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A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are You : General Discussions • SCEPCOP Forum








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A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are You

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A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are You

Postby TheParanormalAnalyst » 25 Dec 2013, 06:53

Here at debunkingskeptic.com you guys use the term pseudo-skeptic to describe skeptics like James Randi, Joe Nickell, Michael Shermer and the like.

I'm curious how many of you actually know the history of the modern skeptical movement? It is quite interesting and I have only recently spent the time to understand the history and origins of it.

As Winston frequently points out classical skeptics were critical of virtually everything. Now this did vary and different classifications of skeptics did form, but for the most part skeptical meant a person who questioned all sides, even their own beliefs. These skeptics were arguably the originators of many concepts in critical thinking and logic.

But in the 50's and the following years a new trend emerged, called new skepticism. It started with a book by Michael Gardner "Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science" and was popularized by Carl Sagan. In fact Carl Sagan gave it the label that is still used today "Scientific Skepticism." This is a bit of a misnomer because it of course does not mean one is skeptical of science but uses a scientific basis for their skepticism.

So I would argue that technically skeptics like Joe Nickell and the like are not pseudo-skeptics but simply scientific skeptics. The reason we see so many logical fallacies in their work is because their allegiance is to science, not logic. One cannot simultaneously be a champion of science and logic. What we are seeing is the product of a fundamentally flawed sect of skepticism that tries to label itself as a society of critical thinkers while being fierce defenders of science; which often is in conflict, especially in cases of the paranormal.

Scientific skepticism relies on the empirical method for evaluation. This requires proof and reproduce-ability. This is a problem in the case of the paranormal because even the absence of a plausible scientific explanation does not justify the conclusion of a paranormal cause according to empirical methodology. It would require testing in a controlled-environment and verification by independent sources. This would be very difficult if not impossible to do in some cases. Scientific skeptics also have little value for anecdotal evidence which explains why we so often see witness testimony dismissed. Scientific skeptics see the paranormal as an assault on rational thinking and believe that it is of public benefit to destroy these irrational beliefs.

The scientific skeptic is not an objective evaluator of the paranormal, they are simply the voice of the scientific community, not the voice of logic and critical thinking - there is a difference.

Classical skepticism is very divergent from scientific skepticism. It's allegiance is solely to logic and critical thinking. Is is not afraid to question established facts and "truths" while scientific skepticism largely recognizes science as truth.

In fact these scientific skeptics have soured the name of skepticism. I preach objective investigation, the merits of which are virtually synonymous with methodological skepticism.

So for the recognized skeptics out there what type of skeptic are you?

Some types of skepticism can be viewed at the following link:
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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby SydneyPSIder » 25 Dec 2013, 19:21

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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby TheParanormalAnalyst » 26 Dec 2013, 00:03

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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby TheParanormalAnalyst » 26 Dec 2013, 00:10

But I'm really curious to see what some of the self-labelled skeptics of the forum would define themselves as. Would you put yourself in the scientific skeptic camp or that of another? Do you agree with their fundamental philosophy?

Does anybody have any grasp on the breadth and depth of scientific skepticism vs. other types in today's world? It seems to me that this represents the majority of self-labeled skeptics today, even if they don't know the term. I have no real idea, so that's why I ask. It is an interesting phenomena.
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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby Arouet » 26 Dec 2013, 07:31

I'm a self-labelled skeptic and while I'm not terribly interested in trying to place myself specifically in one skeptical camp or another I'll tell you simply how I define skepticsm and therefore my approach:

Skepticsm is the withholding of belief in a proposition absent sufficient reliable evidence.

Sometimes this will involve turning to science, sometimes not. The method of coming up with the evidence will depend on the nature of the proposition. There could potentially be multiple reliable approaches.
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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby SydneyPSIder » 26 Dec 2013, 08:15

Victor Zammit, for all his faults and failings, accurately characterises many people in the sceptic movement such as Randi and his acolytes as 'material denialists' rather than genuine sceptics.

I might return to the analytical tools of philosophy when I have more time and not on a moving vehicle lol
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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby Arouet » 26 Dec 2013, 09:32

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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby SydneyPSIder » 26 Dec 2013, 11:22

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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby Arouet » 26 Dec 2013, 15:05

Yeah, you seem to get off on it, and you're certainly not alone. US vs. THEM keys into our evolved triballistic tendencies. It tends to involve each side thinking almost exactly the same thing about the other, with people rooting for their team, villifying THEM, and each side feeling superior and believing they have both the moral and intellectual high ground.

It's easy to get caught up in, but in the end I'm not sure how well served we are by it. We no longer in modern western society need to fear the other in the way we used to, back when literally the other was the enemy and would harm you if you were caught unawares. I get caught up in it too sometimes. But I think we'd all be better served by pushing those triballistic instincts aside and working together to figure this stuff out - I don't mean without oposing views, I think those are essential, but in a cordial environment.
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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby SydneyPSIder » 26 Dec 2013, 15:36

this whole site is clearly set up as us vs them -- hence the title, charter, stance, etc etc -- the need fro a Scepcop to counter the Psicop. I don't get off on it at all, just that a bunch of dumb pseudosceps try to argue every little point and need to be refuted. it strikes me that most of the time the pseudosceps are not interested in a Socratic discourse of thesis + antithesis = synthesis at all, but rather keep hammering the material denialist thing, or deny whatever else the topic du jour is, regardless of the evidence base. and of course the bigger world of pseudosceps such as the Randi forums etc is only worse.
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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby Arouet » 26 Dec 2013, 23:31

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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby SydneyPSIder » 27 Dec 2013, 07:31

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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby SydneyPSIder » 27 Dec 2013, 07:45

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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby TheParanormalAnalyst » 29 Dec 2013, 05:15

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Re: A Lesson in Modern Skepticism - What Kind of Skeptic Are

Postby really? » 30 Dec 2013, 00:36

Last edited by really? on 30 Dec 2013, 08:33, edited 1 time in total.
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