Thursday, August 21, 2008

Carnival of the Africans - Guidelines & Schedule

The Carnival of the Africans is a science and skepticism blog carnival that takes place on the 28th of each month. The aim is to showcase the best blog posts on science, academia, and scientific skepticism by Africans or on Africa. The carnival is modeled on the Skeptics' Circle but the criteria are somewhat looser to allow a broader range of science topics to be included. Everyone (non-Africans included) are welcome to participate, but the intent is to highlight substantive, well-written and thoroughly thought through science and skeptical blogging by Africans, or on African topics.

The carnival is intended to be, as much as possible, non-partisan, apolitical, non-ideological and value-free. This means not covering controversial political issues or causes that are primarily about values or ethics. The exact line between politics /ideology and skepticism /science may not always be entirely clear, but in most cases it is fairly obvious. A good rule of thumb is that the data used to make a case or to debunk some claim should be empirical, that is, there should be a fact of the matter accessible to scientific investigation, even if the facts are difficult to establish.

With very few exceptions, the kinds of posts to avoid include anything on abortion, how affirmative action is justified (or not), why leader X is better than leader Y, how the evil capitalist countries systematically keep Africa down, why Mugabe is evil (or not) or how Nigeria deserves to get a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. This carnival, in short, is not for personal political agendas, moral causes or a space to rant about politics. That said, posts on social science (and political science) are welcome, as long as they keep clear of value issues as much as possible and remain as non-ideological as is practicable. The kinds of posts that are encouraged include anything dealing in a critical and reasoned way with scientific skepticism (critical thinking, historical revisionism, the paranormal, medical quackery, pseudoscience, urban legends and so on) or with science generally (from anthropology to zoology). Ideally, general science posts should be based largely on peer-reviewed primary-sources but relying on trustworthy secondary-sources (like textbooks) is also acceptable. It should be noted that there are unavoidably political topics that are within the scope of this carnival, including, creationism, intelligent design, politicians endorsing pseudoscience, issues to do with medical regulation and so on. While the carnival is not intended to be a platform for atheistic or agnostic blogging, it is up to individual hosts to determine whether they want to include religiously skeptical posts.

As was noted above, these guidelines are modeled on that of the Skeptics' Circle, please consult that carnival's guidelines for additional relevant information.

Submissions & Hosting
To have your writing included in an upcoming edition of the Carnival of the Africans, send an e-mail with the URL of your post along with a brief description to the host.

To host an upcoming carnival, send an e-mail to Michael at Hosting requires a bit of work, specifically, reading through and moderating the submissions, working everything into a coherent post and, importantly, bringing the edition out on time. The Skeptics' Circle's Guidelines for Hosting and Sour Duck's thorough hosting guidelines provide further useful information.



  1. "non-ideological and value-free" eh? Isn't that going to be a bit of a problem, for people with, uh, enlightenment values, say? (Non-partisan I can mostly endorse.) I can see the distinction you're trying to draw, but I'm not sure that formulation nails it...

    Anyway, good work on getting the carnival going. Shame about the name.

  2. Well... I do want to rule out posts arguing enlightenment values are better than other values. That is, I want to rule out arguments ABOUT values / ideology even if we allow posts that are written "in the spirit of" an ideology. But anyway, hosts are encouraged to use their discretion, any set of rules will be imperfect...

  3. Hi Michael

    We are keen, tried to e-mail you but doesn't seem to be working. Pop me a line on stephen@irreverence dot coza and can chat.