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 Sceptic of the Skeptics?

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undercover sceptic
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PostSubject: Sceptic of the Skeptics?   Fri Jan 16, 2009 10:25 pm

During my admittedly short (less than one year) jaunt as a sceptic I have become increasingly sceptical of the so called Skeptics. I can not totally blame the followers, of which I was once one myself, but they do seem to blanket anything and everything as fake and bogus if an 'authority' figure, usually a higher profile skeptic, says it is so.

Examples are calling 'psychics' liars, even though they have never met and know nothing about that person other than 'media bites', or blanketing all CAM (complimentary and alternative medicine) as bogus and all ractitioners Charlatans, even though these 'Skeptics' have no medical background/knowledge and no in depth research of CAM.

I noticed the Open University are doing a course covering CAM and I am now signed up on that course alongside a Human Biology course in order to gain a more indepth knowledge of the subject myself rather than relying on the 'authority' of Skeptics that may well be cherry picking to create a strawman argument to make themselves look good and more high profile.

Now don't get me wrong Im aware there are lots of charlatans out there and lots f dangers, but to make accusations without any breadth or depth of knowledge, slandering and often libeling other people because as a 'skeptic' you must be right is an absolute disgrace.

Last time I checked UK citizens were innocent until proven guilty and the burden of proof is on the accuser! Again I am aware there are charlatans and lots of them, most you can see through clear as day, however this I feel does not give the 'Skeptic community' special priviledges to ad hominem attacks all day long.

Even on one podcast it was mentioned how a 'believer' for want of a better word, on the groups skeptic forum, mentioned something and about sixty skeptics jumped all over this guy, flaming him and verbally beating him down. This caused much amusement to the group of Skeptics hosting the podcast to see such behaviour on their forum and they actively encouraged this behaviour to their listeners.

This sort of 'gang' mentality has absolutely sickened me. I created this community as a safe haven to further rational thought and promote science. Admittedly when first starting out I was awed by the 'Celebrity skeptics', now I am sickened by it.

Regards,

Den.

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Skepticism is the agent of reason against organized irrationalism - and is therefore one of the keys to human social and civic decency.
Stephen J Gould

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Jamie Clubb
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PostSubject: Re: Sceptic of the Skeptics?   Wed May 13, 2009 5:31 pm

That's an interesting post, Den. There is always a danger of becoming a bully or even a type of dogmatist of some description. As I have said before, the beauty of scepticism is that there is no dogma and sceptics argue with each other for a variety of reasons. There are plenty of areas that are grey.

Randi and Shermer argue over the details of hypnotism.

Dawkins praises the work of Peter Singer, arguably THE original animal rightist!

Derren Brown is known for his work with NLP.

Dawkins is a devout atheist, John Humphrys is an "angry" agnostic and Damian Thompson is the editor of the Catholic Herald. All are what I would call orthodox or mainstream sceptics that would agree on most key sceptical issues.

Brian Dunning is open minded to psychoanalysis when it is pretty much dismissed by the Skeptic Dictionary and other mainstream sceptical sources

Penn and Teller, from what I remember, are sceptical of global warming.

To go back to Dawkins, whose work is brilliant, he does often come across as being, as comedy writer Andy Millman said, a "Jerhovah's I didn't see anything!" or "Evangelical Atheiest". If you watch some of his interviews I am cheering him on as a sceptic and can completely relate to his frustations, but to the general public he can come across as being as dogmatic as those he accuses. It's a lesson to us all. Sometimes we need to take a deep breath and step back from the action. A good nurse does not try to engage in a heated discussion with a patient and a good security officer doesn't try to ridicule a drunk he is escorting off the premises. I would like to aspire in applying similar methodology in dealing with the unreasonable, the illogical and the deluded. Easier said than done I know!
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