This next guest blog is by K.O. Myers the founder of Grassroots Skeptics. He is a recent law school graduate, proud husband and father, and very keen to see skepticism make the transition from community to social movement. He lives in Philadelphia, PA, USA with his wife and infant daughter.
What are you doing to promote skepticism in your life? Sure, you've got your blog, and you're a member of the JREF forums, and your feed reader is chock full of skeptical websites. You've made sure your kids are vaccinated, you've packed your iPod with every podcast that has the word “skeptic” in the title, and you roll your eyes when you see somebody reading “The Secret” on the bus. But what are you doing to help other people learn to think critically?
Is there a local group of skeptics meeting in your area? Chances are, if you live near even a mid-sized city, that there is. Skeptics are getting together all over the world, sharing stories of woo, and talking about how to combat the forces of fuzzy thinking and misinformation.
If you're already attending meetings, maybe it's time to take your group's activities to the next level. You've been meeting in bars, taverns and pubs, lamenting the credulity of the media and society. Why not reach out to working scientists, and ask them to come speak to your group? Or plan an excursion to an area museum?
If you've got the resources, why not hold workshops for the public? Get into community outreach, and try to help people in your area learn how to examine evidence and make rational decisions.
If you're in an area that doesn't already have an organized skeptics group, consider starting one of your own. There may be dozens of other rational-minded individuals in your community, feeling alone in their workplaces, and maybe in their own homes. You might be able to create an oasis of skepticism in your local community.
If this sounds a little preachy, it's meant to. Too often, skepticism become a hobby, a social gathering, a mutual “aren't we smart” congratulation society. And that's not all bad; for some of us, a monthly Drinking Skeptically meeting might be the only contact we have with like-minded, rational friends.
But at the same time, critical thinking is literally a life and death issue. Thanks to misinformation about vaccines, preventable illnesses are resurgent around the world. Con artists posing as psychics prey on the grieving, exploiting their pain to empty their wallets. Dubious “alternative medicine” treatments siphon billions of dollars of consumer and government money away from legitimate healthcare every year. We as skeptics, as the people who have the necessary skills to combat this insanity, have an obligation to our species to try and combat these evils to the best of our ability.
Sure, it's daunting. People often don't want to hear what you've got to say, and will tell you to bugger off if you challenge their credulous worldview. Fortunately, you won't have to go it alone. Grassroots Skeptics is here to help At http://grassrootsskeptics.org, we're working to create a space where skeptical groups can share resources and strategies, and connect with new members and activists worldwide. We want to help you to spread the message of reason and rationality in your community. If you'd like to get involved, or if you're already actively promoting critical thinking, please join us.
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