|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
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.