What exactly is skepticism, really?
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
24-11-2013, 05:22 AM
What exactly is skepticism, really?
And I mean in the context of scientific skepticism (i.e Sagan, Novella, Shermer, Dawkins, Randi, etc).

There seems to be multiple different definitions and views of what exactly (scientific) skepticism is, what it entails, and its scope. Which may partially explain the more or less constant infighting.

For example, the term "scientific skepticism" was coined by Carl Sagan in Billions & Billions, but he doesn't really define the concept there. Michael Shermer has said multiple times that science and skepticism are synonymous (which would make one of the terms redundant, wouldn't it?), something that Massimo Pigliucci has criticized him for. Steven Novella defines skepticism as an approach to knowledge that emphasizes science and critical thinking, and think skepticism includes knowledge of science, critical thinking, self-deception and philosophy of science. Daniel Loxton seems to define skepticism as anti-paranormalism.

So what is correct? And how does one know?

"Examine the religious principles, which have, in fact, prevailed in the world. You will scarcely be persuaded, that they are any thing but sick men's dreams." - David Hume
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
24-11-2013, 05:53 AM
RE: What exactly is skepticism, really?
(24-11-2013 05:22 AM)Loki Wrote:  So what is correct?

All and none.

In the context you described it is an attitude rather than a field of inquiry, body of knowledge, social movement or discipline. It's the same as "rationalism". Skepticism and Rationalism are both nebulous in the context you referenced; they both allude to an attitude of doubt that is influenced by the use of reason, reliance on sound empirical evidence and based in metaphysical naturalism. Broadly, it's a 20th-Century expression of Enlightenment-era values. Books and courses which intend to teach that attitude usually have "Critical Thinking" in their name.

You are right, it is messy.

Quote:And how does one know?

In philosophy it has a specific and widely accepted meaning, it appears in philosophy lexicons as does rationalism. But those users you listed don't intend the philosophical meaning so by elimination we are left with the vague other meaning.
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Chippy's post
24-11-2013, 06:12 AM (This post was last modified: 24-11-2013 06:17 AM by sporehux.)
RE: What exactly is skepticism, really?
Skepticism = Anything anybody says is most likely bullshit.
Including yourself.

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes sporehux's post
24-11-2013, 07:29 AM
RE: What exactly is skepticism, really?
My working definition is simply the refusal to accept claims without evidence.

It is not equivalent to science, it is necessary to be skeptical to do science.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
[Image: flagstiny%206.gif]
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 7 users Like Chas's post
24-11-2013, 03:01 PM
RE: What exactly is skepticism, really?
Skepticism: reserving judgment on a claim until it's been proven sufficiently.

That's pretty much it.

But if you left it at that, your life would suck. You need additional attitudes and states of thinking.

Which of the claims will you pursue?
To what extent will you pursue a claim?
Which claims will you accept and act on until the mean time?
What reasoning and justifications did you use for all the above?

Someone says they bought a bagel for 1cent will be approached by a person in different ways depending on their circumstances. They'll be skeptical, but to different degrees and ends. Sure a 1cent bagel is dubious, but possible. So what if it's true or not, I'm not starving. I'd be worse off if I pursued the claim.

Or what about a cop pulling you over. How do you really know that's a real cop? They look like those in the media. Which media, news or comics books?
And even then, skeptic or not, you may or not pursue it, but you're definitely going to act as if they were. Or maybe not. What are the pros and cons of not accepting the claim right away?
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes PoolBoyG's post
24-11-2013, 03:21 PM
RE: What exactly is skepticism, really?
I'm going to say skepticism would be the inclination to doubt the knowledge of a general consensus. Also, one can't really know anything entirely. I would have added "except the self" ... but I even doubt that, sometimes. Wink

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
24-12-2013, 05:48 PM
RE: What exactly is skepticism, really?
If indeed the word is so multi-faced as suggested by your replies here, then isn't it at the risk of being meaningless?

"Examine the religious principles, which have, in fact, prevailed in the world. You will scarcely be persuaded, that they are any thing but sick men's dreams." - David Hume
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
25-12-2013, 12:08 AM
RE: What exactly is skepticism, really?
I wouldn't call filtering out all the bullshit from life so our future generations don't have to live and learn on a foundation of lies and bias as meaningless.

Theism is to believe what other people claim, Atheism is to ask "why should I".
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes sporehux's post
25-12-2013, 01:48 AM
RE: What exactly is skepticism, really?
(25-12-2013 12:08 AM)sporehux Wrote:  filtering out all the bullshit from life

Thumbsup

"It's a most distressing affliction to have a sentimental heart and a skeptical mind.”
― نجيب محفوظ, Sugar Street
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes evenheathen's post
25-12-2013, 11:28 AM
RE: What exactly is skepticism, really?
Questioning/considering the validity or truth of claims given your understanding of reality, and your understanding of the claimant's knowledge (or possible knowledge).

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: