Burning the Mean and Disparaging Skeptic Straw Man

0 Posted by - March 12, 2013 - Conspiracies & Scandals, Science, Skepticism

*Written by Sharon Hill.

Does “skeptic” equal nasty, obnoxious and shouty? No? Then why do we get automatically tagged with those characteristics even when we are not? The word carries some connotations. But that ought not bar an exchange between skeptics and believers. We have some bridges to build.

Disclaimer: This whole piece revolves around mistaken assumptions that observers make. One problem with much of the discussion between skeptics and believers has to do with semantics. Just using the terms “skeptics” and “believers” is limiting and mistaken in many ways. But, I feel I have no choice to use these terms to make this piece reasonably understandable. I am completely aware that this is problematic and I ask that you see this as a panorama, not as sticking people in labeled boxes.

“I meet more skeptics (online) who think ‘being a skeptic’ is just a license to be an arsehole with impunity.” -@finalcontext on Twitter

This is part one of a soul-searching activity. I’d bet many people who have been around for a while will see this as well-worn territory. But in order to really learn a lesson and make a personal change, sometimes, you just have to go down that road yourself. So here I go.

I’ve found myself in the unwelcome position of the Skeptic in paranormal and fringe discussions. Just as the Internet has been a boon to all kinds of fringe topics, it has also allowed those practicing scientific skepticism to get under the claimant’s skin and ask for explanations and evidence. Gee, that makes them mad. Some of us aren’t even trying to be mean; we’re just digging for truth.

CONTINUED at The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

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