Native Skeptic

Native Skeptic
Apache Crown Dancers 1887:

A Special Message For All New New Visitors

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this site, please feel free to read my "Diary of a Native Skeptic" page, especially if this is your first visit.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The American Indian Movement: Success or Failure?

Part 3:

The successes of the American Indian Movement have seemed to correlate along with the spurts of fierce resistance throughout the history between the Native Americans people of the United States and the federal government. Overall, it has been a difficult road, traveled similarly by all indigenous people around the world as they come to grips with the reality of society changing and the difficulties of adapting to the world around them. Civilizations are only going to grow more complex and evolve, even as you are reading this note.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Speaking Up!

Skeptically Speaking is a show that interviews researchers, authors and experts to help listeners understand the evidence, arguments and science behind what’s in the news and on the shelves. A little bit of skepticism goes a long way.

With humour, enthusiasm and a lot of curiosity, Skeptically Speaking guides you through the fascinating world of science and critical thinking.

Note: The term “skepticism” may be new to you. If that’s the case, click here. Or read my post on science & skepticism

Take a listen to my opening interview on the "Speaking Up" portion of the show, where I discuss my blog and critical thinking from a Native American perspective.

Then explore the science of race, with Guy P. Harrison, author of Race and Reality: What Everyone Should Know about Our Biological Diversity. Taking on questions such as,

Is there any real biological basis to race?

And how does it compare with our cultural understanding?

Read more<---

Monday, November 8, 2010

The American Indian Movements' Manifesto for Sovereignty

After the first events developed in the early history of AIM, the movement began to exemplify the definition of what is considered a "social group". First, the formulation of the groups' ideology needed to be clarified into terms. In order to understand these principles, we can first take a look at the document which states the goals of AIM. One of the co-founders, Dennis Banks, helps shine some insight by providing some further explanation regarding the history of the American Indian Movement with the following statement,

"Because of the slum housing conditions; the highest unemployment rate in the whole of this country; police brutality against our elders, women, and children; Native Warriors came together from the streets, prisons, jails and the urban ghettos of Minneapolis to form the American Indian Movement. They were tired of begging for welfare, tired of being scapegoats in America and decided to start building on the strengths of our own people; decided to build our own schools; our own job training programs; and our own destiny. That was our motivation to begin." (1992, D.Banks)

The reasons for AIM being created are quite clear at this point. The infamous history of the relationship between the “white man” and the "Indian" provides us with a deeper understanding about some of the hostility that still exists among the various cultures. In some aspects, American Indians feel that nothing has changed in regards to the treatment and outlook towards the United States "native" peoples over the past hundred years. Which brings us to the topic of how AIM will put their ideological theory into practice.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Brief History of the American Indian Movement

As I have noted before, the determination of people to change the world around them is not always viewed as the most logical and obvious solution to a problem based on the reasoning that some people suggest the definition, “an irrational person tries to change the world around them, but a rational person changes to the world around them.” The bottom line is, change is never an easy obstacle to overcome, but it is going to happen. Fearing the unknown is a common occurrence, and often people find help and comfort in performing daily routines, acting out personal habits, or even practicing ritualistic traditions to help cope with the anxiety and stress associated with these kinds of fears. But, sometimes the real story behind the need for these coping mechanisms is not fully illustrated, and being in a system of unchecked beliefs, the mechanisms themselves can begin to influence the story, or even become the story. Every year, we still celebrate Columbus Day as the discovery of America, even though we know that's not historically accurate. I remember being taught this notion of Columbus discovering America in elementary school at the same time that I was studying the Vikings and how they predated Columbus by about five hundred years. Even in today's current society, we have become all too comfortable with some of the ways that we think and perceive issues in America. Some of these stories may sound reasonable enough, or get imprinted into our minds from repetition, but they are nevertheless fallacious and dubious in merit for the fact that they can begin to influence people that they are historical truths. People tend to not understand what is outside of the personal comfort zone that they have created for themselves because they just might find themselves to be afraid of change. However, social movements are the exception to that specific commonality of people resisting change. Considering the idea that the skeptical community is often described as a social movement, A.K.A the "skeptical movement", I decided to take a more in depth look at what exactly a social movement is, why they are important, and most effective in creating change.

A social group aims to change a part of society that has been neglected or unrepresented by bringing attention to them and finding support to bureaucratically transform the publics' perception. The characteristics of a social group are dependent on how it plans to implement the necessary changes in society. Through a series of posts, I will share some early accounts, that may diffrentiate from the general American History of the First Nation people and a brief examination of the history of the American Indian Movement (AIM), which will also include the origins of the organizations' ideology and some examples of it's application put into practice. This will also be consistently highlighting the hope that the Skeptical Movement has to offer American Indians, their communities, and the future of tribal sovereignty.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

If We Champion Science, Must We Oppose Faith?

