Skeptical movement

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The skeptical movement or skeptic movement (also spelled sceptical) is a recent social movement/subculture attacking claimed irrationality and pseudoscience by claimed scientific arguments. Critics have seen it as often being pseudoskepticism, compare pseudoscience.

Individual skeptics and philosophical skepticism have existed for a long time. Large-scale organized skepticism is a more recent phenomenon. In 1976, the "Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal" (later renamed "Committee for Skeptical Inquiry") was founded in New York by Paul Kurtz and Marcello Truzzi. This organization has inspired the formation of similar organizations worldwide.

Paul Kurtz was also involved in the creation of the secular humanism movement and the Center for Inquiry organization that is involved in both movements, examples of overlap between the two movements.

"The rise of Skeptics has gone hand-in-hand with the rise of geek culture like superhero comics, sword & sorcery fantasy and science fiction: many Skeptics are also sci-fi, fantasy and superhero nerds, who will attend both TAM and Comic Con (indeed, some comic conventions now hold Skeptic side-events). You could speculate that the Skeptics, having rejected organized religion, instead construct their own, disposable religion out of Batman, Gandalf, Dr Spock and other pop culture icons."[1]

Members have been stated to often be "progressive" liberals or libertarians.[1] This implies that they may think that "skepticism" supports their political views and that they may try to use "skepticism" as a tool to reach their political goals.

The skeptical movement has attacked easy targets, such as paranormal claims, but seems to have done little to counteract pseudoscientific psychoanalysis and pseudoscientific Cultural Marxist theories from influencing sciences and society.

There seems to be few criticisms by the skeptical movement of some recent theoretical physics theories, such as string theory, despite frequent criticisms by others of being pseudociencies and these theories having many of the problems which skeptics criticize in other cases.[2] This may be related to a tendency to automatically attack "fringe" views and to automatically support "mainstream" views.

Many "skeptical" attacks consist not of scientific arguments, but instead of smearing, ad hominem, guilt by association, and attacking straw men.

Despite framing itself as investigating pseudoscience with scientific methods, the skeptical movement seems to do little or no scientific research itself. Its media publications, when they contain scientific arguments, do so in the form of easily read "popular science" aimed at the general public.

Such "popular science" usually cannot properly present complex scientific arguments, but instead in effect relies on a covert or overt appeal to authority.

The skeptical movement vehemently defends the current orthodoxy on various issues. One problematic aspect is by treating all criticisms of orthodoxy as similar and in effect implying guilt by association between, for example, physically impossible paranormal claims and very possible "conspiracy theory" claims.

Anything labelled as a "conspiracy theory" will likely be automatically attacked and ridiculed by skeptics. This despite the existence of real conspiracies and the label often being applied falsely.

Another problematic aspect is the frequent genetics denialism.

Aside from other kinds of smear attacks, the skeptical movement frequently attacks those having other views as having confirmation bias and other psychological biases and psychological problems. This is supposed to explain why non-skeptics do not realize that the point of view of the skeptics is the correct one. Non-skeptics may argue that a gigantic confirmation bias and other issues provide partial explanations for why, for example, many skeptics deny the existence of politically incorrect genetic group differences.

Virtue signalling may be a motivation for many members and may be one explanation for the political correctness of the movement. Influential skeptics, who often make money from their skepticism, must be politically correct in order to maximize monetary income. Another possible explanation is the political correctness of geek subculture. Still another possibility is the moralistic/naturalistic fallacy, with, for example, genetic group differences seen as morally unpleasant and therefore not existing in nature. Many skeptics may also be mislead by the mainstream media and other sources regarding, for example, the degree of support for the existence of genetic group differences in the scientific literature and by the scientists actually doing genetic research on such issues.

See the article on RationalWiki on this skeptical wiki. The skeptical movement conducts rather large-scale and openly admitted organized team editing of Wikipedia.[3]

See also

External links