Monday, February 23, 2009

Q&A with Stephen Barrett M.D. of Quackwatch

Today's Q&A is with Stephen Barrett who runs the website among many others. Now on the the questions:

We'll treat this first question like it's the first day of a graduate seminar. Could you introduce yourself and talk a bit about your educational background and research interests?

(from Barrett, M.D., a retired psychiatrist who resides near Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has achieved national renown as an author, editor, and consumer advocate. In addition to heading Quackwatch, he is vice-president of the National Council Against Health Fraud, a scientific advisor to the American Council on Science and Health, and a Fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). In 1984, he received an FDA Commissioner's Special Citation Award for Public Service in fighting nutrition quackery. In 1986, he was awarded honorary membership in the American Dietetic Association. From 1987 through 1989, he taught health education at The Pennsylvania State University. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America and received the 2001 Distinguished Service to Health Education Award from the American Association for Health Education.
An expert in medical communications, Dr. Barrett operates 23 Web sites; edits Consumer Health Digest (a weekly electronic newsletter); is medical editor of Prometheus Books; and has been a peer-review panelist for several top medical journals. He has written more than 2,000 articles and delivered more than 300 talks at colleges, universities, medical schools, and professional meetings. His 50 books include The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America and seven editions of the college textbook Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions. One book he edited, Vitamins and Minerals: Help or Harm?, by Charles Marshall, Ph.D., won the American Medical Writers Association award for best book of 1983 for the general public and became a special publication of Consumer Reports Books. His other classics include Dubious Cancer Treatment, published by the Florida Division of the American Cancer Society; Health Schemes, Scams, and Frauds, published by Consumer Reports Books; The Vitamin Pushers: How the "Health Food" Industry Is Selling America a Bill of Goods, published by Prometheus Books; and Reader's Guide to "Alternative" Health Methods, published by the American Medical Association. His media appearances include Dateline, the Today Show, Good Morning America, ABC Prime Time, Donahue, CNN, National Public Radio, and more than 200 radio and television talk show interviews.

Dr. Barrett's Curriculum Vitae can be viewed online at quackwatch

Talk a bit about quackwatch, your 22 other web sites, and why you decided to start them all.

(also from have never been seriously victimized in any way and am a very upbeat person. I grew up in a family atmosphere that placed great value on education, science, and fair play. My interest in quackery began by accident and was not related to any strong feeling on the subject. During the mid-1960s, I read two books that irritated me greatly. One was about the government's struggle to clean up the patent medicine fraud that was rampant during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The other described how chiropractors had achieved legal recognition even though the theory behind their work was nonsense. When I voiced my concern to my local medical society president, he suggested that I organize a committee focused on quackery. Further discussion led us to form a group that was broad-based rather than composed just of medical doctors. The more we looked at, the more deeply I became concerned.
During the mid-1970s, I began writing about what I found and gradually evolved into a medical writer and editor. As I did so, I gradually reduced my psychiatric work until 1993, when I retired so I could spend more time writing about my findings. The original committee, renamed Quackwatch in 1997, has evolved into an informal network of individuals who provide help when asked.

What do you hope the effect of quachwatch and your other sites will be?

We focus on information that is difficult or impossible to get elsewhere. Our activities help people avoid being quacked, save them money, and provide a way to call illegal activities to the attention of law-enforcement agencies.

What role do you think that, "New Media," can play in spreading sound medical information?

They offer a wealth of reliable information free of charge. However, searching with Google is perilous. It is far better to use reliable sites from a trustworthy list. Our Internet Health Pilot site ( is gateway to trustworthy sites.

As a follow up, is, "New Media," living up to it's potential?

Yes, I believe that people are generally better of as a result.

How do you think that increased scientific literacy can improve the way people utilize the medical resources available in an advanced industrial society?

It should help people make better judgments about who is trustworthy.

How would you respond to the accusation that the medical field is too technical for the average lay person to be able to make sound medical decisions regarding their own health?

Most people need expert guidance, not only because information is highly technical, but also because many sources are not reliable.

In his inaugural address, President Obama stated that he would, "restore science to its rightful place." If you were given an opportunity to talk to him about science, technology and education, what would you say?

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine is wasting scarce research dollars and promoting quackery in many ways. If Mr. Obama had the power to do so, I would ask him to abolish it.

Finally, anything important I missed? Any promos you would like to get out there?

