Skepticism is hard — And your point is?..

Skepticism is hard work, and being a skeptic 24/7 is no bed of roses. This is because skepticism requires more effort than leaping to a quick shortcut by invoking the paranormal instead of conventional explanations for seemingly weird events.

It’s easy to believe in the supernatural, since it suffuses almost all cultures and is often uncritically promoted and reinforced by the media outlets we watch, listen to, and unfortunately, unthinkingly trust to reliably inform us on matters of fact.

It’s no stretch to say that claims of the supernatural are heavily advocated through childhood indoctrination by the world’s religious institutions, especially those with theistic doctrines, and most of those without as well.

Because of the ubiquity of such claims, drilled into many of us as we grow up, and because of the perfectly normal functioning of our magnificent brains, we find it a simple matter to use whatever first comes to mind when strange things happen, and dismiss all other alternatives as unnecessary or too complex, or too time-consuming, or perhaps as too counter-intuitive.

But reality IS complex, AND counter-intuitive, so understanding it more accurately takes time not all of us have, and more effort than we often find convenient.

That’s the availability heuristic at work, a particular rule of thumb our brains use, a, otherwise reliable shortcut for drawing inferences about our experiences, using what data is most easily at hand in our storehouses of knowledge and can be most easily recalled.

We are, even the smartest of us, cognitive misers if we aren’t careful.

During seemingly odd happenings this cognitive miserliness can lead us astray. Seriously astray, and sometimes dangerously so, when ignoring the possibility of a better explanation in favor of what we want to believe can get us poorer in the purse, sicker, injured, or killed.

Conventional explanations are different.

Few where supernatural beliefs are commonly held as part of the culture are well-acquainted with them, save the scientifically literate, and even they must take care in applying possible explanations and weighing them against each other and the world.

To those ordinarily accustomed to resorting to paranormal explanations, figuring out conventional explanations without having them at the front of one’s mind requires the skilled use of a remarkable trait humans possess: our imaginations, a trait often claimed by believers as exclusive to them.

It doesn’t necessarily require delusional mental illness or clueless gullibility to be fooled by strangeness and the lack of an immediate explanation, otherwise professional conjurors would have been out of a job long ago.

That’s why heuristics can be at once so useful, but when we are out of our depth so deceptive.

An active imagination is essential in explaining the world, especially in science, since one must spin as many different hypotheses as one can, compare them for testability, and then weigh them against that most harsh of taskmasters, reality, whether by experiment, observational comparison, or data convergence from many different fields all leading to the same conclusion.

And any idea that fails these tests should rightly be rejected, not considered ‘alternative knowledge.’

Science is the stasis, the fulcrum-point where imagination and skepticism meet: with skepticism used to winnow the golden ideas from the bullsh*t, the good ideas from the bad generated first by imagination, since most ideas conceived are ultimately unworkable.

Science is a method, not a position. Okay, I can grant that.

It is, however, a method for reaching a position, a tentative one, on the nature of reality.

There is a way things really are, and over time, scientific inquiry and similar approaches can get us closer to a serious understanding of those things.

Show me a better set of methods, and I’ll happily switch to that instead, hands down.

About Troythulu

I seek to learn through this site and others how to better my ability as a person and my skill at using my reason and understanding to best effect. I do fractal artwork as a hobby, and I'm working to develop it to professional levels, though I've a bit to go till I reach that degree of skill! This is a crazy world we're in, but maybe I can do a little, if only that, to make it a bit more sane than it otherwise would be.

Posted on Sunday, 0:19, January 29, 2012, in Skepticism and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

Commenting below. No spam or trolling, or my cats will be angry.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Sharmishtha Basu

paintings, poems and thoughts

Realm of Empress Musie

Sharmishtha Basu's poetries

colours and words waltz

Colours and words two muses dancing together


Realm of Musie (my muse)

Marianne Talbot Philosophy

Marianne is Director Of Studies in Philosophy at the University of Oxford's Department for Continuing Education

La Audacia de Aquiles

El Mundo Visible es Sólo un Pretexto

Optimal Human Modulation

Your Space To Defrag

Words on a blackboard

In a world of poems, words steal love and put it on a blackboard

Math Outlet

Math Resources For Elementary Teachers

Kurt Brindley

status: world series, but only out of a sense of obligation, not interest, brb | music: spoon | mood: /_(' ) -------------------------------------

Author -Carole Parkes

Psychological, thriller, mystery, secrets, betrayal, adoption, romance, poetry, art

Some Bad Plankton

creative outlet plugged in


I don't want believe I want to know. - Carl Sagan

Physics and Art

The strange case of Dr. August and Mr. von Orth.

Charlotte Cuevas, Author

Current writing projects: 52 Flashes of Fiction & The 365 Poetry Project: Year 2 is the best place for your personal blog or business site.

Deidra Alexander's Blog

I have people to kill, lives to ruin, plagues to bring, and worlds to destroy. I am not the Angel of Death. I'm a fiction writer.



Riley Amos Westbook

A fantasy Author with too much free time on his hands.

Kelsey's Cluttered Bookshelf

My ramblings about books and other random things.

Radhika Mukherjee

Writer. Editor. Dreamer. Eco-Feminist.

The Nerd Nebula

The Nucleus of the Universe for all Nerd Hacks!

The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Sucheta the Scribbler

Random. Purely Random. And then some more...

Eric Ian Huffman

I've come to Write.

Woodland Rambles

A writer, a dog, and miles of trails

A.D. Martin

writing - novels - film - television - video games - other stuff

Sausey is Sexy...

Humor, Dating, Sex, and a Whole bunch of Sause...


A writing site



UP!::urban po'E.Tree(s)

by po'E.T. and the colors of pi

Mik Mob's Music Mass

share your favourite tunes with The Mob

Something Like a Storybook

This is where Morgan Bradham shares stuff.

Project i•Am•You

Awareness. Lifestyle. Motivation. Spirituality. Inspiration.


This site is all about ideas

Zebra Humor

The world's biggest collection of zebra jokes!


This site is the cat’s pajamas


All about (our) cats. Food, toys and other cat related products


living in the shoes of a woman

Ray Jay Perreault

Science Fiction writing about aliens with lives you can relate to.

Spirituality Exploration Today

Delving into the cross roads of rationality and intuition

The Wrong Triangle

Obscurum per obscurius | Ignotum per ignotius

Daily (w)rite

A Daily Ritual of Writing

olufunkekolapo's Blog

You are on Olufunke Kolapo's blog...where talent and personality bring forth quality.

Reagent Post

Expanding Perspective and Exploring ideas


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,103 other followers

%d bloggers like this: