Purely a figment of your imagination

What amuses, annoys, concerns or otherwise interests me – Noodlemaz


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Are you transphobic? Am I?

This is a difficult post to write, but it’s been on my mind for a while. No one is obliged to comment, or to educate me if I’m wrong (which no doubt I will be), but comments are, as ever, welcome, to continue the discussion. I’ll start with some conditions – please read them first and try to bear them in mind if what I’m saying causes some rage. Edit: some very constructive comments have happened, so thanks to everyone who’s pitched in and been civil with it. I’ve also added some stuff to the end of the post.

Transphobia is real. Hundreds of people are killed and abused every year because society says we must obviously present as male-men and female-women and some people disagree so much, fear and hate so much, that they think murder or assault is justified. It is not. Obviously.

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Invisible Lives

It’s a skeptics in the pub write-up!

In case you missed it, I luckily made it to Westminster Skeptics to see Juliet Jacques give her talk,

Thinking critically about transgender issues

and you can listen to it on the Pod Delusion but I shall write up my notes for those who prefer to read!

Firstly Belinda Brooks-Gordon introduced the talk by saying that trans rights have not really moved forward along with women’s rights. To try to highlight this and educate people, Juliet has a Guardian blog where she posts regularly about trans issues.

Now we can hear what Juliet has to say – it’s a lot of stuff, hugely informative, and it was a great talk!

I’ve put in a few thoughts of my own with [Comment: …] along the way.

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Science Wooseum update

I said watch this space so here’s some stuff to fill it!

What’s happening?

It’s been a pleasingly eventful week; recovering from QEDcon (see previous 2 posts and links therein) and watching this discourse with the Science Museum unfold.

Many thanks to everyone who’s been sharing the story, stating their views etc. and particularly to Martin for hosting our post on his Guardian science blog. It’s a reply to the Museum’s official statement that I linked to previously.

There are a lot of good comments on the post now; some of my favourites including:

the museum could have a permanent room for Homeopathy along with astrology, tarot card reading, crystal gazing, tea leaf reading, internet urban myths and radionic arse scratching. A sign saying ‘Welcome to the Wibble Room’ could be placed over the entrance.

No one “values” “alternative” medicine. Poor people will be stuck with it, and can’t get any proper medicine; while rich westerners use it as an extension to their cool lifestyle.

One might as well put flying carpets in the transportation section.

Science is science, irrespective of locale. The same as truth, and proof.

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Sceptical about Skeptics?

skepticalcatThis week’s Westminster Skeptics was presented by Frank Swain (@sciencepunk).

I’ve square-bracketed most of my own thoughts that I’ve added in to the write-up, as I occasionally have before.

Every so often we should be self-critical

Frank began with a little disclaimer; he does love the skeptical movement and wants to see it do well. As do I.

Who are the Skeptics?

Is this even a useful question?

You probably know if you’re a part of it, voluntarily or not, using the ‘special k’ spelling or not.

We have a passion for science and critical thinking. Or just enjoy meeting like-minded people! Engagement is the next step and not by any means a compulsory one.

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A crash course in skeptical activism

Simon Perry, convenor of Leicester Skeptics, gave his talk at Westminster Skeptics on 12/7/10.

After a rousing introduction from another super Simon, Mr Singh, we were given a run-through of the results of Mr Perry’s desire to complain about things that deserve to be complained about; amongst them, the great Quacklash – read more about it over at Zeno’s Blog!

Skeptical Activism & The Quacklash

Simon:

I’m more of a troublemaker than an authority.

Lots of us see things that we find objectionable and annoying. However, especially if we’re English, actually bothering to do something about it is quite rare. The world would much likely be a better place if more people took a bit of time to point out when something is amiss, so I respect Simon’s efforts – even if he mainly does it for fun!

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Cogito ergo sum

These are (finally) my recollections of Westminster Skeptics, 7/6/10.

Biometrics and Identification

Belle de Jour (Dr. Brooke Magnanti) came to speak to us and was welcomed warmly.

Brooke is a scientist and supported herself during her doctoral research by becoming a sex worker in London. She documented her experiences anonymously then revealed her true identity in 2009. Obviously people tend to be surprised to hear this, but challenging such attitudes was (I assume) one of her aims.

She came to WSitP to talk not about those adventures but about the science, psychology and challenges of personal identification.

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Research Fraud for Dummies

Yesterday I attended Westminster Skeptics to hear Brian Deer, an investigative journalist for the Sunday Times, talk about the ordeal he has been through in exposing Andrew Wakefield – the man who sparked widespread parental hysteria over the MMR vaccine. It took 6 years of fighting to finally get the paper formally retracted.

I strongly urge everyone interested in this matter to read this. It’s Brian’s own summary of the case background, for anyone who isn’t already aware of it. I won’t repeat it all – get the words from Brian himself. Edit 2011: He’s also written about it in the BMJ.

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