I am Skeptic

You’ve seen this post a billion times, by a billion authors. If you don’t want to read it again, don’t.

I define myself as a skeptic. This means, to me, that my default position on any question should be, “Prove it.” It doesn’t mean I automatically doubt everything, it means I don’t accept claims without evidence. I don’t accept incredible claims without incredible evidence. If you tell me that things fall, I’m likely to believe it. I’ve seen things fall, and have seen mounds of evidence in favor of the law of Gravity. When you tell me the Earth is spherical, despite appearances otherwise, I need a little more evidence, as it’s kind of an incredible claim. Fortunately, there is tons of evidence from multiple sources that show this, making it an accepted truth. The case is much the same for the claims about the structure of the Solar System. On the other hand, claims of psychic vision and the like do not have as much evidence, and the claims tend to falter under even casual observation, making them rejected under current evidence.

This is where the skeptic differentiates from the denialist and the doubter. When sufficient evidence comes to light in favor of a proposition, a skeptic will change his/her position. The denialist, on the other hand, refuses to change their opinion. For a good example of this, look at the evolution/creation ‘debates.’ The default position is that everything is as it has been since it started. This is the simplest position, and was the accepted position for some time. In the mid 1800’s, Charles Darwin proposed the idea of evolution, which is best paraphrased as “descent with modification.” When a thing propagates, it will make things like it, with some wiggle room for discrepancies. You are like your parents, but a little different. These discrepancies make the various descendants more or less likely to survive, and the ones more likely to survive pass their discrepancies on, and so forth. All these little differences add up over time, leading to speciation and other frabjous diversifications. This made all of the evidence make sense, and since then more and more evidence has come to light supporting the laws and theories of evolution, and, after a small scuffle at the outset, the scientific community accepted it as a factual representation of the natural world. I, and any sensible skeptic, find the evidence more than convincing, and accept evolution as the source of biological diversity. A denialist or doubter (as I’m using the terms) has decided that evolution must be false, for whatever reason, and either ignores the evidence, or attempts to explain it away. No evidence is good enough, and no amount of evidence will convince them otherwise.

This position cannot hold for all things, however. At some point, positions on issues become so simplified and basic, no proof can be constructed, or they are unprovable but necessary beliefs. Mine are that (1)what I experience is real, barring an outside influence (that is, I’m not hallucinating, at default state), and (2) empirical, inductive reasoning is valid. That is, if it’s held true in the past, it will continue to do so without outside influence. Sort of a Newton’s First Law of Reality. These can’t actually be proven, and are both necessary for anything else to be proven in any manner that is useful to my mind, and the mind of anyone I’ve ever met.

I can’t think of anything else to say at all. If I do, this entry’s getting edited, likely without warning or notice.

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