Do we really need a name change?
Given that we’re called the NZ Skeptics in virtually all instances-our website, journal, the flyers, the publicity posters etc-do we need to go through a formal change to the incorporated society’s constitution to implement it?
What do we achieve by that, that we do not already have? Not a lot, as far as I can see, except possibly an easier word to spell on the annual membership form 🙂 Though I suspect the bank would bank stuff addressed to the NZ Skeptics these days-and we can always list that as a trading name, in any case!
What do we lose by that, that we currently have? I still have to say that I appreciate the ability to point out that we do have a defined area of skepticism as exemplified by our formal name, rather than being skeptical about everything under the sun-I get calls asking me to comment as official head of the Skeptics on everything from religious beliefs to economic theories, from the smacking bill to Treaty settlements, climate change to whether New Brighton Mall would benefit by changing to a slow road…
At present, I feel I can point to the formal name and say, this is not our brief-given the diffuseness of the aim to “promote critical thinking”, per se, how do we define what we are thinking critically about? Or do I need to have an official position on all things…
Just want you to think about the ramifications here folks.
Vicki Hyde, Chair-entity
‘Paranormal’ no longer our brief
Isn’t there a reverse side of this coin? If we insist that our role is limited to the paranormal, how can we claim to speak authoritatively on important non-paranormal matters such as Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)? How do we justify the almost universally non-paranormal content of our conferences? How do we justify Bent Spoon and Bravo awards that do not relate to the paranormal? If we insist that our role is limited to the paranormal, how can we claim to speak authoritatively on important non-paranormal matters such as CAM?
On this last point, I note that in the summary of submissions given in the MACCAH report to the Minister, our submission was cursorily noted as being from an organisation concerned with investigations into the paranormal, not as from the NZ Skeptics.
No name is perfect
As I see it, any name we choose (even the NZ Society for Skeptical Inquiry) is not going to convey our specific areas of interest. Only the aims and objectives can do this to any extent. Broadly speaking we avoid politics and religion, but with regard to the latter we do comment on religious claims that impinge on science.
I’m still for making our informal name the formal one. Worth reminding ourselves that our fellow Australians call themselves Australian Skeptics Inc.
Maori sniping uncalled for
I must add my voice to Hugh Young’s plea in the last New Zealand Skeptic. There is a fairly constant sniping in the magazine about Maori religious practices. As if somehow they’re any different from anyone else’s. I would be a lot happier, if we are going to be snide about this, if we gave equal time for instance to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s yearly prayers for the souls of those who died in World Wars I and II. I am as atheist as the next guy, and quite happy to go on the offensive against religion, but let’s spread the offence equally. Actually, this sort of quaint practice is treated with much more grace in Britain, where fairy rings become tourist attractions. Does anyone imagine that people want to come here as tourists just to see a little England?
I was also a little puzzled at a reference to absenteeism in John Welch’s column. What on earth has this got to do with scepticism? We all know that people sometimes lie to take time off work. And in my view, many people in this country work long and hard for very little reward, so good on them. I could argue about this all day, but my opinion of this has nothing to do with scepticism either, Welch is merely pushing a political barrow, as I have just done.
Lastly, I was unable to make the last conference, but one reason I was anxious to go, was that titles of ‘Ethnic fundamentalism’ and ‘Linguistic fascism’ had sounded warning bells. Perhaps as used to be common, they could be reprinted in the next issue of the Skeptic so those of us who were unable to hear them can judge for ourselves.
(Look for Elizabeth Rata’s article on ‘ethnic fundamentalism’ in the next issue -ed.)