So NOW What?


Okay, so you’ve decided to be more skeptical. NOW what?

This is part of what I’m trying to figure out, myself. If you read my last post you know that, after three years, I dropped out of  the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS.edu) Master Herbalist program. It’s something I’ve vacillated about for the last six months. Thanks to a talk I had, I realized that I wasn’t really helping people the way I thought I was.

The first step to figuring out what comes next is this: Read. Read everything skeptical you can get your hands on. My blogroll lists some great online resources. The JREF community is a great place to learn. They’re pretty hardcore there and very literally minded but don’t let that intimidate you. Spend some time lurking before you make your first post and don’t take it personally if someone hops in and corrects something or questions an assertion.

Books: The number one suggested book for new skeptics is  The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan. This one was mentioned over and over again on the Amazing Adventure cruise. So I’m waiting for my own copy to arrive.

Second, Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer. This has been in my reading cue for a while now. I’m moving it up to second after I finish Demon-Haunted World.

Third, Flim-Flam by James Randi. This can be ordered through the JREF website as it is currently out of print.

Learning to be skeptical is tough. It requires a good number of uncomfortable changes. I thought I was okay because I had been told that herbs were just “dirty drugs”. As long as I didn’t suggest herbs OVER medical science, suggesting them as an adjunct, I thought I was okay. The problem is that I didn’t research the things I was being taught in school. Some herbs are okay, but the question I’m asking now is, why would someone want to take herbs when pharmaceuticals are generally faster-acting and more effective for most people? (depending upon the illness in question, of course). Then there’s the problem with drug interactions, which opens up another whole can of worms.

As for my future, I’m thinking about going back to school. It’s scary because as much as I love reading about scientific discoveries, I don’t know if I’m actually bright enough to be a scientist.

In my next installment, I’ll be talking about why you don’t have to be a scientist to be a good skeptic, so stay tuned!

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2 Comments

  1. Bret Hall said,

    March 25, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Maria,

    I think it’s absolutely inspiring that you are willing to put all of your previously-held beliefs on the line and examine them, one at a time. I admire your courage, and know that I understand, if only to a smaller degree, what you are going through. As you know from our cruise, you’ll always have great friends that can help you on your way, and I wish you luck on this path! 😀

    -Bret

  2. Sgerbic said,

    March 25, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    I love science, but am not wired to be a scientist. I think you will find that there are are lots of other areas that you will “fit” into as the doors start to open for you. The books you have chosen are excellent. Once you have them finished I think a blog about what you thought about them as a newbie would be an interesting read. Don’t wait until you are all done, review them as you finish them.

    Its exciting to watch you unfold into a critical thinker, very interesting, please keep sharing your thoughts.


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