And the Team Player of the Year Award goes to…

And the Team Player of the Year Award goes to…

Posted October 2, 2009

drumroll… Kylie Sturgess!
Kylie Sturgess always manages to bring together the best of the scattered resources, organize them quickly and efficiently, and communicate them. She promotes the work of all of us selflessly, but without being self-effacing. To see this in action, or rather hear it, listen to the latest Episode of the Skeptic Zone.

The Skeptic Zone podcast from Dragon*Con 2009. From left to right: Kylie Sturgess, Richard Saunders, Rachael Dunlop, and guests George Hrab & Daniel Loxton

The Skeptic Zone podcast from Dragon*Con 2009. From left to right: Kylie Sturgess, Richard Saunders, Rachael Dunlop, and guests George Hrab & Daniel Loxton

In this episode, Kylie discusses critical thinking education activism at the grass roots level with impromptu interviews of three people at Dragon*Con: yours truly, skeptical parenting advocate Heidi Anderson, and Skeptikids’ Jason Bilotta. She also mentioned some of the newer skeptical sites, some of whose authors I also met at Dragon*Con, such as Science-Based Parenting, Rational Moms, Teacherninja (love that name!), and Grassroots Skeptics. Her goals are clearly to promote critical thinking education, especially education of children, and to keep the field science-based. She does so, not just by promoting of her own work (which is substantial), but by rounding up the players and helping them to reach more of the target audience.
The podcast episode also includes a report and interviews by Rachael Dunlop (A.K.A., Dr. Rachie) on the efforts of skeptic organizations in the Northeast (U.S.) and news of skeptic activities in the Zone’s home of Australia. The show’s host, Richard Saunders, took a back seat on this one by only introducing the show, but I must say that there is something in the way he says my name that makes we want to hear more of the Aussie accent we Americans seem to love so much.
This cooperative approach is not limited to this episode, of course, but it is unusually salient here. I find that rather timely given a recent blog post by Brian Dunning that, aside from some gray areas about public criticism, I think makes some good points about goals. I think we should be critical of everything, even each other. However, if all we are doing is stepping over each other in some misguided attempt to grab the spotlight (which is big enough for everyone), what happens to the goal? Instead, we should be using what I will call the “Facebook Sharing Strategy”: saying, “Hey, read THIS!” to as many people as we can whenever we find something useful.
Something Heidi Anderson said in this podcast which struck a chord with me was that the movement needs all types of activists. The “in your face” activists, the soft-sellers, the accommodaters, the PZ Myers-types (not sure how to describe PZ…), the Dawkinses, Shermers, and Randis of the community — they all move us forward when we are, as Brian put it, “paddling in the same direction”. That does not mean that we should not discuss each other’s approaches, processes, or platforms, but forward movement occurs when people like Kylie Sturgess do what people like Kylie Sturgess do.
I have put the Skeptic Zone cast on a pedestal that has plenty of room for more and, at the risk of leaving some people out (I am pulling names off the top of my head, here, so please add comments with those I may have missed), I would like to give you a very short list of fellow skeptics I have noticed consistently promoting the work of others or working behind the scenes to help skeptics promote their work without overshadowing their own:

Send these people your positive thoughts and energies. Or, better yet, give them a shout-out in your own way. At least with the latter, they may actually receive those much-deserved kudos!



teacherninja on October 2nd, 2009 at 13:43:
Thanks for the link and I like your blog name too! To your list I would add the SGU and Phil Plait as consistent promoters of everyone in the movement. Great post!

Heidi Anderson on October 2nd, 2009 at 16:30:
I agree with everything you say, I would just add Daniel Loxton, of Junior Skeptic, to the list. In addition to always acting as the peacemaker in this rowdy group, Daniel is EXACTLY who we need representing us in the public eye.
He is intelligent, mature, thoughtful, and always professional.
In essence, the very opposite of me :)
When believers think of skeptics, I hope they picture Daniel, albeit perhaps with me and the other asshole skeptics behind him, ready to kick ass on command!

Cuttlefish on October 2nd, 2009 at 19:34:
When I think of skeptics, I first think of Kylie
(Oh, where can I find the right “Podblack Cat” smilie?)
By size, she’s not someone you’d rank among giants,
But Kylie is one to kick arse and do science!

Podblack on October 3rd, 2009 at 04:15:
Gah, seriously blushing — I’m one of a team, who are all educators in their own right (whether they believe it or not). And DC, you cheeky fishy! :p

Barbara Drescher on October 3rd, 2009 at 07:50:
Typical response, Kylie. Stop making us look so selfish in comparison! :)

Podblack on October 4th, 2009 at 18:34:
Actually — I do have a selfish request:
If people enjoyed the interview? And the others we’ve done? Write a review on iTunes and go to the Comments section for that podcast and write a comment, please.
Whilst I understand that Teacherninja supports ‘mainstream’ skeptics, it’s still an ongoing effort for groups like Skeptic Zone and the others I mentioned in that show to get recognition and for people to know that it’s not just one ‘figurehead’ or ’standard’ that we can rely on to get a message out. It takes variety and diversity — and by helping promote each other, it helps cover more bases.
So, again, a review or a comment would be great, as it helps morale as well as profile. I’d like to think that what Barbara has written about me can apply to the whole Skeptic Zone team and our combined efforts — and reviews help do that. :) Thanks.

Ken Welsch on October 5th, 2009 at 10:15:
Heard your Kylie Sturgess interview on The Skeptic Zone. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud when I’ve heard a URL before.
Great blog. Here’s a brush with BS my friend had: She was picked for jury duty. The lawyers asked each prospective juror this question, “What’s the one thing you’d make sure to teach your child?”
The answers most people gave were along the lines of, “How to love,” or, “To be a good person.” My friend answered, “Independent critical thinking.”
And of course, she was immediately rejected as a juror!
teacherninja on October 6th, 2009 at 04:35:
Oh, I know those guys are more “mainstream” but they do indeed promote us little guys. Steve even mentioned Science-Based Parenting on the SGU and Phil mentioned our little but growing Atlanta Skeptics group on his blog. Mine is tiny, but I’m adding more skeptical links, I’ll definitely do the iTunes thing you suggest, and I’m going to place a Skeptic Zone badge on my blog. I’m happy to do whatever I can to support the cause–thanks!
And oh my gosh, I about wrecked my car AND peed my pants this morning when I heard Kylie mention my Teacherninja blog on The Skeptic Zone! Now I am her minion and will do her bidding. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

Some Canadian Skeptic on October 7th, 2009 at 05:23:
I second the shout-out to Daniel Loxton. He’s been offering us a lot of advice and support on starting up Skeptic North, and he’s been especially good at making himself available when I needed some ideas, contacts and the like. He’s also been pimping the hell out of the blog for us too, and that in turn, brought us a lot of additional attention.
Daniel Loxton: A model Canadian, and a model Skeptic.

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