Skeptics should not be dogmatic

I have been listening to this wonderful Podcast "Escape Pod" ( which features a short science fiction story every week or so. They also have "flash" episodes which are even shorter stories, typically 5 to 7 minutes in length. It is a must listen for us, Sci-Fi geek/trekkies/fans.

One of the latest "flash" episodes, "Standards" by the (recently) late Richard K. Lyon gives us skeptics a tongue-in-cheek lesson in healthy skepticism. I suggest you listen to the episode but, without spoiling the fun, it deals with rejection of a scientific paper due to its implausibility even though the author is out there (and can be seen through the windows) demonstrating the very facts that the paper is about!

To listen to this short story is, as I mentioned, hilarious, but it brings home a very serious lesson: We, as skeptics, shoud not be dogmatic and must keep an open mind. Everything may be possible and we should, at least, examine the evidence before declaring a fraud. But we cannot just deny what we think is impossible adopting this very dogmatic posture we so strongly criticize in the fundies (as regards to religion) and the Stanton Friedmans (as regards to UFOs) and so on and so forth.

Skepticism means applying critical thinking to the evidence and weighing the pros and cons in order to reach a conclusion. Skeptics have to be inquisitive, curious and open-minded. Applying the scientific method is the way to the truth for a real skeptic and evidence (or lack of it) will determine whether a given phenomenom exists or not.

Skepticism is not disbelief. In reality, skepticism is not related to belief. The concept of belief implies acceptance of facts based on faith and faith has no place in the scientific method. Acceptance of facts, basis the evidence, is what substitutes belief for a skeptic. And this acceptance (or lack of it) will be subject to change as new evidence surfaces.

And this is the whole point of this posting. A dogmatic posture is not amenable to change; by definition it is fixed and cannot be changed. And a true skeptic will always be willing to change his/her mind as long as the evidence is there.

1 comment:

Arc said...

Thanks for the podcast recommendation. You have quite an insteresting blog here. I haven't had the time to read enough, but I sure will be coming back.

See you then. :)