Rebecca Watson

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Rebecca Watson
Rebecca Watson NECSS 2011.jpg
Born Rebecca Kay Watson
(1980-10-18) October 18, 1980 (age 34)
United States
Other names The Skepchick
Years active 2005–present
Known for Skeptical Rogue to Steven Novella on The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast, science communication, atheism, feminism
Website
skepchick.org

Rebecca Kay Watson (born October 18, 1980) is an American blogger and podcast host. She is the founder of the Skepchick blog and also co-hosts The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She also previously co-hosted the Little Atoms podcast.[1][2]

Career[edit]

Skepchick[edit]

Watson founded Skepchick in 2005, describing it as "an organization dedicated to promoting skepticism and critical thinking among women around the world."[3] Originally the site consisted of a forum and a monthly online magazine, Skepchick Magazine, which was launched January 15, 2006.[4]

In 2006, Watson released The Skepchick Calendar, a pin-up calendar featuring pictures of skeptical women for every month. Proceeds provided the attendance fee for several female applicants to attend the James Randi Educational Foundation's The Amaz!ng Meeting.[5] New calendars have been made in subsequent years, including Skepdude Calendars since 2007.

On February 12, 2006, Watson created a blog titled Memoirs of a Skepchick, as an addition to the magazine.[6] Eventually the blog, now simply titled Skepchick, became the main site, as Skepchick Magazine was discontinued in July 2006. Fourteen other bloggers beside Watson now contribute regularly, including one man.[7]

In 2010, Skepchick partnered with the Women Thinking Free Foundation to host a vaccination drive with the help of the "Hug Me!" campaign at the Dragon*Con convention in Atlanta, Georgia.[8] Public health staff allowed members of the public to receive a TDAP vaccination free of charge, as well as educational literature promoting immunization.[9] In 2011, Skepchick, the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF), and the Women Thinking Free Foundation partnered to offer a similar vaccination clinic at The Amaz!ng Meeting 9 in Las Vegas, Nevada.[9]

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe[edit]

Watson's first appearance on The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast was on episode 33 (March 9, 2006), where she was interviewed about her work on Skepchick. She returned on episode 36 (March 29, 2006) as a regular member of the panel.[10]

The Public Radio Talent Quest[edit]

In May 2007, Watson entered The Public Radio Talent Quest, a contest aimed to find new public radio hosts.[11] The contest claims to have received more than 1,400 entries.[12] Watson's entries won the popular vote in every round,[13] and she was declared one of three winners who each would receive $10,000 to produce a public radio pilot.[14]

Watson's pilot, Curiosity, Aroused,[15] was an hour-long program focused on science and skepticism.[14] It featured interviews with Richard Saunders of Australian Skeptics and Mystery Investigators, and Richard Wiseman, author of Quirkology and Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She also investigated claims of poisonous amounts of lead in lipstick, went on a ghost tour in Boston and visited a Psychic Fair.

Her show was the only one among the three winners not to receive funding by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for being turned into a one-year show.[16][17]

Personal life[edit]

Watson grew up in New Jersey and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in communications from Boston University in 2002.[18][19] While attending Boston University, Watson worked as a magician.[20] Watson says she "had relatively little serious interest in science" during her high school and college years but became more interested in science after being a magician and meeting with people like James Randi.[21] On July 11, 2009, she and Sid Rodrigues were married in a surprise ceremony during The Amaz!ng Meeting 7.[22] On April 8, 2011, she announced that she and Rodrigues were separated and seeking a divorce.[23]

Elevator incident[edit]

At the June 2011 "World Atheist Convention", on a panel that also included Richard Dawkins, Watson spoke about her experiences with sexism within the atheist movement. Among the topics in a vlog posted following her return from the trip, she described how after the talk and extended discussion with a group of attendees, a man from the group followed her into an elevator and said "Don't take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?" Watson cited various contextual reasons why this felt inappropriate, and advised, "...guys, don't do that."[24][25] The ensuing discussion and criticism across several websites, including reddit and the Pharyngula blog, became highly polarized and heated to the point of vulgar name-calling and some personal threats, including rape and death.[26][27]