The best source of health information is Consumer Reports on Health newsletter.

I would like to thank Dr. Barrett for helping out with my blog. His answers help shed light on the nature of nature of health care in the United States today. The field is certainly technical enough that an expert's advice is indispensable but there are many disingenuous people out there looking to do little more then separate the desperate and naive from their money. The ability to discern legitimate medical information from pseudoscience is essential and the, "fill in the bubble sheet," style of high stakes testing pushed on educators by No Child Left Behind is not a tool for developing critical thinking. Public schools who produce students with little critical thinking ability and even less ability to critically judge sources of information are only going to make things more difficult for Dr. Barrett and his colleagues who try to get sound information to the public.
The significant number of web sties that Dr. Barrett runs was mentioned in the Q&A, here they all are:
(health fraud and quackery) (under construction) (under construction) (guide to autism) (under construction) (legal archive) (chelation therapy) (guide to chiropractic) (under construction) (guide to dental care) (under construction) (under construction) (guide to homeopathy) (guide to reliable information) (guide to infomercials) (under construction) (multi-level marketing) (naturopathy) (under construction) (nutrition facts and fallacies) (under construction) (National Council Against Health Fraud) (consumer health sourcebook)
Now I don't think that Dr. Barrett is a cyber-squatter who is looking to sell off some of these sites for a profit. Rather, this shows the nature of the concerns in this area. It would be almost impossible for one person to be an expert in all these areas, so the expert and their role is here to stay. What is more realistic is more realistic is for a person to be a critical thinker and to be able to evaluate sources of information. Hopefully, sources like quackwatch can make getting sound information easier.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Q&A with Harriet Hall M.D. of

Today's Q&A is with Harriet Hall M.D., you can find out more about her at her website

Now on to the questions and answers:

I'll treat this first question like it's the first day of a graduate seminar. Could you introduce yourself and talk a bit about your educational background and research interests?

My name is Harriet Hall. I’m a retired family physician and also a retired Air Force colonel. I graduated from the University of Washington School of Medicine, did an internship at David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base in California, spent 6 years in Spain assigned as a General Medical Officer, did an Air Force family practice residency at Eglin Air Force Base, and held various assignments as a flight surgeon, family physician and in combination patient care/management positions such as Chief of Clinic Services. Women were in the minority in medicine, the military, the flight surgeon job, and in aviation (I was an instrument-rated private pilot with my own plane). In all these areas I ran into prejudice and had a lot of frustrating and funny experiences which I wrote about in the book I recently published, “Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon.” After retiring, I got interested in alternative medicine and quackery and started investigating and writing about it. I became an editor of The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and a contributing editor to Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic magazine, an advisor to the Quackwatch website, and a founding member of the Science-Based Medicine blog. My website is

Talk a bit about your work with quackwatch and the science based medicine blog.

I got started with Quackwatch by participating in its Healthfraud discussion list, where I still contribute regularly and where I have learned a great deal about the health nonsense being marketed around the world. Dr. Barrett asked for a volunteer to look into dubious genetic testing, and I ended up co-authoring an article with him and went on from there. (I had co-authored two articles with him before I ever met him – thanks to the wonders of the Internet). The Science-Based Medicine blog began in January 2008 when Steven Novella invited me and 3 other MDs to collaborate. I write an article there every Tuesday. We try to comment on controversial subjects in medicine, new studies, bogus claims, etc. and we promote the concept of true science-based medicine as opposed to the common conception of “evidence-based” medicine.

What role do you think that, "New Media," can play in spreading sound medical information?

I think it plays a wonderful role. PubMed and reliable resources like the NIH and American Cancer Society websites abound. Wikipedia explains scientific concepts and covers topics not available elsewhere. Quackwatch has been invaluable. We SBM bloggers got frustrated waiting for articles to be published in the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine and elsewhere, and the blog allows us to respond to issues in a timely fashion and to provide a resource where readers can get “the other side of the story.”

As a follow up, is, "New Media," living up to it's potential?

