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Old 5th October 2018, 08:49 PM   #161
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Originally Posted by G6000 View Post
After reading this topic, I can tell you skeptics can complicate the bejeesus out of anything.

If I see a guy supposedly bending spoons with his mind, I'm not going to take a deep dive into what "atheism" means before I decide if I am qualified to determine if the guy is a huckster. This religious litmus test is some real rookie crap.

Lighten up, you goons!
I would have to agree. This thread is just a pile of rule 11 violations.

A skeptic is somebody who doesn't share some commonly held belief. A "rookie" skeptic is somebody who thinks that they have the argument that is so earth shattering that everybody who reads it will be instantly converted to their own POV.
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Old 5th October 2018, 11:25 PM   #162
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
A skeptic is somebody who doesn't share some commonly held belief.
No. Unless you think being a flat-earther makes one a skeptic.

"The earth is round" is a commonly held belief not shared by flat-earthers.
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Old 6th October 2018, 01:19 AM   #163
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Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
No. Unless you think being a flat-earther makes one a skeptic.
Technically it does but having a seriously wacky POV is more likely to see you labeled a nut than a skeptic.
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Old 6th October 2018, 01:39 AM   #164
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Technically it does but having a seriously wacky POV is more likely to see you labeled a nut than a skeptic.
I'm not convinced.
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Old 6th October 2018, 01:55 AM   #165
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Technically it does but having a seriously wacky POV is more likely to see you labeled a nut than a skeptic.

Courageous of you, then, to invite that label by advancing that idiosyncratic (and plain wrong) definition of the word 'skeptic'.
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Old 6th October 2018, 02:17 AM   #166
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
A skeptic is somebody who doesn't share some commonly held belief.
Incorrect. A skeptic is someone who tests beliefs against evidence. A rookie skeptic is someone who's just started testing their own beliefs against evidence, and is still trying to find out how best to do it. And that's all.

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Old 6th October 2018, 02:43 AM   #167
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
I would have to agree. This thread is just a pile of rule 11 violations.

A skeptic is somebody who doesn't share some commonly held belief. A "rookie" skeptic is somebody who thinks that they have the argument that is so earth shattering that everybody who reads it will be instantly converted to their own POV.
Originally Posted by Roboramma View Post
No. Unless you think being a flat-earther makes one a skeptic.

"The earth is round" is a commonly held belief not shared by flat-earthers.
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Technically it does but having a seriously wacky POV is more likely to see you labeled a nut than a skeptic.
If one was to take a skeptical approach to whether the earth is flat or round one would follow the evidence which would lead one to conclude the earth is - as far as everyday language usage is concerned - round.

Skepticism isn't tied to any particular conclusion, just that one uses the evidence that is available to come to a conclusion. For a skeptic that could be - for example - the earth is round and for a skeptic "don't have the evidence to be able to come to a conclusion" - or as it is usually put "I don't know" is an equally valid conclusion.
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Old 6th October 2018, 02:44 AM   #168
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
I'm not convinced.
It could be said that you are skeptical about my definition but apparently my definition is not widely believed.

Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
A skeptic is someone who tests beliefs against evidence.
I would call that a "critical thinker". And where there is no reliable test for some assertion the critical thinker will temporarily decide "true" or "false" (which ever is most convenient) pending the availability of further tests.
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Old 6th October 2018, 02:48 AM   #169
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
It could be said that you are skeptical about my definition but apparently my definition is not widely believed.


I would call that a "critical thinker". And where there is no reliable test for some assertion the critical thinker will temporarily decide "true" or "false" (which ever is most convenient) pending the availability of further tests.
That's because the meaning of the word "skeptic" to label someone or yourself has changed, it refers to more than simply adopting a doubt based viewpoint.
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Old 6th October 2018, 05:30 AM   #170
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
That's because the meaning of the word "skeptic" to label someone or yourself has changed, it refers to more than simply adopting a doubt based viewpoint.
If you are going to keep changing the meanings of words then we will never reach a consensus - for certain meanings of that word.
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Old 6th October 2018, 05:50 AM   #171
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
If you are going to keep changing the meanings of words then we will never reach a consensus - for certain meanings of that word.
A lot of words have more than one meaning. I think they're all valid in this case.
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Old 6th October 2018, 06:54 AM   #172
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
If you are going to keep changing the meanings of words then we will never reach a consensus - for certain meanings of that word.
I can assure you I do not control the meaning of words.
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Old 6th October 2018, 09:09 AM   #173
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
If you are going to keep changing the meanings of words then we will never reach a consensus - for certain meanings of that word.
Well, how about we stick with the generally accepted meanings instead of the ones you've just made up?

