The last week or so since the accusations against Sally Morgan were made public and the news spread all over the place and ignited much discussion I’ve watched as people have swarmed to her Facebook groups and online discussion forums and similar to talk about what has happened. Many have posted on Facebook groups set up by fans of Morgan to see what they think of what she has been accused of and the response has been interesting with some becoming uncertain of the psychic and others standing in her defense. One horrible thing I’ve seen though is a number of people who are skeptics and were skeptics of Morgan (and other psychics) long before this happened invading these groups for people who believe in psychics and being rude, offensive and abbrassive.
It’s pathetic behaviour and just furthers the divide between those with beliefs that others are skeptical of; that’s what is achieved – nothing great. Some skeptical people say that mocking is a good form of educational outreach and perhaps in some instances it does work – but quite often it turns you and every other skeptic into the bad guy and then those people you’re mocking cannot be engaged with by anybody.
Some times people who believe in psychics can be stubborn in discussions, their reasoning is difficult to debate and they don’t listen – but the person who, in response to that, crumbles into mocking and name calling probably shouldn’t be trying to engage with people until they mature a bit.
If you’re angry at Sally Morgan, don’t take it out on the people who adore her and follow her because it just pushes them towards her. You have then achieved the total opposite of what needs to be achieved.
When your belief in something is rocked by an incident like Sally Morgan being accused of cheating, the last thing you need is someone rubbing your face in it and pointing out how stupid you are. Rather than naturally questioning what it is you believe in, you will go on the defense and simply draw closer to that which you believed in.
When I talk about engagement I mean the sort of engagement that Project Barnum managed to aid earlier this week when Tannice & Myles spoke to people at a Sally Morgan stageshow who believed Sally is psychic and managed to help them understand that everything may not have been as it seemed.
Armed with posters and a general sense of curiosity they achieved more in an hour than any skeptic sat on Facebook being snide and rude will in a month.
Sometimes it’s best to leave the gloating to your own Facebook wall, unless of course you really do intend to just cause upset, and you take pleasure from mocking people. In which case you’re a piece of crap – just like the people who used to call me names for daring to believe that ghosts were real. This isn’t me trying to claim some moral high ground or make people feel bad, and I hope it isn’t taken that way, but if you don’t think about the way in which you talk to people and the effect your manner can have on them you could just be shooting yourself in the foot and furthering the ‘them and us’ rift that often exists between skeptical people, and those who believe in pseudo-scientific ideas.
If you want to approach people for a reasoned debate consider talking to them as though they’re humans who have arrived at a different conclusion about psychics to you – that is what they are, after all.
The other important thing to remember is that you won’t change peoples minds straight away (even when being nice) and you certainly wont when being horrible – but having a civil discussion can help show that skepticism really isn’t as bad as people often think. Who knows, after a civil conversation they might just check out the things you talked about and slowly arrive at their own conclusion (says I, who did just that….)
I’ve managed 100 episodes of Righteous Indignation without being rude or condescending to those guests who believe in things I don’t – surely people can manage one fucking conversation on Facebook without descending into scorn and bile?