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Don't be a lazy skeptic!

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Kathleen Meadows: I work in a field that draws skeptics in droves. I’m sure most people visiting this site are well accustomed to that skeptical smirk, unless you keep your visits to this site secretive or pretend to be one of them. All explorers throughout time have wondered what makes people resistant to new directions. What is at the root of skepticism and what is the best approach to take when someone expresses skepticism at something we find fascinating and worthy of further exploration?

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From reading the article it appears Ms Meadows makes the common mistake of lumping cynicism, disbelief and nonbelief all under the banner of 'skepticism'. None of those are skepticism, however, so much of the article is a strawman.

As for what skepticism 'brings to the table'? It promotes the proper evaluation of claims independent of any one person's particular bias and so, hopefully, leading to the discovery of whatever cause might be responsible for an effect.

Well said. And if I might add, actually looking for a cause instead of stopping at "because gods/ghosts/aliens/bigfoot/etc."

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Well said. And if I might add, actually looking for a cause instead of stopping at "because gods/ghosts/aliens/bigfoot/etc."

We all should know what's the real deal here. You can stop at gods/ghosts and such, you can ignore them altogether, or you can see if there's a fitting picture to be formed with them in it, without restricting yourself from the mainstream science.

Scepticism is basically restrictiveness. The target of scepticism can be anything, and the word sceptic is just known to be used from people who advocate certain kind of sciences and explanations over others. In that sense it's no different from how we know the word believer, it's base favoritism. TRUE scepticism, not selective scepticism, is to spend more time evaluating WHATEVER you use, not just cherry-pick things you like to be sceptical at. Unless true scepticism includes the idea that you follow your whim = not being sceptical to your whim.

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Last time I checked, skepticism was not a position, but a method. In cases where skeptics aren't real-life equivalent of internet Trolls, they appear more open-minded than most believers. It's quite irrational have any unfounded belief for the sole sake of wonder and satisfaction in the world. And the constant arguing for "it might be true tomorrow", albeit may be true, as well it might not. It's a argument from ignorance. No proof? Then its automatically true! No, it is not. Around 2,5 millenia back the Ptolemaic view of the solar system was the reality for them. What happened was that we refined our knowledge and learned how nature operates, to a more accurate degree. No scientific discovery is absolute, it's all a matter the amount of evidence in support of a claim and how high the probability is in it's favor. Because that is actually what skepticism is; reviewing a claim, putting it to tests and discard or approve if it is compatible to corroborative and provisional data that has already been established.

Skeptics have a closed mind? What about people who get offended by simply hearing an observation made, will never be intellectually honest and admit ignorance or chose to not even offer a fair caveat in favor of what skepticism really have accomplished. Hypocrisy - according to me - is only justified if the advice or message is a good one within a certain context. But this, this more like propaganda of a disparaging sort.

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Posted (edited)

Skeptics have a closed mind? What about people who get offended by simply hearing an observation made, will never be intellectually honest and admit ignorance or chose to not even offer a fair caveat in favor of what skepticism really have accomplished. Hypocrisy - according to me - is only justified if the advice or message is a good one within a certain context. But this, this more like propaganda of a disparaging sort.

According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosphy, the origin of the term 'skeptic' is:

''The term “skeptic” derives from a Greek noun, skepsis, which means examination, inquiry, consideration.''

Source: http://www.iep.utm.edu/skepanci/

Unfortunately, it's ancient meaning seems to have been lost along the way for many. We can take these skeptics associations for exemple, whose main goal it appears to me, is the automatic rejections of every concept, idea that doesn't not fit in a pure materialistic science. There is no room left for examination, inquiry or consideration.

Edited by sam_comm
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Posted (edited)

Seriously? This coming from a professional psychic and tarot card reader.

Somehow I don't think evidence means what she thinks it means.

I think she is describing what has been coined as pseudoskepticism in the sentence you quoted from the When Skepticism is Not Love part of her opinion article.

The RationalWiki itself describe this as:

''The correct, though less common, use of the term refers to those who declare themselves merely "skeptical" of a concept, but in reality would not be convinced by any evidence. Common targets of this kind of pseudoskepticism are global warming,[1] evolution, AIDS, and GMOs. This essentially is cloaked denialism, as there is a vast amount of real evidence which is willfully ignored by these pseudoskeptics. Saying "I am skeptical of X" seems more reasonable than saying "I don't accept X and never will regardless of the evidence", even if the latter is more accurate.''

