Are you a cynic, or simply skepticky? Perform steps I – III below and rate yourself on the Cynic Scale. You might be surprised at what you discover.
Step I – Rate your agreement with each of the following statements from 1 to 5, with 5 indicating most agreement that this statement represents your sentiment or usual actions as applicable.
2. I think that skepticism should be employed to evaluate most likely conclusions on an issue, especially if it aids the effectiveness and focus of science or scientists. 1 2 3 4 5
3. I sometimes identify myself to others as a skeptic when in an online discussion in which claims are made which are questionable, but I am not a cynic. 1 2 3 4 5
4. I am wise to apply doubt or critical thinking to any subject or claim before I have the access or time to research it more. 1 2 3 4 5
5. When examining evidence behind a claim, I often start with a certain set of reliable reference resources then branch out from there for more depth. 1 2 3 4 5
6. I apply doubt, critical thinking or skepticism and it has made me a more trustworthy person whom to ask about challenging issues. 1 2 3 4 5
7. If I spend too much time among the believers I tend to get weary and need to reconnect with my peers, if not for simply a little comic relief. 1 2 3 4 5
8. If we are to start the process of science, I like to ask a question as the first step. After all, that is the scientific method. 1 2 3 4 5
9. My powers of perception or discernment are above average. 1 2 3 4 5
10. With some exceptions, my peers in skepticism tend to agree with most of my positions and I agree with most of theirs. 1 2 3 4 5
11. I can name a couple forums/subjects where conspiracy theorists seem to gather in higher number. 1 2 3 4 5
12. When hit with a challenging claim, my first thought is to examine the evidence behind it, if any. 1 2 3 4 5
13. Agents for various irrational beliefs are at times now posing as ‘skeptics.’ 1 2 3 4 5
14. I sometimes am aghast at the level of bunk accusations targeting our corporations, medical and food producers. 1 2 3 4 5
15. All things being equal, I will pretty much always tend to side with the consensus of scientists on a controversial matter. 1 2 3 4 5
16. I think that people who believe irrational things and/or mislead others should be held to some form of public or humorous example. 1 2 3 4 5
17. I think in terms of skepticism when the contentions of a pseudoscience come up, but I am not a cynic about it. 1 2 3 4 5
18. I am usually more comfortable when citing the conclusions of science, than swallowing bunk without evidence. 1 2 3 4 5
19. I don’t regularly read pseudoscience research; it would for the most part be a waste of time. 1 2 3 4 5
20. I regularly apply doubt and critical thinking on subjects outside my field(s) of expertise. 1 2 3 4 5
Now tally up the total of points you earned on questions 1 – 20.
Step II – Now, add 20 points to your score tally from Step I.
Step III – Now find your position on the Scale of Cynicism above.
Skeptic (20 – 65) – You have a healthy perspective on knowledge and the pitfalls of human nature and knee jerk thinking. You are skeptical of self first, then skeptical of claims to represent truth and official knowledge. Yes you are skeptical of extraordinary claims, but you understand that this is not the only domain for its application. You do not seek to control or deceive self or others – rather seek to simply find out what is going on through proactive investigation, without a prejudiced desire for specific outcomes. You don’t see evidence as a thing to be brought to you on a silver platter, and recognize that most of science does not operate on ‘proof.’ You can spot a cynic a mile away and well before they can even spot themselves.
Skepticky – (66 – 87) – You have heard all the propaganda regarding skepticism and what it is, and some of it was sticky. You put on this pretense like a fashionable coat and wore it – but didn’t think too much through what you were actually adopting as a character and life’s philosophy. Inside, you have a sincere desire to follow the evidence, yet are hampered by exempting self and other ‘skeptics’ from your skepticism, thoughts about ‘proof’ and the burden of ‘claims’ being brought to you. Because this seems to sound right, right? This renders you vulnerable to being used as a functional cynic as opposed to a real skeptic. Real cynics would not even give you the time of day, save for your spouting off the familiar one liners. So you do. Shake loose these shackles and learn what real skepticism is about.
