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Why Skepticism needs Social Justice, and a call to arms

It is commonly questioned why skepticism and critical thinking need social justice– or, not even need social justice, but benefit from utilizing it at all.

I’m here to argue that skepticism doesn’t just benefit from social justice, but that yes, it needs it.

I’ve been watching a lot of Star Trek lately. Almost to an obsessive extent, except without the almost. I’m relatively sure that literally everyone knows who and what Spock is, but for those of you uninitiated folks, he is a character in Star Trek of a species, Vulcan, that is entirely, 100%, logical* No emotion needed.

Spock is skepticism on its own. Spock is  arguments from pure logic, arguments that are simply about what is true and what is not true. This aspect of skepticism is important; when we can look past what makes us feel good emotionally, we can see what is really there– see smoke and mirrors for what they are, even if it hurts.

That’s all fine and dandy until you look at a big message of Star Trek regarding Spock.

Spock in his perfect logic… is so, very, flawed. In at least one episode, he gets members of his crew killed because he fails to understand and predict an emotional response from an enemy. Not only does he not feel emotions (well, supposedly), he can’t understand them or use them.

Emotions, going back to the earlier metaphor, are social justice.

Skepticism without social justice, like Spock without emotion, is flawed. Skeptics are not dealing with people who think 100% rationally, just as Spock is not fighting fellow Vulcans. When we want to fight against people who not only may not understand the scientific, fact-based aspect of things, but may also not care, we need to use emotions.

The reason I’m posting about this right now though? Is because we need to use our emotions right now. People are going to die if we don’t. Emotional enough?


Here’s the story: Target is selling homeopathic Asthma methods. Or, if you prefer; Target is selling water to people with an affliction that can kill them if not treated properly because, say, they tried to treat it with water after being told it was medicine.

This is not at all okay. Not from a Skepticism standpoint; It simply won’t do anything for Asthma, just going by the facts. But from a social justice standpoint it’s a nightmare. This preys upon people with disabilities, who will sometimes do anything to treat their disabilities because sometimes, anything is all they can do. Specifically, though, this preys upon people with disabilities who are undereducated or poor; Specifically poor, because this fake Asthma medicine is way cheaper than real Asthma medicine, and even if you know homeopathy is bull, when it’s all you can afford, you’re bound to try it.

This is more than just a learning experience though. If someone tries to use this “medicine” to relieve Asthma, they could die when it inevitably doesn’t actually work.

As such I encourage everyone reading to say something. Contact Target and insist that they pull the product. Take to Twitter or Facebook or whatever your favorite social media is and talk about this, and how it isn’t okay. Write a blog post yourself. But I insist; Don’t just sit there skeptically feeling skeptical of how this would work. Combine your Skepticism with Social Justice, do some activism, and keep someone from dying.

image/featured image via Ryan Melyon on Twitter


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Kit "Grimalkin" Partin is an autistic genderqueer lesbian-boy-thing hailing from Dallas. He recently graduated from an online high school that he went to because his brain was so awesome it forgot how to not be depressed, and now he's pursuing a degree in art! He's a proud Atheism Plusser, and is working on an A+ non-profit. Here he is on twitter, facebook and that weird google+ thing he doesn't understand.

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