Why I love skepticism
I love skepticism. I think it’s not a secret to anyone who has been reading my blog. Yesterday I had my feelings reinforced. James “The Amazing” Randi wrote an entry where he laid out his doubts about the belief that human activities are directly affecting our climate and contributing to global warming. It was a surprising post to say the least. I don’t know much about the issue myself, so I can’t say exactly if he was party wrong or right, but I thought that the scientific consensus was that human activities do lead to increased levels of CO2, and that increased levels of CO2 directly affect global temperatures. So you can imagine how surprised I was to read Randi’s entry.
But that’s not the point I intend to make here. The point is how the reaction in our community to Randi’s post reinforced my love for skepticism. Now anyone who knows anything about our movement, knows that when it comes to venerable figures Randi is most likely our number 1 most liked, most “worshiped” skeptic. He is the undisputed leader of our movement. Period. Yet, somehow, even that power status did not shield him from criticism from our community. Now take a minute to fully appreciate the repercussions of that. Try to think of any other group that is ready and willing to criticize even it’s “leaders” without fear, the moment they “slip”. Can you think of any?
PZ Myers had his say. The Quackometer had its say. The Island of Doubt had his say. Countless others did. Just look up @Daniel_Loxton on Twitter and look at his links to various other posts yesterday and you’ll start to get an idea at the immediate “hold your horses” reaction that the community had to it’s leader’s off the cuff remarks. And that’s what makes this movement amazing, our committment to facts and logic above all else. No idea is shielded from the critical eye; no person gets a get-out-of-jail-free card, not even Randi. We are committed to the truth not ideologies; we don’t pretend not to see or hear things that inconvenience us. And I am sure it was with deep emotional reservations that the above mentioned bloggers took on Randi’s post, trepidation even most likely, but they did anyway and they have all my respect for that.
As far as Randi goes, he’s my hero; he’s all of these folks hero. And if I know him at all he’ll follow reason, logic and evidence to whatever conclusion it leads. And he’s not afraid to change his mind or admit when he makes a mistake, if indeed he made one with some of his remarks in his entry yesterday. It is out of deep “reverence” for this man’s intelligence and out of utter lack of knowledge of the facts on this issue that I cannot myself have any strong opinions on this; so I am not equipped to say if he did or didn’t make a mistake. As such I’ll leave it to others, better equiped than myself to sort this out with Randi, but I have one thing to say about this whole damned thing:
I LOVE ME SOME SKEPTICISM