Noteworthy, 05 Nov 2011

A couple of articles worth reading:


  1. Hi Matt!
    Just wanted to let you know I follow your blog.
    Thanks for the links.
    I really wish there was a purely skeptical movement/community/organization that was completely separate from atheism. But it won't happen because it is in fact the "religion" of most skeptics, and given "special" treatment. When skepticism embraces politics or social activism, is it really appropriate? Atheism is an ideology, or philosophy, if you prefer.
    Since nobody cares, it's never going to happen.
    On a similar topic:
    Why is Dragoncon viewed as skeptical event? The only explanation I've received is that a lot of skeptics are into this stuff. So if a lot of skeptics share a similar hobby, it magically turns into a skeptical event?
    I do think these guys understand these are 2 unrelated things. Not with atheism, though. The rare skeptics who do, don't care enough about the distinction except for a random blog post here and there.
    I'm female, but long before Elevatorgate, the idea of skepticism promoting feminism seemed absurd. To be fare, this occurred at atheist events. But since there is no boundary between them and skeptical movement, collateral damage has all but destroyed the skeptical movement's focus. Certainly the noble pursuit of critical-thinking is no longer much of priority. What does skepticism stand for now? Basically there is no skeptical movement, per se. There's just a community that own's the trademark, and gone on to manufacturing a new product.

  2. Thanks very much for your comment, Laura. Matt and I started this blog because we were concerned that when the skeptical community started calling for "movements" and "activism", we would lose sight of what skepticism is - a methodology for acquiring knowledge about ourselves and the world.

    Movements and activism generally require leaders and followers. This seems counter to skepticism because as skeptics we should do our best to think for ourselves rather than being told what to think and do by others.

    Perhaps that is the reason for the uproar we are currently seeing in the community. At least some of our leaders seem to be trying to redefine skepticism to be the "conclusions" they have reached (presumably though the application of skepticism). All those who identify as skeptics must agree with their conclusions and should share their goal of advocating their conclusions.

    IMO, we should be advocating the methodology not the conclusions. And, we should be encouraging (rather than discouraging) discussion about all of the conclusions each of us may reach based on applying the skeptical process. The more we encourage discussion the more likely we are to obtain the knowledge we seek.

    Matt and I enjoy having our thinking challenged. And, we hope that our readers feel free to share their thinking with us whether they agree with our point of view or not. All we would ask is that people engage with each other in positive and productive ways. Comments should be made with a desire to further discussion rather than quiet dissenters.

    Thanks, again, for your comment. Thanks, too, for the time you have spent to read and think about, not only what we have written, but also the other blogposts for which we have provided links in an effort to broaden this discussion. We truly appreciate all of those who take the time to read and put thought into "Skepticism & Ethics".


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