"Since 'skepticism' properly refers to doubt rather than denial - nonbelief rather than belief - critics who take the negative rather than an agnostic position but still call themselves 'skeptics' are actually pseudo-skeptics and have, I believed, gained a false advantage by usurping that label."
...so sayeth the late Marcello Truzzi.
Truzzi was one of the founding members of the auto-debunking group, CSICOP (now CSICOP/CFI with a more secular-humanist agenda,) who left the group he helped form when he realised that they were nothing more than out-and-out non-believing deniers rather than neutral sceptics looking for answers and data.
That says something when one of your founders leaves your organisation because he believes you're not what you say you are.
Quick Side Note: Many people falsely say that the late Carl Sagan coined the term, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." which is not so... Truzzi said it first... and then regreted it. In hindsight, he wished he'd said "All claims require evidence." which would include claims of non-possibilties as well as those that claim possibility.
True scepticism (or the American spelling, skepticism,) is vital. It allows us to look at things critically and make judgements based solely on hard evidence and fact rather than speculative faith or our own "wishes" as to what things should be.
Most people say things like, "I don't believe in that 'cuz I'm a sceptic!"
No you're not... you're a non-believer. A sceptic doubts. You're already in denial mode.
As an example I use with folks I know... If I walk up to you on the street with a can of soda and say, "This is the BEST drink in the whole world!", and you say, "I don't know... I'm sceptical about that...", you are NOT saying...
"That can of soda does not exist. It cannot exist. You are not drinking that can of soda because that claim is outrageous."
...no, you're usually saying...
"Maybe. I'm not sure about that claim. I need better evidence."
...yet, somehow in the lexicon of the paranormal, "scepticism" is equal to "non-belief".
I get VERY upset when I hear twits in the "paranormal community" denouncing "the sceptics"... they're NOT sceptics. You're denouncing those who make you work to do better work, not the one's you REALLY have issue with... the "non-believers".
Sue and I are fortunate to count among our acquaintances both Eric McMillan and David Gower of Skeptics[sic] Canada.
Most people think this is being friends with the enemy... but for the record, both Eric and David don't really feel too great about the "so-called sceptics".
They, themselves, have coined the PERFECT terms for them... way better than anything I've heard... "Autodebunker" and "Remotedebunker".
You see, another "dirty word" in the lexicon of the so-called "paranormal community" is debunk.
As Eric pointed out to me, isn't debunking a GOOD thing? To remove to "bunk" and leave the facts? Shouldn't we ALL strive to remove the bunk and leave only that which HELPS the study?
In fact, don't the BEST of the BEST paranormal investigators strive to "debunk" in their own time when it comes to shoddy work?
To debunk on baseless "faith" (or non-faith) or to simply decry something out of hand OR, and this one we've all seen far too much, to deny/decry something based on the skimpiest of hypothesis... that's bad.
"They aren't because they cannot be." is as bad as "They are therefore they exist!" without evidence to back up these statements.
Too many people from the "Autodebunking" and the "Overly Credulous/Too-True-Believer" camps simply rest on their faith and preach to the masses about their own spectacular stuff... while ignoring the inconvenient facts that might put holes in their arguments.
They seem to fear having to examine their own philosophies and viewpoints and, God forbid, change their minds, admit fault, and admit that they might have been wrong.
So, they ignore the evidence, ignore the data, and preach.
Now, this post is NOT about the "too-true believers"... that's for another day... it's about "sceptics"... or, in more proper terms, "remotedebunkers". Those that say ("with" or without validity) it's all nonsense.
How do "we" put a kink in these people's rope...?
Well, to use Truzzi's thoughts, REMOVE that unfair advantage. Do not allow them to call themselves "sceptics". FORCE them to call themselves what they are... NON-BELIEVERS and AUTO-DEBUNKERS.
...and those so-called sceptics that "back up their non-belief with facts"? ASK THEM QUESTIONS! How long have THEY been in the field? How much study did they do to come up with this? What sources can they rely on?
...and I want specifics.
Don't let these people call themselves a "warm and fuzzy name" that MAKES themselves seem open for discussion and a possible change in stance, MAKE THEM ADMIT WHAT THEY ARE.
There's no shame in not believing... there's no REAL stigma... but let's face it, if they can get off calling us "Woo-Woos" and terming themselves "sceptical", there's a mismatch here.
Can they PROPERLY debunk every case of paranormality? No. They can't.
...and don't EVEN get me started on the whole "You can't prove a negative" issue... YES YOU CAN... Ask a REAL scientist.
Oh, oh, oh... speaking of which, the "so-called sceptics" often invoke science... CSICOP/CFI uses the term "Scientific Model"... why "Scientific Model" instead of "Scientific Method"? Because the "Scientific Method", as I hope we all know, allows for something called a HYPOTHESIS.
When you're auto-debunking, you cannot have room for error and "hypothesis" can sometimes be correct... or incorrect... and therefore, in the non-neutral "science" of the so-called sceptics, you cannot use this method. You must start with a conclusion and do whatever it takes and present whatever you can (while ignoring the inconvenient facts) to show this conclusion to be correct!
That's GREAT science, isn't it?
I'm certainly glad REAL medical science doesn't work this way...
...nor REAL physics...
...lest we be applying our leeches to prevent bird flu while watching the Sun revolve around the Earth.
GOOD and WORTHY investigators/researchers and yes, scientists MUST be open to all possibilities... positive or negative... and never pass absolute judgement without absolute evidence and fact in presentable data to prove their statements.
Not so with the "so-called sceptics"...
To quote Stan Freidman, "Why investigate? CSICOP has proclaimed!"
SO PLEASE, take some time... don't let the "autodebunkers" or "remotedebunkers" use a term that does NOT apply to themselves... Call 'em like you see 'em.
If you don't believe, you're a non-believer. Please call yourself the appropriate name.
My name is Matthew... and I am a PROUD sceptic. I want better information... and will not run on blind faith... but I most certainly will NEVER deny things out of hand.