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It’s Good to be a Skeptic

All of this is true:

what skeptics have

Aside from that wonder of birth stuff. Sorry, but I find it more icky than inspiring. What I do think is wonderful is that the squalling bundle of raw need that rips its way out of a woman kinda like something from Aliens ends up becoming a small mobile science question generator. I love it when kids reach that age where everything is wonderful and they want to know why. I love it when a few of them never lose touch with that child within them.

This is why things like creationism and “intelligent design” make me so angry. They destroy that sense of wonder. They hollow it out, and fill the void with bullshit. They destroy that child asking why. That, I cannot forgive them for.

Let the world fill with skeptics. Let wonder never cease. Let us never hear a “Because” without asking “Because why?”

Comments

  1. azportsider says

    I’m with you, Dana–no kids of my own, and never wanted any, but I love it when other people’s kids ask questions. Caqrl Sagan said it: “Every kid starts out as a natural-born scientist, and then we beat it out of them. A few trickle through the system with their wonder and enthusiasm for science intact.”

  2. rq says

    The Wonder (or Miracle) of Birth is one of those things that has got a good marketing spin on it: it’s a miracle! A new human life! Wonderful experience! Time of your life! All else will fall away…!! Well, having been through it three times, it definitely does not feel like a miracle. Oh there’s a sense of accomplishment at the end, for sure, but it’s mostly relief, and then a rushing panic at the thought of the next 18 or so years of trying to take care of that squalling bundle (How will it act? What will it look like? What if it dies?). A miracle would be a detachable uterus with no pain nerves attached, so you could carry it around during incubation, then remove it, and stimulate it from the outside when it’s time to be born (or something). A miracle would be storks bringing ready-made babies, already plump and smiling, past the initial few-day period of total confusion about the world. Actually, just plain painless/effortless birth would be a miracle. And yes, more than anything, it is an icky process. Blood and gore and all that, and a life and a potential life in the balance. I like calling myself a childbirth survivor, and I had it (comparatively) easy. Honestly, if giving birth is my purpose in my life, if I’m supposed to live just for that experience, I choose the other door, thank you!
    Also, all animals do it – is it a miracle when they give birth, too?
    Anyway.
    Then they reach the age of questions, and it is tedious. They tend to repeat questions (either to verify answers or because they actually forget, I’m not sure, but I lean towards the former), they ask confusing questions, and complicated questions, and I admit, it gets a bit annoying sometimes, only because it doesn’t ever stop. But. It is important to remember that they don’t actually know these things that seem so commonplace. 5 or 6 years of life aren’t enough to discover everything out there – heck, 80 years isn’t enough, either! And what helps me stay patient is to look at it all like it’s new for me, too. Or to ask questions back (What do you think? What if it was purple?). Some ‘scientific’ conversations end up pretty silly, but that’s fine – it lets them know that you don’t have to know the answer and leave it at that – you can play with it, change it around and think about what would happen, how that compares to the way things are.
    Hm, this is a bit of a ramble. It made sense in my head. All opinions and experiences expressed above are only my own and shouldn’t be taken to be blanket statements of everyone’s experiences with childbirth and children.

    • says

      rq:

      Have you read any of the science fiction of Lois McMaster Bujold?

      The ‘uterine replicator’ is a major technology in the background of her stories, and crucial to the plots of several.

  3. says

    I wonder why people think science is cold…science isn’t cold. Science is awesome.

    However, 9th grade science class? That was cold. And smelly. Not just because my lab partner didn’t shower after gym class.

    9th grade science class has given science a bad name.

  4. Trebuchet says

    My 9th grade science class (and teacher) were awesome. He actually set the classoom on fire. Twice.

    Hint: When your white phosphorous sample won’t spontaneously ignite but just sits there and glows, “Hit it with a flame from the blowtorch” is not the correct answer. Unless you want to really impress the kiddies.

    • rq says

      Yeah, we once had a fire alarm due to my chem teacher demonstrating the process of making nitrogen triiodide. Remember, kids, it’s very, very volatile. So he left it in the fumehood while it dried, hoping to show us the fun part later, but the updraft lifted up the paper towel and then let it down… Yeah, nitrogen triiodideis very very volatile.
      I’m pretty sure he set off a few more fire alarms through his demonstrations. Most awesome chem teacher ever. My physics teachers were awesome, too, come to think of it. The best lessons usually started with Here, watch this! and proceeding to break/drop/smash/heat/swing/roll something (And that, kids, is called a transfer of energy combined with inelasticity of the glass! It’s just bad at absorbing energy!).

  5. CaitieCat says

    Sadly, my Grade 9 science teacher was recently arrested for having “inappropriately touched” several people from when I was at the school, and probably since then (he’s retired now; the original reports are from 1982-1984). Never bothered me any, but I’m grief-stricken over who I’d thought I’d know, and for my classmates and subsequent alums who suffered this.

    I wonder how many people he ruined science for?

    And the worst part is, he was one of us, someone who loves science, was enthusiastic about it, thought it was transparently awesome and tried to share that enthusiasm. I know he and some of my other high-school teachers inspired me to a love of science that continues today, though I never went into the field because I didn’t have the courage to be a trans woman in science in the early 80s, despite having consistently made high 90s in my science and math classes. I knew choosing science would be choosing between being myself and doing what I loved, and in the end, the ability to be me prevailed, and I became a linguist and translator instead.

    It’s a beautiful poster, and a great job at reminding why it’s a beautiful life being a skeptic/atheist.

  6. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Love the quote in the OP, but I’d add ‘intellectual honesty’ to the list.