The trouble with skepticism....
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13-08-2013, 05:55 PM
The trouble with skepticism....
So I've been a born again skeptic for a little while now, and I love it (mostly). My deconversion made a profound difference in how I view the world and the importance I place on critical thinking and seeking evidence for claims.

The problem is that since I have become more skeptical about the world, I have become more confused than ever on what is true when it comes to certain things. Politics (I hold a solid distain for politics in general), economics, certain social agendas, wars, etc....

For example, this past election cycle was the first time in my life that I became involved, and even a little excited at having and voicing my opinion about the future of the country and what needs to happen. I would read an expert's opinion piece with one view and say, wow, I really agree with those points. That makes a lot of sense. Then, the skeptic in me would seek out the opposite view, a rebuttal to see what the other side had to say. And most of the time I would say, wow, that makes a lot of sense too, and I'd tend to agree with it. I can't very well agree with both sides. But I'm not a skilled researcher, I have to rely on people who do it for a living to form my opinion. Unfortunately that means having to rely on people who are getting paid to give me the opinion they want me to have. So who do I trust?

The information age is both a blessing and a curse. All the information I could want is out there and available at my fingertips. But so is all the misinformation that I could ever imagine. I'm not a scientist, or an expert at really anything. Hell I'm not formally educated in anything. I'm too knew at this shit and before I can get any solid ground when researching most topics my head spins so hard that I just get tired and give up.

So I spend most of my time in the real world silent when conversations go on around me. I usually know enough to have an opinion, but not enough to be confident that my opinion is grounded in the truth about the matter. I'd rather leave my mouth shut than put my foot in it, people seem so sure of themselves and I'm not. Even on the forum, there are so many differing opinions from people that I feel that I should be able to trust and that have great evidence for all of the differing claims. It just gets so confusing.

Anyone else in the same boat? Any advice? Thoughts?

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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13-08-2013, 06:07 PM (This post was last modified: 13-08-2013 08:40 PM by elegant_atheist.)
RE: The trouble with skepticism....
This is actually the beauty of being a skeptic. As a skeptic you should always be looking for new information and reforming your ideas and opinions. Don't get bogged down in trying to form a concrete, final decision on any one topic, unless you feel the evidence is overwhelming. As new information comes in, take it in, try to understand it, then apply it to your views on the subject. This is the only way to be honest and truthful to yourself when forming opinions. As you go along this journey, you will find it more rewarding and fulfilling than being indoctrinated with others' opinions. As the great Christopher Hitchens once said, “Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way."

Taking in new information and analyzing it honestly is a lifetime long endeavor, don't rush it or become frustrated. (Even though it is very difficult not to sometimes.) Big Grin

[Image: g-HitchensThinkSelf.gif]
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13-08-2013, 06:44 PM
RE: The trouble with skepticism....
(13-08-2013 05:55 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  Anyone else in the same boat? Any advice? Thoughts?

What you have stated in your full post is the very thing that led me to identify with nihilism as an "answer" to my philosophies. However these things don't help in reality and I agree with everything that Elegant Atheist has put in their post... so elegantly.

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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13-08-2013, 07:05 PM (This post was last modified: 13-08-2013 07:39 PM by I Am.)
RE: The trouble with skepticism....
(13-08-2013 05:55 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  The problem is that since I have become more skeptical about the world, I have become more confused than ever on what is true when it comes to certain things. Politics (I hold a solid distain for politics in general), economics, certain social agendas, wars, etc....

Try this source for 1) claims that might or might not be correct, and 2) information to fuel your skepticism.

Noam Chomsky says, "Any time you hear something said with great confidence, you should ask yourself "Is that true?'"

Quote:So I spend most of my time in the real world silent when conversations go on around me. I usually know enough to have an opinion, but not enough to be confident that my opinion is grounded in the truth about the matter. I'd rather leave my mouth shut than put my foot in it, people seem so sure of themselves and I'm not.

You're doing it right. Listen, evaluate, and try to confirm independently. There's a reason why "wise" characters in literature speak so seldom, and arrogant jackasses never shut up.

I AM he who is called... cat furniture.
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13-08-2013, 07:24 PM
RE: The trouble with skepticism....
No. But here are some thoughts and advice.

Scepticism means reserving an opinion. Little to evidence has been provided for a claim so you're reserving judgement.

Being a sceptic is very easy. "This or that claim hasn't been verified to me." or "I have no information on it, so I don't know." Saying "I don't know" should never be a shameful thing to say. Making false claims should be.

Or if you have an opinion, based on past credibility of the source, "This source was true in the past, so my opinion is they might be true now. But don't hold me to it."

You're not entitled to research it, or think any more about it until evidence is provided.

However, when claims are made that hold the health and safety or life of a person or group of people, then as an ethical person you should confront those peoples and opinions and learn the evidence (or lack of) for those claims. So at the very least you can support or denounce those claims when they do pop up again.
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13-08-2013, 08:16 PM (This post was last modified: 13-08-2013 08:21 PM by evenheathen.)
RE: The trouble with skepticism....
(13-08-2013 07:24 PM)PoolBoyG Wrote:  Saying "I don't know" should never be a shameful thing to say. Making false claims should be.

I have never thought it to be. I've actually received compliments from clients at work for my ability to admit that I'm not sure of an answer, and go to whatever lengths I can to find out (it helps that my coworkers are notorious blowhards). I guess where my frustration lies is when I am involved in a conversation and I hear claims that I know to be false, I don't have the confidence in my ability to produce credible enough arguments to counter them.

I guess my other frustration is that I'm in my early thirties and have spent so much of my life not giving a fuck, that now that I do, there's too much out there to absorb. It's just overwhelming to me the amount of information on any given subject that is available that it's so hard to discern what info is correct. Everything is slanted.

And there's so much that I want to know now, but my life affords me little time to do any really involved research.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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13-08-2013, 08:20 PM
RE: The trouble with skepticism....
(13-08-2013 06:44 PM)bemore Wrote:  
(13-08-2013 05:55 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  Anyone else in the same boat? Any advice? Thoughts?

What you have stated in your full post is the very thing that led me to identify with nihilism as an "answer" to my philosophies. However these things don't help in reality and I agree with everything that Elegant Atheist has put in their post... so elegantly.

Funny, I've given it quite a bit of thought, and nihilism seems to be the "answer" I tend to gravitate to also. But I don't really hold to any "philosophy of nihilism". It just seems to make sense, because ultimately there are no "ultimate" answers.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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13-08-2013, 08:23 PM
RE: The trouble with skepticism....
Aw, no worries. If ever you find yourself not sure of something - just listen to me!

... this is my signature!
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13-08-2013, 08:31 PM
RE: The trouble with skepticism....
(13-08-2013 08:23 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Aw, no worries. If ever you find yourself not sure of something - just listen to me!

Yeah, because your help with relativity was soooo not confusing. Tongue

Just kidding, it was every bit as confusing as every other take on relativity I've seen. Hobo

(it actually did help though, got me thinking more about it)

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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13-08-2013, 11:43 PM
RE: The trouble with skepticism....
And yet, I didn't send pictures of my balls threads have seven pages of shit thus far. See ya.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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