Saturday, 15 September 2007

Skeptical Of Believers?

Skeptical Of Believers?

I've mentioned many times before about the terms, “Skeptic” & “Believer” more specifically about the instant connotations that come to mind when these words are mentioned, and that they are not umbrella terms and nor should be used as such.

I believe Skeptic to be far too broad a term, part of the skeptics definition is, “One who engages in rational and dispassionate reasoning as exemplified by the scientific method” so using this rationale, can one safely assume that the polar opposite is one who accepts every half-baked notion, regardless of fact/history/credibility etc.

Or is someone who has objections to particular cases considered a skeptic?

For if that’s true then surely everyone falls under the umbrella term of a skeptic?

So, bearing this in mind, do you dismiss everything because you don’t believe in a singular case? Or is it this selectiveness in what we accept at face value, what we feel requires more research and what we choose to believe that drives us in our search for answers?

If so, then what about the term, “Selective skeptic,” or a, “Realist” for that matter?

As I believe anybody who accepts every UFO sighting, image and report as true until proved otherwise has a serious character defect and personality flaw that is ultimately more serious, detrimental and wholly objectionable than the person who doesn’t believe in any.

“Skeptic - One who practices the method of suspended judgment, engages in rational and dispassionate reasoning as exemplified by the scientific method, shows willingness to consider alternative explanations without prejudice based on prior beliefs, and who seeks out evidence and carefully scrutinizes its validity.”

By that rationale, surely skeptics should be embraced by the UFO community as, “The voice of reason?” As anyone who doesn’t take every individual case on its specific merits and who doesn’t seek out evidence and scrutinize its validity is surely a disinformation agent of an equally (if not greater) despicable nature as those who just as easily dismiss every case without any investigation? As ultimately both types will actively prevent the furthering of any, “Serious” investigation.

Skeptic doesn’t really sum it up as I feel it’s unfair to label someone as a skeptic on the merits of their belief of one particular case or incident which is inevitably what will and does happen. I also feel it’s the necessity that each group feels to convert the other to their beliefs is where the true problems lie. It’s this need for, “Validation” that lies at the root of the majority of subsequent arguments.

And of course there’s the people who want to be convinced or persuaded of either of the above theories as fact i.e. believers and non-believers who are teetering on the edge and require a little push to consolidate their beliefs. Unfortunately since the introduction of the internet there is now a multitude of websites and forums which are only too happy to oblige, whether they be for or against.

“Skeptic” is being bandied about more and more and it suggests an all encompassing belief system, just as the word, “Believer” doesn't mean that the person in question is gullible and believes everything they are told, the word, “Skeptic” shouldn't mean one who dismisses everything out of hand. (That would be a, “Debunker” but I'll save that for another time!!)

I've also said several times that there should be new words which should be used to describe the relevant beliefs, which brings me to, “Pyrrhonism” & “Zeteticism.”

Pyrrhonism: “Intentionally remain tentative and continue the inquiry.”

“Pyrrhonism, or Pyrrhonian skepticism, was a school of skepticism founded by Aenesidemus in the first century BC. It was named after Pyrrho, a philosopher who lived from c. 360 to c. 270 BC. Pyrrhonism became influential during the past few centuries when the modern scientific worldview was born.

Pyrrhonians might assert that a lack of proof cannot constitute disproof, and that a lack of belief is vastly different from a state of active disbelief.

Rather than disbelieving psychic powers, for instance, based on the lack of evidence of such things, Pyrrhonians recognize that we cannot be certain that new evidence won't turn up in the future, and so they intentionally remain tentative and continue their inquiry.

Pyrrhonians also question accepted knowledge, and view dogmatism as a disease of the mind.”

[Dogma (the plural is either dogmata or dogmas, Greek δόγμα, plural δόγματα) is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, ideology or any kind of organization, thought to be authoritative and not to be disputed or doubted.]

Zeteticism, "A Skeptical Seeker."

Marcello Truzzi popularized the term Zeteticism as an alternative to Skepticism, because the term Skepticism, he thought, was being usurped by what he termed "pseudoskeptics". A zetetic is a "skeptical seeker."

The term's origins lie in the word for the followers of the skeptic, Pyrrho in ancient Greece and was used by flat-earthers in the 19th century. Truzzi's form of skepticism was Pyrrhonism, as apposed to the Academic tradition founded by Plato, which is followed by most scientific skeptics. Truzzi was skeptical of investigators and debunkers who determined the validity of a claim prior to investigation.

Sources: Pyrrhonism (wiki) - Zeteticism (wiki) - Greg Bishop (

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