We've entered the holiday season now here in the US. I've already started listening to the Christmas music that I enjoy, even though I'm an atheist. My enjoyment of the music stems from so many years of playing saxaphone growing up and the many concerts I played. The nights are slightly shorter, and while we rarey have snow here, the weather isn't quite as nice as the rest of the year. So I'm settling in for a few month stretch of being indoors, but what to do?
In a recent email exchange with a friend, we were talking about the skeptic movement in the US, and it was clear to her that I was pretty disillusioned with the whole thing. She's right, too. I am. It seems the power of the internet has mainly been used to further political agendas versus skepticism and since the internet is my main conduit into the movement it looks like a mess. Too many white nights, Twitter only activitists, politics, lies, faux outrage, bad astronomers, etc. You get the point.
So, in order to take a step back and refresh the skeptic batteries, I'm putting together a list of books I want to re-read, to remind myself why I got into skepticism to begin with. What got me interested in skepticism in the first place was debunking myths, challenging the common wisdom, and saving people from scams. Some of that shaped my politics where I ended up as a libertarian. It also helped shaped my career as a computer programmer where logic is king.
Skepticism used to be a lot more fun, frankly. Or rather, I've gotten away from the fun stuff as all the politics took over. It isn't a matter of wanting things the way they were. Rarely is any thing or any movement the way it should be, but instead you're in a constant state of trying to achieve those ideals. That's what I remember in the skeptic movement from my early days.
So with that in mind, here are the list of books I plan to re-read this winter:
- The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan
- UFOs — Identified by Philip Klass
- Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) by Carol Tavris
- The Faith Healers by James Randi.
This is a very personal list I've put together. The books may seem like curious choices, perhaps outdated (why read a 1968 book on UFO's for example). The point for me though is to do a kind of reset, and come out of the winter more enthusiastic and inspired than I went into winter. This is like listening to a favorite song that reminds you of good times in the past. That's what I'm doing here. Just reminding myself of the good times of the past so I can make more good times in the future.