What is Skepticism?

 

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When I first started this blog, I had no idea how to describe it. Yes, I am both a conservative and a skeptic, but if I just called it that, as I eventuslly did, what would that mean t others? I went back and forth but finally decided on my first instinct: Conservative Skeptic. I thought at the time it would raise a lot of questions of potential readers, and then thought that it was a good thing if it did. Most people, at least those that I know, don’t see theat there’s anyway someone that claims to be a conservative could actually be a skeptic as well. At least in the terms that are widely utilized by some. But I am. I am both and for even a few today, they are unable to understand how a person may be conservative and skeptical at the same time. Reread that. Yes, it’s true. Even for most conservatives I know, I’m not considered a conservative simply because  I am an atheist and I’m told, often, that a pillar of conservatism is belief in God. Which pillar is that exactly?

Conservatism advocates for equality of opportunity and personal responsibility. I agree completely. The least possible government interference in our daily lives is also paramount. No, it’s not Libertarianism, because government should have some amount of oversight in order to protect it’s citizenry from those that would cause harm, but not so much that those same citizens feel like the government has its hand on their throats. Government only have the rights we give it. Unfortunately, at least in my lifetime, we, the citizens have abdicated our oversight of those institutions of government to allow the government to decide for us what is and is not in our best interest. That’s opposite, I believe, of what the founders desired. I find myself skeptical when some government authority announces some new law or regulation that’s in my best interest. How would they know?

Skepticism is the beginning of wisdom. It’s not an end unto itself, but it’s actually a sword of Damocles, in a way, that if more people applied the concepts of skepticism daily, would inevitably, and irreversibly change the way our society operates.  It may involve actually calling a liar a liar. Harsh, but effective. Most people I know are not willing to directly confront lies and misrepresentations, and instead allow those same to incubate unchallenged, becoming a virus that infects a large part of society. Skepticism requires all of those claiming to be skeptics, to do the opposite. It’s not just about supposed facts, but the intentions of those that would portray an event as something that it was not.

Everyone is a skeptic, in their own way.  Even religious believers. We all have our biases that exclude us from questioning  a sacred belief, something we’ve been either told, or by our own investigation, have made us less skeptical. I can name at least two here. I know people that actually believe, more than 50 years later, although the evidence is overwhelming, that the Kennedy assassination  was a conspiracy within our own government, Usually, when we see these conspiracy theorists, we believe those proposing aren’t educated enough to be able to separate some false theory versus the truth. In fact, everyone I know that believes this conspiracy is college educated, and in a few cases, at the graduate level. By definition, a conspiracy involves at least two individuals. Think Strangers on a Train ( a Great movie, BTW), but i this case there would have to be a lot more than two involved; Dozens in fact. How would that be kept a secret for so long?

Another is the moon landing, now approaching it’s 50th anniversary Many of the same I know actually believe the entire event was staged, in Hollywood. Books have been written about it and are all in concert that humans never landed on the moon. Damn the direct evidence, because , as the Kennedy affair, that evidence was manufactured by the government.

I use these examples only to exemplify that skepticism, for most people, is only applicable until it runs head-long into that concrete wall of reality and belief. Sometimes evidence itself means nothing to some. Yes, we’re all skeptics, until a belief system is challenged. We can and should be better. We’re not and I don’t conceive a day where we will be.

We may all like to refer to ourselves as skeptics, and we are in ways, but to be a true skeptic, in my mind, we have to question everything, not just that which is comfortable. Those that choose to remain comfortable, aren’t truly skeptics.

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