Better Know a Skeptic: 10 Questions for Jon Abrams
Now that we have been an organization for a year and our web presence is nearing its first birthday, it seems appropriate that we get to know each other a little better. With that in mind, this will be the first in a series of articles profiling members of the Ottawa Skeptics. We will touch on skepticism, certainly, but will hopefully also learn a little about what makes each of us tick. I could think of no better place to start than with our president, Jon Abrams. I hope you choose to participate when the dart hits your name. Better yet, submit your answers to the same questions as an article!
Name: Jon Abrams (left in picture)
Screen Name: Jon
Member Since: Day 1
Chosen Quote: “It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring” – Carl Sagan
1) Briefly describe yourself. What do you do for a living, etc.
I’m a 20-something white male that was brought up in a somewhat secular Jewish household. I have a loving wife and family. I have a degree in Systems and Computer Engineering from Carleton University. I work for Wind River Systems as a Linux Engineer.
2) Why are you a “skeptic”? Was there a “wow” moment?
The combination of taking a critical thinking course in university (the fuel), and then watching Richard Dawkins’ documentary “The Root of All Evil?” (the spark) forced me to re-examine many beliefs that just could not stand up to critical scrutiny. I quickly found an interesting and engaging community with the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast and their web forum.
3) What are your hobbies/interests?
I buy/fix/play pinball machines. I do Jiu-Jitsu. I read as much about science as I can. I’m also a big fan of video games.
4) What are you passionate about at the moment?
I’ve got a passion for skepticism, which includes respect for scientific integrity and the truth. I’m very eager to learn new things and engage in debate with people on practically any topic.
5) Do you have a hero? Why him/her?
I would say both Richard Dawkins and Carl Sagan. They are similar in that they have both been able to expand my world view and create a respect and admiration of science that was lacking. I also like how they have two very different approaches to confronting pseudoscience, and I think I learn from both techniques. Dawkins is definitely more of a pit bull and Sagan was more of a consensus builder. Both have their places I think.
6) If you could have dinner with 5 people, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, Socrates, and Hugh Laurie
7) Do you have a favourite: album, musician, sports team, movie, TV show, book? (Feel free to list one, some, or all.)
I’m a fan of music, but not passionate about any particular band or album to list them. I guess my favourite team would be the Ottawa Senators, I’m a believer that one should support their local sports teams. Go Sens! My favourite movies, in a particular order of favourite first is:
Terminator 2, Saving Private Ryan, The Big Lebowski, Alien, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Life of Brian, and The Matrix. There are many more, but you get the idea.
8) What grinds your gears?
Alternative medicine, sloppy thinking, and logical fallacies.
9) Tell me something I don’t know about you.
I’m deathly afraid of spiders. My wife has to kill them for me after she hears me shriek like a little girl.
10) Why are we here?
That is a loaded question, it implies that there is a purpose. I see no reason to believe that there is a purpose. We should not be so arrogant as to think that because we are so great that we were created for a reason. If a rock could think, should it presume it was created for a purpose? A much more interesting question to me is ‘How are we here’. At least with that one we have at least some hope of answering it.