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  1. #21
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Apr 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    How did people react to you being skeptical of that something?
    • Did they react by saying you were too close minded?
    • Did they accuse you of nit picking?
    • Did they accuse you of feeling superior to them?
    • Other things?
    The question is why they knew you were skeptical, or why you view yourself being skeptical led to those responses. I'm skeptical of everything (by definition, my confidence in any body of knowledge is <100%) but I very rarely have any of these responses. Most likely you were only "exploring" their viewpoint and making them go defensive. Those are natural responses to that kind of conversation.

    Inverting the answer to your question, the only time I see these responses in social situations is when two close minded opinions clash. That's not being skeptical or even challenging. Skeptical means you should be investigating their beliefs so as to generate a confidence measure in their body of knowledge. If it's low, you discard the knowledge. After investigating it (hence, engaging them), you can challenge them if you wish, but it's generally futile. If they do not investigate your position, they are closed and it's unlikely to be a worthwhile conversation. Then you can accuse them of being closed minded/nit-picky, etc.

    Never mind that challenging reinforces old beliefs. The only reason to "challenge" is to reinforce your own beliefs, or gain a sense of superiority in your existing beliefs. It's definitely not going to cause change.

    How much of these reactions do you believe are intrinsically the reaction to a skeptic by a non-skeptic?
    Almost none. In the majority of cases, "skeptic" is a code word for implied "superiority". It's almost always using rhetoric to abuse someone less versed in it. A skeptic practices the logical forms used to trip up arguments more than they practice using a proper (bayesian, personally) framework of knowledge.

    It's identical to a good and bad lawyer "debating". It doesn't even matter who is right, technically, only how good the argument is. It's also done at a lot of religious universities, where they have amateur non-theistic take on theistic professors. (Similar to atheists pulling up the worst parts of religion and ridiculing it while ignoring the rest of the social effect.)

    How much of these reactions comes from me/you, the skeptic in these scenario, being actually closed minded, nit-picky, or feeling superior to the non-skeptic?
    This is about a conversation, so the criticism is probably correct. It's a poor form of conversation. Ask your purpose in the conversation, then you can answer if you are approaching it correctly and what your motivation is for doing otherwise.

    Folk remedies,
    Placebo? (Often as effective as treatment for subjective issues)? I could do this for a lot of them, but do you understand folk remedies? Why some are effective, etc?

    cryptozoological entities, get rich quick schemes, cults, main stream religions, conspiracy theories, urban legends, older myths, astrology,
    It's not so easy to define. We belong to a "cult" that is socially engineered consumerism that replaces the pacifying effect of religion, most of which would be believed to be a conspiracy theory originating from old myths (namely Freud's beliefs... not "old" old...).

    It is a weird world, weirder than we can imagine.

    Hee hee. I like that one

    How did you accomplish this?
    A general belief that we are all very similar (acknowledging that I probably have many irrational beliefs). I debate where debate is wanted, I challenge if asked and I interview for understanding when conversing.


    Of course, at the fringe lies some pretty weird and easily rejected stuff. Yet those are the worst people to engage because it is ultimately futile. OTOH, I won't back down from certain moral and practical matters. Someone wanting me to not go for treatment or someone abusing someone else is not ok. Some topics are serious enough that I'll argue them. In all cases, however, it's social change I'm looking for. I do my best to not entrench others. I also tend to mirror the other person in the conversation, so some situations can turn ugly pretty fast. Neither side is being "skeptical" though. I'm just arguing/debating from my body of knowledge. Still, I try to avoid that.

  2. #22
    Glam Fool Video's Avatar
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    Mar 2013
    4w5 sx/so


    When I want to argue (seldom), I choose a partner who is more interested in discussion than those you present as examples. They have a certain smell. The downside is that this selectiveness won't open any new minds. More often, I'm in the reacting position.

    As far as how I react to others' skepticism, it often stings because there is a Ni child inside me who can justify anything and wants herself and others (I have this reaction just as much when spectating on debates I am not involved in) to be free to create whatever fantasy they want out of this universe without being scolded and without a bedtime. Also an averse reaction to the sound and tone of conflict rises independent of the words and truth of the material, which is why I don't gve this part of me free reign. The civilizing purpose of questioning/investigating/pruning ideas and values looms too much bigger than my comfort. "What would the world be like if every single person responded to X the way I choose to right now?"

    So, when you skeptically disagree with a belief of mine, you will notice a suppression of excitement or a tamping down of something in my affect, but then I will ask them in earnest about how they arrived at their conclusions. You can also trust that I'll give the topic a careful researching when I get home, whatever the final decision on it will be.
    4w5 6w5 1w2 sx/so

    A lonely island where only what is permitted
    to move moves, becomes an ideal.

  3. #23
    deplorable basketcase Tellenbach's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2013


    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo
    For instance, I believe that climate change is real and man made, and I get a little irritated at skeptics of this...unless they have a good deal of reliable evidence. But I do tend to have a knee-jerk reaction of having my eyes glaze over before evidence is presented.
    If you haven't already done so, please pick up A.W. Montford's book "The Hockey Stick Illusion", which documents the many questionable methods used by paleo-climatologists in coming up with the hockey stick graph.

    I am a skeptic of big government solutions to problems such as healthcare, education, poverty, global warming, etc. I've been called racist and closed minded and the usual names. Yes, I've been accused of feeling superior and being uncaring. My critics are wrong of course. When you corner a true believer with the facts, they often respond by lashing out. I don't engage in debates with these people anymore. It's pointless and a waste of time.
    I thought Dungeon Master was a jerk for talking in riddles all the time. That's probably why Venger went to the dark side.

  4. #24
    & Badger, Ratty and Toad Mole's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2008


    Religion depends on revelation while we are in a trance and our critical minds are asleep.

    So the critique of the sceptic is as welcome as someone waking us from a deep, refreshing sleep.

    On the other hand science depends on evidence and reason and the critique of the sceptic. So the trance of religion can't be dealt with by science and scepticism.

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