Compiled by William Grey
Scepticism is a pessimistic view of believing in nothing and doubting everything. Sceptics are often accused of being epistemic in view. They definitely take some things to the nth degree. Nothing is accepted without evidence. Reproduction under test conditions is critical to belief or acceptance in certain instances.
Scepticism is creating a doubt on issues we feel have been proven as real or beyond doubt. There are many types of scepticism (1) state of mind, (2) cynicism, (3) scepticism, (4) sceptic.
The critical sceptic is a healthy sceptic, and it is probably advisable to be this way, but you would not want one for a friend. A sceptic will be largely disliked because they are untrusting and suspicious of even closest friends and relatives. Advantages of scepticism are few. You will not learn much as we learn from mistakes.
A sceptic is constantly arguing to try to prove their doubts. It would be hard for a sceptic to come to a conclusion, as everything would be doubted; a fortiori critical sceptics often conclude nothing. A sceptic would never have to have an argument to prove their beliefs as there are no beliefs to prove. Any sceptic worth their salt can't avoid becoming a global dogmatic sceptic in the long run.
There is a danger of a very lonely social life attached to scepticism. The life of a sceptic is tedious and boring. However although the majority of sceptical attitudes are found to be annoying, they are necessary and should be adopted at all times.
A sceptical approach should be taken to all that life and afterlife involves. We should consult every scrape of evidence. Paranormal events should not be treated as non-existory and fraudulous. If someone can see into the future then it is important that we know about it.
Many deviant belief systems enjoy wide support, especially the occult and astrology, and these cannot be explained by science. Thus science should not be the only basis for inquiry. A healthy scepticism is good, but when it becomes too strong it is unhealthy because some very important factors in society that we should know about (e.g. aliens, psychic phenomena) are often whitewashed. To prove the existance of the paranormal is difficult enough, but to prove the existance of this to a critical sceptic is almost impossible.
Must we believe everything we perceive or are told? This is the world of the septic. Not everything in life is based on hard fact and that does not stop us believing in those things. What we know a posterior (by experience) must be our guide. Some experiences just can't be a coincidence. Hume held an epistemic view and I agree with him.
A claim is not true if (1) individual eyewitness testimonies differ or change over time, (2) the individual claiming to prove the phenomena is known to have an interest in the area, (3) if the individual delivers his testimony in a hesitant or violent manner.
As reasonable thinkers, we should keep quiet about something we believe that has insufficient evidence. There is no way in any situation that we can be 100 per cent sure of anything. Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, Galileo all had their critics. A sceptic demands unreasonable levels of proof. A telekinetic may be asked to lift an extremely heavy weight; a clairvoyant to predict the outcome of the 2015 Melbourne Cup, and so on.
You can be positively or negatively sceptical. Adopting critical scepticism when conducting an inquiry can only have the outcome of producing a negative report. Hence the report not would not have been produced fairly and would have to be done again by a person with no opinion too biased to allow positive thoughts, but without swinging to the opposite extreme of gullibilism.
It varies from person to person what is rational or irrational to believe. It is the individual's right to independently decide the necessary level of proof of the existence of anything.
The 1992 and 1994 examinations disclosed further troubling misconceptions from the conceptually challenged – the more spectacular of which are detailed in The Sceptical Student 1992-94.