Argument # 12: Skeptics don’t have beliefs. They make assessments based on evidence.
Some skeptics on the extreme end even go so far as to claim that unlike the rest of the world, they don’t have “beliefs” but reasoned judgments based on pure evidence alone. Not all skeptics claim to be immune to beliefs, but there are some that do. This is plain silly though, because statements of belief can be found in almost anything someone says. We all do things and say things based on assumptions we have, which are formed in part based on beliefs. These assumptions are sometimes in the line of beliefs because they are not always based on hard evidence, but our world views, predisposition, and natural tendencies. Beliefs are especially found in the skeptical arguments discussed so far, as most of the skeptical arguments in this book are clear statements of a priori belief, such as “It is irrational to believe anything that hasn’t been proven” (Argument # 1) and “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” (Argument # 2) Further common skeptical beliefs include “Believers in the paranormal are irrational”, “Psi is improbable”, “Psychics and mediums prey on the gullible” and “Psi experiments show no better than chance results when proper controls are put into place”.
Though skeptics will claim that their views are based on the evidence that they’ve examined, they rarely apply their skepticism to their own beliefs, which any true skeptic would do. Furthermore, upon close scrutiny it’s obvious that they prefer false explanations to paranormal ones, resort to character assassinations, and ignore data that doesn’t fit their hypotheses. Strange behavior for people who don’t have beliefs! Rather, I think that skeptics are using this “I don’t have beliefs” argument to excuse themselves from having to defend their views, while shifting the burden to believers and paranormalists.