PZ writes about something close to my heart. I came to be a skepticism activist through the traditional route. The JREF and Randi in particular were a cornerstone in my education as a critical thinker. I looked forward to Friday when Randi published his brilliant Swift: a sort of proto-blog about the crazy things people believe and the inspiring and often hilarious things groups like the JREF were doing to change things. Say one thing for James Randi, he’s a showman. When he makes a point, it stays made.
I was pleased when JREF reorganised into a more professional outfit and argued that Swift should evolve to include new authors and more diverse topics. In retrospect, I think I was wrong. I think a lot of us came to think that the JREF was the centre of skepticism, that it legitimised skeptical activity through diligent and scholarly pursuit and that conferences like TAM were vital.
But I don’t think many of those things any more. I was always uncomfortable with the JREF’s policy on religion. It was a political one, an accommodationist one. There’s no good reason to exempt religion from critique. In the old days, I was pleased enough with JREF occupying a niche. The problem now is that it seems to be claiming it is mainstream skepticism and everyone else r doin it rong.
JREF: get back in your box and do what you did better than anyone ever,
Skeptics: be skeptical about everything.
PZ sums this up well:
Give me a good hardcore New Atheist any day. Those are my people. They’re skeptical about everything, and don’t make special allowances for the benighted believers.
Those are my people too. They should be every skeptic’s people.