Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence? Well, duh
Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence – Carl Sagan (paraphrasing Marcello Truzzi)
Above is one of my favourite quotes of all time. Five words that sum up my attitude towards religion, pseudoscience, and any other wacky claim. So imagine my delight upon discovering that the Centre For Inquiry Canada’s new bus campaign was based on this quote. (Full Disclosure: I volunteer for CFI but my work on this campaign is somewhat negligible. I pretty much just nodded and said yes whenever someone threw out a new claim. I also gave them the postcard design from the University of Melbourne Secular Society, and I never properly thanked Simon Lilburn for “borrowing” his lovely work. Thanks, Simon).
The campaign aims to increase awareness, and educate people about being skeptical when it comes to outrageous allegations. Each extraordinary claim is described and then the evidence is given on the website. So, the next time someone challenges you to give proof that fairies, or Bigfoot, or an ever-present sky god don’t exist, or to explain why homeopathy is not real medicine (because then it would be just medicine, and not alternative med), just use this website. I should point out though, that the pages are purposely short, to stimulate discussion.
Why am I promoting this (besides my involvement with CFI)? When I was in high school, I did a project on medicinal plants. Idiotically, my focus was more on things like St. John’s wort, echinacea and stuff you would find in traditional Chinese medicine. Instead, I should have written about digitalis, which the heart medication digitalin was developed, and willow bark, which was used to derive acetylsalicylic acid aka Aspirin ™. If people know how to evaluate evidence, we are better for it. I definitely did not understand how to, and I was considered a good science student in my high school.
Typically, the rational movement doesn’t have a lot of money. In order for us to get these ads on Toronto public transit (and then, the rest of Canada), we need cash. Please donate! (And you didn’t hear it from me, but there’s a donor willing to match dollar for dollar until the New Year. Make your money go further. And it’s a charity, so you can get a tax receipt).
This article is cross-posted from Future Public Health Official.