What It Should Mean To Be A Skeptic

March 20, 2011

What does it mean to be a skeptic?

It means you take nothing – not even your own beliefs and opinions as fact.You look for proof, and you recognize the difference between proven, working proof, and possible proof. (do you know what theory means when a scientist uses it? If not, you need to learn how to check facts) It means you regularly ask yourself:  “Why do I think this? What am I basing this on? Am I open to new input? What would it take for me to change my mind, or even just adjust my stance?”

If you cannot at least transiently put yourself into your ‘opposition’s’ mindset, you are too closed.

Can you imagine what it would feel like to be religious? to have that certainty, that security? can you sense how comfortable, how confident you would feel? Yes? Then you are an honest skeptic. You try to empathize even where you don’t agree.

Psi: Can you accept that, though it seems highly unlikely, there might be huge discoveries about the human mind’s abilities still to come, based on new ways of observing phenomena? Then you are an honest skeptic.

Do you seek out new information? consider other points of view? recognize that what you see is not what other people see? (Literally, as well as figuratively) That unless other ideas are imposed on you, to determine your life style and your freedoms, then it’s okay to have alternate points of view? Congratulations.

That is the only point at which anyone should balk. No one should ever imagine that their beliefs give them the right to control someone else’s life. No one has the right to treat you, or anyone else, as an object in their control.

Yes, this is my belief. Can you show me where it fails in making life better for everyone? ( honest question, not a rhetorical one) It allows everyone personal liberty, and denies everyone the right to take their personal beliefs into the public sphere. Murder? Nope. You are assuming control of someone else’s life. Same for rape. Robbery? Ditto. Prayer in school – need you ask?

The only question I’ve found so far that can’t be answered by this simple code is abortion. I can see that the potential fetus is a potential person. But I cannot see that a potential is more important than an actual. This is a relic of the catholic’s belief that a child is more important than its mother. (organized misogyny, yes?) So in abortion, I still have to feel that a woman’s life is her own.

If you feel really strongly that the child is more important, then I know you are adopting unwanted babies on a yearly basis, and pouring money into orphanages and foster care, and health care for the mothers. In fact, I’ll bet you spend every free moment insisting our government provide adequate health care and strong,  career expanding options in education. And you certainly advocate free, government-provided contraception for everyone who wants it. Right?.

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4 Responses to “What It Should Mean To Be A Skeptic”

  1. erbdex Says:

    There is a subtle yet profound difference between a free thinker and a skeptic. Come over, we have similar thoughts.
    🙂

    • mhilm Says:

      I posted that after watching a video of Richard Sheldrake’s comments on James Randi. Humans do seem to be more comfortable with convictions, and atheists are human, after all. It’s a constant, ongoing process of ruthless self-checking to keep an open, but rational mind. Hard work.
      I looked at your site briefly, and am going to return for extensive exploration this evening.
      Thanks for commenting.


  2. […] posted about what it means / to be a skeptic /, and / to be an atheist /. Both require abandoning ideas of superiority or of having all the […]


  3. […] not just your words, but your actions, your choices, and ultimately your beliefs. (see also on / what it should mean to be a skeptic / ) (no, don’t run. Being a skeptic, like being religious, is an umbrella term covering an […]


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