Adam Savage

In one form or another hero worship is a phenomenon that has been around since humans developed the capacity to mentally place another above themselves. Many of us at one time or another have geeked out over seeing or even meeting one of our heroes. In my journey as a skeptic I have been extremely fortunate to not only get to MEET two of my personal heroes but to also get to know them as people and befriend them.

George Hrab and James Randi, two of the people I credit with helping me make great strides in developing my skepticism, are wonderfully brilliant men. James Randi who is responsible for the Million Dollar Challenge. He is responsible for investigating charlatans all over the world. People such as Peter Popoff and Uri Gellar are just two of the people that Randi has successfully proven to be using fraudulent means to deceive people.

George Hrab (pronounced Hhh-rob) is a professional musician by trade. He does the Geologic Podcast, a skit-based show with a critical thinking bent to it. Geo uses humor and snark as a way to point out uncritical thinking. He has a way of simplifying an issue so that anyone can understand why the situation isn’t logical. Geo’s show was my first real introduction to skepticism. But those of you who have been following this blog know all of this.

My point here is that we all have people that have impacted our lives: people that we have raised to a higher status than ourselves because of their influence or accomplishments. When we encounter them in person it’s kind of hard not to be nervous or shy. The first time I saw Geo, I couldn’t even approach him because, well, “OMFG!! that’s GEORGE HRAB!! Holy SHIT! I’m in the same room with him!!!” Yeah. I was a total fan girl. But after getting the opportunity to just hang out with him, I came to realize that even though he’s accomplished something that I admire, he’s still just a fellow human being.

Which brings me to the crux of my story.

While I was at DragonCon earlier this month, I was hanging out in the lobby-level bar at the Hilton when I happened to notice a small cluster of people. I recognized four very high profile skeptics tightly ringed around none other than Adam Savage. The cluster was so tight I’m amazed that Mr. Savage could breathe. There were a few others standing outside the ring trying to be a part of the conversation. So I approached the group thinking it would just be cool to hang out. After all, this is Adam Frickin’ Savage. What geek worth their salt WOULDN’T want to be in the man’s orbit?

After a few minutes of standing there feeling shut out of the group, I came to a realization. I was standing there JUST to be near Mr. Savage. That bothered me. it STILL bothers me that I would do that. Please understand that I am not in any way blaming anyone who was in the group or Mr. Savage himself. I had my chance to talk to him at TAM 8 earlier this summer.

It is also not my intention to diminish Mr. Savage’s accomplishments. He has done some VERY cool things in his career. I’m not just talking about Mythbusters, either. He *should* be commended and recognized for all his hard work.

What bothered me is that I felt that I had diminished myself  and my own self-esteem by standing there JUST to be close to someone famous.

At TAM 8 during one of the panels, the all-female panel was talking about how many of them felt that there is no real need for heroes: that we can be our own heroes. Is that the case? Do we as human beings no longer need heroes? Can we emulate or aspire to be like those we admire without raising them to a status above ourselves?

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1 Comment

  1. September 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    I think on one level we don’t “need” heroes, but I imagine we’re hard-wired by evolution to have them. We also don’t need an awe at the utter beauty and majesty of the universe. But those are integral to the human experience. I don’t think we lose anything as skeptics by indulging in them.

    It does need to be balanced though. Thinking of our heroes as unapproachable, near-Messianic figures is counterproductive. If having one lowers self-esteem, then examining the causes of that lowered self-esteem is a good thing.

    Don’t diminish yourself. You’ve accomplished a great deal and the level of integrity you’ve shown is admirable and worthy of a bit of hero worship in itself. Influences like Hrab, Randi, and Savage may have inspired you, but they inspired lots of people and most of the people they inspired haven’t done nearly as much.

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