I was going to add this as a comment to Hayley’s “The Ghostly Token” blog post, but soon realised that my comment was going to get too long. So, here is a blog post instead.
In summary, Hayley’s post is a counter to a comment made in “A look back at QED: a science and skepticism conference” which stated that 2 out of 12 talks about ghosts at QEDCon was too much.
However, you could also then argue that 2 out of 12 talks about physics was too much.
Or 2/3/4 out of 12 talks about psychology was too much.
Different people have different interests. Yes, some people may not read about or investigate ghosts in their spare time. But we aren’t all clones with identical interests. That would make the skeptical community a pretty boring place to be.
A similar statement is made in Reflections on QEDcon:
“Ghosts don’t exist, move on.”
I’d like to point out that this could quite easily be transformed into “homeopathy doesn’t work, move on”. Or how about “Betelgeuse will not explode and kill us all in 2012, move on“? Or “there are no such things as subluxations, move on”?
You get my point. See how easy it is to dismiss a subject that does indeed need our skeptical attention?
I don’t read about ghosts in my spare time but I went to both “ghost” talks. I found them interesting, entertaining and I learnt a lot. As Hayley has pointed out in her blog post, a huge number of people believe in ghosts. There is definitely a need for rational, skeptical input into this field.
I’ve no interest in doing any paranormal research myself, but I’m glad that there are people in the skeptical community doing it.
Likewise, I assume there are people who do skeptical paranormal research but have no interest in alt-med “debunking” – but they are glad that there are people in the skeptical community doing it.
Everyone in the skeptical community has different interests and skills. People have pet subjects and focus on the different areas in which they are interested. That’s fine. In fact, I’d argue that it is a key strength. It makes us a diverse group able to tackle anything that needs to be tackled.
It just doesn’t need all of us to do it.
H/T to @writerJames who’s tweet got me thinking.