Source: http://rationalwiki....seudoskepticism

Overall I think it's an interesting opinion paper. I agree with her on many points. Also, psychic or taro reader, her beliefs and controversial practices does not change the fact that she is educated, has a Master's Degree in psychology of Religion and it does not invalidate her points. I don't get the sens that she is ''against'' skepticism at all, she actually recognize the benefits and contributions of it's use, but rather pseudoskepticism which is not uncommon these days.

Edited by sam_comm

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I think she is describing what has been coined as pseudoskepticism in the sentence you quoted from the When Skepticism is Not Love part of her opinion article.

The RationalWiki itself describe this as:

''The correct, though less common, use of the term refers to those who declare themselves merely "skeptical" of a concept, but in reality would not be convinced by any evidence. Common targets of this kind of pseudoskepticism are global warming,[1] evolution, AIDS, and GMOs. This essentially is cloaked denialism, as there is a vast amount of real evidence which is willfully ignored by these pseudoskeptics. Saying "I am skeptical of X" seems more reasonable than saying "I don't accept X and never will regardless of the evidence", even if the latter is more accurate.''

Source: http://rationalwiki....seudoskepticism

Overall I think it's an interesting opinion paper. I agree with her on many points. Also, psychic or taro reader, her beliefs and controversial practices does not change the fact that she is educated, has a Master's Degree in psychology of Religion and it does not invalidate her points. I don't get the sens that she is ''against'' skepticism at all, she actually recognize the benefits and contributions of it's use, but rather pseudoskepticism which is not uncommon these days.

Unfortunately for most of these woo peddlers, it's only pseudo-skepticism when it disagrees with their position.

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Unfortunately, it's ancient meaning seems to have been lost along the way for many. We can take these skeptics associations for exemple, whose main goal it appears to me, is the automatic rejections of every concept, idea that doesn't not fit in a pure materialistic science. There is no room left for examination, inquiry or consideration.

Yes, there may very well be those who misuse skepticism for different reasons, mostly biases based on preconceptions. However, proper use of skepticism should view new claims through the lens of the scientific method. So far, it's the best method we have to root out any hypothesis that doesn't concur with observations or established facts.

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I thought that the strawmen of what skeptics and skepticism actually are in this article were too numerous to really be worth rebutting. It's a product of 'fear and pride', really? How did we conclude this? I ask because the main method I can think of by which one comes to that conclusion is partly what this article is criticizing: laziness.

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Posted (edited)

I thought that the strawmen of what skeptics and skepticism actually are in this article were too numerous to really be worth rebutting. It's a product of 'fear and pride', really? How did we conclude this? I ask because the main method I can think of by which one comes to that conclusion is partly what this article is criticizing: laziness.

Some self-proclaimed skeptics ask for evidence or proper studies yet dodge and dismiss what has been put forward. They tend to continually raise the bar of their <<requirements>> to reject new data that contradict their views. They simply cannot and will not reconsider their views because their minds are firmly made. To have debated these controversial topics for some time, that's how I've reached this conclusion.

As Marcello Truzzi, Professor of Sociology at Eastern Michigan University puts the finger on:

''Critics who assert negative claims, but who mistakenly call themselves "skeptics," often act as though they have no burden of proof placed on them at all, though such a stance would be appropriate only for the agnostic or true skeptic. A result of this is that many critics seem to feel it is only necessary to present a case for their counter-claims based upon plausibility rather than empirical evidence.

Source: http://www.anomalist...ies/pseudo.html

Fear and pride, I do not know. It is clear though that when you advocate against something so fiercely and for so long, it might be painfully hard to accept the possibilty that you were wrong. It goes for both side, the skeptic or the believer. It's Human nature.

Edited by sam_comm
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Posted (edited)

Unfortunately for most of these woo peddlers, it's only pseudo-skepticism when it disagrees with their position

I don't know Ms Meadows personally and have never debated with her so I prefer not to make an hasty judgement.

What is clear though is that pseudoskepticism is more common than many care to admit.

