In “The Believing Brain: Why Science Is the Only Way Out of Belief-Dependent Realism” Scientific American (July 5, 2011), Michael Shermer informs us,
dependency on belief and its host of psychological biases is why, in science, we have built-in self-correcting machinery. Strict double-blind controls are required, in which neither the subjects nor the experimenters know the conditions during data collection. Collaboration with colleagues is vital. Results are vetted at conferences and in peer-reviewed journals. Research is replicated in other laboratories. Disconfirming evidence and contradictory interpretations of data are included in the analysis. If you don’t seek data and arguments against your theory, someone else will, usually with great glee and in a public forum. This is why skepticism is a sine qua non of science, the only escape we have from the belief-dependent realism trap created by our believing brains.
Imagine. He even mentions peer review, widely understood to be the enforcement arm of mediocrity, as if it were some kind of protection. Skepticism, as typically understood in practice today, becomes an invitation to make fun of traditional assumptions, not an invitation to face reality. If you are a “skeptic,” you put your faith in Bloomberg’s Ida fossil or the Big Bazooms theory of human evolution. It also means you are constantly trying to disprove the fact that thoughts can sometimes influence events.
SkepticismTM is just another cult, really, with a whole bunch of rules and assumptions, and it makes science into a cult object.
There just isn’t an easy road to truth. There are easy roads, to be sure, but they don’t go there.
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