Native Skeptic

Native Skeptic
Apache Crown Dancers 1887:

A Special Message For All New New Visitors

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this site, please feel free to read my "Diary of a Native Skeptic" page, especially if this is your first visit.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Greetings from a Native Skeptic: An Introduction into Skepticism

Hello, fellow people of inquiry. I wanted to make an official post of my introduction to all newcomers to the free thinking community of skepticism. Explaining what "to be skeptical" actually is takes some skill. There's more to it than the common misconceptions that define skeptics as simply, a person who "doubts" indiscriminately. In fact, skepticism itself is more accurately depicted as a movement among critical thinkers, inquiring minds interested in science who apply scientific thinking to reason, or people like me who have always been more analytical in nature, "questioning everything."

As kids, most of us at a certain age bombard our parents with enough questions to drive them crazy, but as we grow up, going through adolescence, we begin to start formulating more solid beliefs about the world, how we perceive it to be, and somewhere we begin to stop questioning things. But in my case, I guess I never really ever grew out of that phase because I went all through college challenging every professor, textbook, classroom discussion, while most were starting to solidify their own principles of reason based upon all of their personal biases acquired up to that point. Another aspect that influenced my journey to skepticism was introduced to me by the famous philosopher, Socrates. During an ambitious attempt to write a provocative and somewhat controversial subject for my advanced composition course, while still maintaining that theme of being a college age revolutionist that challenges all authority, I chose to take on "The Trial and Death of Socrates". Philosophy, or the Socratic method, planted a seed with a question, "What is knowledge?" If you cannot define that for yourself, then how can you maintain the claim that you truly "know" anything?
As skeptics, we realize and acknowledge the need to address the most fundamental beliefs of people to make sense of how they perceive reality to be. Alluding to the concepts that illustrate all the various ways that our brains play tricks on us can often lead to the misconception that someone is telling you that your experience is, "all in your head". When in actuality, there is a deeper understanding which people frequently ignore, misunderstand, or in extreme cases, outright deny exist. But the world is just as full of wonder and discovery as it was when we were kids. The infinitely huge void of things that we just don't understand, is as abundant as the universe is in size. The more deeply you understand things, the closer you get to objectively viewing  reality. Understanding how our brains work, allows us to understand how and why we believe what we do, and don't.

But, ultimately, how do we know the beliefs that we establish meet the standards of qualifying as being "valid"? In a world full of bad information in the media, on the Internet, and all of the misleading views of science can make it difficult to discern what is credible information, even for veteran skeptics. So, this is where it becomes evident that the importance of being able to think analytically serves as protection from believing something that is simply not true. Testing those beliefs and determining their validity is another subject for my next post, which is another fundamental tool of skepticism, the scientific method.