
Mac OS X
There are people calling for anyone with a twitter account to change their location to Tehran and their time to +3:30 GMT in order to throw off government searches for Iranian students who are tweeting.
Please consider helping out; if you don’t have the skills necessary to set up a proxy server or set Twitter accounts, pass along this info to someone who can. Help defend free inquiry in Iran!
Posted in free inquiry, politics | Tagged: Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, blackout, censorship, computers, democracy, dictatorship, election, Facebook, fraud, free inquiry, internet, Iran, Iranian, James Randi Educational Foundation, journalism, JREF, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, media, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, presidential election 2009, protest, proxy, revolution, science, servers, skeptical community, skepticism, supreme leader, Twitter, websites | Leave a Comment »