Friday, February 23, 2007

I have been posting recently on a sceptics' forum, talking about the "Untwinned anthology. " Am I a glutton for punishment?

Here is my take on scepticism following this experience: Sceptics, like intellectuals generally, paradoxically display a high degree of confidence in their philosophical position, when in reality their self-esteem tends to be low. Some people are drawn to the philosophy of scepticism during their adolescent years as a result of feeling intellecually weak and helpless. By the age of 14, any intelligent person begins to recognise how little he or she can possibly know for sure. If an individual also has narcissistic tendencies, any feeling of being inferior to anyone else, in any sense whatever, is very uncomfortable. The only way to maintain a good self-esteem therefore, is to keep in mind one's own intellectual brillance and, in the absence of any other expertise, to become brilliant at debunking any theory, anywhere, just for the sake of it.

In pursuit of this ideal state, the fledgling sceptic finds somewhere firm to stand amid the chaos of infinite possibility that is life as it is. The safest place of course is not to believe anything, but to remain doubtful, watchful, cagey, defensive. To never offer an opinion unless it can be held as morally correct to say, and of course totally accepted by others as "purely one's own version of the truth." From these humble beginnings, sceptics learn to use their chosen philosophy for protection, creating a facade of intellectual invincibility.

Initially, this is tried out in endless circular arguments late at night with fellow teenagers, and later to forums on the Internet. As years pass, the characteristic demand for proof, certainly, replicability and endless dissection of ideas intensifies. To compensate for his insecurities, the sceptic escalates the rigor of doubt and constant questioning until he or she can appear more intimidating than the other, in a sort of vicious cycle.

It is a battle of minds, with each new creative idea a new challenge for destruction. Yet this is creative, for in the bloody arena of scepticism, where ideas like gladiators must slog it out and struggle to survive, only the strongest ideas will make it. Thus, in a paradoxical way, scepticism is protective of other less sceptical thinkers. Anyone naive enough to think that an idea can stand without much to substantiate it - except a deep intutive sense of the truth of it, backed up by a general ageement as to the probable truth - is welcomed to the sceptics arena, where the weapons of intellectual combat will be applied to hone and shape those ideas into something much stronger, which will either die or soon be robust enough to take out into the world, where it will stand firm.

As a result of this run-in with a bunch of sceptics on a forum, I feel as f I have been subjected to an essential training course in being robust, but VERY careful what I say and how I say it. I am grateful for that! I do tend towards being a bit ingenuous......

However because of this rather unpleasant experience - of being taken apart by some strangers who seemed to think they knew more about this subject than me and had the right to insult me, (yes, there were a few who were kind and that did help) I will not be posting again. I told them my book was properly referenced, and they complained because I didn't show them the references! I guess they thought I was lying. I haven't bothered to count them all, but there must be several hundred references. If they are that interested, let them buy the book, I say.

Rather than more of this, I have subscribed to a regular skeptic magazine podcast. They mentioned "missing pregnancies" and related this to alien abduction. YAWN!!! (This does not help my project one bit I must say! ) Now I can wander the footpaths of Hertfordshire with my ipod and listen more to their mind games and see if there is any more to be learned from this very odd but amazingly clever bunch of people, who are sounding more and more like indigo adults at every turn.

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