Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fake Skeptics

So, one thing I hate is the fake skeptic. Because, folks, there are really three kinds of skeptics.

There are actual skeptics. Who think, analyze and question things. Even things that they want to be true. I am a staunch leftest but question whether Bush's crazy wars led to the Arab spring. I question whether Free Market Capitalism really would solve a lot of our economic problems. I do care about the collateral damage that might ensue in the form of sick and starving children and think the short run is more important. But I actively question to this day.

There are those who have questioned a thing or two that society propagates and disagreed but do not question a lot of other things.. Anti-supernaturalists, atheists, anti-quack medicine, anti-alien-contacters. They find one or two things bullshit but do not bother to question the others.

Then there are those that I really get pissed off about. Fake skeptics. They decide to join a club. The atheist club. The anti superstition club. The republican party. Whatever. They drink that Kool Aid. They do not actively question anything. They just take the contrary view that their small sect professes. The religious do this a lot. They think Astrology is bunk because their religion tells them so. Alien contact can't exist because it is not in the bible. Oddly it does not bother me when the religious do this because they are not professing to be skeptics.

I recall at TAM 9, perhaps, (and, no, I did not go) there was an announcement that the atheists should not challenge the religious views of theistic skeptics. Try not to offend them.

I call shenanigans!! A skeptic should be willing to examine any belief. ANY! Paul and I spent some time a year or so ago doing research on the Holocaust. I am Jewish and had relatives who died in the death camps. Still willing to look critically at the story and see how much of it is supported. We found out a lot. I recommend that you do the same. Our research revealed some inconsistencies and flaws in the historical story but supported much and I now am totally justified in defending the existence and horror that the Holocaust was. Because I questioned it.

I have done the same for slavery, the industrial revolution, Memetics, Chanukah, Dark matter and many others. By questioning what I thought I knew I get to do two things. First, I get to correct my misunderstandings. Second, I get real honest support when I was right to begin with. I can now argue the areas I have examined. I don't just assume I am right but now can say I know (as much as we can ever know) that I am right. I challenged my assumptions, corrected where I was wrong and supported where I was right. I was a critical thinker and that IS skepticism.

The fake skeptics just join a club and accept the doctrine. Skeptical of what the club is skeptical about and accepting of the preconceived notions that the club professes. I am a Democrat and still spend a fair amount of time considering the benefits of Fraking, capital gains tax policy, affirmative action, socialized medicine and the like. Just because I join a club does not mean I joined a cult and drank the Kool Aid.

-Josh

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