"Recently at the 30th anniversary conference of the Council for Secular Humanism in Los Angeles, leading science blogger PZ Myers and Point of Inquiry host Chris Mooney appeared together on a panel to discuss the questions, How should secular humanists respond to science and religion? If we champion science, must we oppose faith? How best to approach flashpoints like evolution education?"

The next day, the three reprised their public debate for a special episode of Point of Inquiry. <--This is the unedited cut of that three way conversation.

Chris Mooney is a 2009-2010 Knight Science Journalism Fellow at MIT and the author of three books, The Republican War on Science, Storm World, and Unscientific America.

PZ Myers is a biologist at the University of Minnesota-Morris who, in addition to his duties as a teacher of biology and especially of development and evolution. Also, the author of Pharyngula, the most heavily-trafficked science blog online.

Jennifer Michael Hecht is the author of award-winning books of philosophy, history, and poetry, including: Doubt: A History (HarperCollins, 2003); The End of the Soul: Scientific Modernity, Atheism and Anthropology (Columbia University Press, 2003); and The Happiness Myth, (HarperCollins in 2007). Her work appears in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, and The New Yorker. Hecht earned her Ph.D. in History from Columbia University in 1995 and now teaches in the graduate writing program of The New School University.

This is my response to that discussion

Monday, October 11, 2010

Arizona Senate Bill 1070, Already Seriously Affecting Native Americans?

On April 23, 2010, Gov. Jan Brewer signed the infamous Senate Bill 1070, which makes the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and requires that police officers inquire the immigration status of all individuals who show “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally.

There has been some controversy surrounding the topic of SB 1070, much of it was before the bill even became enacted, but there were still some very real effects already impacting specific Arizonans. While there has been much debate about the effects that SB 1070 will have on Arizona citizens, there is one group of people that are quite often left out of that discussion, the Arizona Indian Nations.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

When Fear of Science Becomes Dangerous

Many people believe that simply having a healthy diet is all that’s needed to guard against disease. Unfortunately, a healthy diet by itself and simply taking vitamin supplements, do not present any immunological challenges; therefore antibodies are not created. So, when a pathogen does enter the body, the immune system is not prepared, and the body becomes infected with disease. If people only focus on their diet and fitness but neglect their immune system, they can improve fitness levels and look well in shape doing so, but their immune system won't look very well prepared against potential infectious diseases.

Only believing in what you can see is just as irrational as only believing in things you can't. But, even bad logic is still logic. For example, a great deal of naturopathy practitioners and homeopathy proponents claim that they prefer a more natural method of protecting their children from illness and disease. The notion is that the chemicals in the vaccine are not "natural", therefore they are deemed as being “toxic” and foreign, which is dangerous because they are unnatural to the body. This is either a good example of a complete absence of scientific knowledge or an obvious perversion of science that can potentially endanger an entire community.

The human body is comprised of chemicals that are just like the one’s found in vaccines. But, all of these scary sounding ingredients are added for a very specific purpose.

Pathogens are the agents which produce disease. When the body is exposed to a pathogen, it irritates and the immune system into producing antibodies to fight off the pathogen and its ill effects. Vaccines simply simulate that process by emulating specific pathogens to generate the appropriate irritation in order to produce the proper antibodies for protection against the apparent future exposure to some infectious organism. Much like the muscles in our body, the immune system needs to be stimulated in order to grow and strengthen functionality. This sort of stimulation comes through in the form of these immune system challenges that provoke an immunological response.

How Intelligent Individuals Aquire Irrational Beliefs

Our society has taken a dangerous turn, an anti-science one. Information bombards us daily through various forms of media, such as television, internet websites, and through our daily conversations. Differentiating the useful information from the bad is a skill that is often neglected. By bringing attention to these types of logically fallacious pitfalls that misinterpret misinformation as truth, we can more effectively and efficiently encounter and address them.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Reported Pertussis Cases on the Rise: What Parents Need to Know

Back to school time has begun all across the nation, meaning that children will soon be in the ideal environment for spreading disease. Being in such close quarters around other kid’s has them sharing more than just toys. In some cases, kids share lunches, the same drinks, or even the things that another kid puts in their mouth.

There are sets of standard state vaccination requirements that must be met before enrolling children in school or day care. Parents can check the resources below for Arizona's back to school information about the vaccines required for child care and school attendance for the 2010-2011 school year. Despite these protective and proactive state requirements, cases of pertussis have been on the rise.

