A Skeptical Introduction

I would like to give you a bit of my philosophy.  I consider myself a skeptic.   My hero is Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptics Society, editor of Skeptic magazine and columnist for Scientific American, where he writes a column labeled, of course, Skeptic.

Here is a pretty good statement that describes what a skeptic is from the Skeptic Society web site:

http://www.skeptic.com/about_us/discover_skepticism.html

As you can see, skepticism is quite different from cynicism.  Cynics doubt everything.  Skeptics investigate claims to try to determine if they are valid.  This is an important distinction.

My own skeptic activities are modest.  I research all the wild stories and claims that I get via Email and report back to the senders when they send me garbage.  I use Snopes Urban Legends and Hoaxbusters for this mostly.  This does not always make me popular with the senders.  Some of them are not grateful for my debunking activities, especially if the piece they broadcast Emailed happened to fit their particular agenda(s).  I figure if they are sending out BS, especially if it attacks a public figure, or a political or ethnic group with lies, they should issue a retraction.  It’s amazing how many otherwise honest people are happy to spread stuff like this without checking it out.  In some cases they send out stuff they KNOW is not true, and when confronted, they call it a joke.  Human nature is a strange and complex thing.

I am skeptical of religions because they require followers to accept things on faith.  That is exactly the opposite of skepticism.  Just because I don’t know how life came to be on this earth doesn’t mean than it HAD to be created by some supernatural power.  There are many things we humans may never figure out before evolution replaces us with a superior organism.  I accept that…our limitations.  And yes, I accept the reality of evolution…as opposed to creation.  For the former, there is scientific evidence.  For the latter, none.

Most politics seems to me to be faith-based as well, at least the way it is practiced in this country.  People say they are Democrats or Republicans and they dutifully go to the polls on election day and most of them vote the straight ticket.  They don’t even know most of the candidates!  Almost sounds like religion, doesn’t it?

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