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.

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