It’s hard to say, but I’ve seen some encouraging signs. I’ve written skeptical articles about Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Nicholas Perricone, and when you google for their names, my articles come up in the first few hits, so consumers researching them will find my critiques. My articles on the blog have been cited or copied on websites as far afield as Malaysia and I’ve gotten fan mail and inquiries from places like Estonia, Sweden, Turkey, Colombia. What is perhaps most encouraging is that people are writing to ask me questions. Sometimes I can direct them to reliable sources. Sometimes there is no reliable information and I can help by producing some reliable information and publicizing it via the Healthfraud discussion list, the blog, the magazines I write for, and the “Swift” newsletter of the James Randi Educational Foundation. For example, I recently wrote a small piece in Swift critiquing the Genewize company at the request of a reader..

How do you think that increased scientific literacy can improve the way people utilize the medical resources available in an advanced industrial society?

The answer to that question is pretty obvious: If the public understands science, they will be able to choose rationally. If they are gullible, they will waste money and risk their health. Consumers don’t understand that under the DSHEA, FDA consumer protection no longer covers medicines marketed as diet supplements. We are wasting taxpayers’ money on nonsense: the NCCAM is paying for research on highly improbable and even previously disproven treatments; the Air Force is teaching battlefield acupuncture. Insurance companies and Medicare are reimbursing for treatments that are not scientifically valid.

How would you respond to the accusation that the medical field is too technical for the average lay person to be able to make sound medical decisions regarding their own health?

The medical field is technical, but patients HAVE to make decisions about their health. They can learn to navigate the media, to recognize the signs of unreliable websites, to look for both sides to every story. On our blog we are trying to provide readers with some of the tools they need to think critically about medical issues and claims.

In his inaugural address, President Obama stated that he would, "restore science to its rightful place.” If you were given an opportunity to talk to him about science, technology and education, what would you say?

I’d ask him to require his medical advisors to read our blog. I’d beg him to de-fund the NCCAM and to repeal DSHEA. I’d point out that even some renowned scientists lack critical thinking skills and fail to truly understand the scientific method. I’d stress the vital importance of critical thinking in every sphere.

I'd like to thank Dr. Hall for taking the time to answer some questions for this blog. I think the medical field is an area that brings into focus the role of the expert in modern society along with the challenges of being an informed citizen of an increasingly specialized world. Personally, I'm still trying to get my mind around the concept of battlefield acupuncture. To give some footnotes for those who may not be up to speed on government alphabet soup:

NCCAM - the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine
DSHEA - the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Darwin day +7

Well, it's been a week since the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birthday, so I imagine everyone has recovered from their celebrations. Locally, the University of Utah and the Utah Museum of Natural History each had a number of events to mark the occasion. The local PBS station broadcast a two hour NOVA documentary called, "Intelligent Design on Trial." Earlier in the year, the BBC radio 4 program In Our Time had a four part series on the life and work of Darwin. The cool thing about all these things is that they all stimulated thought about evolution and the place of science in society. The down side is that most of this stuff is preaching to the converted. If anybody out there has any good ideas on how to get the commercial media to give more time and attention to science matters, shout them from the roof tops.

To avoid ending on a down note, I'll draw everybody's attention to an article in Tuesday's New York Times that grabbed my attention. It seems that the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology has decided to not hold it's 2011 meeting in New Orleans due to a Louisiana law that opens science classroom to creationism. The amusing thing about the story is the city they decided to move the meeting to . . . Salt Lake City. Take that Mardi Gras town. Salt Lake City, more friendly to science than New Orleans, could be a new city motto.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Critical thinking exercise

Alright, I said I would revisit Zeitgeist and Loose Change so here it goes.
First of all, Zeitgeist is overloaded with religious bits and I really don't want to go there.
That leaves the Loose Change video. So, for those of you with a couple hours of free time on your hands, here's an exercise in critical thinking. First of all, watch Brian Duning's introduction to critical thinking, Here Be Dragons. Yes, it is important you watch this one first. Now that you have all the ideas from that rattling around in your mind, take a look at the video Loose Change and apply all your critical thinking tools to the arguments put forth in the show. One thing that is important is to look at each piece of, "evidence," separately. A tactic used by some people advocating off the wall theories is to overwhelm folks with an avalanche of little tidbits, digressions, red herrings and the like. You can see this argument put to use by people who think the moon landings were a hoax. The problem with that tactic is that a load of poor arguments do not add up to one compelling argument. A person who uncritically looks at Loose Change might be persuaded by the sheer number of things they put forth in their video. If anybody finds a compelling argument in the loose change video, I'd like to know about it. Personally, I wasn't convinced. Well, tighten up your thinking caps and have fun.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Q &A with Brian Dunning from

The first Q&A here at Skeptical Literacy is with Brian Dunning from I was thinking of copying and pasting his bio from the media section of, then I thought that if you are computer literate enough to find this blog, you are computer literate enough to find that yourself. For those of you who haven't had a chance to check out his podcast,a couple of my favorites are Skeptoid #73 and #74, A Magical Journey through the Land of Logical Fallacies parts 1 and 2.

