What do Religious Fundamentalists, and Skeptic Activists have in common?

June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

They develop their opinions in echo chambers, and consider those human beings who don’t share them to be garbage.

‘“Get up on your feet and take out the garbage” [Mark] Edward told the audience during his [QEDcon ] talk on Sunday.’

Meanwhile, in case you didn’t know, there’s a ‘Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia’ organisation (GSoW), which has a private (i.e. secret) forum where they congregate and … who knows? It’s secret. You can apply to join, but there’s no guarantee that you’ll be accepted. Most likely not. Because they’ll ask you “what exactly have you got to contribute?” like they asked this woman who had contributed photographs in the past, and never get back to you. You might be deemed not skeptical enough. Who knows? Maybe they need to do a full background check to make sure you were never anything but fully committed to the “skeptical movement”. Maybe, once, you actually read an actual peer-reviewed paper on something they consider fringe and didn’t immediately label it “pseudo-science”, because, frankly, both the methodology and the statistics were far more rigorous than most mainstream papers that get published every day. (Trust me. I see dozens of the mainstreams ones, from beginning of composition, pre- publication, to-post peer-review, including correction processes.)

The article on the link above (here it is again), though due praise for recognising the potential problems of a secret cabal with an agenda on how to edit wikipedia, only seems to worry about how a secret cabal looks to people on the outside, rather than whether these potential problems listed are actually real problems. Hmm. Let me think … What are the chances that the problems afflicting any secret cabal with an agenda also actually afflict this one?

For some people, all this has finally been enough, and kudos to them for publicly explaining why they are done with the skeptic movement – without this meaning that they have surrendered their ability for critical thought.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I shall here make public that I spent quite a few years as a ‘skeptic’, sneering at lesser mortals with the best of them. I am no longer a ‘skeptic’, though I have not surrendered my ability for skepsis (thought, Greek). Thankfully, eventually it occurred to me that a) the ‘skeptic movement’ is an echo chamber, b) I am actually exercising less critical thought and reading less widely as a skeptic, than I did previously, c) the ‘skeptic movement’ is comprised of people as blindly certain that they are in possession of the one single Truth as any religious fundamentalist, d) the arrogance it presupposes is colossal. Also, once I started reading more widely I discovered that it also ruthlessly distorts reality. Probably not intentionally. But more about this unintentional distortion in another post.

Until then, I will just say that those who are perfectly capable of engaging in critical thought without feeling the need for labels, such as ‘skeptic’, or getting the urge to join secret cabals, and have no desire to sneer, belittle, or shout down other people – or consider them garbage – but instead engage in proper scientific dialogue, have my wholehearted approval. For example, Daniël Lakens.


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