I’m Baaack.


We live in an angry society which values faith over thinking, with political and ideological polarization between right and left, religious believers and nonbelievers, and a notable rise in public rejection of science and credulity toward pseudoscientific claims.

In times of uncertainty, especially with the status of the economy in this country, people tend to more easily entertain irrational ideas, and worse, accept them as fact. It’s become common for many to behave as though irrationalism is the new reason.

Kriss, in a blog post (Click Me Here), discusses this very thing, and how it applies to the rise of atheism in the last decade in opposition to the ascendance of religious conservatism and its active promotion of religious privilege worldwide.

Skeptics are motivated by a number of reasons for their being what they are, whether a passion for science, the value of truth and reason, simple doubt, the need for the promotion of better education, and any number of other reasons. But skeptics can also be motivated by anger, and a few wear this openly while others are no less honest but more discrete in expressing it.

Even Carl Sagan, in his masterpiece The Demon Haunted World, at times showed a subtle anger at the proliferation of nonsense in the last decade of the 20th century, which has only been aggravated in the past 10 years and shows no sign of abating any time soon. He wasn’t abrasive about it, but he expressed a frustration that I suspect all of us feel.

The causes of this anger come easily to mind; loved ones lost through the denial of adequate medical care caused by the pursuit of quack remedies, and the crushing despair that follows false hope; children or adults hacked to pieces or burned alive in third-world countries in the name of superstitious beliefs in witchcraft and magic; botched exorcisms that kill far more people than any imaginary demon ever could; intelligent but gullible people who lose thousands in return for the worthless services of psychics; political obstructionism in dealing with major environmental problems based on antiscientific denialism; the short-term educational and long-term economic consequences of the encroachment of mystical ideologies in public school science classes.

These things alone are enough to make anyone angry, and yes, especially me. The people who promote the claims we skeptics oppose sometimes get angry as well, but with much less real moral justification–they are angry because skeptics are costing them customers, cutting down on their book royalties, keeping more people than they’d like away from their seminars, retreats, and churches, and reducing their clientele for whatever ‘alternative’ medical modalities they promote–skeptics are bit by bit eroding their celebrity, their influence, and worst of all, their bottom-line…by showing people how to think for themselves and how not to be taken in by the nonsense.

The propagandists of unreason often have the upper hand, since they aren’t in any way constrained by the limits of intellectual honesty, logic, facts, evidence, or reality. They have the liberty and the incentive to make sh*t up as they please, and they are very effective at persuading people to believe them, considering that their claims, often not even arguments, only assertions, make headlines and grab ratings for the credulous and journalistically sloppy media outlets that promote them.

But sometimes skeptics win, like with Kitzmiller vs Dover in 2005, or the successful deconstruction of the 9/11 conspiracy film, Loose Change, in an issue of Popular Mechanics.

The current political turnout in the U.S. will not be conducive to making us rationalists warm and fuzzy nice-guys, so it looks like sleeves will need to be rolled up, because it’s far from over.

It sickens me to the core of my being to see people lied to, used, robbed, defrauded, hurt, even killed, all for somebody’s stupid, blind, dogmatic doctrine or ideology. Nothing that we think, believe or do is without real consequences.

There’s work to be done–I’m glad to be back in the ring, peeps.

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7 thoughts on “I’m Baaack.

  1. I’m glad your back and I missed you buddy. Always one of my mostest favoritest blogs and lots of food for thought here.

    I wholeheartedly agree that bitterness and anger toward “woo-meisters” is quite often warranted.

    Whether it is “healthy” or “helpful” is a matter of some debate among skeptics. Some feel that such claims are so detrimental to individuals and society that they deserve a robust response while others cite the cliché about “honey and vinegar.”

    The above poster asks “what is skepticism” and any thesaurus could give you the answer skepticism = uncertainty.

    Were I to give one my well-known skreeds “blah blah blah gheysecks blah blah blah black holes” for the elebenty-millyunth time that everyone has heard before I might be putting out a large number of bits of information but the number that are actually being processed is zero because there is no “uncertainty” attached to said bits.

    That’s how information processing works and this is why I consider the technique of relying upon immediate emotional responses, so common in spiritual communities, for evaluating truth claims to be perhaps the least effective means of evaluating such claims.

    Again I look to the prose of the late Carl Sagan: “All of the books in the world contain no more information than is broadcast as video in a single large American city in a single year. Not all bits have equal value.

    So does all of this make me a: mean-cold-hearted-ideological-bigot?

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  2. SkeptiCat, I know the generic definition of “skepticism.” The post was about asking Troy and others (such as you) for your opinion, and about you placing it at the above-mentioned URL. E.g., we’re always growing, and even though I’ve been studying philosophy for over 30 years, someone asking me spurred me onto a new and different answer (actually, it was specifically about Process Philosophy).

    Aloha

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  3. Pingback: Nope, No Skeptical Burnout Here… « The Call of Troythulu

  4. Pingback: Unconventionality & Skepticism « The Call of Troythulu

  5. The article on the attitude of pseudoscientists towards skeptics was fantastic as was the responses. I believe in skepticism myself. Although i do find myself intrigued with weird claims, I also myself upset at how influential they can be. I have written a book refuting UFOs. Now, I am surfing the web looking for friendly sites and other fellow bloggers. Thanks again.

    Like

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