Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What Skepticism Isn't

There is a huge difference between skepticism and the tirades that are launched by some who feel if they don't believe someone's ideas, it is their right to attack them personally. I have received lots of these attacks, because I teach about psychic ability. However: I am a skeptic. I don't claim psychic ability does not exist at all because I've experienced and accepted evidence that it does. Yet I don't automatically take anyone's word for it that they use psychic ability or have had a paranormal event. I look for ways to relate psychic ability to natural possibilities, and I understand that we haven't reached the point yet where solid scientific proof of these activities can be offered. I am a pure skeptic: I just leave things in a neutral place until I see evidence one way or another. That's what actual scientific skepticism does: it leaves things idling at proof zero until a quality is proven or unproven. That point of proof requires no comment, nor should any comment be made.

Most experiences in life, when you talk about subjective experiences, pretty much stay at that zero point for observers. We can't prove or disprove that a person has just gotten off a bus unless we have seen it for ourselves. We can't prove the stories we tell about our days to the people we tell them to, and we don't have to tell the stories to those who took part in the experiences - but we have our personal experiences behind the stories. That means a lot to us. If some people believe us, then our experience may entertain or help others (we hope). If we are being pressed for constant proof, unless we are video-taping and recording every step we make - what a waste of time - no matter what, our proof remains at zero for anyone who "wasn't there." That's not a rejection, it's an honest statement that one does not believe a thing because one simply does not know it.

I often get the impression that those who constantly harangue others for proof of experience are needy of proof for themselves. They have nothing, they feel, to hang their lives on - talent, achievement, intelligence, contribution - so they ridicule those who have what they do not, and pretend to be experts on recognizing the unworthiness of others. They operate under the assumption that a skeptic's purpose is to tear other people down for believing in things that can't be proved in a scientific way, instead of leaving the issue in the quiet neutral zone of zero.

They waste precious time trying to knock down others for what they experience or do, rather than going on the extraordinary journey of finding out what they can experience or really do well themselves.  
That is their loss. If you are exploring psychic abilities, keep your skepticism handy, so you can recognize the things that are true for your experience. Understand that the opinions of persistent and intrusive skeptics are built largely on zero proof. That way, when someone tries to diminish your experience simply in order to feel good about themselves, you will remember what their opinions are worth: nothing.

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