Why Should I Be Skeptical?


So you’re still pretty new to this whole skeptic thing and after getting yourself into this up to your eye teeth you may start to feel overwhelmed. It IS pretty big and scary. You’re learning new ways of looking at the world. Change can be pretty uncomfortable especially when you might be challenging some long held beliefs. When things start getting uncomfortable it’s easy to ask yourself WHY you should do all this in the first place.

In the US we are inundated constantly by ads for everything from Adidas running shoes to Zenni eyewear. Each product or service claims that they are the best, most reliable, etc, etc. At the very least one should know how to be skeptical about advertising. Say, for instance, you’re trying to decide what smartphone is best for you. You will probably not want to trust what the manufacturers say.

Instead you’ll want to consult third party tech experts like CNET or Engadget. People who are considered experts in the field you want to know about are likely to have more knowledge and experience than you in this area. I know it sounds like I’m stating the obvious here. And you DO have to be careful that the “expert” you’re consulting doesn’t have a history of bias towards a certain phone brand. That’s why you should consult more than one source for your information.

Finding consumer reports on the phone you’re looking at is also a good idea. many of those sites also have reviews from the average user. This way you can get both perspectives.

Yes, I know. Changing phones is easy and it won’t make you question WHY you should be skeptical. But getting in the habit of using skeptical tools like critical analysis and logic will make it easier when you start asking the bigger questions. Questions like: are humans really just automatons? or Is love really just a chemical reaction?

With questions like those, you have to be able to correctly evaluate the information you find. That sort of evaluation really begins with the simple phone analogy. When you’re comfortable using skeptical tools for little things, it will be easier to deal with the bigger questions because you will know what kind of evidence you are looking at.

Don’t be afraid to start small. Even Plato and Hawking didn’t answer the big questions on their first day on the job. And don’t be afraid to be wrong. It’s how we learn. If we’re right all the time we don’t learn how to correct the mistakes we made. As a skeptic “I don’t know” is a very powerful phrase. It gives us room to grow and explore.

And reall, aside from the Hokey Pokey, that’s what it’s all about.

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