I’ve seen and heard the new breed of skeptics, where any idea or hypothesis is presented with little to no evidence, backed with a statement about how the government is hiding something or the “evidence” is top-secret. Or somebody posts a well made video on Youtube that explains some claim, with the caption “I was skeptical, but here’s proof!!” For a while now my first response was seriously!?! All you need is a video or a claim?
I’ve seen many people use the “skeptic” label to suggest ideas and hypotheses that are merely unsupported claims that are designed to gain attention with little effort in following any scientific methodology. “Truthers”, “Birthers”, and any other “ers” out there who claim “well I’m just a skeptic..” as if just saying that provides truth or facts to their claim,“I’m a skeptic, so if I believe it, it must be true..” and thus will lift any requirement of providing solid testable, evidence or data. Saying “I’m a skeptic” doesn’t lift the onus that is required of making a claim or making the statement that one supports the claim. Nor does it make a claim more valid if one claims to be a skeptic.
Is generally any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere.
Philosophical skepticism is an overall approach that requires all information to be well supported by evidence. Classical philosophical skepticism derives from the ‘Skeptikoi’, a school who “asserted nothing”. Adherents of Pyrrhonism, for instance, suspend judgment in investigations. Skeptics may even doubt the reliability of their own senses. Religious skepticism, on the other hand is “doubt concerning basic religious principles (such as immortality, providence, and revelation)”. Most scientists are empirical skeptics, who admit the possibility of knowledge based on evidence, but hold that new evidence may always overturn these findings.
I think it takes more than just claiming “I’m a skeptic” to really engage in the pursuit of the truth. To me any real skeptic should be versed in logical fallacies in order to avoid falling prey to invalid claims that are presented as truth or fact. One of the best methods of sorting through information, data and claims is the “Baloney Detection Kit”
As well as this nice Logical Fallacies website:
More of this blog here: http://www.avriastudios.net/science/2012/08/06/skepticism/