Dave
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Old 6th October 2018, 09:59 AM   #174
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Well, how about we stick with the generally accepted meanings instead of the ones you've just made up?

My definition is pretty close to the mark.
Quote:
noun
noun: skeptic
  1. a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions.
    synonyms: cynic, doubter, questioner, scoffer; More
    • a person who doubts the truth of Christianity and other religions; an atheist.
      synonyms: agnostic; More
      antonyms: believer
  2. Philosophy
    an ancient or modern philosopher who denies the possibility of knowledge, or even rational belief, in some sphere.
adjective
adjective: skeptic
  1. another term for sceptical.
https://www.google.com/search?q=scep...utf-8&oe=utf-8

See also https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/sceptic
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Old 6th October 2018, 11:33 AM   #175
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
My definition is pretty close to the mark.
No, it isn't. Your personal, private definition that:

Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
A skeptic is somebody who doesn't share some commonly held belief.
is nothing to do with questioning or doubting beliefs; it's about choosing to hold different ones.

Dve
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Old 6th October 2018, 04:24 PM   #176
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
No, it isn't. Your personal, private definition that:



is nothing to do with questioning or doubting beliefs; it's about choosing to hold different ones.
There is absolutely nothing in my "personal, private definition" about choosing to hold different beliefs. That is just a strawman that you created.
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Old 6th October 2018, 04:52 PM   #177
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
There is absolutely nothing in my "personal, private definition" about choosing to hold different beliefs. That is just a strawman that you created.
Nevertheless, you're using a different definition of "skeptic" from everyone else and then whining because the rest of the world is out of step with you. Skepticism is about how one approaches beliefs, not about which beliefs one holds.

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Old 6th October 2018, 06:16 PM   #178
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Nevertheless . . . . .
Huh? You don't care that you used a strawman?

Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
you're using a different definition of "skeptic" from everyone else and then whining because the rest of the world is out of step with you.
No, certain members of this forum are out of step with the rest of the world.

You have claimed that "A skeptic is someone who tests beliefs against evidence". I have quoted two dictionaries that show that "evidence" has nothing to do with being a skeptic so your attempt to project fails.

Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Skepticism is about how one approaches beliefs, not about which beliefs one holds.
Wrong.
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Old 6th October 2018, 06:33 PM   #179
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Skepticism is about how one approaches beliefs, not about which beliefs one holds.

Wrong.
Your own quoted definition disagrees with you on that. It says that a skeptic questions or doubts accepted opinions. It doesn't say a skeptic holds different opinions. It's very clearly about the attitude held to opinions or beliefs, not the specific opinions or beliefs held.

Failing to accept this is not, of course, a sign of a rookie skeptic, but rather a pseudoskeptic; someone who says, "I hold a different opinion to the majority, therefore I am the only true skeptic here." It's a false statement; someone who holds an unpopular opinion or belief without questioning or doubting it is no more skeptical than someone who holds a popular one. Denialism is not scepticism.

Dave
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Old 6th October 2018, 07:12 PM   #180
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
... a skeptic questions or doubts accepted opinions. It doesn't say a skeptic holds different opinions. It's very clearly about the attitude held to opinions or beliefs, not the specific opinions or belief ...

psion10 is clearly conflating 'contrarianism' (or, as you say, 'denialism') with 'skepticism', and misreading even the dictionary definitions he himself quotes, but re. the portion quoted above :

What if someone doubts some idea (the spherical earth, for instance, or the meaning of 'skeptic'), then seeks to reinvent the wheel by themselves, but makes a mess of it? Suppose they make an honest mistake about the earth being flat, or the meaning of a word?

Since skepticism is about the process, not the conclusion, would a skeptic who's honestly mistaken be any less a skeptic even if they're wrong?

ETA : It seems to me they'd be a "pseudoskeptic" if they were dishonest in expressing an opinion, or held an opinion without enquiry. Simply being wrong, honestly wrong, even laughably wrong, doesn't really take away from their skepticism. Or so it seems to me.

