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:
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.
I have to admit during the last week I could find no inspiration for a new post. Nothing sparked my imagination but today something sparked my ire. So the wonderful fan-tabulous QEDcon are hosting this year’s Skeptic Awards in which skeptics of the world can vote for their favourite podcasters, blogs etc.
As I have written about in the past I have not always identified as a feminist. However as I worked through a Masters, which led me to read a lot of scholarly works about feminist theory, and by talked to more people about it my understanding and acceptance of the term has grown. It has also become clear to me that a lot of people fundamentally misunderstand what feminism is.
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.
It’s funny how one little quote can inspire such vitriol and anger.
When I was emailed by Ed Power about his impending article for the Irish Independent I immediately thought of one of our skeptics, Jamie. He is much more interested in the “conspiracy theory” end of skepticism and also runs a really interesting group called the Longnow Foundation for Dublin.
So this one little quote, mentioning this website brought down a small (okay, tiny) hail of brimstone down on myself today. I suppose this what happens when you put an email address out there – eventually someone will email you who doesn’t exactly agree with you world view.
For me, Carl Sagan’s “Pale Blue Dot” represents the most inspirational and poetic statement of fact that’s been recorded on video. I’m sure most of our readers are familiar with it, if not take a few minutes to enjoy it.
What are some of your favorite inspirational factual videos? Please embed from YouTube or Vimeo if you can find them there.