The cold-turkey sandwiches are the meal of choice; Dad is trying to set up the bargain blu-ray he stood in line for more hours than he saved dollars for yesterday; the needles on the tree are beginning to accumulate on the carpet as though the tree itself knew that the climax of the season was over; and the kids young and old are settling down to watch World Juniors (Poor, poor Latvia – that was just plain ugly.) Pardon my sixth-gen Eurocentric holiday view. I could just as easily make comments about scraping wax off the table beneath the menorah or tending the emotional wounds from the airing of the grievances – but I’d be making that stuff up from whole cloth. I’m not going to apologize for my heritage references here, amongst folk who in most cases aren’t particularly tied to the reason(s) for the season.
Whatever your traditions – devout or, presumably if you are reading this blog, otherwise – we’ve reached the time of year where the big family gatherings of peace, joy and good-will towards man are behind us (except for Kwanzaa, which has really only just begun) and we put our thoughts towards the arbitrary turning of the calendar. What is the sum of the past year? What will become of the year to come? As we take a few days of respite from over-indulging in food and drink… or perhaps your family is like mine and you’ll be lucky if you squeeze a day worth of respite into this week between “big” events.
Meanwhile, the news crews across the Western world are firing up the retrospective chain-guns to take aim at bringing down a herd of “Top Ten of 2009” lists and “This Year in (fill in the blank)” articles for their fluffy pelts. While I’m not venturing down either of those roads today, I am exploring – as I seem to in fully half of my Skeptic North posts – the lighter side of skepticism from another “turn of the year angle.”
Skepticism is not a contest. There is no prize for whomever can claim to have questioned the most things – despite what detractors may think. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some good-natured gamesmanship amongst our ranks. I know I for one was jealous as heck when cohorts of mine were labeled an “extremist right-wing hate group” for trying to open a rational discussion with a homeopath. In chat rooms we’re all too eager to point out which of the skeptical conferences we’ve attended – with sub-text that TAM may well be the ultimate, but even the light-weights go to it… if you went to NECSS, then you are really “in.”
Enough already! This coming year – 2010 – we are settling it once and for all!
Start counting your skeptical achievements and keeping score, ‘cause every point counts! For item below that you can lay claim to in the year of 2010 you score the corresponding number of points.
- Attending TAM8: 2pts
- Attending SkepTrack at Dragon*Con: 4pts
- Attending NECSS: 5pts
- Getting assigned to room #2012, #666 or #13 at the hotel you are at while attending the conference: 1pt
- Having a skeptical blog: 1pt
- Having a skeptical blog that is read by more people than come to your local Skeptics in the Pub: 2pts
- Having a blog post get picked up by another media outlet: 3pts
- Having a skeptical podcast: 2pts
- Having a podcast the audience of which can’t be described as “loving the sound of its own voice”: 4 pts
- Appearing on someone else’s podcast: 1pt
- Appearing on the podcast of someone you did not previously know: 3pts
- Holding your own on a credulous podcast: 2 pts
- Attending your local Skeptics in the Pub: ½ pt
- Attending Skeptics in the Pub in another city: 1pts
- Attending Skeptics in the Pub in another country: 2pts
- Attending Skeptics in the Pub on another continent: 3pts
- Attending Skeptics in the Pub on another planet: 10pts & a pair of Phil Plait’s boxer shorts.
- Walking away from Skeptics in the Pub stone cold sober: -2pts
- Being accused of “not believing anything”: ½ pt
- Being accused of “drinking the kool-aid”: ½ pt
- Being accused of “group think”: ½ pt
- Being called “sheeple”: 1/10 pt
- Being called “close-minded”: Homeopathic 30c dilution of 1 pt
- Being accused of being in the pocket of Big Pharma: 3pts
*NOTE: If you are a pharmacist or doctor it is assumed you are in the pocket of Big Pharma and you may not collect points for being accused of what is clearly a foregone conclusion.
- Being a ND, Chiropractor or other Alt-Med practitioner and being accused of being in the pocket of “Big Pharma”: 50 pts
- Being called either a “Nazi” or a “Hippie”: 1pt
- Being called both a “Nazi” and a “Hippie” in the same breath or blog comment: 5pts
- Being accused of being associated with an “extremist right-wing hate group”: 8pts
- Being associated with an “extremist right-wing hate group”: – 5000pts
- Being accused of libel without ever having what was “libel” identified: 3pts
- Receiving hate e-mail: 1pt
- Receiving hate snail mail: 3pts
- Needing to consult a lawyer because of skepticism: 5pts
- Attending Skepticamp: 1pt
- Presenting at Skepticamp: 2pts
- Organizing Skepticamp: 3pts
- Inventing Skepticamp: 10pts (You’re welcome Reed. If you win you owe me $5. Yes, I am in the pocket of Big Esau.)
- Inventing a new logical fallacy – and not just a pretend one, the way this author tends to for humourous intent: 10pts
- Having to explain that three words: “God did it” is not a la Occam’s Razor a simpler explanation than “Change in the genetic composition of a population through successive generations, as a result of natural selection acting on the variation among individuals, and resulting in the development of progressively more advantageous traits.”: 1pt
- Convincing a YEC that “God did it” is not a sufficient answer: 1pt per Bible verse they quote in the process.
As any skeptic worth their salt knows, changing your position in the light of new information is part and parcel of the intellectual integrity of skepticism. In that light, this list is open to amendment and addition. Indeed – any solid addition is worth a point in its own right!
370 days from now – January 1st 2011 – we will tally up and see who is the most skepstickiest skeptic.*
So start keeping score now and send in your point total next year and we’ll reprint the highest scores here.**
Whoever has the highest verifiable score will win bragging rights and a genuine Skeptic North Tu Quoque Toque.***
* No, actually we won’t.
** Seriously, I’m just kidding – we won’t be doing this at all.
*** Swear to FSM, I am completely pulling your leg. We don’t have “Tu Quoque Toques” – though when Associate Editor, Kim Hebert, joked about it, we all thought it was a really funny idea. We also really really really aren’t keeping score, and there is no prize. If you really think the bragging rights are worth it and you can prove that you genuinely got more points than anyone else then more power to you…as sad and pathetic as that effort is – I hope you’re happy with yourself.