Skepticism and the Joys of October


October has been my favorite month for as long as I can remember, although the reasons for that have changed over time. As a child, it was simple. October marked the beginning of fall and was the month of my favorite holiday (i.e., Halloween). That was more than enough to make it attractive.

As an adult, October is the month when the oppressive Mississippi heat and humidity finally begin to subside, when the TV is full of awesomely bad horror flicks and odd specials that pretend that supernatural entities are real, when the grocery stores break into their pumpkin spice frenzy (yes, I love the stuff), and when a palpable sort of terror descends upon the local Southern Baptists as they imagine the evils associated with Halloween. And of course, I look forward to the JesusWeen tradition of distributing Christian bibles to the neighborhood children and seeing the looks of disappointment on their faces.

October is almost always a busy month at work for me; however, it often seems to be the one time of the year where I sometimes succeed at adopting more of a "work hard, play hard" approach than I usually manage to pull off. I start most Octobers feeling overwhelmed, but I often manage to carve out more time to have fun than I think I will. In addition to making time to watch as many horror movies as I can cram in, I often manage to get outside and take advantage of the improved weather. Even though I'm busier, it seems to be a better kind of busy.

If I had to pick the one thing I most like about October these days, though, it would have to be that it provides so many excuses to consider the topic of religious thinking (i.e., not just religious belief but superstition and magical thinking of all types). October is one of the months when one can count on finding surveys documenting the percentage of people in the U.S. who believe in monsters, demons, devils, and other ridiculous things. And as I mentioned above, it is also the month when many cable stations decide to present superstitious drivel as true. Thus, we are surrounded by reminders of the puzzling things in which many of our neighbors still believe. The whole month seems to be an excuse to marvel at a variety of absurd but popular beliefs. It is hard for this skeptic not to love October!