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There are a number of web comics that promote skeptical thinking and science; prominent examples are xkcd and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Recently, I discovered Zen Pencils which started in February 2012. The general theme of the Zen Pencils is to illustrate inspirational quotes from famous people. The most recent installment is Welcome to Science which quotes Phil Plait, The Bad Astronomer. The full quote comes from a speech Phil gave at a science fair in 2005. It captures well what the skeptic movement and science advocacy are about.
Skeptical comics are not a recent phenomenon. North Texas Skeptics has been publishing comics as part of their publications dating all the way back in the 1980’s. You can find the comics in the newsletters archived on this web site, and there is a collection of some comics on the Cartoons page.
The North Texas Skeptics has a long history, much of it recorded in newsletters dating back to 1987. The newsletter archives are available on this site, and this article highlights some of the news from 20 years ago this month. I hope to make this a regular post each month to review the way things were, and I suspect much of the same woo from 20 years ago is still around today.
In the June 1992 newsletter the article, The Third Eye, covers reports about UFOs and aliens on TV and on the computer bulletin boards. This was a time when the World Wide Web was not available (not until 1993), and most of the population was not on the Internet. Dial-up services like AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy were places where many people communicated digitally. You’ll see references to Prodigy in the article.
This year, 2012, is an election year in the U.S., and the 4 year cycle means 20 years ago was also politically active. There is a light hearted article which asks the question, Is Ross Perot an Alien?. Ross Perot was running for president, and Perot’s Alliance Airport in Fort Worth was relatively new at that time. Was Alliance Airport built as a spaceport for alien visitors?
There is a review of a new age mail order company in Magic by Mail. The company, Pyramid Books and New-Age Collection had operators standing by 24 hours a day to take the orders of “the uncritical and unquestioning across America”. A quick search reveals that they are still around today in the Internet age as The Pyramid Collection, even with the same phone number as in the article. They do seem to be more fashion focused today, but you can still get crystals, tarot cards, books about Chakras.
Check out the newsletter for all the details.