I am a Skeptic. I give myself the label as proudly as one would if they were to call themselves a Saint or a Celebrity.
I will never stop doubting, either. Doubting has been given a rather bad rap over the course of history, but it is the stuff revolutions and emancipations are made of. Do I really need to elaborate on the ways in which doubt has been the savior of humans and humankind? Unfortunately, I think I do.
For starters, I think I shall rename doubt and call it intuition. You can read the following scenario with the two words being interchangeable:
Your little girl has been invited to a sleepover. She’s been looking forward to going all week and you’ve agreed to let her. The night arrives and you drive her to the home of her friend. You walk your child to the door and meet the father at the door, but a strange feeling overwhelms you upon introducing yourself. You doubt this man is someone you want to leave your little girl with. You can’t put your finger on why, but your intuition (i.e. your doubt) tells you not to leave her with him. When you make up an excuse as to why it’s suddenly important she not stay, she throws a fit. The feeling is so strong, however, that you insist she come home with you. Weeks later, the man is discovered to have been abusing his and others’ children for months, perhaps even years. You’re glad you listened to your doubt/intuition.
The above is merely one example of how doubt should be construed as positive and not negative. In fact, there are few instances where it should ever be viewed negatively. If you’re hoping to win the lottery but doubt your chances, this is because you’re chances are actually very low. You already know this to be true and it’s not necessarily because you’re being negative. The facts are what they are and no amount of sugar-coating or wishful thinking will change them. If anyone ever wins, it’s because statistically someone must win; Luck did not target them specifically for the fortune.
You can hope to win while still doubting your chances, but your feelings on the matter will not change the outcome. The thing is hope shouldn’t be in the same category as doubt at all. Hope has nothing to do with intuition and merely to do with wishing. Sure, it can help you through a difficult time; perhaps inspire you to survive just a while longer. Allowing yourself to doubt doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to deny yourself hope at the same time. If all you’re investing into the lottery is a dollar, you won’t lose much by not winning… but you can still hope you will, because you might.
Besides, I’m mostly talking about the kind of doubt or intuition that is essentially the voice in the back of your mind that says, “There’s something off here; something doesn’t add up.” Sometimes we know what doesn’t add up (like our chances of winning the lottery), but we don’t always know what’s “off” until we look more closely. In either situation, at some point, you should know.
The Bible has demonized doubt, and so has our culture, but didn’t someone doubt that blood-letting was actually beneficial? Didn’t someone doubt that the women they were burning en masse at the stake were actually witches? Didn’t someone doubt that human beings should be bought and sold as slaves? Didn’t someone doubt that Hitler’s plan for world domination was good? Didn’t someone doubt that they should leave their child with a pedophile? Didn’t someone doubt that David Koresh was sane?
Obviously, I could go on and on infinitely, but I hope you get the point. Most advances in medicine, science and technology are the result of someone doubting. When the majority said there was no other way, some brave soul pressed forward, sometimes at the expense of their own life. We depend on doubt as a civilization and it should be exercised more frequently!
I will never stop asking questions, and I will never stop pressing people to do the same. If we are not completely satisfied with our current standard of living, DOUBT the methods implemented… try to come up with better ways. That is what progress is! When something inside you says, “I think this is wrong”, don’t suppress those feelings. Investigate them. You have all the faculties that any thinking human has ever had or will ever have. If nothing else, do not doubt your own ability to obtain answers to the questions that plague your mind. Never, ever let anyone tell you to just “trust the authorities” and don’t question them. Those “authorities” did exactly that before they became the alleged experts on the matter.