Rebecca Watson Interview at Skeptech

You might have heard me mention (oh, once or twice before) that this weekend is Skeptech. It’s a cool conference with a great set of speakers. They could still very much use some funds to make this an ongoing concern. But I’ve told you all that.

What I haven’t mentioned is that I’m playing a role on stage as well. I haven’t mentioned it because we weren’t sure it was going to happen. Rebecca Watson has graciously agreed, however, to get up early Saturday morning so we can fit one more session into the schedule. (We promised her really good coffee from Open Book, just down the road.) So the morning’s opening remarks will start at 9, and as soon as they’re done, I will interview Rebecca to get her tips on single-handedly destroying a movement.

Here are a few of the topics I expect to ask her about:

  • How did she manage to limit American Atheists to running two special capital campaigns of $100,000 and $50,000 with a 1-for-1 match, down from the multimillion-dollar campaigns with triple matches they were running just a few years ago?
  • How did she undermine the Secular Student Alliance so thoroughly that they’ve been forced to rely on unpaid, untrained interns for key positions?
  • How did she so thoroughly sap and demoralize the Center for Inquiry that they’ve stopped taking on new, important projects?
  • How did she work with Meetup.com to halt the spread of new atheist groups in the U.S.?
  • When will she be rerunning her special seminar on community dismantling that we heard such rave reviews on from D.J. Grothe, Michael Shermer, Ben Radford, and Lawrence Krauss?

So get up early on Saturday and bring your coffee. You won’t want to miss this event.

The Price of Constant Debate

Not only is debate useless for getting at the nature of reality, but it isn’t always good for you, or for communities where debate is fetishized. As I was looking for my previous words on debate, I came across this, originally published here. It seemed like a good time to repost it. “PTDD” is not intended to be remotely taken as a serious mental illness. It shares the element of hyper-vigilance with PTSD, and that’s about it. This is about what consistent debate trains you to do.

You may have Post-Traumatic Debate Disorder if:

  • Nobody really disagrees with you.
  • People who claim they disagree with you are being dishonest.
  • People who claim they disagree with you are out to get you.
  • You argue that someone (else) getting mobbed online “deserved it.”
  • You find yourself not understanding a lot of things but don’t ask any questions.
  • You consider accounting for differing situations to be hypocrisy.
  • You don’t know what your goal is in an argument, but that doesn’t stop you.
  • You view all discussions that consist of more than, “Yeah, me too,” as arguments.
  • All disagreements have a right and a wrong.
  • All disagreements must have a winner and loser.
  • Wrong = evil, unforgivable, delusional.
  • You alone understand what everyone “intends” by what they say. Better than the speaker.
  • You consider sympathy for both sides in a disagreement to be the same thing as no sympathy for either.
  • You crave real-world consequences for things said online, but not for you.

These are but a small sampling of the symptoms of PTDD. If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms, it is highly recommended that you log off the internet immediately. Further treatment may consist of quarantine to avoid denialists of all stripes, lots of face-to-face and eye-to-eye conversation, and outdoor exercise.

Mock the Movie: Subliminal Edition

This Wednesday, on November 6, it’s time for Psycho-Rama! No, that’s not the name of the film. The film is titled either My World Dies Screaming or Terror in the Haunted House, depending on your mood. Psycho-Rama…er, “Mind-Altering Psycho-Rama” is the hyphen-laden name for the use of subliminal images in the film. Watch to find out whether it’s still better than modern 3D.

This one is free on YouTube.

After that, you’ll notice that we have nothing scheduled. Watching bad movies every two weeks has gotten to be a bit much for me. I think the same is true for several of our usual crew, as the mocking has dropped off. So it’s time to at least skip a session. We want to decide how frequently these should go on and what kind of schedule works. Look for the next mocking in early December.

“These all sound awful!” I hear you cry. Yes. Yes, they do. “These must be mocked mercilessly”, you say. Well, then you’re in the right company. The instructions for playing along:

  1. Start following @MockTM on Twitter.
  2. Start watching the movie on the appropriate Wednesday at 9 p.m. EDT.
  3. Once you’ve got the movie going, tweet your snarky comments to @MockTM.  Directing our tweets to @MockTM will keep our followers from being overwhelmed with our snark!
  4. Set up a search for @MockTM on Twitter for the duration so you can follow along with everyone else sharing your pain.

If you have suggestions for other movies that can and should be mocked, send them to @MockTM. Preference will be given to movies that are free or stream on the major media delivery services. Watch the feed, and we’ll set up the calendar for more terrible, mockable movies.

If you’ve missed a mocking, you can catch transcripts and even subtitle files for later watching on the Mock the Movie archive.