What would a real skeptics’ movement be like?

“Skepticism,” as the word is used by self-proclaimed professional skeptics, means being skeptical of heresy.

Some people doubt the official versions of such historical events as the Holocaust, the moon landing, the JFK assassination, and 9/11; others believe these events happened more-or-less as advertised. Which group do professional “skeptics” belong to? Some people question the dominant scientific theories about evolution, AIDS, and climate change; others are impeccably orthodox. Which ones get their views endorsed by Skeptical Inquirer?

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Doesn’t skepticism imply being critical of received opinions? The only received opinions “skeptics” criticize are old-fashioned religious beliefs — and those are déclassé. Debunking prole beliefs and fringe beliefs is not meaningful skepticism. We already have a perfectly good word for debunking everything that goes against received orthodoxy: apologetics.

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But to be skeptical of A is to be an apologist for B. So who is “really” a skeptic rather than an apologist? Possible answers: (1) someone who focuses criticism on dominant (mainstream and respected) beliefs; (2) someone who criticizes everything and supports nothing, focusing on the unexplained and on the imperfections in every theory. Either of these would be infinitely more valuable than the self-appointed sci-cops and inquisitors who call themselves skeptics today.

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3 Comments

Filed under Language, Philosophy

3 responses to “What would a real skeptics’ movement be like?

  1. bgc

    When every 13 year old is a reflex skeptic, skepticism is one thing we do not need to encourage.

    The reason why Leftism does (sort of) encourage skepticism through cultural means is that it is demotivating and docile-making – especially for men. Specifically it demotivates intellectuals.

    These modern skeptics have made a career from appealing to the mass of demotivated skeptics.

    But having been one of these for most of my life, it is clear that culturally skepticism is a free spinning cog. It is used by the Left against the Left’s enemies (especially Christians) but only because the Left will use anything against its enemies.

    The famous skeptics are self-censoring in a Leftward direction and that is why they are famous – if they applied their skepticism against the sacred topics of the Left then they would not be famous.

  2. Where do Contrarians & Epistemologists fit into this Continuum?
    – –
    A Contrarian takes every statement, particularly from Statesmen & CEOs and reverses their meaning, Then applies both statements A & ~A to everything they know about the world to decide which is most true.

    An Epistemologist seeks the truth without making judgments or seeking to provide a pat explanation for any given (x.

    Are Rightest Skeptics C’s or E’s ?

  3. Related Blog Post : http://transamoebae.blogspot.com/2011/10/quirkiness.html

    And:
    ( 1 ) & ( 2 )
    Both of these address an issue that i have often found as one of The most Valid Criticisms against Creationism & Common Intelligent Design— ( Excluding; ‘Reasonably Intelligent Design’, which is a Perfectly Sound & Internally Consistent Hypothesis ) )
    —And that is; Using Criticism of Argument (x as Evidence or a Foundation for Argument (q.
    This is Very Weak. Every Theory is Going to have Weaknesses, And they don’t usually point towards any Alternative Theory. It’s been Suggested that Any Theory or Hypothesis that fits all The Facts, must be wrong, Since Some of The Collected Data is Always Erroneous.
    That is so Elegant & Cute; It must be True.
    – –
    Thus; Any Philosophical Foundation for Truth Seeking, Including Political Campaigns;
    Should eschew as A Fundimental or First Tier Approach, Any Attempt to ‘Attack’ Theories which are Contrary to Their Own.
    In Point of Fact; The Truth Seeker shouldn’t have Any Agenda, Theory or Argument to Promote as their own!
    The Genuine Truth Seeker merely Collects, Catalogues & Systematically Organizes Observed Data, Looking for Irrefutable Patterns which Strongly Suggests Theories that allow The Epistemologists to Passively Predict The Outcome of Future Circumstances.

    i should think that The ‘Best’ ‘Evidence’ for Defending a Personal ‘Theory’ is to Be Able to Replicate The Selected Phenomena at Will.
    ‘Scientists’— ( which are nearly as Stupid and Frustrating as Gullible Skeptics / Plus; Scientists are consistently taking credit for The Tireless Work of Engineers that Tinker together Our Technology, Using & Often Ignoring Seeds provided by Experimentalists &/or Mathematicians )
    —will often Claim to have an ‘Explanation’ for (x, But Utterly Fail at This last Criteria for ‘Understanding’ it.
    When they are able to be Replicate (x;
    Their ‘Explanations’ for (x will have considerably greater weight than they currently do.

