Friday, June 24, 2011

"Skeptics" who act like skeptics!

They do exist! A refreshing example courtesy of a commenter at Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog:
First let me say that climate change is absolutely real, that’s not what I’m ranting about.

I get a little annoyed at the so called skepticism of organized skeptics. Most of the people that post here are skeptical only about religion, an area that is easy to be skeptical about and that really doesn’t matter much. It is pretty much immune to the skepticism of others, as are most of it’s adherents. As for all the attacks on the anti-vax clowns, that’s not skepticism, that’s just common sense attacking idiots for fun. Ranting about that here does nothing as none of them are reading this, or really any other intelligent blog.

Let’s apply skepticism where it belongs. Science. Science is skepticism, or at least it’s supposed to be. In the case of this report, like everything in science, it should be looked at skeptically. Certainly the global climate is changing, and certainly it is in some large part driven by human activity. there’s really no doubt about that. However, there is still a lot of room for skepticism.
He then goes on to apply this principle to the topic of discussion, namely global warming/climate change, by pointing out how the uncertainties of climate science should leave us room for pause as opposed to the hyper-active panic promoted by our sound-bite media culture. Instead of automatically painting the entire "denier" side as a bunch of jibber-jibber right-wing nuts, maybe you should consider that actual scientists have also been having doubts about the "consensus" for some time now.

It's easy to say that you're skeptical about this or that thing that you've concluded is wrong, but how did you come to that conclusion in the first place? Did you actually thinking it over or did you come to that position from social pressure? The most important kind of skepticism, I believe, is self-skepticism, is asking yourself "Am I really right or did I make a mistake somewhere?" Humility, unfortunately, is a hard virtue to cultivate especially if you happen to be even moderately intellectual. As another commenter notes:
I’ve been beating that drum for years WRT ideology, Vince. You won’t get far. I’m one of the few people I know who also applies skepticism to politics. It’s why I don’t hang with many other skeptics. Too many of them have gobbled up one ideology or another to the point of nearly cultist-like responses if you dare question them.
And so it is with many so-called "skeptics" or "free-thinkers", who supposedly adhere only to their own reason but in reality use these as cover to unabashedly advocate highly partisan positions, or make fun of religion (often times both). That's not skepticism; that's not even reason. That's just tribalism with a lab coat.

Of course, these two guys are pretty much ignored for the rest of the thread. Sad, but expected.

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