Social Cynic – (88 – 120) – You are a full-on cynic, but being acutely aware that such an approach to life is both bad science and bad character, you seek to hide this flaw from both yourself and those around you. Your ‘skepticism’ comprises a set of mandatory beliefs couched inside a few key good sounding thoughts you overheard from allies in forum arguments or from celebrities about skepticism. Try and find even one thing you disagree with social skeptics on. I bet you can’t. That is a sad state of affair. Try and tell yourself that you don’t have a target group which you disdain for their beliefs. Your self won’t believe you. You need a skepticism and possibly a character overhaul. A life spent anesthetized through code phrases, blinded from understanding its own cynicism, is a life which is very less likely to result in any benefit to mankind.
Social Skeptics bear the habit of hiding what it is they are seeking to promote. They accomplish this misrepresentation through terminological equivocation and the employment of club signature intimidation words. It behooves the Ethical Skeptic to understand what a person means when they utter certain words, and ensure that the words are not being implied as club weapons to enforce specious religious doctrines. It behooves the Ethical Skeptic to understand their own employment of such words, and exercise the use of them in a context of ethical clarity; to disarm the social inference that such words mean more, than they really do. To err in either regard is the source of all fanaticism.
Say What You Mean
Social Skeptics erroneously influence their acolytes through misleading them as to the meaning behind the terms they employ, and the nature of the underlying philosophy entailed. They believe that their use of the terms evolution, atheism and science affords them immediate scientific gravitas and a perch of correctness. When a person slings around the terms evolution, atheism and science, for me this is not tantamount to an immediate free pass into the graces of trustworthiness. I regularly encourage the Social Skeptic vulnerable among us to understand what it is indeed that they mean, by the terms they employ. Clarity is one of the consequentialist goals of Ethical Skepticism. If you represent critical thinking, science and rationality, then one would be hypocritical to not employ complex terms in a frame of meaningful reference. Otherwise the terms are simply used as a weapon of pretense and intimidation. I use the words evolution, atheism and science – therefore anything I say is scientifically correct, and I have an entire cadre of bullies available to back me up if I so choose. This is not science, it is a hypo epistemological process of fraud.
As an Ethical Skeptic, if I am to continue inside a discourse of life and meaning with such a person, I need to know if they really understand what they are saying when they spout off the words so frequently uttered by their ‘mentors.’ I really need to know what they mean by
Evolution – do they mean speciated diversity of life through the generational culling of environmentally stimulated allele changes?
Or …do they mean that life sprang up on Earth through abiogenesis and random primordial ooze, therefore we are simply a one way genetic expression machine which has deterministically resulted in the fluke illusion of consciousness? The former fact is science, the latter argument is a highly separate religion – often protected by and conflated inside the club weapon word ‘evolution.’
Atheism – do they mean a personal ethic of not commenting or concluding around this undefinable construct called ‘god?’
Or …do they mean that they hate (and habitually apologize around this) anything to do with a certain religion, its adherents and any idea that a magical bearded entity poofed the universe into existence in 6 days, 6000 years ago? Do they really mean that they choose to venerate Material Monism, and an existential lack of any innate purpose to this biosphere Earth, or any other similar events which occur in our Universe? Really, because I am not sure how one derives such a conclusion. I did not possess their enthalpy laden spaceship, that much psychic clairvoyance, nor that much time, in order to determine such an extraordinary claim myself. The former choice is an ethical action, the latter argument is a highly separate religion called Nihilism – often protected by and conflated inside the club weapon word ‘atheism.’
Science – do they mean both the body of accepted knowledge and the method by which we objectively qualify and build that knowledge?
Or …do they mean screaming about a selective set of physical measures which target confirmation and methodically avoid falsification of a specific religious understanding of the world around us? Do they mean an ontology protected through a non acknowledged Omega Hypothesis (the hypothesis which is developed to end all argument) masquerading as the ‘null hypothesis,’ through an inverse negation fallacious approach – and therefore socially enforced as truth? The former definition is science, the latter argument is a highly separate religious hypoepistemology – often protected by and conflated inside the club weapon word ‘science.’
Science is also about clarity, value, disciplined thinking and trustworthiness. When you hear me use the words above, I mean the former and not the latter in each case. If I attempted to imply the orange ontologies in the chart below, as scientific truth – I could not look at myself in the mirror in the morning – from such a display of dishonesty. Passing off one’s ontology as a science, constitutes not only pseudoscience, but is a Wittgenstein Error (Epistemological) as well. Be wary of those who can do such without conscience. Be very wary of those who can not only look at themselves in the mirror after promoting such fraud, but aspire to celebrity in the process as well. The incorrect use of these words abrogates your claim to represent scientific thinking. Say what you mean – and you will gain the respect of those who truly understand philosophy and science.
