Hello, Chip Coffey. I hope you don’t mind my addressing you directly, since you are now apparently a reader of our webpage. And I hope you don’t mind if I am the first JREF staff member to publicly congratulate you for winning a Pigasus Award last week. Congrats, you old devil. You’ve earned it.
Of course, I would think so, since I’m the one that nominated you. I’m also the one that wrote the scathing editorial about your vicious, exploitive show — the one that sent you into spasms of frenzied Tweeting when you finally laid eyes on the thing last Friday. That’s right, Chip — it wasn’t James Randi. It was I. But how did you respond? By accusing Randi and the JREF of gay-bashing. Here’s your Tweet:
Summary: James Randi poses as Adam Jersin with a gypsy fortune teller. At the beginning of the video Randi enters the room and while walking to his seat he fakes some lower back pain. Once he sits down the reader asks him to shuffle the cards. Randi does so but in a fumbling manner. Once the reading begins the reader mentions a woman that Randi is involved with and then another woman in his future. Randi does a great job of leading the reader by feeding her questions that she may then elaborate on, trying to make them fit with the reading.
Friends, this is a personal appeal to all of you. I’ll ask you to attend to this matter of great importance, please. Our UK friend Simon Singh has been an outstanding and very active critic of pseudoscience for years now. What follows here will explain the situation fully, but I urge you to respond to his request for action, a simple request that will only take a few minutes of your time, but which could result in a major change in UK law that will benefit us – as skeptics – and can have far-reaching results on an international scale. This is the business of the JREF, to improve the reach and importance of science, a factor that Simon has brought to the attention of the world by his heroic action.
Please add your name to the roster of dedicated persons in this battle, by reading Simon’s account and following his request for participation.
Just a quick note. At this moment — 11:12 p.m., Eastern Standard Time, April 6th, 2010 — you have less than two weeks to nab tickets to the North Eastern Conference on Science and Skepticism. (That’s NECSS, by the way — pronounced “Nexus.”) James Randi will be there, and our own D.J. Grothe will deliver the keynote address. Other notables scheduled to appear include George Hrab, Rebecca Waston, Steve Mirsky, David Gorski, Val Jones, Kimball Atwood, Julia Galef, and the whole cast of Skeptic’s Guide To The Universe. The incomparable Jamy Ian Swiss will emcee. The whole dealio goes down in Manhattan on April 17th, and you can find more info at NECSScon.org.
Last week marked a milestone for those of us engaged in online skeptical outreach. Skepticality, the show that started all of our skeptical podcasting fun, turned five. In a world before Facebook, Twitter, and the big network of local Skeptics in the Pub, for many of us Derek and Swoopy were the only skeptics' community we had, in our ear week after week. Thank you for the steady stream of critical thinking, you two!
When I proposed that D.J. and I begin a podcast back in the fall of 2005, it was because I was inspired by Derek and Swoopy and how great Skepticality was. We were employed at the Center for Inquiry at the time, and not everyone there at first understood the promise of podcasting for skeptical outreach, even if they eventually came around because of our success with Point of Inquiry (D.J. and I ended up doing over 200 episodes of that show with over 6 million downloads during our tenure. Since then I've left CFI to pursue my legal education, and D.J. moved on to head up the JREF).
I first met Derek and Swoopy back in January of 2006 at a podcasting conference I attended with D.J., and have enjoyed their warmth and friendship since. This was right after Derek's stroke, but I was still impressed with how they brought podcasting to the skeptical world and skepticism to the podcasting world.