Respectful Insolence

A South African Skeptics’ Circle?

As the guy who sort of fell into being the keeper of the original Skeptics’ Circle after its creator decided to give up blogging three years ago, I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention that I’ve been made aware of an initiative to set up a local version of the Circle based around trying to foster better communication among South African Science Bloggers being spearheaded by a recent host of the Skeptics Circle, Michael Meadon at Ionian Enchantment. Of course, it’s an effort of which I heartily approve, and I hope my readers will check it out.

I would also hope, however, that some of the hosts who have lined up to host this new skeptical blog carnival (as yet unnamed) would consider also hosting a meeting of the Skeptics’ Circle at some point, not to mention submitting their work to the Skeptics’ Circle on a regular basis if they don’t do so already. Michael’s already hosted, and he did a fine job. Moreover, most of the hosts lined up thus far are blogs that I haven’t encountered before. We need synergy!


  1. #1 SC
    August 19, 2008

    This is great. I wish Mr. Meadon much success in his efforts, and may put together a contribution myself. A couple of points, though:

    1) He’s “lost faith in the methodology of standard social science”? There is no such animal. I have no idea what this could possibly mean.

    2) I understand the requirement that the entries be about skepticism and not simply political or (anti)theological opinion-pieces, but it seems unrealistic and counterproductive to insist that they be “apolitical” and “avoid controversial and arguably unresolvable moral questions.” In the current South African context (or any, for that matter), it is impossible to discuss important issues related to skepticism in any way that would not be deeply political and potentially involve those sorts of moral questions. Science is political.

  2. #2 Michael Meadon
    August 20, 2008

    Thanks for the link Orac. I certainly think synergy is possible. A lot of the upcoming hosts of the SA carnival have never hosted carnivals before and seem to be a bit nervous about it, so hopefully performing well on a smaller-stage will encourage them to graduate to the global Skeptics circle.

    SC: thanks for the encouragement. Please feel free to contribute – we need as many posts as we can get! Re (1): social science methodology isn’t unitary, I agree, but I only have so much space in my profile. We can exchange views on the philosophy of social science, if you like, it’s something I’ve thought about *a lot*. Re (2): I modelled my guidelines on the global Skeptics’ Circle’s and all I’m trying to indicate is that I don’t want posts of the form “abortion is evil!” or “Thabo Mbeki is an idiot!” included. It would be perfectly acceptable, say, to take on the upcoming legislation abolishing the MCC. Skeptics, of course, are perfectly entitled to take positions on value / political questions, but when they’re doing so they’re often not wearing their skeptical hat.