TAM Socks It to Skeptics

Just about every religion has some form of sacred object. These objects become the focus of belief systems and sacred values to be shared by the group. Reverence and fetishism of these objects is a mark of identity and faith. How do these objects get their magical powers? Some are bits of bone, some are nails, some are even said to be Jesus’s foreskin.

James Randi

The atheist and skeptics movements are often accused of becoming cults in themselves. I

Richard Dawkins

wonder if the sock knitted by Daniela Rudloff (@Cthulhoo on Twitter) will become the Holy Grail of the skeptical movement. Certainly it has been imbued by powerful essences of those who have held it during the recent TAM meeting in London.

As you can tell from the bemused expressions, even high profile skeptics have a sense of humour when it comes to praising the sock. Though I confessed I was the one who seems least willing to hold the item.

Bruce Hood

Richard Wiseman


Filed under General Thoughts

10 responses to “TAM Socks It to Skeptics

  1. Zyaama

    Well, Richard Dawkins expressed a lot more confusion when he was asked to hold the sock. Randi made it vanish.

    As good skeptics we (I took the photos) were well aware of the irony involved in asking skeptical celebrities to hold a sock which would thereby itself become kind of famous(ish). But it was a fun experience, and it is a great excuse to go up to people you usually only admire from the distance. If you are a bit shy or too polite – get a sock. There actually is a backstory to the sock, but I’ll let Cthulhoo tell that.

    (There is a high probability of the sock making another appearance at the QED conference next February. DragonCon and TAM 9 are distinct possibilities.)

  2. Bruce, did someone tell you that it used to belong to a murderer?

  3. David Price

    Similar to the sock, “Dave, the Skeptical Raisin” first appeared at TAM7, and has since appeared at TAM8 and other assorted skeptical events. Dave has his own Facebook page where one can find a large number of photos with famous, and not-so-famous, skeptics. Dave’s mission is to make the world a more “raisonable” place.

  4. MedTek

    I’d love to have the honour of dragging the sock down to TamOz.

  5. Daniela

    Oh, and the backstory isn’t particularly exciting – only that I am a member of an online knitting forum called Ravelry (with over half a million users), and knitters from all places and of all ages and walks of live. And a surprisingly large number of skeptic knitters, too!

    There’s also a very famous (well, for knitters …) author Stephanie McPhee, who has made it a habit of taking a sock everywhere and taking photos. Her recent coup included the band KISS holding the sock into the camera.

    Put these two things together, and some egging on from well-meaning friends … (I maintain they just wanted to see me embarass myself, but I am a cynic) and suddenly I was walking towards Randi with the sock in my hand.

  6. Arno

    Awesome initiative, Daniela. It also reminds me of that ancient archnemisis of all things “skepticism on the internet” related: the Sockpuppet.

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