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JREF Welcomes New Communications Director PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by D.J. Grothe   

I am pleased to share some exciting news straight from the James Randi Educational Foundation, and to introduce you to the newest member of our team, Carrie Poppy. After months of searching and interviews, we are thrilled to have Carrie join us. She has been involved in the non-profit world for several years, and has worked on many successful campaigns in LGBTQ rights, animal protection, and skepticism, a cause about which she is especially passionate. I asked Carrie a few questions from our brand new offices in the heart of Hollywood, California. (Open house details to be announced in the weeks ahead; stay tuned!)

First and foremost, Carrie, what made you want to join the James Randi Educational Foundation, and why is skepticism important to you?

I like to think skepticism is important to everyone, whether they self-identify as a “skeptic” or not. I was a skeptic about many things a decade ago when I was buying homeopathy and getting my chakras cleansed—I just didn’t have the right information yet about homeopathy and chakras. As long as a person values critical thinking at all, they are a skeptic, at least to some extent. What’s been important to me about organized skepticism is that it provides powerful tools for helping people evaluate evidence for unsupportable and often harmful claims. That’s something James Randi in particular has been marvelous at. I encountered him for the first time when I was taking a homeopathic remedy for headaches, and someone sent me a video of Randi explaining how homeopathy is made and why there is no evidence that it actually works. I think within about five days I had watched almost every online Randi video I could find! So I know firsthand the incredible value of Randi’s and the JREF’s work exposing baseless and harmful claims, and I want to do what I can to help the JREF reach more people with its mission. And for the record, after I watched Randi’s homeopathy video, I went out and bought some aspirin.

Tell us about the other issues and social movements you’ve been involved in and how they might inform your work at the JREF.

For the last six years, I’ve been working in communications and media for various regional and national non-profit organizations, primarily creating and executing campaigns to garner media attention and spread the word about each cause. I am excited to bring my knowledge and experience in communications and campaigns to the JREF, and help promote skepticism to a wider audience.

zombie

An undead Carrie helped the JREF confront alleged medium James Van Praagh with our Million Dollar Challenge last October.

Photo by Eduard Pastor 

 

Readers might know you already from your popular podcast, "Oh No, Ross and Carrie.” What got you into paranormal investigations?

Oh No, Ross and Carrie! is an investigative show in which my co-host, Ross Blocher, and I do undercover investigations of individuals or groups who are making unlikely claims, particularly in the realm of the paranormal, fringe science and spirituality. I’ve always loved these kinds of topics, first as a believer, and for years now as a skeptic. Paranormal claims are fascinating in that they are not only claims that, if true, would be on the cutting edge of science, but also because they reveal interesting things about how the human mind works, and why we wish for things despite a lack of evidence. I am particularly interested in having a genuine dialogue with believers of various stripes, where both sides leave having learned something, and hopefully challenged each other.

What do you think skepticism as it has developed over the last decades does best, and how can it improve?

I think the two driving forces behind all public education projects and surrounding movements should be truth and compassion. Evidence and critical thought should never be abandoned in favor of a cause, and compassion should never be set aside in favor of just being right. Skepticism, both as a movement and as public education and advocacy as advanced by leading organizations like the JREF, gets the evidence part right all the time. We could probably do so with a bit more compassion, and that is what is so inspiring about Randi and the JREF. Thanks to Randi’s work, and the work of the JREF, skepticism is being used to help people being duped and hurt by false claims and to fight the charlatans who promote them. And that’s what skepticism should be all about.

carrie

Carrie Poppy is the communications director at the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Photo by Amy Davis Roth

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Comments (12)Add Comment
Great News For Everyone!
written by rossblocher, June 19, 2012
This is fantastic news for Carrie and especially for the JREF. I have been honored to work with Carrie on our podcast "Oh No, Ross and Carrie!" I have seen her dedication and skill, and she couldn't be more well suited to this position. Looking forward to the exciting new things we'll be hearing from the JREF.
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written by mariamyrback, June 19, 2012
Welcome aboard Carrie! I'm so excited to have you here and I'm really looking forward to working with you!
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ONRAC
written by skepticnj, June 19, 2012
Go Carrie!
Does this impact ONRAC (one of my favorite podcasts)? DJ left POI because of JREF duties.
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ONRAC
written by Carrie Poppy, June 19, 2012
Oh No, Ross and Carrie will absolutely stay in business. Thanks for listening!

By the way, if you enjoyed DJ on Point of Inquiry, you might be interested in his current podcast, For Good Reason: http://www.forgoodreason.org/
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written by krelnik, June 19, 2012
Welcome aboard and congratulations!
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written by skepticnj, June 19, 2012
Hey, Carrie, re:
By the way, if you enjoyed DJ on Point of Inquiry, you might be interested in his current podcast, For Good Reason: [url=http://www.forgoodreason.org/]http://www.forgoodreason.org/

last was in December. Any news?
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Re: skepticnj
written by Carrie Poppy, June 19, 2012
I'm not sure when the next one is. I know the production team has been busy with other JREF business, but hopefully soon! If you haven't listened to them all yet, I recommend going through them. It's a wonderful show.
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Welcome, Carrie
written by Sastra, June 19, 2012
And the best of luck* to you!

(metaphorically speaking, of course, since the universe is unlikely to contain transcendent moral forces manipulating physical events in such a way as to favor some people with benefits otherwise missed, nor is it likely that said forces react to intentional willpower and voiced sentiments, however sincerely expressed.)
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written by Willy K, June 19, 2012
...someone sent me a video of Randi explaining how homeopathy is made and why there is no evidence that it actually works
I'm extremely interested in this event. I'd like to know how you reacted to someone, whom I presume you know, when they sent you the link to the video.

Did you feel anything negative towards the person? Did your feelings towards this person evolve during your investigation of homeopathy?

When I've attempted to tell folks about woo of this sort or about psychics/mediums etc, many of them react as if I had just slapped their children. I probably did not tell them in the most diplomatic way possible but I never screamed at them "You're an idiot for believing that stuff!" I can't seem to find a way tell someone without them getting angry. smilies/cry.gif
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RE: Willy K
written by Carrie Poppy, June 19, 2012
Hi Willy!

Great question. The person who sent me the homeopathy video (my boyfriend at the time) was as shocked as I was to learn what homeopathy actually was. He had happened upon the video at some point that day, but prior to that hadn't known the truth about homeopathy either. And so, as you might expect, when he showed me the video, I took it as an honest sharing of important information, rather than him trying to prove he was right. And I think that demonstrates a couple of things: (1) whether we think of someone as in-group or out-group has huge effects on how we think of the point they are making. I knew my then-boyfriend was in-group (that is, he cared about the same things I did, and didn't have an axe to grind with me); and (2) the fact that he said these things to me *in person*, where I could hear his tone and see his facial expressions, was vastly different from me reading the very same information. There is so much that comes across in tone of voice and body language that, try as we might, we can't quite replicate in written form. I think both of these points are things skeptical activists can keep in mind when trying to effectively communicate our points.
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written by Baloney, June 20, 2012
Welcome, Carrie!
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written by Carrie Poppy, June 20, 2012
Thanks, all!
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