Why Skepticism?

Well I can’t rightly answer the question of why I think people should be skeptics without a more full definition of what skepticism is. I’ve posted this before and I’m gonna refer to it again here because I think it is such a strong definition of what we at Northwest Skeptics think skepticism is.

“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.”

Its important to make the distinction that ‘skepticism’ is not ‘cynicism’ or ‘pessimism’. Unlike cynics and pessimists, skeptics do not have an a priori (fancy way of saying, “presumed”) stance against the nature of people making claims or the validity of the claims. A skeptics stance on any given issue is subject to the evidence which is unlike that of a cynic or pessimist who would continue to sustain doubt even in the face of great evidence contrary. A skeptics beliefs and conclusions are rooted in the scientific method and are thus based on evidence regardless of emotion, this also means that they can change as the evidence changes unlike that of a pure cynic or pessimist. When you tell a skeptic something they aren’t going to instantly believe or disbelieve you; whatever the claim at hand may be the acceptance or denial of it is based on evidence, logical reasoning, and past probability. Skepticism is critical thinking and extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way we can attempt to answer the question at hand, “why skepticism?”. For me its because of the desire to make the decisions in my life based on the best evidence. Its because of the desire to root myself in reality. Its because of the desire to protect myself from shams, charlatans, scams, and pseudosciences. Its because I want the future to be better than the present. Its because reason is the best tool we have to determine how best to survive and we cannot properly utilize it when the things we believe to be true are not true. Skepticism provides the outlook and science provides the method. Why Skepticism? Because I live in reality and reality is observable and any claims in it worth any salt are falsifiable. Its because scientific skepticism is the only rational response I know of to life in reality. That for me is why skepticism.

My goal with Northwest Skeptics is to promote skepticism in everyones life by providing any and all information that I think is relevant to living an evidence based life. I hope readers keep coming back or subscribe to the RSS feed for the blog. There’s lots of great stuff on the horizon and as we get the hang of posting and create a habit out of it, more and more content will become available.

Also I’d like to extend an invitation to anyone who reads this to ask any question about any topic that they might be skeptical of and I’ll do the research to get you the scientific truth for and/or against any claim. Educating myself is also a large part of the purpose of this website.

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