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Why Skepticism?

Twenty years ago, I became actively involved in the skeptical movement when I and several others founded a humble local skeptical group. We were inspired by CSICOP (now CSI) and Skeptical Inquirer to add what we could to efforts to make the world a more skeptical place.

Over the past two decades, the skeptical landscape has changed quite a bit, but one constant has been the endless question: What is skepticism? What exactly do we do and why? As the movement has grown and diversified, the question has become only more complex.

What Is the Mission of the Skeptical Movement?

I have come to understand that scientific skepticism is a weird beast that is often difficult to understand, especially from the outside. We are not exactly scientists or journalists or lobbyists or educators, and yet we are all of those things to some extent.

I think the best way to explain scientific skepticism is that it is expertise in everything that can go wrong with science and belief, and it includes execution, communication, education, and regulation. It combines knowledge of science, philosophy, and critical thinking with special expertise in flawed reasoning and deception.

To understand this better, here is a list of what scientific skeptics promote and do.

Respect for Knowledge and Truth: Skep tics value reality and what is true. We therefore endeavor to be as reality-based as possible in our beliefs and opinions. This means subjecting all claims to a valid process of evaluation.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Skeptical Inquirer - September October 2016
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