P.Mean: How I became a skeptic (created 2011-06-15).

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I'm a big fan of the skeptic movement. If you're not familiar with this, it is a group of professional and amateur scientists who critically examine claims of fringe science areas like parapsychology, UFOs, and alternative medicine. So when a blog post on the James Randi Educational Foundation website called for people to share their stories of how people became skeptics, I wrote the following story.

It started with "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science"

Being a math geek, I was a big fan of Martin Gardner, but I had no idea what I was in for when I read his book, "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science." I was spellbound. I couldn't believe that people were so foolish as to believe some of these things. And then he tackled graphology, which was something I believed in.

Oh what a shock to my system. But his relatively mild critical comments made me realize that I had embraced something just as irrational as those N-Rays and a hollow earth. So now, anytime I see someone adopting a wildly irrational belief, I think "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

Fighting for a rational approach to science is a constant battle and struggle for me, but the skeptic community provides useful tools. I've become more savvy about scientific and medical claims over time through a variety of skeptical sources, but most notably the Skeptical Inquirer magazine, and the Skeptic's Dictionary website.

You can find my stories and the stories of others at
 * http://www.randi.org/site/index.php/swift-blog/1328-your-stories.html

Creative Commons License This page was written by Steve Simon and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. Need more information? I have a page with general help resources. You can also browse for pages similar to this one at Critical Appraisal.