Over at his “step-by-step” post Upright BiPed muses over the irony of Elizabeth Liddle calling herself “skeptical” and naming her blog “The Skeptical Zone” when she clings to conclusions driven by her deeply held ideological predispositions in the teeth of logic and evidence and with a dogmatic fervor that would make a medieval churchman blush.
The dictionary defines “skeptical” as “an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object.” That last phrase is the key. When a person says they are skeptical, they may mean they are generally skeptical or particularly skeptical.
UB obviously believes that a person who takes on the mantle of skepticism is using the word in the former sense, i.e., generally skeptical. And perhaps that is the way Liddle intends to use it. The problem, of course, is that in practice she is far from generally skeptical. And she is not alone. It has been my invariable experience that people who go out of the way to call themselves skeptical are in fact skeptical of everything, everything that is except received knowledge and conventional wisdom, which they cling to with a blinkered zeal they would mock were they to see it in others.
Naturally, UB expects that if the denizens of The Skeptical Zone were genuinely skeptical (in the general sense of that word), the “Central Dogma” of Darwinian Evolution would be the first thing about which they would be skeptical. After all, Darwinian Evolution is perhaps the archetypical conventional wisdom of our time. But that is obviously not the case. Instead, The Skeptical Zone is a place where the Central Dogma is zealously defended. UB is right. The name of Liddle’s blog is unintentionally ironic. If Liddle were to title her blog truthfully it would be called “The Zone Where We Are Skeptical About Everything But Our Own Cherished Beliefs, Which We Never Question Much Less Seriously Challenge.” Yep, delicious irony seasoned with more than a dash of hypocrisy.