Native Skeptic

Native Skeptic
Apache Crown Dancers 1887:

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Enlightenment Through Empowerment

The thing that most consistently makes me happy, is helping others. I love it when people I know, or don't know, ask me questions. Whether it is about Native American culture or even things like the paranormal or supernatural, I am always intrigued to hear the next story. But, mostly my friends just ask me if a story is real or fake. I have had people write to me and introduce new mysteries and interesting research topics too.

People appreciate the thoughtfulness behind the responses more than the actual answers themselves. Usually, I think people are already leaning towards something not being true before they even ask me. Sometimes, things are just confusing due to all the noise on the Internet. Pick any subject, and like Alice go down the bunny hole where the information gets messy quick. Medicine has alternative medicine, astronomy has astrology, and physics has quantum new age mysticism. There is an imposter trying to cheaply imitate nearly every field of science. 

It is nice when people thank me for helping them find an answer, but the thing that makes me feel happy is when I can show them how to do it on their own. It's like helping others get fish by catching them myself. But, what my goal is for them to be able to catch their own fish. I would like it if people could better find things out for themselves. That is a good feeling. These are things I would do without being paid to do them. 

Ultimately, I like leadership roles and seek out teaching opportunities. That is probably why the most influential people in my life have been my Mother, philosophers, and science giants like Carl Sagan. Coaching is something I am passionate about because I understand the importance of learning and the ways that education can help people living in poverty to get out of it. So, there is no better feeling to me than knowing I have helped to give someone the tools to figure things out for themselves. That's real empowerment. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What Makes You Angry About the World and What Do You Wish Was Different?

What constantly makes you mad about the world? What do you wish was different about it?

The thing that constantly makes me angry about the world is pseudoscience. It's misleading, often unethical, and even dangerous. People that use pseudoscience to knowingly deceive by operating off of others ignorance and vulnerabilities is the worst of the worst to me. The modern day snake-oil salesman. 

I wish that everyone could distinguish science from pseudoscience. I wish the world paid teachers good salaries, admired their roles more, and were held with more respect. Maybe that would turn out better science teachers and in effect improve general science education. 

I wish critical thinking was taught on a scale that rivals other subjects like the most common academic ones so that people would be given decision making and tools for reason to figure things out for themselves. It would make it tougher to be taken advantage of, and at the same time, easier to acquire new knowledge. Learning critical thinking is like self-defense training for your brain. Mental Jiu-Jitsu. 

I wish that science was as big a part of popular culture as any celebrity is today and scientific language was more a part of the public lexicon. A world with less pseudoscience, is a world filled with less noise. 

Science is something we all like to think we know, but my personal experience has shown me that nothing could be further from the truth. 

Back in 1989, American astronomer and science communicator Carl Sagan spoke about the problem of having such a lack of science literacy amongst the general public in an article for the Skeptical Inquirer. He cites a then recent survey which suggested that, "94 percent of Americans are 'scientifically illiterate'" (Sagan 1989). An example of it appearing in our culture came with a story about an encounter he had with a driver picking him up from the airport named Mr. Buckley who recognized his name and excitedly wanted to ask the popular scientist a few questions. 

"Mr. “Buckley”—well-spoken, intelligent, curious—had heard virtually nothing of modern science. He wanted to know about science. It’s just that all the science got filtered out before it reached him. What society permitted to trickle through was mainly pretense and confusion. And it had never taught him how to distinguish real science from the cheap imitation" (Sagan 1989).

That is the perfect way to describe pseudoscience, cheap imitation. 

Image from Pseudoscience and Science - Bullshit vs Rational Thought.


1. Sagan, Carl. 1990. Why We Need To Understand Science. Skeptical Inquirer. (Vol. 14.3). Available online: (