OKLAHOMA CITY- Picasso Café hosted Oklahoma Skeptic Society’s monthly Skeptics in the Pub open forum Monday, June 9 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The free session featured guest speaker Dr. Caleb Lack.
Lack is an assistant professor of psychology and a counseling practicum coordinator in the Department of Psychology at the University of Central Oklahoma. He is also the founding advisor of the UCO Skeptics.
The session was titled “Sharpening and Leveling- How Good Communication Leads You Away From the Truth.”
“The better communicator you are, it tends to happen that you communicate less and less accurately,” Lack said. “Communication in general should be justified. One way to justify communication is to do what we call sharpening and leveling. To sharpen [your message], you draw out the most salient points and the things that you really want someone to know. And when you level, what you do is drop out less important details or things that they don’t need to know. What I’m going to focus on is how that happens, how you can detect that, and then what sort of distortions tend to happen as a result of that.”
Lack explained four steps to help detect distortions in communication. First, consider the source. Next, trust the facts and distrust predictions. Then, be on the lookout for sharpening and leveling. And finally, be wary of testimonials.
“Finding the truth isn’t always about de-bunking; sometimes it is about gaining information,” said Oklahoma Skeptic Society (OKSS) Founder James Garrison.
OKSS seeks to inform its members about “possibly dangerous beliefs, such as not vaccinating, using homeopathy for cancer, the New World Order or Illuminati, etc.”
“OKSS is more or less the result of my being frustrated by people being swindled or hurt by following pseudoscientific beliefs,” Garrison said. “After I started writing a blog, I began looking for a skeptical activism group here in Oklahoma, and pretty much came up empty.”
The closest thing Garrison found to a group that mirrored his own beliefs was the Oklahoma Atheists.
“I feel that even though they may sometimes work towards a common goal, skepticism and atheism is not the same thing, though many people lump the two together,” said Garrison. “I view skepticism as the junction between science education and consumer protection.”
Garrison built up OKSS with a blog. It then developed through a Facebook group and eventually expanded to group meetings and a website.
“I took a lot from the discussion,” said R.N. Melissa Knight. “I think this knowledge will give me better communication and also help me with asking my patients better questions and can help me keep answers about medical history more precise.”
According to Garrison, after trying several other venues, “Picasso Café, so far, has seemed like the best fit, so we are using it as our primary meeting place.”
Meeting schedules can be found at oklahomaskepticssociety.webs.com.