What type of skeptic are you?
Characteristics of PseudoSkeptics vs. True Skeptics
NB: All pseudo-skeptics will claim to be true skeptics.
Are often typically disbelievers - i.e. they are firmly entrenched in believing "no" about certain things. Although they may "claim" that they are open to new information, they typically react with strongly unfriendly if not hostile criticisms when their beliefs and assumptions are challenged by new ideas and evidence.
Pseudo-skeptics typically make extreme statements. They will sometimes categorically state that something is impossible, or they will make sweeping false statements such as "no evidence exists" or the experiments are "all flawed"; or even the scientists in question are engaged in "pseudo-science."
Probably the most abusive of pseudo-skeptics tactics is to denigrate and dismiss carefully documented (and replicated observations in real life as being "anecdotes" and being "worthless" as potential scientific evidence. This is biased dismissal, even if the evidence was collected carefully using established standards in mainstream science, the findings are typically ignored or rejected as not having any scientific value.
Pseudo-Skeptics / Closed-Minded Skeptics
- Does not question anything from established non-religious institutions, but takes whatever they say on faith and demands that others do the same.
- Does not ask questions to try to understand new things, but judges them by whether they fit into orthodoxy.
- Applies "critical thinking" only to that which opposes orthodoxy or materialism, but never to the status quo itself.
- Immediately judges as false and debunks anything that contradicts their paradigm.
- Are not interested in truth, evidence or facts, only in defending their views.
- Cannot think in terms of possibilities, but sees their paradigms as fixed and constant.
- Are willing to lie and deceive to discredit their opponents.
- Automatically dismisses and denies all data that contradicts materialism and orthodoxy.
- Are judgmental and quick to draw conclusions about things they know little or nothing about.
- Scoffs and ridicules what they oppose instead of using objective analysis and examination.
- When faced with evidence or facts they can't refute, uses semantics, word games and denial to try to obfuscate the issue.
- Unable to adapt their paradigms to new evidence, and denies data which doesn't fit into them.
- When all conventional explanations for an unexplainable phenomenon are ruled out, are still not able to accept paranormal ones.
- Dislikes mystery and uncertainty, and insist that all unknown phenomena must have a mundane explanation.
- Views the scientific establishment as a religion and authority to be taken on faith and never questioned or challenged. Does not understand the difference between the scientific process/methodology and the scientific establishment institution.
- Assumes that the scientific establishment is objective and unbiased, and free of politics, corruption, control, censorship and suppression for no other reason than blind faith in authority.
- Will never admit that they are wrong no matter what, regardless of evidence.
Can be defined as being "critical questioners." Typically a true skeptic suspends his or her beliefs - i.e. does not believe either "yes" or 'no" - and essentially says "I don't know. Could be yes, could be no, show me the data."
Implicit in this definition is the personal orientation of being open to receiving new information which could lead one to potentially change one's mind - for example, from being unsure to believing yes or no, or even from believing yes or no about something to becoming unsure about one's beliefs.
True skeptics not only know that they don't know something for sure, but they are genuinely open to changing their minds and growing in light of new evidence. In a deep sense they are humble and open-minded.
True Skeptics / Open-Minded Skeptics
- Questions everything and takes nothing on faith, even from cherished established institutions.
- Asks questions to try to understand new things and are open to learning about them.
- Applies critical examination and inquiry to all sides, including their own.
- Withholds judgment and does not jump to rash conclusions.
- Seeks the truth and considers it the highest aim.
- Thinks in terms of possibilities rather than in preserving fixed views.
- Fairly and objectively weighs evidence on all sides.
- Acknowledges valid convincing evidence rather than ignoring or denying it.
- Possess solid sharp common sense and reason.
- Are able to adapt their paradigms to new evidence and update their hypothesis to fit the data.
- When all conventional explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are able to accept paranormal ones.
- Accepts that there are mysteries and revels in trying to understand them.
- Views science as a tool and methodology, not as a religion or authority to be obeyed. Understands the difference between the scientific process and the scientific establishment.
- Acknowledges that the scientific establishment is subject to politics, corruption, control, censorship and suppression, as all human based institutions are - and therefore must be critically examined and scrutinized, rather than taken on faith, especially in the light of contrary evidence to their claims.
- Will admit they are wrong when the evidence calls for it.