“Palm Reader” and “Religion vs. Skepticism”: SkepchickCon, Part 1

The time has finally come! I can finally reveal a photography project that I originally started working on back in February. It was such an entertaining, yet challenging project and I enjoyed it thoroughly. What was especially cool was that during this project I had the wonderful opportunity to work with one of my heroes, Donna, aka Ms. Information.

So what was this super-secret photography project exactly? I was to provide some of my photo-taking and photo-shopping skills to SkepchickCon. In case you don’t know about SkepchickCon, Melanie, who is the events coordinator at Skepchick, said it best on the event’s page, “SkepchickCon is the science and skepticism track of CONvergence, a four-day science fiction and fantasy conference held every summer in the beautiful Minneapolis area.This year, we’ll have panels on everything from food science and mythology, science vs. religion, and penises of the animal kingdom to a live riffing on Prometheus with Rebecca, PZ, and MST3K’s Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett.

When the opportunity to offer some art to the conference’s design came my way, I jumped at the chance and wasn’t about to let the opportunity pass me up. I knew this would be something completely different from anything I’d done before and I couldn’t wait to be involved. On top of that, having Donna as a co-collaborator was this little skeptic’s dream come true.

The theme is sort of a side-show/carnival feel, so I chose to go Sepia with all the photos (with a hint of color, as brilliantly suggested by Donna). I received a list from Melanie of the topics that are to be discussed at the conference. I chose the eight topics that I thought could best be portrayed through my photography. The photographs had to be relatively understandable upon viewing, at least to us skeptics.

This week’s SkepchickCon photography reveal is “Palm Reader” and “Religion Vs. Skeptism”.

The Palm Reader

The conference topic which inspired this picture was “internet psychics”. I started off with a crystal ball psychic in mind, then I considered doing a tarot card reader. I eventually chose to do a palm reader, and to connect it with the internet theme I have her offering a “Palm-Reading App”. Simply place your palm on the palm reader’s iPad and it will magically tell you your future! Though I came up with the palm-placement app idea for this photograph, later I found that there really is an app available that takes a picture of your palm and “reads” it for you. Wow!

As I drive by our local psychic-palm reader, it never ceases to amaze me that people actually go there. I feel for them; they’re obviously searching for answers and are in desperate need of finding them.

“Your Future Foretold”
Thanks to my mother-in-law for modeling the Palm Reader for me.

Religion Vs. Skepticism

This one was a lot of fun and really struck a chord with me. I personally became an atheist because of my skepticism. When I first dipped my toe into the skeptical waters, I listened to every episode of Skeptoid, then added the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe to my list of podcasts, and then started listening to the Geologic Podcast. It wasn’t until I started becoming a skeptic that I was forced to evaluate the religious beliefs that were given to me as a young child. How could I so easily dismiss the Loch Ness Monster, Scientology, and “orbs” but not question transubstantiation or the resurrection? I know that there is debate on this topic, but in my opinion religion and skepticism are ultimately mutually exclusive.

The funny thing was that when it really came down to why it was such a big deal to let go of religion, it was mostly because I didn’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. I didn’t want my mom to feel like she failed, or for my friends at church to pity my soul and pray for me. I also didn’t want believers to think that I thought that I was more enlightened or smarter than they were; I just didn’t believe anymore. Period. Finding the skeptic community helped me gather my courage up and admit what I knew to be true and I’m grateful that there are people out there who are dedicating their time to helping others who are trying to find their own path.

My coming out was easier than many people’s might be since Rob was already an atheist. Luckily my girls took the news about my atheism like how most kids react to finding out there is no Santa. It’s interesting how, even being married to an atheist, I never really wanted to evaluate my religious beliefs. Discussion of religion was almost always off limits; I think deep down I knew I couldn’t defend my belief in God. When we did discuss it I became erratic and panicked. Funny how I don’t feel that way when I defend my atheism.

Of course there is more to this story, but that is probably for another post, another time.

“Religion vs. Septicism”
Thanks to Rob for playing both sides, Religion and Skepticism. I felt Religion needed to have a bit of a old-timey look to him while Skepticism needed to be a bit more modern.

More pictures from my SkepchickCon project will be featured in future posts, so keep a look out!

Also, be sure to check out SkepchickCon and buy your tickets! It’s July 4-7 in Minneapolis. Even if you can’t go, you can purchase some awesome stuff up for auction on Ebay created by some of the artists here at Mad Art Lab. Proceeds from the auction go towards helping SkepchickCon speakers with airfare and hotel costs. More auction items will be available next week as well (including some work by yours truly).

Gigi Chickee

All photos are taken by me, Gigi Chickee, unless otherwise noted. Photography Correspondent here at Mad Art Lab. Wife to my gorgeous husband, Rob. Mother to my four girls. Proud Secular Homeschooler. Photographer when the occasion arises. Seamstress in training. Skeptic always. Follow me and my musings on Twitter: @gigichickee

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  1. Excellent pictures! I am conflicted on the “religion vs. skepticism” photo, though. While I certainly understand the choice you made by making religion look “old-timey” and ultimately feel it was the right choice, I also find the handlebar-mustachioed strongman to be awesome.

  2. Your comment made me smile. The bare-knuckled boxers were pretty awesome and we tried to capture the “look” of the classic posters with Rob’s pose and style.

    How can one be religious and truly be skeptical? I felt I had to show one man with two conflicting sides; visually, and because of the side show theme, I thought this was the best way to go.

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