Many Americans don’t realize the most important role that immunization plays in our society because of the fact it’s so successful. Parents often rationalize not getting their child vaccinated, or delaying the vaccine, simply because of a lack in recent outbreaks. But, the notions that a lack of outbreaks is a direct result of more parents getting their children vaccinated, is a concept that is often neglected. Many people, even educated ones, are not only placing their children at risk, but the entire community they live in.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vaccinating the Public from Psuedoscience: Community Immunity

Based upon modern medical science, the most efficient way to effectively protect the general public from disease is through vaccination. When it comes to facing the unknown, fear and uneasiness are natural reactions. Personal or core belief systems can have powerful influences over our perception. In some cases, decisions based from those personal belief systems can result in extremely emotional states, leaving some potentially susceptible to irrational decisions, such as parents not vaccinating their children because of some naturalistic fallacy. But, through methods and strategies, like those applied through IHS to the Native American/Alaskan Native people, we can get all the way through that gauntlet of logically fallacious, pseudoscientific terminology, that’s ultimately fueled by the fear of science. We can help educate our neighbors by providing the basic means for finding things out for themselves or simply quashing these modern myths whenever and wherever we encounter them. Maybe by helping enough parents to navigate through this information with sound scientific information and basic critical thinking, we can immunize enough belief systems from infectious pseudoscience to effectively produce the effects of herd immunity to the rest of the community.

Read the rest of this entry-->

Sunday, August 29, 2010

An Inquiry Into the Prejudice Against Skepticism

If you are a skeptic...
Do you as a minority encounter prejudice or racism in the community that you live in? Do you have a story of how your cultural background played a vital role or stood as an obstacle in front of your journey to skepticism? If so, what were some of hardships that you faced amongst your peers, family, or the community? To my fellow female skeptics, since there seems to be so few women in the skeptical movement, I would also like to hear from your perspectives as well. I would also accept the concept that as skeptics, we are in some sense a minority when compared to the rest of society. As skeptics, we all face the prejudices of non-skeptics. So, please feel free to share your thoughts or experiences of navigating through any of these themes.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Discussion Between Free-Thinkers: The Dr. Laura Incident

This is partly a discussion between Venus and Myself on the topic surrounding Dr. Laura, which lead to a runaway train of thought that was eventually long enough to contribute into a full post.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

An Introduction Into Science and Skeptical Thinking

For quite some time now, we have known that Americans do not have very much general knowledge about science. Numerous surveys that measure the public's broad views on evolution, climate change, the Big Bang, and even the idea that the Earth revolves around the Sun, all reveal how huge the gap really is between what science tells us and what the public believes. But what does that really mean? How is that even relative to you? And why should you even care?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Diary of a Native Skeptic- 1st Entry

The determination of people to change the world around them is not always viewed as a logical solution to a problem. Some have said that an irrational person tries to change the world around him, but a rational person changes to the world around him. In any case, change is never an easy obstacle to overcome. People fear the unknown and find comfort in daily routines, habits, and ritual tradition. Society itself has become too comfortable with some of the ways we think and perceive issues in America. People tend to not understand what is outside of that “comfort zone” that they have created for themselves simply because they are afraid of a change. Social movements, however, are the exception to the commonality of resisting change. Social groups aim to change a part of society that has been neglected or unrepresented by bringing attention to them and finding support to bureaucratically transform the public perception. Mostly, I would like to highlight the hope that the skeptics movement has to offer Native Americans and their communities for the future of tribal sovereignty.
Read the rest of this entry --->

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Greetings from a Native Skeptic: An Introduction into Skepticism

Hello, fellow people of inquiry. I wanted to make an official post of my introduction to all newcomers to the free thinking community of skepticism. Explaining what "to be skeptical" actually is takes some skill. There's more to it than the common misconceptions that define skeptics as simply, a person who "doubts" indiscriminately. In fact, skepticism itself is more accurately depicted as a movement among critical thinkers, inquiring minds interested in science who apply scientific thinking to reason, or people like me who have always been more analytical in nature, "questioning everything."

As kids, most of us at a certain age bombard our parents with enough questions to drive them crazy, but as we grow up, going through adolescence, we begin to start formulating more solid beliefs about the world, how we perceive it to be, and somewhere we begin to stop questioning things. But in my case, I guess I never really ever grew out of that phase because I went all through college challenging every professor, textbook, classroom discussion, while most were starting to solidify their own principles of reason based upon all of their personal biases acquired up to that point. Another aspect that influenced my journey to skepticism was introduced to me by the famous philosopher, Socrates. During an ambitious attempt to write a provocative and somewhat controversial subject for my advanced composition course, while still maintaining that theme of being a college age revolutionist that challenges all authority, I chose to take on "The Trial and Death of Socrates". Philosophy, or the Socratic method, planted a seed with a question, "What is knowledge?" If you cannot define that for yourself, then how can you maintain the claim that you truly "know" anything?