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JamesM
25th April 2003, 06:42 AM
Call me cynical, but these tales of people finally "seeing the light" and becoming skeptics sound like leaving one cosy club and joining another.

arcticpenguin
25th April 2003, 09:45 AM
Sure, and democracy is just another form of dictatorship.

kuroyume0161
25th April 2003, 09:45 AM
There is no organized "skeptic religion" or institution in which all skeptics are members. It's more like leaving one cozy club and going out into a biting cold night, with crisp, clear air that awakens the senses and allows vivid sight.

Many have attempted, and still do attempt, to associate skepticism and science as just other philosophies on life, not much different from any religion. Wrong. Wrong! WRONG!!

Science and skepticism, which are integrally bound - both require one to hypothesize, experiment, and research - are based upon an objective reality, facts, and a method that provides reasonable explanations to the former two. Most "seeing the light", as it were, and becoming skeptics have had to tear down their wall of delusions and indoctrinations and learn to accept the world as it is and educate themselves in its real workings. Most arrive at this state by personal learning, experience, and insightful contemplation, seeing for themselves that there is an objective foundation to the world that has proven monumentally successful over the past five hundred years - and not by being welcomed into a cozy group where they can feel warm and fuzzy, with secret handshakes and enveloping rituals to further isolate the disciple from reality.

I think that you would be wise to spend some time learning about science and skepticism before passing ill-informed judgements - the history, the methodologies, the pinnings into an objective-based view on the world, anything to overcome ignorance on the subject. Unlike cults, religions, and other belief systems, science isn't revelation, authoritarian based. It is based upon observing the world and forming explanatory ideas about it in a rigorous and methodical manner which has lead to very precise (not perfect, not final as in religions) explanations of the observations. Skepticism is based upon scientific methodology.

Kuroyume

JamesM
25th April 2003, 12:20 PM
IOriginally posted by kuroyume0161

I think that you would be wise to spend some time learning about science and skepticism before passing ill-informed judgements

I know plenty about science - thanks for your concern, though, kuroyume. However, I do deserve to be patronised due to my glib statement. Apologies for any perceived trolling.

My point is not that skepticism and religion are equally valid world views, nor that I think skepticism is a religion. And it wasn't one of those trojan horse statements that lead onto something along the lines of "we can't ever know objective reality, therefore evolution isn't true and ESP exists".

But I do think ideology and dogma can and does appear amongst skeptics, even if skepticism itself strives to be free from it. People swapping religion for skepticism is not necessarily as big a change as we might like to think. But I suspect I am in the minority on this one.

afree87
25th April 2003, 12:23 PM
Originally posted by JamesM
Call me cynical, but these tales of people finally "seeing the light" and becoming skeptics sound like leaving one cosy club and joining another. Except that the last writing person to leave the skeptic crowd for the Christians was C.S. Lewis, and his essays about it are not quite coherent. (Lord, Liar or Lunatic? Dear Wormwood, it is a good thing that we are both fictional characters. Yours sincerely,)

Maybe the burden of proof tips religion over like a slope and makes people roll off it and fall into the murky waters of infideldom, etc. :D

kuroyume0161
25th April 2003, 06:14 PM
Originally posted by JamesM
I

I know plenty about science - thanks for your concern, though, kuroyume. However, I do deserve to be patronised due to my glib statement. Apologies for any perceived trolling.

My point is not that skepticism and religion are equally valid world views, nor that I think skepticism is a religion. And it wasn't one of those trojan horse statements that lead onto something along the lines of "we can't ever know objective reality, therefore evolution isn't true and ESP exists".

But I do think ideology and dogma can and does appear amongst skeptics, even if skepticism itself strives to be free from it. People swapping religion for skepticism is not necessarily as big a change as we might like to think. But I suspect I am in the minority on this one.

Sorry if I sounded patronizing, but it is difficult to extract much information from one sentence. My interpretation of what you were saying was that people leaving behind religion (or other belief systems) for skepticism were just moving onto another belief system.

Now, I'll agree with you that there are those who "eat up" whatever skeptical information is out there without critical review or doing some background research - just like they would if it were coming from a UFO "expert" or other popular delusionary information. Shame on them, since the idea of being skeptical is to expect the claimant to provide evidence for claims commenserate [sic] with at least basic scientific methodology as well as verify your data as best as possible.

On the other hand, nobody (and that is nobody!) can be an expert in every field of study. At some stage, with basic principles at hand, one must take even statements made by other skeptics concerning claims on "faith" - here I distinguish between "blind faith" and "faith from experience", taking the latter meaning. After one has reached a certain level of knowledge, for instance concerning physics, one can pretty much judge whether or not a claim falls within the realm of reality by how askew it is with respect to known physical laws and theories. There are claims that are on the "borderlands" and require indepth study before making any critical decisions. Nonetheless, it would be in the best skeptical "tradition" to verify this or discuss it with experts *in the field*. Appeal to authority is only a fallacy when it involves an authority making claims in a field in which they are not authorities.

To put this into the perspective of a "recent convert", as it were, one must expect that someone just leaving behind a belief system or delusion has not attained a level of basic principles or a thorough knowledge of reasoning, critical thinking, scientific methodology, and skeptical analysis. These come with time, experience, and, hopefully, help from good resources.

My situation was very similar. The only "science" classes that I had in school were Biology and Chemistry (one year each). I was a god-soaked Catholic. At the end of high school, after learning the truer meaning of "the Church", doubt moved me away from the religious belief. Luckily for me, I started reading science books and teaching myself physics (from physics textbooks) with an unquenchable thirst. So, after about five years of shattering my delusion, I had a firm understanding of scientific methodology and history. Even at that stage, I had no idea what a skeptic was and had not been introduced to any skeptical information. It was only about five or so years later that, with the help of the internet, I actually realized what I was and where I was going.

So, it is in our best interest to avoid dogmaticism in skepticism. But, if the dogma involves, let's say, Newtonian mechanics, one cannot really require that the individual provide evidence that they've independently verified all of it. Again, faith from experience (i.e.: backed up by facts and theories), even if a tentative position, must be satisfactory in situations where validity has already been highly achieved. When there is less evidence or hypothetical strength, we must remind ourselves to avoid dogmaticism and do the research.

Kuroyume