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August 23, 2006

A skeptic's skeptic

Dr. Michael Shermer, a long-time columnist for Scientific American, and founder of Skeptics Society, is one of the people at the front-lines in the interface between science and pseudo-science. His careful critiques of popular misconceptions were one of my early introductions to the conflict between science and myth. For instance, it was in one of his columns that I learned of an excellent explanation of why smart people often believe really bizarre things: their intelligence makes them particularly good at rationalizing those crazy ideas. In one of his earlier articles, I even learned that Einstein once conducted a little experiment to see if time would seem to pass more quickly around a beautiful woman (his conclusion: it did). Salon is currently running a short, but good interview with him. Apparently, Dr. Shermer used to be a creationist.

What caused you to see the light about evolution?

Like most creationists, you just know what you read in creationist books. When you read them, it makes the theory of evolution sound completely idiotic. What moron could believe in this theory? When you actually take a class in the science of it, it's a completely different picture. That's also when I realized I enjoyed the company of scientists and science people much more than religious people and theologians. It was this exciting, open-ended, participatory process that I could be involved in. We're all in this search together, and there's an actual method to do it, and a community of people who practice it, and a way of determining whether something is true or not. I fell in love with that.

posted August 23, 2006 12:05 PM in Evolution | permalink


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Posted by: Winking at August 24, 2006 07:00 AM