Friday, July 30, 2010

News Pleas

Today I'd like to send out three quick pleas for your support of other folk trying to fight the good fight for reason and science.


Help Skepticon III: They are getting so many reservations to attend that they are just about past their current venue size of 500, and reservations are accelerating, so projecting forward they are likely to have 1000 or so attending this year, which means they need to hire a much larger venue, which is much more expensive. They promised to make attendance free and will stand by that. But to keep that promise and rent a venue (it'll run them nearly ten thousand dollars altogether), they need more financial support. Every little bit adds up, so anything you can do will be a boon to the Bible Belt. Go to their official skepticon donations page to give.


Help the Tai Solarin Organisation: There are a lot of weird things about me people don't expect. Like the fact that I'm actually known in Africa for an essay I wrote in 1995 summarizing the achievements of the most famous outspoken atheist activist and reformer in the history of that continent (see "Tai Solarin: His Life, Ideas, and Accomplishments"). Because of this, I'm often sent news from atheist organizations in Africa. Needless to say, they don't have it easy there. And one such organization, the Tai Solarin society, needs funding to continue its annual lecture series. Based on past years, they were supposed to have had the 2010 lecture by now, and maybe they have (or will in a matter of weeks). But even if they have, they'll no doubt need money to recoup losses, and contribute toward the cost of next year's event. A lot goes a long way there. So if you want to help out, here's the appeal from Bayo Adenubi, Chairman of the Tai Solarin Organisation.
Tai Solarin Organisation (TSO) needs your help to convene this year's memorial lecture. Founded in 2003 to promote the ideals of Nigeria's late humanist and educator, Tai Solarin, TSO organizes a lecture every year to commemorate the life and legacy of the late sage. To organize these lectures, TSO Board members receive financial contributions and solicit donations from individuals and corporate bodies. But this year, our regular donors have not been forthcoming and our lecture is just a few months away. Hence we are making this urgent appeal for financial support. We are asking you to consider making some donations to TSO to enable us organize this event and continue to keep Tai Solarin's legacy alive. Please donate today, TSO needs your help. All donors will be acknowledged in our reports. They will receive copies of the lecture, annual report of activities and the financial report. If you wish to make a donation please contact us by email, or
Contact them right away if you are interested, as contact by email can take several days (power and communications are sometimes unreliable there), and the event is supposed to happen now. I have not corresponded with this organization very much, so I cannot vouch for them personally, so if you have any concerns feel free to vet their credentials or sincerity however possible when you contact them.


Help the Skeptical Inquirer: Prices of materials have gone up, funding has dropped, and subscribership is actually shrinking. SI might go under if trends don't reverse. I don't want you to donate to their cause. I want you to subscribe to their magazine. And when you see how awesome it is (and you will), I want you to tell everyone you know about it, and persuade them to subscribe to this excellent periodical. Give them the patronage they deserve.

I hate piling up magazines, and most I can't stand (Newsweek sucks; Time could bore a rock to death). So the ones I do subscribe to make a very select list. Apart from trade periodicals, only four make the cut: The Week (best news weekly...ever), Science News (required reading, IMO), The Skeptic (Shermer's baby, broadly focused and usually well-sourced, I actually shelve the issues like books) and the Skeptical Inquirer. SI is very well produced and edited, interesting on nearly every page, full of leading news in skepticism, and packs many feature articles in every issue (they deal mainly with religion and the paranormal but often venture into other subjects like global warming or polygraphs...check out their website for an idea of their range). I always learn a lot from every issue I read. You will too. And you'll enjoy reading it. Give them a try!


Pikemann Urge said...

So the Skeptical Inquirer's subscribership is shrinking? Probably not really bad news as perhaps most skeptics have decided that they only need one publication: Shermer's. There isn't a huge audience in the first place, so perhaps two magazines for the skeptical community is one too many.

I don't get Time etc. Why pay so much for so little? Buy a newspaper every couple of days and you get much, much better value

Crinis said...

I second Science News, and I've been a subscriber since I was nine years old (I'm old enough to have kids now).

I really wanted to like Seed, but after a year's subscription, I let it lapse. I wasn't enjoying the articles. For me, it was a thoughtless sort of scientific secularism even though it tried so hard to be cultural. It just reported on culture, not really attempting to understand it. I can get the science from Science News.

I'll miss Skepticon this year, as a full time stay-at-home dad, it's not financially or chronologically feasible for me to attend. Sounds like fun!

If you ever want to post on the collapse of the Trad Med, it looks like you're off to good start. As an atheist, I find online news better than anything they try to spoon feed me on cable or the networks.

Richard Carrier said...

Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer are not comparable publications. They have different contents and focus. We need both. I read both and gladly pay for both. I think everyone should, at least anyone who likes either.

Indeed, I'd like to see more such periodicals, with more specializations, not less.

Pseudohistory is a cottage industry rife for watchdogging and excellent educational articles (cable TV alone provides endless material; as well as books from major publishers; and if that weren't enough, plenty makes pop sensation online).

The latest debacles in creationism, biological and cosmological, used as platforms for teaching science, would make for nice entertainment.

A journal on urban legends that Snopes the latest, with articles by anthropologists, sociologists, and proper journalists would be a hot read.

Penn & Teller's Bullsh*t! could be spun off into a great magazine in its own right.

And I cannot express how much I miss the demise of Brill's Content, which was (and remains, despite not existing anymore) the only skeptical magazine devoted to watchdogging "the media." It was brilliant. If only someone would resurrect it.

Chris Jones said...

I don't see Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer as being directly comparable either. I get both, but Skeptical Inquirer has taken more of a focus which has no equivalent in the literature, and I'd be sorely disappointed if it were to go out of publication. I've been reading it since the 80s and look forward to every issue. I already subscribe, so the most I could do at this point is buy a gift subscription for someone else who would read it. Don't overlook this as a means of providing support.