And now on to the questions and answers:

Q: Here, we'll treat this first question like it's the first day of a graduate seminar. Could you introduce yourself to the group and talk about your background and interests?

Brian Dunning: I suppose I'm your average science geek at heart. My background is in computer science but that never stopped me from reading anything and everything I could on other sciences. I spent one entire summer as a kid listening to Switched-On Bach through headphones while reading and re-reading the entire Time-Life science library cover to cover. I was thoroughly hooked.

In college I actually majored for a while in film directing, but it never quite clicked with me: My head was full of artistic visions, stories to tell, and things I wanted to say; but translating that into the process of working with actors and cameras and lights and agents and producers, as a director, just didn't work for me. I could write the content, but not being an industry insider I couldn't sell it. So I settled into a career in software design, which is something I'm good at but has never been 100% fulfilling.

Q: Talk a bit about Skeptoid and why you decided to start up a podcast.

Brian Dunning: And then podcasting was invented. It was the perfect blend of all my interests. I could be the geek in the corner with his headphones and his books and his computer, and produce the content I wanted to produce, and be free to do everything my own way. For me it was the rarest of convergences. I was born to produce Skeptoid.

Every week I take a different subject, and it's usually one I read about as a kid, and something that most people have heard about, and generally believe. Maybe it's an urban legend like The Amityville Horror or the Philadelphia Experiment. Maybe it's a popular pseudoscience like detoxification or acupuncture. Maybe it's a conspiracy theory. The world is bursting at the seams with subject matter begging to be revealed. I package each one into a neat 10-minute show, and pack in as much revelation as I can.

Skeptoid has been going for about two and a half years, about 140 episodes so far, and averages 70,000 listeners each week. It's been one of the Top 5 science podcasts in iTunes for a little over a year.

Q: What do you hope the impact of Skeptoid will be?

Brian Dunning: The first goal has to be to entertain. Skeptoid must be fun and entertaining, something people want to listen to each week, or it can't survive. How it entertains is up to me, and my choice is to share the fun of discovery. When you're having fun listening to Skeptoid, it's because you're learning some cool new angle on something you thought you already knew all about, or you're learning about some wacky, fascinating new phenomenon you've never heard of. Either way you come out of it armed with new tools for skeptical discovery. I hope people will listen to Skeptoid and find that reality offers more illumination than the medieval beliefs in which most people are mired.

Q: What role do you think that, "New Media," can play in spreading critical literacy in our society?

Brian Dunning: Not as much of a role as you might think. Yes, a scientist can put out a podcast or vodcast or whatever you want to call it, and promote critical thinking. But unless his show is as entertaining, well produced, and glitzy as mainstream media, nobody's going to tune in and he's going to disappear. It's a misconception that new media frees broadcasters of the responsibility to production quality and popular content. It should tell you something that there are no popular shows on television promoting critical thinking. It should also tell you something that paranormal podcasts quickly rise to the top of the science category in iTunes. New media is not the panacea that skeptical outreach professionals (or anyone else for that matter) wish it could be.

Q: As a follow up, is, "New Media," living up to it's potential?

Brian Dunning: I think it's main potential is to let the independent individual compete with major studios and reach the same audience. But this is becoming increasingly difficult as major studios are getting more into the game, with production values that independents could never hope to match. The only area in which we can effectively compete is in quality content, but unfortunately that's not always what determines the success of a show. In a perfect world, new media would be the onramp taking the best independents into the mainstream; but in practice it seems things are going the other way. Major studios are creating new media versions of their existing mainstream properties, and displacing the independents with more familiar, better produced content. My worry is that soon you'll never be able to locate a podcast like Skeptoid in iTunes; it will be buried under mountains of pop trite like Ghost Hunters masquerading as science content. I don't really see a solution to this yet.

Q: Could you discuss your project, "Here Be Dragons," and what you had in mind when you decided to take on making an introduction to critical thinking?

