Rebecca Fox… On the edge

Rebecca Fox
Rebecca Fox
Rebecca Fox is a graphic novelist and podcaster whose work explores how to communicate with people we disagree with, and how to engage critically but engagingly with pseudoscience.

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Panel 1. The Abyss (of woo). A drawing of the illustrator, Rebecca, sitting on the edge of a cliff, with a swirling water vortex beneath her. The text reads "I've been staring into this abyss for a while now...". she has her phone beside her with a label "...researching for my podcast". She is looking up towards the viewer saying "oh, hi."
Panel 2. As Rebecca looks down in to the water she says "it's changed me..." "...and I've noticed ways in which we skeptics..." "...have changed it"
Panel 3. With water swirling in the background, the image depicts a cartoon brain with hands held as if in a frame above it. It says "Psychological framing device" - and arrow indicates towards "physiological phenomena" which has an arrow pointing to "mind over matter". The text top and bottom of the panel explains "we unleashed scientific ideas like the placebo effect, and now in its misunderstood form it's used to prop up the very pseudoscience we were critiquing. If you introduce a concept and don't fully explain it, or even understand it yourself, then a gap in understanding is created where anything is possible."
Panel 4. In the centre of the image is a cartoon ghost that looks sad. There are two arrows one pointing from top right around to bottom left and one in the reverse. Top right is an outline of a brain with the words "psychic powers" and an arrow pointing down to "empathic abilities", bottom left is a series of hexagons with a star sign overlayed. The word "astrology" points down towards "mythopoetics". In the top left a box explains "Thanks to us, supernatural powers have become uncool, so many kinds of woo have retreated to the brain", in the bottom right the text continues "moving in the other direction, once-psuedoscientific fields are shifting towards mysticism"
Panel 5. Rebecca is sitting amongst stacks and stacks of papers, some are flying around and she has her hands up as if to protect herself. Some of the papers read things like "quantum", "lunar effect" and "oreone energy" the text explains "our constant demands for proof have forced those unable to admit they have none to produce mountains of contorted studies and articles. We created a market for pseudoscience - and boy did it thrive!"
Panel 6. Rebecca is curled up inside the spiralling water with a cup of liquid spilling out beside her with an arrow that says "I blame the ayahuasca". The text explains "It's easy to notice the ways woo has changed, but the changes in me crept up slowly out of the shadows." "Maybe the dividing line between seekers and skeptics isn't as clear as I thought."
Panel 7. Rebecca sits cross legged in half lotus position on the floor lighting a candle. She has three tarot cards in front of her which read "The Fool", "The Skeptic" and "Strength" the text explains "because I must admit I've taken up some strange habits. And I keep meeting other skeptics and rationalists in the sharing circles, sacred spaces and around the bonfires." "We've found value in these practices, not magic."
Panel 8. Two trees arch around the spiralling water. In the centre there is a circle with a line through the middle above the line is a drawing of a tree, below is a not equal sign with the word tree. Either side are arrows, one pointing up, one pointing down. The text explains "Lately I find myself speaking in metaphors that would raise my fellow skeptics' eyebrows. Because, really, isn't all language metaphor" "what's a few 'resonances', 'vibrations' or 'energies' between friends?"
Panel 9. Rebecca sits on her knees with her arms outstretched towards the sky. Between her hands reads "Another Abyss (of myth) and she's surrounded with the words "non-realist christianity", "secular buddhism", "atheopaganism". The text explains "There are even some upstanding atheists like myself who've been tempted by religion. Since we're all technically agnostic the only question is whether you want to play the game. Some of us have decided to roll that die."
Panel 10. As Rebecca looks down into the water, she sees herself ini the reflection wearing a witches hat. She says "So, when I glance up from the abyss, I find I'm a different sort of skeptic..."
Panel 11. Rebecca is sitting on the cliff edge wearing a witches hat with other figures sitting further along, some cross legged with palms up in Shuni Mudra yoga pose. Rebecca says "...and beside me I see others on the edge. Or perhaps you'll say we're not skeptics at all. And you know what? That's ok. I think skepticism isn't something you are, it's something you do. And it turns out I can still do it, even wearing this silly hat". The illustrator is Rebecca on Paper.
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