What is a Skeptic?

A skeptic is a person who practices metacognition — thinking about thinking — to scrutinize her own thoughts, feelings, motivations, and importantly, her own biases, all of which could compromise her objectivity and mislead her to uncritically accept questionable claims which can occasionally have harmful consequences.

A skeptic is a person with an investigative spirit for seeking the truth in any matter of interest to her, who at her most objective and fair-minded evaluates all the relevant evidence with an open mind, coming to a tentative conclusion, always subject to correction with better information and argument, through a process of reasoning and data-collection emulating the methods and tools of science.

A skeptic is a person who considers “I don’t know, not yet,” to be an acceptable answer to questions confronting her, and if particularly adventurous, who is likely to append this with “…let’s see if we can find out!”

A skeptic is a person who values reality over fantasy, open-minded clear thinking over credulity or denial, who values science and reason as ways of coming to real understanding of the world, and who tends to support a scientific consensus unless and until it is shown wrong by that same process of science itself.

A skeptic is someone, who paraphrasing from Neil deGrasse Tyson, considers a process of discovery, rather than the notion of ignorance that “no one is smart enough to figure out the answer, so just believe what I say!” to be the most effective and reliable means of acquiring knowledge.

But also…

A skeptic is someone who is like anybody, a diverse demographic whose individuals have their own quirks, foibles, flaws, inconsistencies, biases, prejudices, political leanings, and the occasional “sacred cow” belief or two, who often vehemently disagree even with other skeptics on matters concerning the community.

A skeptic is a human being, like you, me, and everyone else.