The Sciences

The BBC loves TAM London

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitOct 7, 2009 12:00 PM


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TAM London is now over, and I'll write up a longer post about it soon; I'm visiting friends now and trying to decompress after a wonderful, wonderful weekend of concentrated skepticism. But for now, take a look at a very nice article about the JREF and TAM London over at the BBC website. It's nice to see someone who actually gets it writing for a major media outlet; we in the critical thinking business rarely get a fair shake. Of course, not everyone likes the article. A rebuttal, of sorts, has been posted on the Alex Jones website -- a well-known haven for, um, some of the more wacky ideas and conspiracy theories out there -- which takes a dim view of the BBC write-up. The author, Steve Watson, is unhappy about the idea that 9/11 "truthers" are lumped in with Moon landing deniers and other people whose grasp on reality is tenuous at best, and makes a series of logical fallacy howlers as "evidence". For example, he cherry picks from the TAM London speakers list and then uses hyperbole to make it sound like we had a bunch of lightweights, but somehow he forgot to mention we had folks like Brian Cox, Simon Singh, Ben Goldacre, Ariane Sherine -- scientists (including me), journalists, and many other talented and intelligent individuals there. And that's just one of many others. Take a look at the article and see if you can collect 'em all! But that ridiculous article highlights the exact reason we need more skeptics, more critical thinkers, and more people who are able and willing to examine evidence of claims: we need to let others know when those claims fall short. In other words, we need more meetings like TAM Vegas and TAM London. And we'll have 'em, because the Alex Joneses and Steve Watsons of the world are out there -- sometimes, really Out There -- and their words need to have the light of reason shine down on them.

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