Mean What You Say
If you join a movement, organization or philosophical movement – do so because you really understand and really mean and believe those tenets which are promoted by that movement. Don’t do so because you desire to appear as smart and scientific, or need some kind of self affirmation and acceptance, pep rallies or the rush of shaming others whom you regard as beneath you intellectually or socially. Such dispositions render one vulnerable to being manipulated by celebrity and malevolent influences. Otherwise, you are living what is called a Lie of Allegiance. If you, quietly over a couple beers, will soften your stance and reflect on a whole series of doubts you carry – but must hold in abeyance – then you are living a Lie of Allegiance. People in churches do this to make their families happy. People in Social Skepticism do this, and worse, in order to gain acceptance to that club. This personal foible is anathema to the Ethical Skeptic.
/philosophy : self understanding : cognitive dissonance : error/ : mistaking one’s fanaticism or being ‘hardcore’ as positively indicative of the level of understanding and commitment one possesses inside a philosophy or adopted belief set. The reality is that being fanatical or hardcore indicates more one’s dissonance over not fully believing, nor fully understanding the nature of the belief tenets to which they have lent fealty.
A fanaticist is different from a fanatic. A fanatic simply loves a particular subject or brand. A fanaticist on the other hand employs their outward extremism as a cover to hide an unacknowledged and suppressed inner cognitive dissonance.
A useful tool in Social Skepticism, the Lie of Allegiance, keeps the faithful unified and aligned in playing select activist roles. A Lie of Allegiance is often promoted through one-liners, weapon words and circularly quoted propaganda, initially deployed by celebrity SSkeptics, and enforced by the faithful, looking for purpose power and reward. It relies upon the ignorance of its participants, leveraged through the application of pep rallies and the pummeling of effigies of evil opponents. This is why the acolytes and trolls of Social Skepticism often focus on politics and persons, and not science itself. They either do not fully understand, nor do they fully believe, the philosophy to which they have lent their fealty.
This inner dissonance, prompts what we observe as fanaticism.
The Lie of Allegiance
1. The origin of fanaticism. The core argument which binds together a group on one side in a false dilemma.
2. A core philosophy (such as Nihilism or Material Monism) which is masked by a differing but similar and more attractive cover philosophy (such as atheism) because of the cover philosophy’s generally more acceptable nature.
3. A principle which is not fully regarded as truth by many or most of the members of a club of adherents, rather is adopted as a preemptive compromise in order to gain acceptance in that club. A principle employed only as the default, Omega Hypothesis, or battle cry agenda around which to combat those on the other side of the false dilemma argument. The measure of adherence to the Lie of Allegiance principle is more a reflection of disdain towards those of antithetical positions, than it is an expression of rational conclusion on the part of the adherent.
i. Many of the proponents in a Lie of Allegiance based organization, do not fully understand their Lie of Allegiance, nor perceive its contrast with the cover philosophy to which they in reality adhere.
Example: Most self proclaimed atheists cannot coherently frame the difference between atheism, skepticism, agnosticism, naturalism, nihilism, ignosticism, monism, materialism, tolerance and apatheism.
ii. Many members involved in a Lie of Allegiance do not in reality care about the specifics of the teaching under which they profess fealty. Specific psychologies involving the Ten Pillars are at play inside the binding power of the Lie of Allegiance.
Example: Many self proclaimed atheists wear the badge as a result of an emotional state, rather than a discriminating choice of conscience. This renders them susceptible to Nihilist’s, who use rally cries and the pummeling of christian issues in effigy, as a way to enlist the emotional allegiance of those who have poorly rationalized their ontology.
Social Skeptics bear the habit of hiding what it is they are seeking to promote. They accomplish this misrepresentation through terminological equivocation and the employment of club signature weapon words. It behooves the Ethical Skeptic to understand what a person means when they utter certain words, and ensure that the words are not being implied as club weapons to enforce specious religious doctrines. It behooves the Ethical Skeptic to understand their own employment of such words, and exercise the use of them in a context of ethical clarity; to disarm the social inference that such words mean more, than they really do.
I look at myself in the mirror each morning, and I like and respect the guy I see there.