The hyper-partisan nature of our current political environment makes it difficult to know who to believe. As a result, it is best to be skeptical of anything you read or hear.
But not all skepticism is created equal.
It makes sense to doubt things people say that are self-serving. If it promotes a narrative that is favorable to themselves or a cause they support, they may have reason to be less than honest.
But that can be difficult to do, if what you hear supports your own belief. We are all more likely to accept information that reinforces our own worldview, even if skepticism is called for.
Our own experiences and beliefs naturally influence what we accept. This makes sense, because it is not feasible for each one of us to independently verify everything we encounter in a day. We need to accept some things just to be able to function.
With that said, there are many things people are skeptical about.
Did we really go to the moon? Some believe the moon landing was filmed on a sound stage.
Are ghosts real? While some people insist they have been visited by spirits of the deceased, others feel there isn’t enough proof.
Are the reported COVID-19 deaths accurate? And if they are incorrect, is it too high or too low?
The list can go on and on. Is there anything in particular that you have your doubts about? What are you skeptical of?
Related questions: How do you know who to trust? What do you get out of social media? Do you believe in the supernatural? When is doubt helpful?
10 thoughts on “What Are You Skeptical Of?”
I am an atheist. While I actually love many of the teachings of religions, I am by definition skeptical of the premise that you need a god(s)/goddess(es) to act based on a consistent moral system. I am beyond skeptical that “grandpa is looking down on me,” that each of us has an angel protecting us, or that I am destined for anywhere other than an urn or the ground after I die.
While I am public about my atheism, I do not seek to challenge people and their faith. However, if someone wants to get into a conversation about my belief system, I am more than happy to share. That said, if they seek to convert me, I will articulate my basis for living a moral life in a way that will likely challenge the other person.
The term atheist has such a negative connotation. Do you simply not believe God by some description, or are you hateful to those you do Would it be possible to describe yourself by some less offensive term?
Ruby, I agree that atheist has been shrouded in (misplaced) negativity, but I don’t see why anyone would deem it a hateful term. I certainly do not hate those who believe in a god/goddess. In fact, I have some of my favorite conversations with friends who believe in a higher power. Why? They are willing to talk about right and wrong with conviction. As you likely know, my job entails a lot of justice work, so I thrive on and deeply appreciate conversations like these.
Again, I do not see atheist as an offensive term. Some also call people like me “secular humanists,” which I accept and is fine and all. But it seems far too intellectual of a phrase. Atheist simply means I do not believe in a god. That seems pretty straight forward to me.
(By the way, I find some atheists deeply objectionable for their hateful thoughts, words, and deeds towards those who believe in a higher power. But I refuse to be defined by those people.)
How can one deny the unknowable? I don’t find it offensive that you or anyone does not believe in a higher power. And I think that believing either way can mean goodness in the way one lives. It is the word “atheist” that I find objectionable because I take it to go beyond that. It seems to me that to deny something unquestionably, just because it is unprovable, is as arrogant as to believe unquestionably. Perhaps the term atheist doesn’t hold the same meaning to you, but I think it does to a lot of people.
Ruby, thanks for continuing the conversation. Atheism is the disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. Why can’t this be an option when there are hundreds of religions that posit there is a god? In fact, I find it strange that the unknowable has so many people thinking or having faith in something that is, well, unknowable.
This week saw the passing of James “The Amazing” Randi, who was a professional skeptic. He started out as a magician — hence “The Amazing” in his name — and soon came to recognize many of the tricks that magicians would use for deception when observing people who claimed to have supernatural powers.
He started a crusade to expose con men and grifters everywhere. In particular, in 1964, he established the “One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge”, offering to give a million dollars to anyone who could demonstrate a paranormal skill under laboratory conditions. Before the elimination of the challenge in 2015, no one had ever collected the money, despite thousands of applicants.
Like Randi, I’m skeptical of any claims of paranormal abilities, including psychics, faith healers, and the like. Not that I think these things are impossible, but I’m a firm believer in the adage, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
One Interent observer pointed out that the best way to honor Randi’s passing is to be skeptical that it has actually happened.
By the way, one of Randi’s books — which I have here somewhere, and I should read it now with his passing — is titled ‘Flim-Flam!’, which would make an excellent answer to one of our previous questions: “What’s your favorite synonym for nonsense?”
When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, I asked my favorite saint, Padre Pio, for help, even though he’d been dead for years. He told people he would be able to accomplish much more after his death. I believe he heard my prayer and helped in my recovery. Recently some family and friends have been diagnosed with serious illnesses. I was moved to share Padre Pio’s story with them, even though I admit I can be skeptical at times. Here is a video from youtube about him. I pray someone will benefit from having watched it.
I’m sceptical of the theory of evolution. It just doesn’t make sense to me that 1) Something could come from nothing and 2) An explosion can result in life.
The sheer complexity of even the simplest life forms couldn’t have developed by accident. It makes much more sense to me that life was created.
But then where did the creator come from, being even greater than the creation?