QualiaSoup on Open-Mindedness

TOPIC: open-minded skepticism vs simple open-mindedness

Just recently discovered this nice video from QualiaSoup as I was browsing over at the Pharyngula website. The extended commentary there and at QualiaSoup's youtube site is pretty much what you might expect: lots of positive remarks, the usual non-sequitars and tangential remarks, and the occasional critical response being harshly attacked by the other commenters.

What I wondered, though, all the way through the video and as I scanned through the comments, was this: who watching such a video would come away changed? And who needing such change would ever watch the video?

These aren't just idle questions. My academic colleagues and I strive often to address pseudoscience and pseudoscientific beliefs/concepts in the classroom — raising questions concerning falsifiability, bias, systematic empiricism, etc., and encouraging the practice of open-minded skepticism. But I often wonder seriously about how much thinking we actually change out there, instead of possibly just being heard by the students who are already attuned to this way of thinking and just alienating the ones who really need the message.


QualiaSoup at http://www.youtube.com/user/QualiaSoup

Pharyngula at http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula

Shermer, Michael (1997) excerpt from Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time (W. H. Freeman.) at http://www.skeptic.com/about_us/manifesto.html