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Old 6th October 2018, 07:43 PM   #181
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Your own quoted definition disagrees with you on that. It says that a skeptic questions or doubts accepted opinions. It doesn't say a skeptic holds different opinions.
Aaaaand - back to the strawman!

I have already pointed out that skepticism is not about holding different opinions (even if that is implied by questioning or doubting existing opinions). But you already know that. You admitted that your argument was a strawman.
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Old 6th October 2018, 07:55 PM   #182
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Not really, psion10. So you doubt something. You may stop there, and remain both a 'doubter' and a skeptic.

But what if you seek to resolve your doubt through enquir? That's what often happens. You then arrive at a personal answer. Irrespective of whether you're right or wrong, you now, after enquiry, either accept or reject the original proposition. You no longer "doubt".

Do you think because you no longer "doubt" you're no longer a skeptic?
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Old 6th October 2018, 08:06 PM   #183
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I guess what I'm saying is, skepticism is not about being contrarian (as you seem to think) or even about being right (which is what I gathered Dave implied). I'd say skepticism is a function of whether or not you accept something without personal scrutiny/enquiry, and also, perhaps, the quality of that scrutiny/enquiry.
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Old 6th October 2018, 08:14 PM   #184
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Not really, psion10. So you doubt something. You may stop there, and remain both a 'doubter' and a skeptic.

But what if you seek to resolve your doubt through enquir? That's what often happens. You then arrive at a personal answer. Irrespective of whether you're right or wrong, you now, after enquiry, either accept or reject the original proposition. You no longer "doubt".

Do you think because you no longer "doubt" you're no longer a skeptic?
I have already discussed this. You are describing a "critical thinker".

If a skeptic seeks out evidence and finds evidence that supports their POV (or fails to find evidence that doesn't support their POV) then they will remain a skeptic on that particular subject.

OTOH if a skeptic seeks out evidence and that evidence doesn't support their POV then they may choose to either remain skeptical or modify their POV. In the latter case, they can no longer be considered skeptical about the subject.

Of course, nothing in the definition of "skeptic" requires them to test their POVs.
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Old 6th October 2018, 08:24 PM   #185
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But that POV does not comport with the definition you'd originally put forward, does it? There you'd simply equated skepticism with contrarianism.


On a separate note -- and I'm thinking aloud here, not (yet) expressing an opinion -- when it comes to the meaning of 'skepticism' (or whatever), what takes precedence, some dictionary meaning, or the consensus view of actual skeptics (or whatever)? I'd say -- and I guess I AM expressing an opinion now, even if tentatively -- the latter, and it is the job of the former to keep up with the latter.
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Old 6th October 2018, 08:33 PM   #186
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
But that POV does not comport with the definition you'd originally put forward, does it? There you'd simply equated skepticism with contrarianism.
I thought it does. Skepticism does not need to have a rational basis.

There seems to be an opinion that a skeptic supports the popular opinions of members of this forum. That is simply not true.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
On a separate note -- and I'm thinking aloud here, not (yet) expressing an opinion -- when it comes to the meaning of 'skepticism' (or whatever), what takes precedence, some dictionary meaning, or the consensus view of actual skeptics (or whatever)? I'd say -- and I guess I AM expressing an opinion now, even if tentatively -- the latter, and it is the job of the former to keep up with the latter.
The highlighted part is why I didn't instinctively resort to the dictionary first off.

I wouldn't have thought that a simple definition of "skeptic" would be so controversial but it seems that if I say that the sun is shining then some members would set up flood lights before venturing outside.
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Old 6th October 2018, 10:58 PM   #187
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When I first encountered scepticism, I found that it was used to denote scepticism of the supernatural. It may be that it can be used for more, but I am perfectly happy with this limited definition because I am under no illusion that I can uphold the high standard of scepticism in all aspects of life.
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Old 7th October 2018, 12:38 AM   #188
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The dictionary writers are still a tad behind the times, it seems, on how members of "the skeptical community" and "skeptical movement" use the words skeptic/skepticism. Many of us generally mean "someone who makes a serious attempt to use critical thinking and evidence" when we use the word "skeptic".

