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Seeking Advice On Being More Skeptical


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Hey everyone!


Lately, I've been focusing on preventing being taken in by anyone like I was taken in at age 14 when I whole heartedly accepted Christianity without any skepticism whatsoever, thus launching my 30 year journey as a Christian.


Since my deconversion , "Never again!" has been a silent resolution of mine. I have been drinking in books ,articles, videos, websites, podcasts and forum posts like a thirsty man wandering in the desert. Thus, I think I have been doing pretty good in arming myself with a greater knowledge of science, history and philosophy. Reading has always been my enthusiasm anyway, so I feel confident I am on the right path in that regard.


Thinking like a skeptic is another area where I have sought improvement. I have books on logic, philosophy, and critical thinking that I am working my way through.


One area of concern is access to the right information to help me approach issues with a skeptical/critical mindset. That's a big challenge in a world where time is a thief and information needs to be sifted through in areas from product claims, claims of medical breakthroughs, health care legislation, the need for spending on space exploration, alternative medicines and of course theistic claims.


My question is, what habits have you had to develop to be a successful skeptic? And what resources and approaches do you find most helpful in getting to good information from credible sources?


In other words, how can I become a good, efficient, skeptic?






P.S. Here's a nice article by Micheal Shermer about how to be a skeptic that I thought was pretty nice.

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Digging around on snopes was what turned me into a skeptic. Don't forget to check out the "Lost Legends" section.

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Oceans of skeptical experts on this site.



One of the things that I've learned to employ over the years are claims that are based on a considerable amount of "ambiguity". This is often the milking ground for people who believe in profound miracles, or predictions of the end of the world, or if you like, even the controversy over global warming.


There are many events that happen that have alternate explanations, and one of the things to also look for is if the person pushing a particular belief or theory or claiming witness to a spectacular event (like say, UFO abduction) who is obviously using their claims as a "gig", or as a means to income (books and stuff) or perhaps just trying to draw attention to themselves.


And watch out for that Frank47 guy; he's just so full of it. :twitch:

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I think it is a matter of self discipline. Being objective. Weighing evidence if there is an opposing side, examining the evidence for consistency with reality if there is not an opposing side.


1. Withhold judgement at first

2. Consider the arguments - look for the fallacies but also look for something that can be checked independently

3. Ask questions anticipating the answers based on independent research

4. Never fear learning or reading about any subject

5. Compare facts with what is already known

6. Remember that conclusions may be tentative. Give credence to the conclusions you make that have overwhelming evidence and no contradictory evidence that is testable

7. Pay attention to details that don't fit no matter how small

8. Remember that just because everything is not known doesn't mean that nothing can be known


I'm sure there are many more practices and principles, but in essence the best approach to skepticism is to follow the scientific method as closely as possible even for "non-scientific things."


Dogma is the enemy of thought.

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I learned this skill very well when I was a cop - it became glaringly obvious within a very short time, that no matter how honest someone is trying to be, there are still always at least two sides to every story, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle - it may be tilted to one side, but no single side has it all right. Knowing this, and learning to think that way has helped me a LOT in being a skeptic. I automatically now want to hear the other variations of most things I am told. If I've already heard the other side (such as much of the creationism crap) then it makes it easier, otherwise, I know that I only have some of the information.


I'm pretty sure that learning to approach things in that manner is what pushed my deconversion to it's completion.

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I have really enjoyed the responses so far. I do know I don't want to approach life the same way anymore. I want to be more skeptical, and be able to learn practical skills so that skepticism is a habit and not just a concept.


I invite everyone's continued input!

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you always seemed well effecient before. I think the simplest armour against falling for magical lies, is keep your mental freedom. Dont give your understanding away again.

Realise the mental mistakes you had made and do make with yourself. It is just as important as scooping up all the facts. You're carrying around all that extra weight like it was armour and weapons. It is fear of failure due to lack of preperation. i advise you to learn to alternate your concentrations from "being a skeptic", to being quietly observent of self.


Relaise when something is trying to manipulate your emotion, and also realsie when you are trying to apply sweeping mental adjustments to fit your insight. When you are learning (stuffing information) for your own enlightenment and when you are reading it to say it to someone else IF they say to you "such and such".(rehearseing information)


The rehearsing can be a maddening mental tread mill, observe, is this healthy?


It is just that my thoughts toward you have alot to do with the idea of not letting your learning bound you up too. The questions and mental armour....they are all there for you so you can protect "what"?


Grow "that thing". Simply learn what it believes and observe and test it by and by. Relax, no one can take your skepticisium back and you are wise to seek to refine it.

Learn what mistakes you have made then observe them in others, test wether they lead to the same results. Then learn how to not be affected by that error.


This is quiter work than stuffing your head with all the reasons and education so fast that you go nuts and cant sleep.


which is the same unhealth you had. Cross train i guess.


best wishes




Post script edit... As i proof read this i kept thinking of a young ninja.... you have the weapons but how well can you use them? Some of the finest masters never even carried weapons, they had quiet/refined skills.

To me self-observation "training" is like mental martial arts.

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Practice avoiding self-confirmation bias. When you see something that confirms with your viewpoint, don't just say 'aha' and move on. Try and see if the same event could be interpreted different ways. Always double check your assumptions. There is no such thing as 'common sense'. Every idea should be able to be broken down into it's logical parts and built back up again after inspecting each part. If you don't know why you believe something, then don't believe it.


If you lack evidence, default to Occam's Razor and choose the simplest explanation. Always be self critical, and be your own devil's advocate.


I was tempted by the 9/11 conspiracy once, but I realized that the people involved were never critical of themselves, and that was a warning flag. If something seemed to support the theory it was grabbed without hesitation, and those who were critical were pushed out. Conspiracies are about faith, and faith is the enemy of truth. I realized that the conspiracy was emotional, not logical, and walked away.


You want to be right because you are right, not because you want to be right.


You see the same principle with those who oppose vaccines, it is a purely emotional reaction born out of ignorance and fear, and not a logical argument based on real evidence.

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