The controversy increased when Richard Dawkins joined the discussion later in 2011, describing her response as an overreaction since she had not been harmed, and then contrasting the "elevator incident" with the plight of women in Islamic countries.[28][29][30] In response to Dawkins' comments, Watson stated that she would no longer buy or endorse his books and lectures.[31] The result of this exchange led to an extended internet flame war. In the wake of this and an incident at a Center For Inquiry-sponsored event, where female atheists reported gender bias and inappropriate behavior, organizations including the Richard Dawkins Foundation have reviewed their policies regarding sexual harassment and non-discrimination.[26] In 2014, Richard Dawkins stated, "There should be no rivalry in victimhood, and I’m sorry I once said something similar to American women complaining of harassment, inviting them to contemplate the suffering of Muslim women by comparison," in response to which Watson tweeted, “Richard Dawkins just did the blog-equivalent of coughing into his hand while mumbling 'sorry' to me. Eh I’ll take it.” [32][33]

Honors[edit]

An outer main-belt asteroid discovered on March 22, 2001 by David H. Healy was named 153289 Rebeccawatson in her honor.[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Simpson, Neal (September 2007). "Blogger looks to take her war on pseudoscience to the airwaves". Brookline TAB. Retrieved 2008-10-30. [dead link]
  2. ^ Mouallem, Omar (August 2008). "Making a Living of Bullshit Detecting". Vue Weekly (671). Retrieved 2008-10-30. [dead link]
  3. ^ Skepchick.org November 24, 2005 at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Skepchick.org December 23, 2005 at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Skepchicks". Bad Astronomy. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  6. ^ It’s snowing, so I started a blog. first skepchick blog post
  7. ^ Who's who on Skepchick[dead link]
  8. ^ Saunders, Richard; Dunlop, Rachael; Atkinson, Bill. "The Skeptic Zone" (Podcast) (99). Event occurs at 0:30:20. Retrieved 2013-08-20. 
  9. ^ a b "Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated!". Women Thinking Free Foundation. Retrieved 2013-08-21. [dead link]
  10. ^ The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe episode archive[dead link]
  11. ^ A very special audio blog posting. Vote for me! - blog post announcing her first entry in the PRTQ
  12. ^ Public Radio Talent Quest
  13. ^ Watson, Rebecca (2007-10-27). "PRX Announces Winners of Public Radio Talent Quest". PRX. Retrieved 2008-11-11. 
  14. ^ a b Simon, Clea (January 2008). "Showing a talent for radio". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  15. ^ Watson, Rebecca (2007-12-16). "Curiosity, Aroused: The Pilot". WordPress. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  16. ^ "Big News from PRX and CPB" (Press release). 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2008-11-06. 
  17. ^ Simon, Clea (July 2008). "At WCRB, it's a grand old tradition". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  18. ^ Potash, Larry (March 31, 2006). "Be skeptical or be an April fool". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  19. ^ Simpson, Neal (September 27, 2007). "Blogger looks to take her war on pseudoscience to the airwaves". Wicked Local. Retrieved August 24, 2013. [dead link]
  20. ^ Cohen, Georgiana (March 19, 2009). "Not-so-sure guys". The Boston Phoenix. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  21. ^ Watson, Rebecca (September 29, 2011). "Mom, don't read this". skepchick.org. Retrieved August 24, 2013. 
  22. ^ Skepchick Congrats Becca and Sid[dead link]
  23. ^ Skepchick A Note About My Personal Life
  24. ^ Rebecca Watson (2011-06-20). About Mythbusters, Robot Eyes, Feminism, and Jokes (YouTube). Event occurs at 5:06. 
  25. ^ Watson, Rebecca (24 October 2012). "It Stands to Reason, Skeptics Can Be Sexist Too". Slate. Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  26. ^ a b Miller, Ashley F. (June 2013), The non-religious patriarchy: why losing religion HAS NOT meant losing white male dominance, CrossCurrents 63 (2): 211–226, doi:10.1111/cros.12025 
  27. ^ Winston, Kimberly (September 15, 2011), Atheists address sexism issues, USA Today, Religion News Service., retrieved August 6, 2013 
  28. ^ Taranto, James (July 7, 2011). "Commander in Tweet". The Wall Street Journal. 
  29. ^ Mandy De Waal. "Dawkins, Watson and the elevator ride". Mail & Guardian, 9/2/2011.
  30. ^ Cailtin Dickson (July 6, 2011). "Richard Dawkins Gets into a Comments War with Feminists". The Atlantic Wire. 
  31. ^ Rebecca Watson (July 5, 2011). "The Privilege Delusion". Skepchick. 
  32. ^ https://richarddawkins.net/2014/08/who-is-belittling-what/
  33. ^ https://twitter.com/rebeccawatson/status/497087309805027328
  34. ^ 153289 Rebeccawatson at the JPL Small-Body Database Browser

External links[edit]