I was sick last week and so I ended up skipping the NYC Skeptic’s monthly Drinking Skeptically. As it turns out though, I might have dodged a bullet. An editorial writer for the NY Observer (I know, I didn’t know that was a real newspaper either) apparently attended both Massimo Pigliucci’s monthly philosophy-themed meet-up, which I’ve never personally attended, and Drinking Skeptically. But the reason I say I dodged a bullet was that the final article he wrote suggests he had no real interest in fairly assessing skeptics and decided to add dramatic license…A LOT of dramatic license.
I know most of the people cited and quoted in the article. Many of them are personal friends of mine. And the descriptions of them here don’t resemble any of them. This can only be described as a hit piece, which may explain why every chance he got (as well as those that weren’t there at all), he attempted to invent a comparison between skeptic’s groups and religions, even comparing the image of a bunch of philosophy-enthusiasts sitting at a table together to The Last Supper. Cause it’s a group of people sitting at the same table eating! GET IT!
The vast majority of human interaction revolves around food, so I’m pretty sure many meetup groups involve a bunch of attendees sitting at a long table together. That the author thinks this attribute alone constitutes an appropriate comparison to religion suggests he understands as little about religion as he does his interview subjects.
This is just a pathetic piece of writing unbecoming of any serious publication, even buried in the Culture section. One of my friends who was shamelessly quote-mined in the piece says the author trapped them with leading questions. That same friend later reported that the article’s author, Jonathan Liu, emailed a sort of apology for how the piece turned out, claiming the final product ended up more “frivolous” than he wanted. According to my friend, Liu said all the “aggressive” and “messianic” language along with the claim that Massimo Pigliucci was out to “forcibly convert” theists was just his way of innocently expressing that many skeptics are passionate about the cause. Suffice it to say, I find this explanation somewhat dubious.