Sunday, May 16, 2010


Historically, artists have been commissioned to create portraits of living people for the purpose of glorifying that individual. They were rarely accurate and always carefully considered to present the subject in the light that was hoped for.

That being the case, let's have a look at some portraits of the icons of skepticism.

Darwin, the most touted poster boy of skepticism, has a couple of portraits but this is by far the most common seen. What does it say to you?

To me, I see thoughtful, humble, careful and conflicted. This man and his photographer chose to make him a thinking man. An intellectual, but not a rich man.

Let's move on to a contemporary artist. Eric Wall is an artist that I encountered on the SGU forums. He's a self proclaimed skeptic and has a gallery of portraits, many of which are of skeptical icons.
So what does this portrait of Kurt Vonnegut say? Same things. Thoughtful, Contemplative, humble, alone. Again I'm seeing an image of the lone wizened thinker.

How about a self proclaimed skeptic presenting himself? James Randy is a magician and very outspoken skeptic. I you haven't heard of him or his million dollar challenge check out the James Randy Educational Foundation

Here's the portrait that comes up most often for him.

This Is a little different than the previous two, but it shares elements. Again he looks thoughtful; He's well dressed but not ostentatious; no elegant decoration. The big difference in this one is that he's looking out and engaging the viewer. He looks like he's challenging you which seems to suit his purposes well.

So what's the moral? Skeptical portraits make their subjects look like thinkers. Shoking. :P

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