Posted by Jeff Condon on August 11, 2011
I hate the term ‘Manifesto’. Every time I read it I imagine some religious cult promoting a complex yet divinely unquestionalbe truth. A skeptic manifesto is an oxymoron by birth — almost. It fixes your position and in an improper fashion. Without much thought, a manifesto would seem to be bad news for any scientist. It represents an idealism which cannot be broken. So after reading a really crappy ‘skeptic manifesto’, I wondered if there is one which can define a proper skeptic that I could live with. See, there are many who would see skeptic as being one with no foundation (philosophically skeptical of everything until nothing is known), there are others which see it as a foundation against the establishment or even wilder, a foundation against a consensus. I see it as a foundation against your own beleif, an inner war which will never be won or else it is lost. If you can’t occasionally admit being wrong, something is wrong with your life outlook. Therefore a skeptic has an ability to question even “known” things combined with an ability to accept what is reasonable. Therefore, in my opinion, a ‘skeptical manifesto’ should read something like this:
A skeptic is one who questions and decides through logic and reason their own opinion on a topic with a directed effort to ignore the distractions of non-evidentiary arguments or concern of the consequences of the logical conclusions.
Oddly enough, after coming up with my ‘manifesto’ it reads just as well this way:
A scientist is one who questions and decides through logic and reason their own opinion on a topic with a directed effort to ignore the distractions of non-evidentiary arguments or concern of the consequences of the logical conclusions.
So the point of this rambling is to see who can come up with a better/cleaner manifesto for a truly skeptical scientific thinker.
I like simple, so who has a better one?
And for those scientists who come here and see this as a holier than thou post, I will again point out that in far too many cases, this is a battle within one’s self as much as a study of a scientific puzzle.