    Examples of (x :
    Walking on Fire ( Very hot stones or Embers )
    Self Replicating Molecules or Elemental Cells that do not merely copy identified Samples.
    Ball Lightning
    Near Death or Out of Body or Remote Viewing Experiences ( Retrieve Inaccessible Information
    The Consistency of Any ‘Mass Social Delusion’ such as Alien Abductions or Ghost Encounters
    Super Conductivity or Super Magnetism ( Create a Super Conductor or Super Magnet with a New Alloy by Any Means other than Trial & Error.
    Medical Drug Creation by any Means other than Trial & Error, Endless Double Blind Studies, et. al.
    Explanation of Consciousness / Create in a Computer or Such

    One of my Personal Favorites for A Very Common Phenomena that is ‘Inadequately’ Explained;
    Are Tornados. Granted; Any Tornado Event Produces a Stupendous amount of Peripheral ‘Effects’, But some of these Effects so Completely Defy ‘Expectations’ that along with Ball Lightning, i believe that Tornados Contain a Seed ( or more-so, of Consciousness ).
    The very Existence of Tornados completely defy explanation, as The ‘Scientific Explanations’ seem feeble & Comparing them bathtub funnels is deeply laughable. The Principle complaint that i have is that there is no drain at The Bottom of a Tornado, Only hard ground. Why would Air & Debris Spin Around a Empty Core at Hundreds of Miles of Hour? Whatever happened to Traveling in a Straight Line unless otherwise Corralled by Opposing Forces? What is The Corralling Force here? A low pressure column? How much Low Pressure are we talking about here; A Vacuum Maybe? And What is Creating it?
    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    The Essential Question here seems to be:
    What is The True Philosophical Foundation for Seeking The Truth?
    a ) What is The Truth? / That is; How might one Identify (x as True or ~True?
    b ) What is The Value of Truth? / Why should anyone Seek The Truth?
    Is there Functionality in Truth?
    What is The Price for Pragmatism without Truth?
    c ) Is it more desirable to Be Certain of Some Truths, While Sacrificing Knowledge of Other Truths, which one may never be Certain of? / Should This Hypothetical Seeker of Truth Only Focus Their Attentions on These Certain Truths, And how should they Consider or Qualify The UnCertain Truths?
    d ) What is An UnCertain Truth? / How does one distinguish an UnCertain Truth from Pure Malarkey? / Is There a Continuum of Malarkey? / How might The Tiers of Malarkey that are Not Pure, Be Considered within The Continuum of Truths & UnCertain Truths?
    e ) Are there Truths that may Never be Demonstrated as True?
    f ) How might this Philosophy of Truth Seeking Qualify These UnProvable Truths, which for all appearances satisfy every criteria of Pure Malarkey?
    Real Truth – – – – – – Certainties – – – – – – Pragmatic Realities – – – – – Malarkey – – – – – Pure Malarkey
    g ) Are there Real Truths that are Fully Knowable, But are So Divergent from The Pragmatic Realities that ‘Seem Real’ that these ‘Super Truths’ would satisfy every ‘Pragmatic’ Criteria for Pure Malarkey? / That is; Are The Super Truths indistinguishable from Pure Malarkey?
    h ) If this is Accurate ( ??? ) Then might it be that Everything that These Hypothetical Truth Seekers are ever really capable of Discovering as ’True’ are only Pragmatic Truths, which seem true in The Everyday World of Burning Bushes, Falling Elephants & Eggs that have a Strong Preference for Being Scrambled, But not UnScrambled.

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