Native Skeptic

Native Skeptic
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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Science Changed My Life

Belief is a strong feeling in something that often cannot be explained. However, being the inquisitive minded person that I am, often that is not good enough for me. Faith is a word that I rarely use, but that was not always the case. As a young person, I was taught certain things that were “gospel”, so-to-speak. I did not question those particular things, nor was I in any position to do so. But, as I grew into a more confident and well equipped individual through school, I made it a point not to sway in that initial inquisitive nature. Being an artist gave me the reason to embrace and harness this quality in myself. I knew this was a unique trait that not everyone shared and even if it made me an outcast to whatever social click, somehow I knew this was a special ability that would lead to great things and possibly even greater understandings.

Little did I know how profound those initial insights and inclinations would actually turn out to be. As I began to contemplate the great philosophical quandaries of giants like Socrates, Aristotle, Plato, Descartes, David Hume and Bertrand Russell. I began to reflect on what the point to all of this really was, and tried to determine what I deemed to be important to my own personal being and perspective of "experience".

After contemplating what was tangible, explainable, quantifiable and relevant to my own position in the universe, I realized that what I had defined was the scientific method. Not only did I come to realize what “science” was for myself, but I was able to finally put these notions and feelings into words.

Much to my surprise, I began to find out that much like my thoughts on the paradoxes of nature, the notions that I had about reality were anything but novel. There was actually a whole group of individuals who thought the same way that I did, matter of fact, it was a whole movement.

All of the unexplainable questions which I thought were once important, began to dematerialize and fade away upon the realization that they were unanswerable (at this time) or were deemed irrelevant. I found my way to defining what I considered to be valid scientific evidence, and all of the things that did not fall into that spectrum fell off my map and I began to feel as if I could finally see my way through the nonsense. It was as if I was walking under a dim light and someone suddenly turned up the lights. The world began to open up to me in a way that I never expected and the beauty of nature revealed itself to me through science.

All of the classic philosophical positions on life, death to the actions of others in everyday life were given a new breath of existence with my new-found perspective of the world, and also how I viewed "reality".

I came to the understanding that the nature of reality was not as I perceived it to be. My own reflection in the mirror was a lie. That is not me “now”, that is me a split second ago as it takes time for light to travel and bounce off of the outer surface of electrons that outline my body and bounce off of the mirror into my eyes in which my brain then interprets the information of light as it enters my visual cortex.

So as you can now see, reality and the nature of existence was not only much more complex than I could ever imagine, it was also much more precious and wonderful in that complexity. I did not need to experience a loss, tragedy or some other form of life experience struggle to be grateful for life. Now, I get that feeling everyday through seeing things a little closer to how they really are, scientifically. I finally found the answers to the big philosophical questions that I had been searching for, but not with philosophy...

with science!  

A special thanks goes out to those notable skeptics who personally took the time to reach out to me, all of you were my biggest influences to helping me find my voice: 

  • Jay Novella 
  • Rebecca Watson 
  • Desiree Schell 
  • LaVerne Knight-West 

I'd also like to mention all of the other 'Rogues' of the Skeptics Guide to the Universe, your podcast always made me feel like I was amongst friends: 

  • Steven Novella 
  • Bob Novella 
  • Evan Bernstein 
  • Perry DeAngelis


  1. First Nation - I'm glad that science and logic have made a major contribution to your life.

    At the same time ... although science can indeed provide valuable tools for our thinking, it also has its own set of limitations (esp. in terms of value judgments, principles and ethics).

    I was struck by the dramatic revelation in your viewpoint - as you describe becoming a "disciple" of the rational thinkers. I found myself wondering why you found this change so profound. Many people in the "normal" world in America would consider themselves to be logical thinkers. Perhaps their thoughts have not been refined in great detail - but still they look to logical explanations when things occur in their daily existence. For this reason, a lot of Americans might not appreciate why your path in life is such a revelation (to you).

    So I stopped to contemplate the point of view of indigenous cultures - at least the ones I have experienced personally while travelling overseas. People in those cultures have a very different viewpoint than the Western world. In their own thought processes, "supernatural" events and explanations of daily things in life are very important - and tangible.

    Perhaps the same thing was true for you as you grew up on the reseveration ... you were deeply exposed to a style of thinking that attached importance to things that "cannot be seen or reasoned". In that case, the change in your mindset might indeed seem profound.


  2. Pete-

    I understand the argument and completely acknowledge the limitations of science. However, science is a tool that we can still use to help us define our perspective of morals, ethics and values. I would also argue that not only is science a valuable tool, but it is by far the best tool ever conceived by man for attaining knowledge about the reality of the world we live in.

    I really was more relating to the specific group of people who identify themselves as skeptical community. This change was so profound for me because up until rather recently, I had never heard of a “scientific skeptic”, or the “skeptical movement”. It was a shock to me to find there were local groups spread all over the world promoting science and critical thinking, and just exploring all sorts of great nerdy science-y stuff.

    Most people would like to think of themselves as being “logical thinkers”; however, the evidence says something quite different. Just like most people would like to think what they “believe” is right, science continues to show us that the world we live in is far more complex than what we let our human senses tell us. Just look at the state of science education amongst the general public here in the United States, one out of every five Americans believes the Sun revolves around the Earth. The claims made against Evolution are more than often contaminated by some form of motivated reasoning, and those supporting things such as alternative medicine, astrology, ghosts, Bigfoot, or ancient aliens ALL fall victim to the most common of logical fallacies. But, when looking a little closer at our current American culture; it is riddled with new age mysticism and the paranormal. There always has been, and there probably will always be a segment of superstitious population.

    I would have to say that the level of superstition was just as abundant to me in the city as it was on the reservation. The rationalizations people would use to justify their positions just became more elaborate. People more educated also seem to be more certain with their claims. But, without evidence to support an assertion, you are no closer to any form of truth. “The grandest, most beautiful and elaborate theory can be ruined by a single, simple, ugly little fact.”

    The ability to separate fact from fiction, to distinguish pseudoscience from real science, protecting myself from false marking and health claims is also what the late great Carl Sagan called the “Baloney Detection Kit”. Not only was my change profound, it was what started this blog, I had to do my part to help those seeking the kind of answers that I was looking for, not by giving just a better tool, but by giving the best tool to investigate reality, science.