Five Holiday Gift Ideas for the Skeptic In Your Life, with Unlimited Gift Coupon!

The end of 2013 is racing into view along with a cluster of holidays traditionally involving gifts. Many of us face the puzzling question of what will please or prove useful to people whom we care about. Gift selection is a problem easier to solve when thinking about children but increasingly difficult as our beneficiaries grow older and often more cranky. 

Holidays and celebratory gatherings are also an opportunity to hone our diplomatic skills. When a large number of relatives gather under one roof we have an opportunity to practice biting our tongues in favor of peace and harmony. Friendship and familial ties should transcend our urge to reignite favorite arguments.

If embarrassing everybody with yet another argument is off limits, why not let gifts speak for you? If you find yourself grinding your teeth at other times of the year over disagreements about physics and how the subject pertains to the increasingly torrid surface of Earth, here is a selection of gifts as cathartic for you as they are improving for those very special people in your life, such as your lovable but crazy uncle who thinks the sea floor is littered with undetectable volcanoes.  

For starters, give the free gift of bemused toleration. If somebody you care about  dismisses overwhelming evidence and expert agreement telling us we've got a climate change problem thanks to our caveman enthusiasm for hydrocarbon combustion, let them be a "skeptic" for a day, even if strictly speaking the term "skeptic" has nothing to do with their proclivity.

The highly respected body of anonymous experts we call "they" say that laughter is the best medicine. Perhaps it's also true that laughter disarms and provides an opportunity for facts to slip into otherwise closed minds. Cartoonist Sidney Harris-- familiar from his work with the New Yorker, American Scientist and other publications-- has gathered his own and other cartoonists' work into a compendium, 101 Funny Things About Global Warming. Included is a special section built around quotes from famous people who should know better, such as Lee Ioccoca's "We've got to ask ourselves: how much clean air do we need?" 

For history buffs in a state of divorce from the recorded timeline as it actually happened, Spencer Weart's revised and expanded The Discovery of Global Warming should be a stimulating read. Reknowned historian of science Weart takes us from ancient times to the present as better understanding emerges of seeming insignifcant humans being able to modify the planet on a huge scale. 

Are you worried about your family and friends' futures? Show you care by paving the way to a better tomorrow for your favorite skeptic with a gift of carbon offsets. For only US $20 you can vanish a month's worth of effluvia from the trail being left by your stubborn recipient.

What if every time the skeptic of your affections turned on a lamp, it brought to mind you and the message you're trying to pound into their thick skull? Shining a light on (with?) progressive technology can do it and a six-pack of LED lamps will do the trick. Even if your skeptic simply refuses to distinguish C02 saturation from the after-effects of too much rich holiday dining, the greening effect on the wallet will surely be appreciated 

Sometimes a blunt message needs to come in a fancy wrapper. If negative feedback has reached a tipping point you can give the gift of last resort: a lump of coal.  A holiday remembrance with a practical purpose whether it's burned or permanently sequestered in the back of a closet, here's a gift that will send a powerful message. Supplies are plentiful; caring coal could be another annual tradition akin to permanent recurring fruitcake either two-legged or in a can.

Whatever gift you choose, remember that no matter how grating the other 364 days of the year may be in company with the obtuse there's a time to put aside differences and remember how similar we all are. Air-breathers, right?


Posted by Doug Bostrom on Friday, 29 November, 2013

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