Brian Dunning: People used to constantly ask me to do two things: First to make Skeptoid a video podcast, and second, to address the conspiracy documentaries released on the Internet Zeitgeist and Loose Change. Well, I barely have time to make a weekly 10-minute audio podcast; the additional time and resources required to make a decent weekly video are way beyond what I've got available. But clearly, Zeitgeist and Loose Change did need to have a competing viewpoint. So I decided to set aside a budget and take a few weeks off work, and made the 40-minute video Here Be Dragons: An Introduction to Critical Thinking (available for free at It's classroom friendly and aims to provide some of the basic tools necessary to help people recognize that pseudoscience and fraud are all around them, which is something that never even occurs to most people. The childish claims made in Zeitgeist and Loose Change are typical of those that the public is bombarded with every day, and nobody ever seems to suggest there's any reason not to uncritically accept them at face value. Every day I get emails from people thanking me and stating that Here Be Dragons should be required viewing at every school, and sometimes I even hear from a teacher or school that has made it required viewing. Very gratifying.

Q: How do you think that increased scientific literacy can improve the functioning of a democracy?

Brian Dunning: It pains me so much when I see how much is wasted because of pseudoscience. Every town has businesses devoted to useless alternative medicine. Every supermarket is bursting at the seams with fraudulent "supplements" and overpriced magical organic food. The wealthiest man in virtually every county in the nation is the pastor of the local megachurch. Nearly all popular TV shows promote some form of magic. It goes on and on and on. What if all those resources were diverted to methods and technologies that actually benefit people? Think how much farther along we could be.

Q: Do you think that advancements in science and technology can impair the functioning of a democracy?

Brian Dunning: I suppose if someone came out with a new laser weapon and went around cutting everyone in half, that would be an impairment. Otherwise, you're basically talking about globalization and economic implications, topics I avoid. I leave stuff like that to the political podcasters; it's not my area of interest.

Q: In his inaugural address, President Obama stated that he would, "restore science to its rightful place.” If you were given an opportunity to talk to him about science, technology and education, what would you say?

Brian Dunning: Please, fund enforcement! The FDA and FTC are woefully underfunded. Witness the vast number of sellers of pseudoscience making illegal and untrue health claims for their useless products and services. The existing laws are good ones, we've just never been able to enforce them to any meaningful degree. For every Airborne "supplement" that does get nailed, fifty knockoffs get away with murder (literally true in some cases). When people hear about these companies finally getting busted, it's often the first they've heard that there's anything fraudulent about these products, and that's an impactful and valuable lesson.

Science education, especially to help young people become aware of pseudoscience, is another matter. Would it be great if every junior high curriculum included a unit on practical critical thinking in modern culture? Definitely, it would. Do I see it happening when schools can't even afford physical education and librarians anymore? It's too far from the top of the list.

Q: Could you talk about the Skeptologists and let the blog-o-sphere know if there is any news on that front?

Brian Dunning: The Skeptologists is a new TV pilot that I host and executive produced alongside director Ryan Johnson, who first called me and proposed the idea. We have a cast of science experts, our "Skeptologists", who go around and expose popular stories and pseudosciences for what they are, and illustrate how much more entertaining the reality is. The only news I can report is that it's being actively marketed by some of the best and most successful people in television, and that I'm not supposed to give any details about the stage of that process. :-)

Q: Finally, anything important I missed? Any shameless self promos you'd like to get out there?

Brian Dunning: Two things. First, I'm throwing a big party on April 18th to celebrate the 150th episode of Skeptoid at the University of California, Irvine ( It's going to feature some great entertainment and special guests, and best of all, the world premiere of a secret project that's been brewing in the Skeptoid skunkworks for months. The only way to find out what it is is to attend!

Second, I'm doing more and more live shows at colleges, high schools, or wherever. I've got a couple of really fun multimedia shows that always amuse and entertain, and they're skeptical too! You can go to and click on Live Shows (


I would like to thank Brian Dunning for taking the time to answer some questions for this blog. This entry would have been up sooner but I had not heard of Zeitgeist and Loose Change and wanted to take a look at them, and well, more on those at a later date.

