It’s my first birthday!

My first burthday as the author of this great blog, that is! How am I going to celebrate? By reminiscing over the past year and by considering some of the things I’d like to do in the future. Let’s get started, shall we?

I decided to start writing this blog because I was becoming increasingly frustrated by the thoughtless forwarding of hoax e-mails by my family and friends (you know who you are). I felt as though writing a thoughtful (sometimes sarcastic) reply e-mail to the culprit was just not enough. No matter how many times I repeated the same principles of looking for the fallacies, investigating the truth and evaluating the sense of an e-mail, the same people kept sending me the same rubbish. Well, armed with an internet connection, notoriously unreliable as it is, I decided to set out on my own personal crusade against the forces of un-reason. 

I was inspired by other bloggers such as Rebecca Watson of Skepchick fame, Hemant Mehta of Friendly Atheist and the whole team at The Rogues Gallery. I chose early on to cover issues which affect me as a South African as much as possible. Sometimes this has left a vacuum in my “new material” folder, and on some occasions I have been compelled to write about international issues, however I always try to keep it specific to southern Africa as often as possible.

My very first post dealt with a hoax e-mail which sparked my critical-thinking aparatus (also referred to as a “bullshit detector”) and it insulted the intellectual love of my life; astronomy! The wonders of the cosmos simultaneously ignite the human intellect, and boggle our puny minds. I have received many e-mails and answered many questions regarding the solar system, none more persistant than the myth that in August THIS year (and every year since 2003) Mars will appear the same size as the full moon.

Although I have tried to avoid the highly touchy topic of religion, it has often crept into my writings. In fact, my second ever post was about a television game show called “Faith Off”. After that the strange goings on in the world of the faithful incited me to literary violence when a colleague suggested that the Rapture is scientific, when Rwandan officials baptised 20 baby gorillas and when the Church of England formally apologised to Darwin.

As one of the primary substances required to support our kind of life on this planet, water has generated an enormous amount of pseudoscience. I have banged on about homeopathy on more than one occasion, I was especially incensed by the distribution of homeopathic remedies to people infected with HIV/AIDS by the Maun Homeopathy Project in Botswana. Water has also provided the topic of discussion for my most popular series of articles in which I take a close look at the “documentary” Water: The Great Mystery.

If I were to choose three articles from my blog which I enjoyed writing the most, I would have to choose my essay on why ants probably can’t kill you by eating your brain; the article on why a ringtone probably won’t enlarge your breasts (I’m sure it’s pretty obvious why this one was so much fun) and the entry on the proposed development of a nuclear reactor in a popular South African surfing destination. These are some of my favorite articles because I so thoroughly enjoyed researching them.

That’s all the reminiscing I’ll do for today, now for a look into the future of the Skeptic Detective. Obviously I intend to continue writing this blog. It’s an integral part of my life now and I enjoy it so much that I can’t imagine stopping. I’d like your help with something though… If you enjoy my writing please subscribe to my blog in a feed reader. There is an RSS link on the top left column, subscribing to my blog will allow me to gauge how much of my traffic is new and how many people are repeat readers.

I have also become active in the South African skeptical community, however my recent move to Durban has meant that I have to start all over again. If you are a Durban area skeptic and would like to meet up once a month for a chat with like-minded people, drop me an e-mail and we can organise a regular skeptics-in-the-pub. Alternatively there is a monthly get-together in Johannesburg for those of you on the Witwatersrand. We have a forum for South African skeptics as well as a facebook group where the skeptic’s in the pub events are announced, so sign up if you are interested.

One unexpected side-effect of my involvement in the skeptical movement was my recent debut on YouTube! I’m the hot girl in the middle 🙂 

Finally, I have been mulling over the idea of producing a podcast on science, education and critical thinking from the South African point of view. Please let me know (by comments in this thread) if you would be interested in such a podcast? Obviously it will take a lot of my time so I would like to gauge interest before I get too involved. If you would like to lend your personal talents towards this venture, please drop me an e-mail to discuss the posibility. If you have any questions or suggestions for further blog posts, or the podcast, or anything please feel free to e-mail me on skepticdetective@gmail{dot}com.

Now lets all go out and be merry to celebrate one year of the Skeptic Detective!


5 responses to “It’s my first birthday!

  1. Wow. You have done some amazing work in a short time. I know I’ll be following your blog for as long as you choose to share your thoughts with us. And if anyone can ignite the Durban sceptics, I know you can!

  2. Happy blog birthday! Podcast might be a good idea, but I’d say focus your energy on writing – I really enjoy your style (and share some of your passions for astronomy and debunking). If I had more time of my own I’d volunteer some of it 🙂

    • Thanks Ewan 🙂
      I have a lot of spare time and need to fill it up (maybe I should be careful of what I ask for…), and I’ve always wanted to do a ‘cast. I think I have the capacity so I’m ready to try.

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