We were approached by a group calling themselves
The Skeptic Illuminati and asked to post the following, as several of the qualities they are looking for in members have been discussed on this blog.
An open letter to all who identify as Skeptics:
Skepticism, as a
movement, appears to be failing. Too many people, even within our own ranks, are co-opting the term to gain followers for their own causes, employing methods that violate skepticism's fundamental principles. At the same time, too many of us have condoned this, or quietly stood by and let it happen.
Some of us have had enough, and think it's time to take back skepticism. To that end, we have started a new group, The Skeptic Illuminati. Membership is by invitation only. Only those who demonstrate the following qualities will be considered for membership:
- Humility and introspection.
- You acknowledge that you, like all humans, have cognitive biases, and you recognize such biases not only in others, but in yourself as well.
- You are willing to admit when you don't know something, or you are straying outside your area of expertise.
- You own your mistakes and apologize for them.
- You seek to understand others' points of view, rather than dismissing them because they are different from yours.
- You exhibit patience, ask questions, and educate, rather than disparage and belittle others.
- Nuanced thinking.
- You recognize complex questions and problems, and refrain from oversimplifying them.
- You understand that situations vary, and context matters. You refrain from hastily generalizing from specific cases, and from hastily using general rules in contexts where they may not apply.
- An open mind.
- You approach new topics with inquiry, and refrain from judgment until you have sufficient evidence.
- You alter or refine conclusions that you have reached, in light of new evidence.
- You invest the time and effort to do your homework on a topic before rendering a position.
- You spend the time to apply critical thinking to your own conclusions, as well as those of others.
- Logic and sound argumentation.
- You understand logical fallacies and refrain from committing them yourself.
- You apply the principle of charity, taking opposing arguments at face value. Only when those arguing with you have demonstrated that they are acting in bad faith do you question their motivations or characters.
- You understand the use of examples to illustrate a larger point, and do not confuse the specifics with the general.
- You understand that anecdotes may indicate the need for further investigation, but are not, in and of themselves, sufficient as evidence.
- You recognize the difference between a question and an answer.
- You use argumentation as a tool to discover truth, and refrain from cheap rhetorical tricks -- quote mining, cherry-picking, appeal to emotion, and others -- simply to
- When promoting skepticism, you adhere to skeptical principles over other beliefs that are important to you.
- When promoting other causes or beliefs you consider important, you refrain from calling them
- You conduct yourself with honor and integrity; you don't just preach skepticism, you practice it.
- A sense of humor, or a recognition that you don't have one, and may not realize it when others are joking.
- Uncertainty about whether you qualify for membership.
The Skeptic Illuminati
skepticilluminati (at) gmail.com
Did you get your invitation to join? If so, let us know! We'd like to hear about it, and maybe learn the secret handshake.