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Too skeptical yet not skeptical enough

Posted in Skepbitch, Skepticism by Skepdude on July 22, 2008


Last week I chatted with a stranger and the topic turned to skepticism, “I don’t like that skeptic guy on TV. He’s a snob. All he says is ‘No. I disagree. You’re wrong. It isn’t true. I don’t believe in that’.”

Sound bites, editing with an agenda, and yes/no questions can portray a skeptic as a naysayer.

However, we don’t want to be gratuitous skeptics either.

That doesn’t help our objectives, or our profile.

It seems that skeptics can be too skeptical, or not skeptical enough.

How can we find a happy (non-paranormal) medium of skepticism?

Not that I claim to be the perfect skeptic. I don’t think there is such a thing. I can’t cast the first stone of skepticism, I’m still learning all the time, but I know when a skeptic has descended into leniency, or dickheadism…

And there will always be someone who’ll label you as a dogmatist or a cynic. Meanwhile, someone else will accuse you of being irresolute and wishy-washy – for saying the same bloody thing…

Since we’re talking cliches and catchphrases, here’s a skeptical motto or mantra to remind us that we’re aiming for logic, rationale and reason, rather than high-functioning autism.

Effective skepticism is about educating others, and educating ourselves.

When we educate others we teach critical thinking, dispel myths and explain how the world works.

This is NOT Proselytizing. This is NOT preaching. This is NOT converting. This is NOT dogma.

It’s simplistic to frame skepticism as a kind of religion; or atheism as another form of theism.

A gathering of atheists is not a church congregation. James Randi and Richard Dawkins aren’t messiahs. The similarities might make it easier for us to understand one thing in terms of another, but the differences make the meaning.

Educating ourselves is about research, knowledge, reassessment, re-evaluation and keeping an open mind. This is our skeptical maintenance, to be skeptical of ourselves. But this also requires an understanding of the beliefs and practices that exist. This is not a rote, aggressive, obnoxious dismissal and premature ejaculation rejection of, say, the opinions of Christians or psychics.

Now you know why no one will have sex with you but yourself…

It’s kinda obvious to me that a skeptic should be an amateur anthropologist, and an amateur psychologist.

Unless they just want to be a fucking snob.

Sometimes, skeptics make the very worst skeptics…