Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project – A discussion

I am a PhD researcher looking into how information is curated online. In particular I study how curation has moved from being the pursuit of a singular expert within an institution such a museum, gallery or archive, to a collective endeavour in which many “citizen curators” (a term that I am developing) work together to curate content both off and online. I’m looking at this curation in a very similar way to the Web 2.0 phenomena of the citizen journalist, where technology has opened by avenues of participatory, public driven projects in an unprecedented manner. With this in mind my research focuses quite heavily the larger Wikimedia project, so my interest was immediately piqued by the Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia project.

We need to talk about TED

TED Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 23.14.54v564

TED is huge, and hugely important. But over the space of a few recent weeks, the most coveted positions on the TED website have featured a US general, a US army captain, and a photojournalist who had been embedded with the US military. What happens if people get this new message from TED, that there is a single story being promoted that aligns with the Western military?

Tom Cruise turned me into an Atheist – or Losing My Religion

On the 16th of July 2006 I gave up on religion. It was Tom’s fault. I forgave him ‘South Park’, I even forgave him Oprah’s couch. I could not forgive him standing up on that stage in Saint Hill, Southern England, next to our diminutive dictator and tell me that he was more dedicated, worked harder and suffered more for the Scientology cause than me and my Xenu fearing comrades. After all, I lived for years on less than £10.00 for a 140 hour work week. He arrived and swanned around in a Mercedes E500 and wore hand-crafted suits. I wore a rumpled looking Scientology interpretation of a naval officer’s uniform. He was arrogant, he berated us about dedication. After twenty two years of sweat and tears, I considered myself pretty damned dedicated. Well, I suppose I must thank him. A few months ruminating over this insulated, privileged Hollywood star and his sense of entitlement saw me leave Scientology forever and I became a mask wearing Anonymous and a very public author and critic of him and his cult.

Humanist Association of Ireland

I am just in the door from giving a talk to the Humanist Association of Ireland on what is means to be a skeptic and the story of the Dublin Skeptics in the Pub. I had a wonderful time talking to them and I hope I managed to communicate to them what skepticism means to me and what drives me to keep our group going and growing.

For anyone that is interested here is the Prezi of my talk:

The Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre – there I said it

This has been something that I have been meaning to write about for a long time, but between one thing and another it never happened. I have been spurred on to write this now as it has begun to dawn on me that people are beginning to use this as an example of the triumph of rationality in cultural institutions or is continuously trotted out as an example of how such institutions get science “wrong”.

CONvergence 2013 (#cvg2013)

Hi All,

This is a bit of a cross post from my blog (www.ickletayto.com) re: my upcoming panels at  CONvergence in Minneapolis:


I’m heading to the twin cities for my most favourite of all the conventions (sorry OctoconCONvergence.

It’s all out geekery with books, films, radio plays, science, skepticism and party rooms.

I’m going to be on a number of panels, some of which are part of the SkepchickCon… So I’m super excited.

Here’s my “absolutely will be at as I am on the top table” schedule:

Thursday 4th July:

Increasing Public Engagement with Science

“We in Ireland we are proud of our reputation for creativity, for originality and for our unique and imaginative view of the world.”(Higgins, 2012)

This summer Ireland hosted the Euroscience Open Forum. This science conference had speakers from all aspects of the scientific community. From those who study the basic structure of the Universe, like Rolf-Dieter Heuer, to food specialists such as Hervé This. It is this diverse nature of science we need to communicate to the public.

21 signs you’re jaded as a skeptic

There are a few blogs that I have in my RSS feed just to give me a bit of motivation with my own pet projects. One of these is the Time Management Ninja who recently blogged about 21 Signs You Are Failing At Time Management. Don’t get me wrong, these blogs (along with ones on frugality, creativity and decluttering) I read in an aspirational way and very little makes its way into my daily routine in any meaningful sense. It was that last post by TMN that really made me think about how apathetic I can be towards my skepticism. As listeners to the podcast will know, I find it easy to speak to my skepticism but much, much harder to write about it much less anything more involved. I am also under no illusions that I will ever have the where-with-all to organise something like the 1023 campaign or Project Barnum. I do find myself frustrated with how jaded I feel towards “our” cause at times. I do really feel like I am often up that creek without a paddle, so I thought I would air my 21 Signs You Are Jaded as a Skeptic in the hopes that I can reinvigorate my own passion for science, skepticism and critical thinking.

Manchester, Liverpool and then the world!

I have been lucky enough that I have been asked to give my talk “Confessions of a Former Help Food Shop Worker” in the UK twice this year.

Firstly for the Greater Manchester Skeptics in July, at which I had a great time! They are a great group of people and I just loved the amount of audience interaction. We had a good laugh, mostly at my expense but what else are the Irish good at if not self deprecation. Having been to QED Con twice now (have you bought your 2013 ticket yet?!) it was great to see the Mancunian Skeptics in a less hectic environment.

Science is a necessity, not a luxury

I am ashamed to admit that prior to this year I had not heard of the European Science Open Forum. I will use the fact that I am not a scientist as an excuse for this failing on my part. I was fully aware of Dublin being the European City of Science this year and it was because of this that I became aware of ESOF. Eyeing up the programme of events and reading into the history of the group only served to make me more ashamed that I had been ignorant of this group for this long. They are a true grassroots movement and their forum is one that brings together people from across the science and research worlds from both academia and industry to fantastic effect.