Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Problem with Paranormal Skepticism

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. - Mark Twain

Joshua Foreman exposes the problem with "skeptics" perfectly. Their skepticism only extends to the topics they already don't believe in. They would never think of applying "skeptical inquiry" to topics they do.
How do you know the South Pole is cold? Have you been there? Or do you, like me, just believe the multiple sources that make the claim?

Most of us don’t have a problem stating such things as fact. But if you really push your imagination, you could come up with some fanciful scenario where the South Pole is actually nice and temperate, and the sources you trust as authoritative were themselves misinformed, or maybe even lying to conceal some secret. However unlikely the scenario, I don’t think the possibility - no matter how remote - can be disproven until you’ve been there. BUT WAIT! Who’s to say on the trip down there you weren’t drugged, or put in a virtual reality machine? Or perhaps the boat landed on a different landmass that is cold and the captain claimed it was the South Pole but it’s really not. Or maybe… or maybe..

What I’m describing here is the maddening position of the radical skeptic. Read more


Anthony said...

I read the Article, and your right, it was very well written. I like how he points out that most skeptics pick what they "Want" to be skeptical about, but not touch beliefs or theories that they themselves share.

It's to bad the comments at the bottom mostly consisted of people bashing him.

Thank you for your Post :)

Caitlin MacKenna said...

The main problem with so-called skeptics is that they either won't examine the evidence, or they outright lie about it. I watched Randi critique "Ghost Hunters" once. The way he described their methods was absolutely false. He either had never seen the show, or was deliberately lying. Given his track record, I lean toward the latter.