I consider myself to be a rational thinker. Like everyone I have emotional responses to situations and events, but I like to think that when it comes to evaluating what is or isn’t real or true that I’m open to being influenced by evidence and will change my views accordingly. That to me is the heart of “skeptical thinking”, not being negative to new ideas or ideas that challenge my beliefs, but wanting a reason to hold a belief or change a belief other than “because I want to” (or someone else wants me to!). In other words, show me the evidence!
Many years ago I learned about The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF). James Randi is a well known magician and personality who challenges people with extraordinary claims to back it up with some evidence. For many years his foundation has offered a million dollar prize to anyone who can show they truly possess some kind of supernatural or paranormal ability, such as psychic powers. No one has yet passed testing, and most “famous psychics” refuse to even consider it, instead attacking the challenge and claiming it is bogus. The JREF is about thinking rationally, thinking skeptically.
As part of their web presence the JREF has hosted a discussion forum which has vigorously discussed everything from 9/11 conspiracy theories to bigfoot, to global warming to … well, you name it. Just this week I was asking about hornets! What has impressed me about the forum over the years is that on nearly any topic you’ll often not only find someone who is knowledgeable, but they’re often a world-class expert in it. I once told my wife it was somewhere I liked to visit because I often felt intellectually intimidated, which was good for me!
In the past few months the JREF has decided to narrow their focus and as part of that they decided to divest themselves of responsibility the forum. I have been honoured that they have chosen myself and my company, TribeTech to take over the operations of the forum, and this week we have transferred them to their new home The International Skeptics Forum. While I haven’t yet clarified a future vision, I’m hoping that International Skeptics can become more than just the discussion forum, but instead a global community of people who like to think, and like to have their thinking challenged.
In the meantime, if that describes you, then I invite you over to the International Skeptics Forum!