Episodes 5 And 9 – Sports Superstitions And On Skepticism And Communication
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Sport is an integral part of popular culture – heritage, sense of national identity and an almost religious relevance in the discussions of fans when they talk about their favourite team. It’s unavoidable for reports about top athletes and sporting heroes to include a few ’so, what helps you make it this far?’. Naturally, that will include superstitious behaviours that this profession seems to develop! The popularity of sport combined with the fact that its participants are a traditionally superstitious group – make athletes the most famous of all superstitious people.
When I was at the recently held 10:23 Event at the Perth Skeptics, plenty of new people came to ask questions about what skeptics and skepticism is achieving. They included such things as ‘is this really science communication?’ Could we be doing more harm than good by such stunts or is it part of an important ‘bigger picture’ that’s being presented? What should be the next step? Were people drawn in because of nerdy stereotypes or skeptics being ’sexed-up’ – and is it misleading or preventing progress to go down those paths when promoting skepticism?
All of these notions and views have intrigued me since taking part in the ‘What Do I Do Next? Leading Skeptics Discuss 105 Practical Ways to Promote Science and Advance Skepticism’ document. In response to my experiences I took an opportunity to speak to Michael McRae [Author of Tribal Science – Brains, Beliefs And Bad Ideas] a science communicator and former science teacher.