What Does It Mean to Be Part of the Skeptic Movement?

Sometimes I feel like an imposter within the Skeptic movement. I feel I understand skepticism well enough, I read as much as I can when I have time about skepticism, the history, the limits etc. The topics that interest the skeptic community seemed to overlap with my own interests. I can go to any skeptic conference and probably enjoy it. I have enough in common with enough attendees that I have something to talk about. Still, I feel like an imposter.

Why? Because, really, I don’t do anything. I’m always too busy to really do any activism. I’ve attempted to blog about skepticism, but while I know a lot, I’m only an expert in baseball and computer programming. My knowledge of history is broad, but not deep. I’ve read a number of books on skepticism, but not enough to lecture anyone else. Skeptunes is a labor of love, but there seems to be a general malaise in skepticism that seems to be affecting that project. I’m not writing letters to companies or my congressperson concerning any skeptical issues (though my voting record does reflect that). I don’t do a skeptic podcast. And as I said, I’m only an expert on a couple topics, but not ones that would make good topics for conferecences. Again, I don’t really do anything.

This not some passive aggressive plea for adulation. Honest. I am completely happy and satisfied with the whole of my life’s contributions to the world in general. The world of skepticism is just something I’ve been following for while and I’m wondering what that means for me. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and in fact when people ask me how I contribute, I say I am a patron. I donate money to worthy skeptic causes, I go to a conference that is a money raiser for the JREF (or I did rather), and I help other people attend. That is my one tangible contribution to the skeptic movement. Otherwise, I’m not part of it.

Does that really make me part of the movement? I wonder these days. There are parts of the skeptic movement that haven’t forgotten what skepticism is. The lesson of humility seems lost. Knowing what you don’t know seems to be a lost art. All the politics, all the shallow thinking, and all drama is exhausting even when you’re trying to avoid it. It doesn’t make it fun, that’s for sure.

I’ve taken a step back from a lot of things online the last month. I’m only barely aware of some things happening online, and I’m happy about that. I’ve been practicing my writing. I’ve written a song. The startup I’m working on has been marching on. I’m hooked on Deus Ex: Human Revolution. We’ve been fostering dogs for families who need help. We have five dogs and a cat of our own that we take care of. We picked a bunch of apples off our trees and donated them to a food pantry. These are the kind of things that are dominating my life right now, in a good way. When and if I choose to rejoin the skeptic community, I will need to reevaluate what my contributions would be, and if they would be valuable.

Maybe I was an imposter all along, carrying the label of “skeptic” for some currency that you can’t spend anywhere. Maybe I’m just burned out on so much negativity. Maybe I’ll come back, maybe I won’t. Still trying to figure it all out after a pretty rough couple years in skepticism.