Jamy Ian Swiss on science-based skepticism

As the last full weekday of my vacation passes, I thought about whether I’d bother to post anything or not, given that I happen to be traveling. After yesterday’s post, the subject of which was profoundly depressing to me because I hate it when quacks take cynical advantage of a grieving family to promote their antivaccine agenda, I thought I’d post something a bit more positive.

Nearly a month ago, I attended TAM, presenting there at one of the workshops and taking part in a panel discussion of “integrative medicine” (i.e., “integrating” quackery with real medicine). Leaving aside the controversies and focusing on content, one of the highlights of the meeting, if not the highlight of the meeting for me was Jamy Ian Swiss’ talk, in which he laid out his vision of scientific skepticism. At the time, I had yet to see someone whose vision of what it means to be a skeptic, particularly a scientific skeptic, aligns so closely with mine, such that I found myself at multiple points practically jumping up and yelling, “Hell, yes!” (Actually, I used a different word besides “hell,” a word I virtually never used on this blog before NatGeo took over and, now that NatGeo has taken over, probably never will.)

At one point, Jamy uses the example of Bill Maher and his embrace of antivaccine and alternative medicine quackery to illustrate what I’ve been trying to say all along. Just watch, and we’ll all get together again next week. It’s worth watching the whole thing, all 40+ minutes, although the vibe on video is a bit different. The buzz at the talk was electric, and unfortunately that doesn’t translate to video very well:

My “niche” in the skeptical movement might be science-based medicine and exposing quackery, and it’s true that I don’t blog that much about other skeptical subjects anymore, but it’s all valuable. Maybe I should go “back to my roots,” so to speak and broaden my reach a bit again, the way it was in the beginning of this blog.