From my blog
Atheism, Rationality, Religion, Science, Skepticism by Alison — Leave a comment November 9, 2011
This is Velma. You may recognize her from Scooby Doo as the nerdy skeptic [As opposed to that ditz Daphne] who usually realized that the monster at the Church wasn’t the return of the Priest’s grandma telling him not to plant more trees, but the janitor in drag trying to make a quick buck. That’s good skepticism. She realized that it was more likely the owner of the water park bought a $5 mask, than a vortex to the spirit world mysteriously opened.
This is an example of good skepticism. She analyzed the evidence and picked the most likely solution. She didn’t make any assumptions that were literally out of this world. Questioning things is goo. From the government, to what you see on message boards or blogs, to what Shaggy thinks about how ghost come back to fight off visitors.
But can skepticism be misplaced? As you gathered by the title, yes. 9/11 “truthers” are “skeptical” of the government. One of my favorite shows is Penn & Teller’s Bullshit! where they examine pseudoscience. What really hit me like a ton of bricks is that the assholes on the show [the guests, not Penn & Teller] are thinking they’re the skeptical ones! The New Age magnetic flux medicine advocator thought they were being skeptical of modern medicine. Creationists think they’re being skeptical of evolution. etc etc…
It seems these days that there is no shortage of self-proclaimed “skeptics”. What they don’t realize is that skepticism comes with a price. Skepticism is useless we’re willing to admit it when we’re wrong. That’s the difference between scientific skepticism which relies on science and what I liked to call “misplaced Skepticism”. This type of skepticism relies not on evidence, but rather on emotions, it feels good when we have all the answers [even if they're wrong!] we like outsmarting the reptilians by figuring out their plot of world domination [and those dumbasses that can't see the truth right in front of them!]. I understand that. I like being right and hate being wrong. But skepticism isn’t about feeling good, it’s about finding the truth. Actual skepticism relies on evidence, not anecdotes. We should question the government, medicine, religion etc… but we should apply scientific skepticism, not misplaced skepticism.
I can understand that science is hard. I took science at university and there are areas of science that I am weak on [especially biology and even evolution] I took physics, so I know that simply putting in “Quantum magnetic inverse polarity flux” in your claim doesn’t make it true, but it seems to fool New Age hippies.
Worse of all, I think these misplaced skeptics are doing more harm. They’re good people, wanting to find truth, and that’s good, but then they get taken advantage of by pushers of pseudoscience and tricksters take their money and their time, fill their heads with shit and do it in the name of “skepticism”.
So next time somebody introduces themselves a s a”skeptic”…be skeptical of that claim.