Reflections on the skeptic and atheist movements

The Blue Ball Skeptics share Dr. Pigliucci’s dismay “at the celebrity culture and degree of groupthink that now permeates” skepticism and atheism as movements.

Scientia Salon

Grouchoby Massimo Pigliucci

Groucho Marx, one of my favorite comedians of all time, famously wrote a telegram to a Hollywood club he had joined, that said: “Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.” [1]

I have recently considered sending such a letter to the skeptic and atheist movements (henceforth, SAM), but I couldn’t find the address. Besides, I don’t actually want to “resign,” as I consider myself a skeptic (in the sense of David Hume: one who attempts to proportion his beliefs to the available evidence) as well as an atheist. I am also a humanist, and more recently, a Stoic. [2] Unlike my colleague Neil deGrass Tyson [3] I don’t have a problem with labels, especially self-selected ones, since I find them to be useful heuristics to navigate a bewilderingly complex world.

Besides, I’ve been into SAM…

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Somebody bought the farm

A short walk due west from my house, there is (or perhaps was) a working farm which one can still find listed on the Oklahoma Historical Society website as a Centennial Farm. Here is what it looks like from the Google satellite’s view, as of this writing:

Mounts_Farm_2014-05_viaGoogleMaps

This picture is about to change dramatically, as construction begins this month on the development of a new subdivision to be named Chisholm Creek Farms, presumably because land developers enjoy the irony of naming residential developments after whatever it was that they just paved over.

The march of civilzation goes on, though, and there is no way that an island of rural living can persist indefinitely once fully enveloped by suburban development. Here is the new plan:

I’m usually quite happy to see new development going on anywhere close to home, it means more stuff to do, more people to see, and (in general) higher real estate values. Just this once, though, I feel a sort of nostaglic wistfulness knowing that after over a century there will no longer be a farm just down the way.