To quote Websters on the nature of dictionary definitions:

Quote:
Dictionaries are often treated as the final arbiter in arguments over a word’s meaning, but they are not always well suited for settling disputes. The lexicographer’s role is to explain how words are (or have been) actually used, not how some may feel that they should be used, and they say nothing about the intrinsic nature of the thing named by a word, much less the significance it may have for individuals.
I'm almost tempted to write Websters and ask them to consider updating their definition to include the more modern use of skepticism and skeptic.
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Old 7th October 2018, 12:42 AM   #189
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
When I first encountered scepticism, I found that it was used to denote scepticism of the supernatural. It may be that it can be used for more, but I am perfectly happy with this limited definition because I am under no illusion that I can uphold the high standard of scepticism in all aspects of life.
But you try, don't you?

No self-identifying skeptic is perfect, or even necessarily all that great at "universally applied skepticism", but I personally feel that aiming for doing the best I can is a worthy goal.
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Old 7th October 2018, 12:50 AM   #190
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
psion10 is clearly conflating 'contrarianism' (or, as you say, 'denialism') with 'skepticism', and misreading even the dictionary definitions he himself quotes, but re. the portion quoted above :

What if someone doubts some idea (the spherical earth, for instance, or the meaning of 'skeptic'), then seeks to reinvent the wheel by themselves, but makes a mess of it? Suppose they make an honest mistake about the earth being flat, or the meaning of a word?

Since skepticism is about the process, not the conclusion, would a skeptic who's honestly mistaken be any less a skeptic even if they're wrong?

ETA : It seems to me they'd be a "pseudoskeptic" if they were dishonest in expressing an opinion, or held an opinion without enquiry. Simply being wrong, honestly wrong, even laughably wrong, doesn't really take away from their skepticism. Or so it seems to me.
Yep, being "a skeptic" doesn't mean you are right (or wrong), people make mistakes, the only saving grace of skepticism is that it should in principle be self correcting.

It's also quite true that since "skeptics" are human a skeptic may not be skeptical about everything.
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Old 7th October 2018, 12:55 AM   #191
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
I thought it does. Skepticism does not need to have a rational basis.

There seems to be an opinion that a skeptic supports the popular opinions of members of this forum. That is simply not true.


The highlighted part is why I didn't instinctively resort to the dictionary first off.

I wouldn't have thought that a simple definition of "skeptic" would be so controversial but it seems that if I say that the sun is shining then some members would set up flood lights before venturing outside.
The highlighted above is a strawman, no one has made anything like that claim.

ETA

Had a quick look at dictionary.com and it defines the noun "skeptic" as

Quote:

noun
1 a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual.
2 a person who maintains a doubting attitude, as toward values, plans, statements, or the character of others
3 a person who doubts the truth of a religion, especially Christianity, or of important elements of it.
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Old 7th October 2018, 01:26 AM   #192
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
I'm almost tempted to write Websters and ask them to consider updating their definition to include the more modern use of skepticism and skeptic.
I think that you would need more than a single internet forum as evidence before they changed their definition.
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Old 7th October 2018, 01:41 AM   #193
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
The highlighted above is a strawman, no one has made anything like that claim.
Of course not. Nobody would be that blatant. OTOH anybody questioning the value of same sex marriage (for example) is unlikely to have the label "skeptic" bestowed on them in this forum.

Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Had a quick look at dictionary.com and it defines the noun "skeptic" as
Not much different to the dictionaries that I listed nor what I said myself. There is certainly no element of critical thinking involved in being a skeptic.
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Old 7th October 2018, 02:42 AM   #194
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
I think that you would need more than a single internet forum as evidence before they changed their definition.
I would also direct them to all of the other skepticism forums, podcasters, youtubers, blogs, skepticism convention organizers, etc.
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Old 7th October 2018, 02:47 AM   #195
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
OTOH anybody questioning the value of same sex marriage (for example) is unlikely to have the label "skeptic" bestowed on them in this forum.
Some principled libertarians are of the opinion that the state probably shouldn't be in the "marriage" business for anyone. I don't think people here would scream "woo!" at anyone presenting such a case.
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Old 7th October 2018, 03:35 AM   #196
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
Some principled libertarians are of the opinion that the state probably shouldn't be in the "marriage" business for anyone. I don't think people here would scream "woo!" at anyone presenting such a case.
I have seen the term "libertard" hurled at them quite often. "Skeptic"? Not so much.
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Old 7th October 2018, 04:35 AM   #197
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
I have seen the term "libertard" hurled at them quite often. "Skeptic"? Not so much.
You seem to be taking this thread really personally, and I feel like we're having two totally different conversations here.

