What is Skepticism?

I recently got involved with skeptical movement about two months ago.  Before then, I was fairly ignorant about what exactly skepticism was.  I thought it was just people sitting around being cynical and negative about everything.  Wikipedia describes skepticism as “an approach to accepting, rejecting, or suspending judgment on new information that requires the new information to be well supported by argument or evidence.”  In basic terms skepticism is applying critical thinking and logic to everything you are told.

At this point, I suspect that there are a large number of you thinking, how incredibly boring, but everyone is skeptical about something.  If you see a commercial for a beauty product on TV and think that can’t possibly work, you are being skeptical.  If you hear a politician on TV giving a speech about all the things they promise to do and think bullshit, that is being skeptical. The problem is is that most people only limit their skepticism to certain topics and don’t aim it at everything they are told.  Therefore, there are people who don’t believe that beauty creams will work but strongly believe that homeopathy works.  The fact is that using the beauty cream will only cost them money, whilst relying on homeopathy may kill them.

If you think that skepticism might be something you might be interested, especially if you are not entirely sure, watch this fantastic talk by astronomer and skeptic, Dr Phil Plait given at Gnomedex 9. The talk is 47 minutes long, so if you don’t have time now, bookmark this page and come back when you do have some spare time, cause this is a talk you won’t want to miss.

The topics covered in Phil’s talk are:

What is skepticism
Faces of Skepticism eg Mythbusters
Faces of Anti-Skepticism eg Jenny McCarthy
Why is skepticism important?
You wanna be a skeptic?
Top Down Skepticism
Grassroots Skepticism
Skepticism & Social Networks
What can you do?
Q&A

If you enjoyed this talk (or don’t have time to watch it, but are still interested in skepticism), then check out Phil’s blog Bad Astronomy.  It was Phil’s blog that first got me interested in skepticism as he makes it so damn interesting (and at times, very funny).  If you are a chick and interested in skepticism, then head over to Skepchick for some great reading and interesting and thought provoking questions.  Aussies should also visit Australian Skeptics as well.

If you have any questions about skepticism, feel free to ask me and I will do my best to answer them for you or point you in the direction of someone who can.

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