Sunday, 8 September 2013

Rose Tinted Glasses: A Psychic and Skeptics

This weekend Dan and I went along to the New Zealand Skeptics Conference held in Wellington. A two day conference with some amazing speakers. We met some awesome people in various fields, doing various jobs, and responding to the world in different ways.
Basically a bunch of "non-believers" in a room for a weekend to talk, discuss, debate and question things.

I am the first to admit: I'm not a geek and I am not a nerd - despite the fact that my siblings are sure that, yes I am!
........................ I am really just a person who researches and questions the heck out of things. I read - a lot. I question nearly everything. I try things - to prove to myself (and my followers, no idea why anyone would want to follow "me"!) that it does work (or doesn't) - perhaps I should start blogging about all my failed attempts!

I haven't posted anything on my blog *so far* about scepticism. And not because I'm not into it, per say, but rather because I don't feel I am researched enough (or good enough?) to really speak about it in a way that doesn't come across in the wrong light. The past 9 months have been a huge effort for me to maintain my composure and learn to be more diplomatic in my manners online. In practising this skill, I have been an admin behind a couple of Facebook groups - one on the science behind the Fluoride debates. (I'm pro-fluoride, and not afraid to say so) ...
The second group is for the No (low) Poo Technique (Shampoo that is, not human waste!). I have another post that can be found here: Low Poo / No Poo Journey

On top of being an active moderator on those two groups,
I have also been :
  • blogging,
  • pinning:
  • researching: into Asthma treatments (Asthma Foundation of NZ), and my own Asthmatic Condition. Baker's Lung There is also a blog post here somewhere with the same thing written. I just like linking to the Stuff one - sort of famously been published! ;) 
Because it is so rare and unusual for someone my age to have it, I have had to learn a lot for myself so I can help to further teach/ educate my doctors. I have also just recently changed GP's due to leaving tertiary study temporarily (I am on a 2 year break currently). Doing a BA in English Literature at VUW. (I'm also dabbling in French, TESOL/ Education, Linguistics and Religious Studies.)

  • I am also working, I work as a cleaner, and a Teacher. I have been teaching ESOL for the past two years (as an untrained tutor) for a private language hostel in Wellington. 
  • And I also Home Tutor a Chinese Migrant through English Language Partners. 
  • Volunteering at a great Theatre called Bats. (Check them out here )
  • Sadly my final volunteering role has come to a close after the recent August Earthquakes in Wellington. Eva's Attic was a great little used clothing shop that I was working in, until the EQ in August this year. Hoping to be back sometime soon, but we're currently without a new shop to move into!
Crazy life I lead, but the work is all part time. The volunteering is pretty much on call. The research is as and when I feel like doing it. I wish I could incorporate more of my personal studies into my academic study: not really possible at this stage. Enjoying the time off from studying however - I wasn't sure I would.

Behind all this is a woman who is battling demons every day. I don't mean that lightly. I have an anxiety condition which stems from the Asthma diagnosis (and subsequent 18 months- 2 years of non-diagnosis). This is controlled pretty well with positive thinking and I do see my GP regularly for help when I need it. I personally am a fan of researching other options - but I like them to be tested. Legitimate and regulated. It does scare me that people do prey on people (who are like me) - vulnerable people who don't necessarily research things for themselves.

On that note, "never tell your doctor you hear voices". A quote from the Psychic Sue Nicholson who came to the NZ Skeptics Conference this weekend. Now I am a real non-believer of Psychics, I think they're working on cues (visual, given or otherwise) to 'prove' their abilities. I do not believe they have a 'gift', from god or otherwise... I really believe she needs medical help. And to make it worse, I know, I am in no position to be able to convince her of this.

It was interesting hearing another conference speaker ask her what the difference was between the voices she hears "from the spirit world" and the voices a psychiatric patient hears. I thought this was really interesting. I had spent the entire time listening to her speaking wondering if she did in fact have some kind of mental illness. (Like I say, I am not trying to be negative, just that I get my thinking cap on and this is what I thought of).

I was also very annoyed when Ms Nicholson said she's Dyslexic. She lets this be a barrier to her having any education. She refuses to acknowledge that no education = bad. (She parades the fact she is uneducated). This made me sad and annoyed for two reasons: people who are dyslexic are not 'dumb'. They are simply wired a little differently than other people to be able to learn in the same manner. I do not think there is anything "wrong" with learning in another way. (As a teacher I try to address this by using a mixture of applications with my students - videos, whiteboards, images, text, and so on). There is nothing wrong with listening to an audio book. Nothing wrong with learning something via youtube (watching a video on 'how to do...").  My younger brother is also dyslexic - his diagnosis was what pushed me into teaching even more.

It annoys me when someone like Sue suggests that this barrier can prevent her from learning. She is very closed off now. I do not have any chance to convince her or suggest otherwise.

Another note I took away from the NZ Skeptics Conference was that we need to make a shift in the educational norm, of not teaching children how to "think" in school because we're too busy teaching them to pass the tests that come every year. Because we teach to make sure we hit all the standards (in the tests) the kids end up leaving high school in NZ, unable to critically engage and critically think for themselves about various topics. This saddens me because we're collectively allowing a generation of kids to come through their schooling without any real skills they can apply to the real world. They get to university and can't cope.

A side note, I met a 19 year old university student recently; an international student, from an English speaking country -won't name where- who couldn't read and write at an academic level. This is shocking. They have attended all of their schooling from age 6 to 18, and they left without some really fundamental skills.
~ I also have a similar thing from my own school days - I don't know any of my multiplication tables! (Shocking and I'm not proud of it.) I don't tell my students that though!

I will have to write more about Skepticism/ scepticism, and the conference later (am very tired from the long weekend and back to work tomorrow!) 
Until next time. :)