I'll just note that in the above post, you're admitting that the word "skeptic" is used somewhat outside of the dictionary definition in "skeptic culture."
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Old 7th October 2018, 06:12 AM   #198
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
I thought it does.

Not to beat this to death -- which is the standard disclaimer that is customary before one proceeds to club some subject fully into oblivion -- but I don't see how you could think that.

Here's what you'd said :
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
A skeptic is somebody who doesn't share some commonly held belief.
"Somebody who doesn't share some belief would include (a) someone who plain does not agree with some belief, for whatever reason ; (b) someone who holds no view whatever on the subject of some belief ; and (c) someone who doubts some view. Even your particular sense of the word would not agree with #a and #b above, and would comport only with #c above.

Further, you seem to fixate only on "commonly held beliefs". Again, that qualification has nothing to do with the definitions that you subsequently presented.

I suggest the word you're looking for there is 'contrarian', not 'skeptic'.

Further, you say :
Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
A "rookie" skeptic is somebody who thinks that they have the argument that is so earth shattering that everybody who reads it will be instantly converted to their own POV.
Again, this would hardly comport with the sense that you're claiming to have wanted to present, does it?

I suggest the meaning you might be reaching out towards is this. (Which is, admittedly, something you would be justified in calling a strawman, but I don't see how else this part of what you said makes any kind of sense.)

Someone who is habitually skeptical about most things can be thought of, in general terms, as (generally) a skeptic. And someone who has only recently started doing this would be a rookie skeptic. And in your personal view, the rookie skeptic commits those errors that you describe there.

A far cry from the dictionary definitions you present later.

Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
There seems to be an opinion that a skeptic supports the popular opinions of members of this forum. That is simply not true.

Well, obviously. That hardly needs saying.

But still, I'd say that when it comes to skepticism itself, skeptics in general may be said to have 'expert opinion' on what that is. Not any other thing, but only skepticism, and things that have to do with skepticism. Just as physicists may hold 'expert opinion' on things that relate to physics.

Now you may question if this forum represents skeptics in general, but that is different from what I'd said.


Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
I wouldn't have thought that a simple definition of "skeptic" would be so controversial but it seems that if I say that the sun is shining then some members would set up flood lights before venturing outside.

I think it's more like saying "sun is shining" when it is in fact midnight. Some "controversy" would not be unexpected, surely.
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Old 7th October 2018, 06:20 AM   #199
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Originally Posted by kellyb View Post
The dictionary writers are still a tad behind the times, it seems, on how members of "the skeptical community" and "skeptical movement" use the words skeptic/skepticism. Many of us generally mean "someone who makes a serious attempt to use critical thinking and evidence" when we use the word "skeptic".

To quote Websters on the nature of dictionary definitions:



I'm almost tempted to write Websters and ask them to consider updating their definition to include the more modern use of skepticism and skeptic.

Dictionary writers would, of necessity, always lag actual usage, wouldn't they? It's their job to keep up with changes in usage of some word. That's what they're supposed to do.


Incidentally, kellyb, this recalls a discussion we'd had, on a different thread, about what skeptics generally think about such-and-such aspect of skepticism. I wonder how representative these forums might be of skeptics in general?

If 'we' can claim to represent skeptics in general, then absolutely, dictionaries must reflect our usage of terms that relate to skepticism, if with some lag ; else they aren't doing their job properly.

But if we don't, in fact, represent skeptics in general, then I suppose the consensus view of some random fringe group may or may not be very relevant, depending on how large the fringe is. Even if the fringe (that we represent) is large, then 'our' view would, at best, be an alternative, fringe view (if that). If, that is, we're no more than a fringe within the larger body of skeptics.
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Old 7th October 2018, 06:26 AM   #200
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Yep, being "a skeptic" doesn't mean you are right (or wrong), people make mistakes, the only saving grace of skepticism is that it should in principle be self correcting.

It's also quite true that since "skeptics" are human a skeptic may not be skeptical about everything.

I suppose, then, that other things being equal*, a flat-earther who's arrived at his flat-earth views through actual enquiry (no matter how ham-handed) would be a 'better' skeptic than a regular normal spheroid-earther who's not personally gone into the issue but only accepted received conventional wisdom, right?


* Of course, other things are generally not equal. A flat-earther would probably tend to believe a further eleven impossible things before breakfast that the spheroid-earther probably wouldn't.
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