''Susan Blackmore, who lost her initial belief in parapsychology and in 1991 became a CSICOP fellow, later described what she termed the "worst kind of pseudoskepticism":

There are some members of the skeptics’ groups who clearly believe they know the right answer prior to inquiry. They appear not to be interested in weighing alternatives, investigating strange claims, or trying out psychic experiences or altered states for themselves (heaven forbid!), but only in promoting their own particular belief structure and cohesion.
''

Source: http://en.wikipedia....seudoskepticism

Edited by sam_comm

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I thought that the strawmen of what skeptics and skepticism actually are in this article were too numerous to really be worth rebutting. It's a product of 'fear and pride', really? How did we conclude this? I ask because the main method I can think of by which one comes to that conclusion is partly what this article is criticizing: laziness.

Laziness, or fear of discovering something that might contradict one's view at the moment?

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I'd comment, but I am too lazy to do so.

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Lazy or not, I'm sceptical of charlatans like the author.

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Well, that was wrapped up in a nutshell.

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Some self-proclaimed skeptics ask for evidence or proper studies yet dodge and dismiss what has been put forward.

Maybe they are dismissing what has been put forward because it's not what they requested: evidence or proper studies.

They tend to continually raise the bar of their <<requirements>> to reject new data that contradict their views. They simply cannot and will not reconsider their views because their minds are firmly made. To have debated these controversial topics for some time, that's how I've reached this conclusion.

Let's say that 'some' self-proclaimed skeptics do this, reject new data that contradicts their views: what then do the other self-proclaimed skeptics do? Accept this new data as contradicting their views? Why are they still skeptical?

As far as the definitions of 'pseudo-skepticism' being offered and quoted, I'm not sure how one is able to tell the difference between their acting like they know 'the right answer prior to 'inquiry'' and 'indifference and fatigue from analyzing the same types of lame evidence for some of these claims that has been offered countless times before'.

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Maybe they are dismissing what has been put forward because it's not what they requested: evidence or proper studies.

I've seen this so many times on UM. Some peddler of woo starts a topic, and when questioned for evidence or proper studies they either repeat what they said the first time or give anecdotal evidence. And this repeats over and over until the peddler of woo accuses the skeptic of dodging or dismissing what has been put forward when in reality nothing of substance was ever put forward in the first place.

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I've seen this so many times on UM. Some peddler of woo starts a topic, and when questioned for evidence or proper studies they either repeat what they said the first time or give anecdotal evidence. And this repeats over and over until the peddler of woo accuses the skeptic of dodging or dismissing what has been put forward when in reality nothing of substance was ever put forward in the first place.

What bugs me the most is the response of, "This has been discussed here before. Find it yourself. Don't be lazy. What, do you want tme to spoon feed it to you?" When all that I was asking was for a source.

That, really bugs me.

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What bugs me the most is the response of, "This has been discussed here before. Find it yourself. Don't be lazy. What, do you want tme to spoon feed it to you?" When all that I was asking was for a source.

That, really bugs me.

Well, it does let me know undeserved self righteousness isn't solely a fault of my generation.

Knowing exactly what you're talking about by the way. Some people really should just refrain from intelligent conversation it seems.

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I've seen this so many times on UM. Some peddler of woo starts a topic, and when questioned for evidence or proper studies they either repeat what they said the first time or give anecdotal evidence. And this repeats over and over until the peddler of woo accuses the skeptic of dodging or dismissing what has been put forward when in reality nothing of substance was ever put forward in the first place.

Seen this on the Conspiracy forum as well. The 911 and Moon landing hoax threads go on for several hundred pages ....

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I've seen this so many times on UM. Some peddler of woo starts a topic, and when questioned for evidence or proper studies they either repeat what they said the first time or give anecdotal evidence. And this repeats over and over until the peddler of woo accuses the skeptic of dodging or dismissing what has been put forward when in reality nothing of substance was ever put forward in the first place.

Don't forget the rage that might manifest because someone dared to ask for evidence. I see that happening here often.

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I didn't get where the love angle came into it. I could understand the fear or pride angle, though I kind of don't agree with it. But the love part baffled me.

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Don't forget the rage that might manifest because someone dared to ask for evidence. I see that happening here often.

Indeed. How rude to ask for evidence.

Cheers,

Badeskov

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