So this weekend I was hanging out with my father and was discussing this website with him. When I told him it was about skepticism his first thought was that I meant pessimism or cynicism so I had to describe best I could what I meant by my skepticism. Coincidentally Dr. Steven Novella just posted a blog discussing the definition of skepticism that he believes is strong and I think it is dead on for the position that we of the Northwest Skeptics hold.
He refers to ‘scientific skepticism’ as :
A skeptic is one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient, and therefore rigorously and openly applies the methods of science and reason to all empirical claims, especially their own. A skeptic provisionally proportions acceptance of any claim to valid logic and a fair and thorough assessment of available evidence, and studies the pitfalls of human reason and the mechanisms of deception so as to avoid being deceived by others or themselves. Skepticism values method over any particular conclusion.
I think this is a strong definition and agree with Dr. Novella that it is a “reasonable trade off between thorough and concise.” I also agree that we as skeptics should try and instill into the public consciousness that ‘skepticism’ means ‘scientific skepticism’ and put effort into getting people to put the some of the old definitions aside.