ScienceSkepticism

God, Pennies, and Spontaneous Human Combustion

Hello, everyone! First, I must confess: I am not a teen. In fact, I wasn’t a teen skeptic either. And that’s why I’m here. To help provide the skeptical resources, information, perspective, and encouragement that I wish I’d had growing up.

When I was 15, I began questioning the religion I had been raised in, and the responses were rationalizations, hand waving, and even downright hostility. Eventually, I had to stop denying the painfully obvious. Religion was like a pyramid scheme selling a cure-all answer to everything that, well, didn’t really answer anything.

If a resource like Teen Skepchick had been around to encourage those first skeptical sparks, I might not have spent my late teens and twenties looking for answers in Wooville, tossing pennies so that the I Ching (pictured above) could make my decisions for me (boyfriend #2—bad move, I Ching) and wasting an embarrassing amount of money on alternative remedies for my anxiety and OCD. (Funny how spending a fortune on what is essentially water when you’re broke does not help much with anxiety.)

(Continued after the jump.)

Much of my self-doubt and anxiety stemmed from irrational thinking, including the belief that “anything is possible.” People say that like it’s some wonderful, hopeful belief <cue bright-eyed hippies dancing through a sun-drenched meadow>, but the flip side is that even my worst, most ridiculous fears were also possible <cue psychic rhinos to trample hippies and infect those who survive with a hypochondriac’s laundry list of incurable, painful diseases>.

My beliefs in the paranormal and pseudoscience were serving the same purpose as religion, making my decisions and my reality dependent entirely on something outside myself, something that I couldn’t see, much less control. No wonder I spent my teens and twenties plagued with self-doubt and social phobia. I didn’t have the confidence that comes from making my own decisions or the ability to evaluate what was real from what wasn’t.

When I finally started learning critical thinking skills through my job as a book editor and ghostwriter (don’t be skeptical—we really do exist!), a whole new world of skepticism, logic, and achingly beautiful science opened up to me.

Reality completely blows my mind, and without an outlet for all the cool things I learn each day, I’m pretty sure I will explode. So here I am, saving myself from spontaneous human combustion one blog post at a time.

I Ching image source: Wikipedia Commons

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Melanie Mallon

Melanie Mallon

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer who just moved to a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband and two young kids. When not counting how often the words "pride," "liberty," and "freedom" are used in local business, road, and pet names, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and raising her two kids to be critical thinkers. She is the managing editor of Skepchick Events, a Grounded Parents admin, and a Skepchick contributor. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Google+

1 Comment

  1. Esperanza
    March 2, 2011 at 9:59 pm —

    Kudos for you for not giving up on the journey. And thank you for being here to give other teens hope that they can make it through all the wringing of hands and rationalizations that seem to accompany when we question the “norm”.

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