Where to start…
The word “Skeptic” can create a whole lot of different emotions, and lets face it – anger from different people. However, the word in and of itself is not such a bad thing.
I kinda feel like it’s gotten a bad rap, been broad stroked into the group of “you must be a total jerk if you are a skeptic”.
Not discounting the fact that there are jerks and some are skeptics, not all skeptics are jerks.
A skeptic is anyone who simply wants the answer to a question. Yes, I know it can’t be that simple. I’m sure you have all had questions before and most would never label themselves a “skeptic”. Right? Sure, what a skeptic may ask, and how they ask, may come across differently. Someone who asks what evidence can be provided or if a scientific study has been done might be a Skeptic.
The bottom line, most skeptics want to find the truth. It is how they approach a claim that may differ from what you are accustomed.
There is a great article written in the ‘Doubtful News’ titled ‘Media Guide to Skepticism‘ which breaks down what it means to be Skeptic and exactly what it does not include. Well, they start out with a definition:
What is skepticism?
Skepticism is an approach to evaluating claims that emphasizes evidence and applies tools of science. Skepticism is most often applied to extraordinary claims – those that refute the current consensus view. The Skeptical process considers evidence obtained by systematic observations and reason. The conclusion that is reached at the end of this Skeptical process is provisional because additional or better evidence may come along that points towards a more suitable explanation.
Did you get that? Hmmmm, because to me I read it like I do most text books, it went into my brain and then somehow disappeared. It’s beautifully written and to be fair they follow up with examples. Seriously read the article when you get the chance.
It really comes down to knowing why you might doubt a claim. Are you asking because you want to expand your knowledge, based on facts and reason? To me this is a very important aspect of being a skeptic. It doesn’t mean that I, as a skeptic, can’t believe in paranormal activities. When I want to look at a paranormal claim, I first try to find a reason that is “non-paranormal’. If I have a door that opens and closes on its own,I will ask, is there an open window, door or any area where a draft or air pressure maybe causing the effect. A non-skeptic will go in to such a claim trying to find the ghost. This is where things usually start to get sticky.
Trying to be open minded is never an easy task, I’m talking about either point of view. In theory having a “Skeptic” on site should be a good thing, it’s a way to approach a situation from another angle. Hopefully paranormal investigators and skeptics can use both their skill sets to find the answers that so many individuals in the paranormal community have. Until then- keep searching!