Knowledge Base: Skepticism
Scientific skepticism is an approach that is based on evaluating questionable claims using scientific evidence, logic, reason and critical thinking. Many people and groups do not like to have their ideological beliefs questioned. A common reaction they have to skeptical investigation is to make up myths about skepticism. This section aims to refuse those claims.
Fact: Scientific skepticism is an approach to questionable claims
How do we know what is factual and what is just smoke? Scientific skepticism is a practical methodology for approaching questionable claims. It works by thinking through the structure of a claim, probing its internal consistency and logic as well as compared it with what the empirical evidence has to say. If the weight of the accumulated scientific evidence supports a claim, then scientific skepticism suggests that it should be provisionally excepted. If the claim is contradicted by scientific evidence or internally inconsistent, it should be treated as false. The entire process of scientific skepticism is intellectually honest and rigorous.
In other words, being a skeptic means accepting that something fantastic could be real, but also balancing that with an appreciation for critical thinking and a demand for scientific evidence. Anti-science activists often wrongly claim that scientific skepticism are close-minded, but there is a distinct difference between being open-minded and being gullible. Proponents of scientific skepticism are prepared to change their mind should the evidence call for it, so they are not close-minded. It is ironic that these same anti-science activists who demand that scientific skeptics should be “more open-minded” are the same people who refuse to accept scientific evidence that they are mistaken.