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Why I am not a real (true) skeptic

I have been traveling the information highway for many years and have learned many things. I now know that I am not a real skeptic.

A real skeptic's only belief is that you shouldn't have any beliefs.

A real skeptic knows that nothing is certain, so you should doubt everything and suspend judgment on every issue.

A real skeptic doubts any claim by any government official.

A real skeptic doubts all claims that an alien craft with creatures aboard did not crash at Roswell.

A real skeptic doubts all claims that the Apollo Moon landings were not filmed in a studio on Earth.

A real skeptic doubts all claims that the Bush administration was not behind 9/11.

A real skeptic doubts the scientific consensus on such things as global warming, the Holocaust, the cause of AIDS, and the value of vaccinating our children.

A real skeptic doubts that vaccines don't cause autism and that vitamins can't cure AIDS.

A real skeptic doubts that all claims of paranormal ability can be explained by trickery, self-deception, or other naturalistic means.

A real skeptic doubts that coincidences happen.

A real skeptic doubts the critics of those who say they get "messages" from the dead.

A real skeptic knows that the words of fringe scientists, kooks, models, demented psychics, and deranged comedians are more likely to be true than the words of thousands of scientists.

A real skeptic knows that the Bible and Mayan glyphs can predict the future, while scientists are just guessing or putting forth their pet prejudices.

A real skeptic knows that the best evidence for a medical treatment is how many satisfied customers you can parade forth, not whether randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are supportive.

A good skeptic knows that when RCTs don't support your belief it's because RCTs don't work.

A real skeptic knows that one good anecdote, like intuition, trumps a thousand RCTs.

A real skeptic knows that a good story is always preferable to an RCT, especially if the story involves a conspiracy by the government, the medical profession, or Big Pharma.

A real skeptic knows that being possible is as a good a reason as any for assenting to a claim.

A real skeptic knows that if thousands of people claim to have been abducted by aliens, visited by angels, scared by ghosts, read their pet's mind, or seen the Virgin Mary in the sky, then it must be true.

A real skeptic knows that you don't have to count evidence that is contrary to your beliefs.

A real skeptic knows that you've got to believe to be healed.

A real skeptic knows that the fact that most species are food for other species does not have any bearing on whether there is an omnipotent, all-good creator of the universe.

A real skeptic knows that an extraordinary explanation is always preferable to an ordinary one.

A real skeptic knows that faith is always preferable to reason.

A real skeptic knows that paranormal effects can't be detected by normal means and must be revealed through statistics.

A real skeptic knows that sometimes there is no other explanation for an event other than that it was paranormal or supernatural.

A real skeptic knows that physical objects can convey important information about crimes, and forensics labs are not necessary to get this information when a psychic is available.

A real skeptic knows that some jewelry is magical and can help lower golf scores and ward off cosmic rays.

A real skeptic knows that if a couple of people disagree with thousands of knowledgeable folks that make it a major controversy. Fairness requires that equal time be given to the kooks.

A real skeptic knows that just because it sounds too good to be true doesn't mean it is.

A real skeptic doesn't dismiss such things as rumpology without doing a thorough investigation.

A real skeptic knows that just because something is physically impossible shouldn't count against its being true.

A real skeptic knows that the world of the imagination is more attractive to millions of people than the fact-based world.

A real skeptic knows that miracles happen all the time.

A real skeptic knows that the full moon makes people say and do crazy things.

A real skeptic knows that a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.

So, I remain a run-of-the-mill skeptic, one who thinks the quality of evidence matters and that some claims are much more probable than others. However, today is the autumn equinox and a waxing crescent 21% of a full moon will be rising tonight. Who knows what I'll believe tomorrow?

>>more essays  by R. T. Carroll


Last updated 12/09/10

 

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