I think there is one area where Mr. Dunning and I disagree and that is the relative value of science education and critical thinking in American public schools. Many if the social ills that Mr. Dunning's work seeks to shine a light upon could be far less damaging in a society with a greater degree of scientific literacy. Since the federal government has firmly entrenched itself in public education through No Child Left Behind and other nonsense, it may as well try to be a positive influence. A segment on the January 30th episode of NPR's Science Friday addressed how scientific reasoning cannot be learned through memorizing facts and taking multiple choice tests. By shifting away from high stakes testing toward a pedagogy that encourages and develops scientific reasoning, the Obama administration could bring about meaningful change to American public education. The question as to whether the new secretary of education, Arne Duncan, is the man to bring about that change is an ongoing one.

Friday, February 6, 2009

University of the People

Okay, this is a little far afield from what I want this blog to focus on, but it's an interesting concept in any case. The name of the university alone is great.

Coming April 2009, the University of the People, an online institution that will run on a tuition free model. The idea is to bring the possibility of higher education to those who have been economically or geographically prevented from seeking higher education. Their plan is to use collaborative and open-source e-learning while embracing peer-to-peer teaching under a peer-to-peer pedagogical model. (If that wasn't enough jargon for you, you have a serious problem.) The idea here is to increase the democratization of education by giving better opportunities for upward mobility to those who have limited life chances. Nothing like poverty and geographic isolation to hem a person in. The university will be staffed by volunteers, university faculty, librarians, educators and others. Yes, they will be looking to become accredited as soon as the waiting process has been met.

Shai Reshef is the founder of the University of the People. He has previously worked in online higher education and is the current chairman of the board for, an online study community. He was interviewed on APM's Future Tense this week and the University of the People was the subject of a recent article in the New York Times.

And now, my two cents worth on the topic:

It seems that the University of the People might find more success dealing with geographical impairments to higher education than economic ones. It is conceivable that a person who is in a rural area might have the technological resources at their disposal to be successful at an online university. It is more difficult to see how somebody from an impoverished background would be able to overcome the digital divide to utilize this resource. This is not to say I don't think this is a worthwhile effort. I hope the project is a success and they are able to reach out to the thousands of students they hope to serve. What may turn out to the this project's strength may also be where the challenges arise. By relying on volunteers and peer-to-peer cooperation, the university is placing a lot of faith in people's good will. If the volunteer faculty and staff are diligent and the student body both supportive and collaborative, then the school may very well be successful. If the volunteers get busy with other obligations and the students are self absorbed, the whole thing could grind to a halt. I hope the former turns out to be the case and educators in other venues can see how the peer-to-peer pedagogical model has worked and, perhaps, think of ways to use it elsewhere.

There is something to be said about the lingering effects of the colonial era in the fact that this university will carry out all it's classes in English. But that's a rant for another day.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

What's in a name?

In starting up this blog, I wanted to take a look at how scientific knowledge is being communicated to the public at large. In a world where Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould and Mr. Wizard have all passed on, who is going to take up the mantle of scientific educator to the masses?

One of the first problems you encounter setting up a blog in early 2009 is that you gave everybody else too much time to take all the good names. In selecting a name, I was taking inspiration from Carl Sagan's book, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. When I was setting up the blog through I found out:

Candles in the Dark - Taken

Candle in the Dark - Taken

Demon-Haunted world - Wrong connotation, but probably taken

Looking through the book, I found a translation of a Latin proverb, "Where there is doubt, there is hope."

Where there is Doubt - Taken

The full quote was available, but seemed too long. I came up with some other ideas:

Scientific Literacy - Taken

Critical Literacy - Taken

Skeptical Literacy - Available!

So while skeptical literacy does, in general, fit what I am going after, it wasn't exactly my first choice for a blog name, or my second, or my third. . .

The word skeptic is a loaded term to some people, bringing to mind images of old cranks, firmly lodged in the western scientific tradition, nay saying anything that doesn't fit their world view. I may be a crank, but by crank standards, I'm not that old and I would like to believe I am open to opinions different from my own. I can't imagine why I would start up this blog if I didn't want to hear a variety of ideas.

Another definition of skeptic deals with a person who doubts the truth of a religion. This blog is intended to look at scientific literacy, not to question anyone's religious beliefs. In the break between the secular and the sacred, this blog will almost exclusively tread in the secular.

Well, that is the story of how this blog got it's name. Hopefully there will be some thought provoking content up here in the days and weeks to come. Until then, . . . I should think of a clever tag line to end my blog entries with.