Native Skeptic

Native Skeptic
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

De Omnibus Dubitandum

“All is to be doubted, of everything doubtful be", or "question everything” a motto often attributed to the French philosopher, Rene Descartes. This also falls in line with another motto, one of skepticism. Part of being a teenager going through the difficulties of adolescence begins with this process of questioning everything, especially if that thing is authoritative, intellectual, or political. This is also the primary process of any serious inquiry into education. Unless you just happen to be a skeptical thinker by nature, which is not usually the case, this is not going to be your way of reasoning.

That is not to suggest that education directly correlates to being a critical thinker. More than anything, these days education criteria is influenced by the combination of corporations and the market. An argument often being made suggests that universities have been transformed from educational institutions primarily focused on promoting higher learning into "glorified trade schools", most of which have become more concerned with notions of preparing for a consumer culture and the common workplace organizational structure, instead of focusing on teaching future leaders of the free world how to utilize the analytical thinking skills that come with establishing basic principles of logic and general science literacy.

Science journalist, commentator, and author of three books including, "Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future", Chris Mooney stated in his June 27, 2010 article for the Washington post, "If scientists want to educate the public, they should start by listening",

"Most non-scientists appear to be impervious to any scientific data that undermines their own personal opinions and are prone to arguing back with technical claims that are of dubious merit. This is precisely the reason why it is imperative for the general public to understand principles of logic and attain some science literacy.

The underlying interests of skepticism focus on ideas and issues such as how we actually think, how certain erroneous beliefs arise, how our minds work to deceive us, and how our critical thinking capabilities can be improved. This is part of the movement of new skepticism, we recognize this critical need to change our direction. Therefore, we as skeptics must seek to promote science literacy and critical thinking to ensure consumer protection from all forms of nonsense and pseudoscience. For instances, with all the health claims being made today from miracle cures to new supplements supposedly shown to work, at some point, it's time to separate fact from fiction. The same can be said for ANY claim scientific in nature. That is what makes scientific reasoning so abundantly useful, anyone can learn to apply the scientific method and tailor it for any situation where it calls for testing scientific sounding arguments or any claim that falls within the realms of the natural world.

As it appears on the Skeptic website, Junior Skeptic Editor Daniel Loxton wonderfully stated the following in the classical skeptical activism entitled, "Where Do We Go From Here?",

"If it’s weird and testable in principle, then it’s fair game".

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.

Skeptical Activism: Fight Fraud & Pseudoscience!

There are as many ways to “be a skeptic” as there are individual skeptics. For some, the value of the community of skeptics is community itself; for others, it is the opportunity for reflection and self-improvement, while for others, it is an area of purely academic interest.

And then, there are skeptics who see themselves as part of a movement. For those people, skepticism is a mission: an organized effort to discover reality, to expose fraud — and to help people. "

I would say that I am part of the latter.

Because in a world full of bad information in the media, on the Internet, and all of the distorted views of pseudoscience being peddled, it can be rather difficult to discern what is actually credible information, even for veteran skeptics. So, this is where it becomes evident that the importance of being able to utilize principles of reason and logic to think critically, not only empowers individuals, but also serves as protection from believing something that is simply not true.

As kids, most of us bombard our parents with enough questions to drive them crazy, but as we grow up and go through adolescence, we begin to start formulating more solid beliefs about the world or how we perceive it to be, and somewhere along the way, we begin to stop questioning things. But in my case, I guess that I never really ever grew completely out of that phase because as soon as I went to college, I began challenging every professor, textbook, and any fallacious argument in 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, instead of following Descartes advise, De Omnibus Dubitandum!!!