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.
Thursday 13 March, The Stags Head Pub at 20:30
Dubliner Colm Mulcahy is Professor of Mathematics at Spelman College, Atlanta, GA. He is currently on leave and visiting The American University in Washington, DC. He’s blogged for the MAA, Aperiodical, Huffington Post and Scientific American. He recently published the 380-page full-colour book “Mathematical Card Magic” (CRC Press). He was fortunate to know Martin Gardner for the last decade of his life.
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:
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”.
This is a bit of a cross post from my blog (www.ickletayto.com) re: my upcoming panels at CONvergence in Minneapolis:
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:
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.
Cromwell as viewed by Ireland
Oliver Cromwell, like so many figures in Irish history, is very difficult to get an objective opinion on. The man is seen as a devil in human form by many even now, centuries after the events attributed to him took place. It is fair to say that no other English individual has become the poster-boy for Anglo-Irish division and hatred as much as the 17th century Parliamentarian leader.
As inevitable as a new year rolling around is the rash of products, articles, DVDs, “pull out and keep cards”, posters and deals to help us all with one of the most common New Year’s resolutions – losing weight. All media is a-glow with the latest diet, supplement or fitness regime, and with the promise of this is the one that will work.
Anyone who gets to know me figures out pretty quickly one of my main passions (other than the skeptical movement of course) – museums. I love museums, the way they smell, sound, feel, the odd micro climate they often harbour and even the varying forms of museum worker you find lurking within. Some of those workers are like me – the strange morlock people squirreled away in dimly lit back rooms caring for objects that the public rarely see.
As a main stay of skeptical interviews the “What made you become a ‘Skeptic’?” is a very relevant question and never really seems to become boring. As has been discussed by many in the community, skepticism is not a natural state of mind. The way in which our brain works is not always rational and I often find myself having to think myself ‘down’ when my mind jumps to easier but more irrational conclusions – be a bump in the night or serendipity. For me it was a journey in which not only was religion an accepted part of life but so were alternative practises around health and general well being.