Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Death of Skepticism and The Rise of Fake News

Skepticism is dead.  Skepticism has been captured and converted to dogmatism. When I was young, I remember one of my cousins commenting "You are such a skeptic." It made me feel proud to be skeptical, to search for the truth.  But today's, skeptics don't search for the truth. Most claim to have found it.

Skepticism has become the new religion. It's not a religion of analysis, nor thoughtfulness, nor of skepticism.  It's the religion of dogma. Skepticism has been co-opted, in service of the prevailing dogma, the invisible dogma.

Perhaps, before we go any further, we might take a look at the dictionary definitions of skepticism and dogma, in the interest of knowing what the bleep we are talking about.

Skepticism Defined: 

Webster's dictionary:
1. a skeptical attitude; doubt as to the truth of something. "these claims were treated with skepticism"
synonyms: doubt, doubtfulness, a pinch of salt;
2.PHILOSOPHY - the theory that certain knowledge is impossible.

Oxford's Dictionary:
A sceptical attitude; doubt as to the truth of something. ‘these claims were treated with scepticism’
Philosophy :The theory that certain knowledge is impossible.

Dogma Defined:

Webster's:  something held as an established opinion;
Oxford Dictionary: A principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.

Punt SKEPTIC into google.  Take a look at these 'so called' skeptics:

Skeptic - magazine and website 'The society is dedicated to educating the public about controversial claims.'.
Skepti-Forum 'Keeping the Science. Removing the Fiction'.
Skepticalscience -'getting skeptical about global warming skepticism.
SkepticalaboutSkeptics: 'focuses on the people who fall in the dogmatic denier category because they present themselves as being the most truthful and objective, which they are not. '

Skeptic.com
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Let's look at "Skeptic" first, at their manifesto, which says "Modern skepticism is embodied in the scientific method, that involves gathering data to formulate and test naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. A claim becomes factual when it is confirmed..."

Then, the hedging begins.. "to such an extent it would be reasonable to offer temporary agreement." 

and continues to waffle with "But all facts in science are provisional and subject to challenge, and therefore skepticism is a method leading to provisional conclusions."

Seriously? What is skepticism? Is it science? Is it "a method leading to provisional conclusions?" Is it the 'best results of science'? Or is it "all facts are provisional and subject to challenge"?

What does Skeptic.com say about the Oxford dictionary definitions of skepticism?

"this position is sterile and unproductive and held by virtually no one (except a few confused solipsists who doubt even their own existence)"

Skeptic.com clearly states in their manifesto, that they don't believe skepticism is useful or productive, and that any real skeptics are "a few confused solipsists" - and then they get the definition of solipsist wrong. Look it up if you like. 

Skeptic.com and Skeptic magazine pretend to find truth through skepticism. They are not about doubt,
they are about truth,
their truth, and
nothing but their truth -
they present nothing but dogma, and call it skepticism.

Is Skeptic.com is actually 'skeptical'?  Sorry.  No. Skeptical.com has very specific positions on may controversial questions.  They do not consider contrary positions valid or useful.  They will not tolerate skepticism of their truths, their faith.They will NOT consider, support, nor publish contrary positions. Skeptic.com is simply not skeptical.

Skepticism, by definition, is doubt, not truth. At Skeptic.com, skepticism is dead. 

Skepti-Forum.net

How about skepti-forum.net.  Are they skeptical?  Sorry.  No they are not. Skepti-Forum's tag line reads "Keeping the science. Removing the fictions." Skepti-forum is not skepticism, it's scientism: "an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of the methods of natural science applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences, and the humanities)" (Webster's) - it's dogmatism. 

Skepti-forum is a confusing array of discussions of various items, pretending to be skeptical, but frankly, losing it by supporting much nonsensical illogical thinking. One simple example: "1,800 Studies Later, Scientists Conclude Homeopathy Doesn’t Work".  Fake and real skeptics often make the mistake of making negative claims, as if they were claims of fact - and this is a classic example. The research, 1800 studies, were studies of homeopathic medicines - not homeopathy.  There were no studies of homeopathy.  But the conclusion: homeopathy doesn't work.  Sorry, Skepti-forum.  You can't use studies of A to prove B. 


SkepticalScience

SkeptialScience is about global warming.  Tagline: 'Getting skeptical about global warming skepticism.'  So does that make them skeptical, or skeptial-skeptical (is that a word).  Does being skeptical about skeptics make you a skeptic?

Does SkepticalScience provide skepticism?  Nope. The sidebar on their website clearly states "MOST USED CLIMATE MYTHS: and what the science really says".  Skeptical science is about science? The science they want to support.

SkepticalScience is about the current scientific dogma, not about skepticism. It's about climate change. Maybe the science they present is correct and important - but it's not skepticism.

SkepticalAboutSkeptics

Skeptical about skeptics is an interesting site.  They list their mission thus: "Skeptical About Skeptics is organized by The Association for Skeptical Investigation to promote genuine skepticism – the spirit of enquiry and doubt – within science. This includes an open-minded investigation of unexplained phenomena, a questioning of dogmatic assumptions, and a skeptical examination of the claims of self-proclaimed skeptics."

They recognize - as I have pointed out, that most, perhaps all, of the websites claiming to be skeptic are actually dogmatic, not skeptical.  But this still leaves the question, is SkepticalAboutSkeptics 'skeptical' themselves?

If someone claims they are skeptical, and you believe they are not, does that make you skeptical?

Is SkepticalAboutSkeptics dogmatic in their reviews of pseudo-skeptics? Or are they skeptical? Or are they simply analytical, logical, sensible?  Are people who are analytical, logical, and sensible 'skeptical'?

If you study some of the posts on SkepticalAboutSkeptics, you might gradually learn that SkepticalAboutSkeptics is simply not consistent.  It is not consistent about research, it is not consistent about it's own mission, or goal - as stated on the ABOUT page: "It is the goal of Skeptical About Skeptics to show you the reasons why you’re only getting one side of the story."

Is that goal 'skeptical'?  Frankly, no, it is not.

If Skeptical about Skeptics is truly skeptical, they're not very good at it.
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In conclusion:

“War is peace. 
Freedom is slavery. 
Ignorance is strength.”  - George Orwell, 1984

Skeptics are not skeptical.
Skepticism is dead.
All news is fake.
All your truth are belong to us.

to your health, tracy