So I meant to comment on this sooner but, y’know, lazy. I did want to draw a little attention to it, though, and highlight a couple of things.
DJ Grothe has taken over as President of the James Randi Educational Foundation, the daddy of skeptical activist organisations. A couple of weeks ago now, he posted about his recent visit to their headquarters at Ft. Lauderdale, and his ideas for how they’re going to move forward in coming months.
This provides the most detailed and best articulated explanation I’ve yet seen of just what the JREF does, beyond presenting the Million Dollar Challenge as a handy rhetorical tool, and it’s a pretty awesome set of goals. Things that were particularly happifying for me to see:
3. Resources for schools and such. Yes. We definitely need to see more of this. It will need to be done with a modicum of care, but these are smart people behind these ideas, and I trust the rest of the skeptical community to let them know if they’re ever in danger of pushing an unwelcome agenda too far. There will be god-freaks and woo-mongers who’ll overreact and oppose the idea anyway, of course, but don’t let’s worry about people who don’t understand the distinction between indoctrination of propaganda and education. Important difference, folks. Encouraging and enabling a deeper appreciation and understanding of the scientific method is a good thing.
4. More Amaz!ng Meetings all over the place. Yay! Australia could definitely do with more of this sort of thing, I think, given how bad they’ve had the anti-vax nonsense lately. A sequel to TAM London sounds like it’s definitely on the cards too.
8. Publicly exposing nonsense, and working with the media to help educate the public on scams and dangerous nonsense. Another yes, if this goes the way I’m hoping it will. I can really imagine the skeptical community’s take and blogosphere’s consensus becoming a significant part of regular news reporting. Ben Goldacre has already had some success at becoming a go-to guy many journalists turn to for a skeptical comment on medical stories. I love the idea of it becoming a widely understood thing by the public: there’s this bunch of people who are good at critical thinking and all that sciencey stuff, and who you should listen to what they have to say when you read some new science thing in the papers, because they know about all that stuff and can often tell you what’s really going on, about scams and paranormal stuff and all that kind of thing. And I love the idea of being a part of the blogging network that people think of like that.