Be A Skeptic
It's been said that one of the greatest evils is ignorance. For the most part it was our ignorance that caused us to be duped by HWA. Most of us are NOT stupid! If we don't know how it happened to us, we are likely to fall for the next "truth" or "theory" that comes along. We all have paid a painful price for our ignorance. Are we willing to let it happen again? One way to avoid deception is to become a skeptic.
What exactly is a skeptic? Webster's defines it as "one who habitually questions matters generally accepted." Or "to be doubting and questioning." In the Greek it literally meant inquiring. Skepticism is the teaching that the truth of ALL knowledge must always be in question.
Modern skepticism is embodied in the scientific method, which gathers data to formulate and test information before becoming accepted as fact, or "truth". All facts are subject to change, and thereby skepticism is a method leading to conclusions subject to change upon new evidence. Some claims have been tested (and failed) often enough to conclude they are not valid. When claims have been tested, and are inconclusive, there leaves the need for further study and testing. Truth is the degree to which a statement corresponds to reality. You must want TRUTH to become a skeptic.
Our willingness to believe is stronger than the power to persuade. There is a part of us that WANTS to believe some things. We need to get to know ourselves better so as not to deceive ourselves. Self-deception is the process or fact of misleading ourselves to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid. Self-deception, in short, is a way we justify false beliefs to ourselves. Three things we do that lead to this deception are:
My personal interpretation of what that really means is that somehow we choose the facts that support what we really WANT to believe, and ignore what we don't want to accept as truth. It is our responsibility to learn how to be skeptical, if we truly do not want to be deceived again. It might be good to bear in mind another evil besides ignorance. That is indifference. Each has a price to pay. It is our choice what we do. If we do nothing, that too is a choice. Hopefully we will make the best one.
(1) Misperceive random data and see patterns where there are none
(2) Misinterpret incomplete or unrepresentative data and give extra attention to confirmatory data while drawing conclusions without seeking out disconfirmatory data
(3) Make biased evaluations of ambiguous or inconsistent data, tending to be uncritical of supportive data and very uncritical of unsupportive data.
See www.skeptic.com/what-is-a-skeptic.html for more info.
Your new article, "Skeptics-R-Us," should get people to think about examining evidence and various sources of information before buying into new things. Moreover, it should alert people to the pitfall of trusting in our own individual instincts to discern truth.
Being skeptical of any paradigm that we are living in is healthy. It allows us to be flexible and adapt to changes in our environment. We develop a resilience to experiencing disappointment. We develop a healthy sense of humility and self-doubt.
But being a skeptic, unfortunately, leaves one vulnerable to becoming overly critical and paranoid of making mistakes or using bad judgment. We all HAVE to make certain decisions in life, like it or not. Life forces us to make judgment calls. We need to refine our skills in considering what is plausible and what is not, whom to trust and whom not to trust, which sources to believe and which ones to discount, etc.
Engaging in skepticism in its purest form is likely to turn us all into "Doubting Thomases." True skeptics retard progress and discourage theorizing. They impair our ability to create. They are skilled in the art of deconstructing, but fail to make any constructive challenge to existing paradigms. They are susceptible to becoming bitter, hostile, and devoid of motivation or beliefs at all. In short, most real skeptics evolve into unpalatable sourpusses devoid of any redeeming personality features.
Let's hope we can all find a delicate balance in our quest to become adept thinkers--without extinguishing our creative energies. It's very easy to overcompensate as a result of our stint as blind followers in a cult.
Thanks for your article, Joanne.
Best to you.Sharon
Thanks for your thoughts.
Yes We need to make the point that we are all responsible to look into everything. The Skeptics site does have one major drawback that I will address and that is many who support the web are Atheists. Therefore I can use that as an example that we all have our biases that come into play consciously or not.
On the other hand I believe they do a great deal of scientific research and draw logical conclusions from their data. Whether a person believes in the existence of God or not that can be laid aside in order to get to the truth of specific matters, ideas or theories.
We need to keep questioning and reevaluating our beliefs as they appear to be false. Then we choose. No one can tell us what to believe or not. We just need to learn to think for ourselves, and put fear of being wrong aside to find the truth. Those who WANT the truth, will find it. It may not always be what they or we expect.
Going along with this is the need to understand Power in Paradigms. (Found that in "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", by Stephen Covey who is a Mormon. I don't hold that against him, he has good ideas and principles). Sometimes we need to get past what people believe, and just examine their ideas. I still haven't sorted this out yet, so take your time. I will not put any pressure on you, me or anyone.
Thanks again for your insight.
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