Six questions which to ask your skeptic, all revolve around their ability to demonstrate inside their lives, the very mettle about which they so often preach. Thinking disciplines, hard work and open mindedness are positive traits which result in particular quality of life flags. The skeptic which lacks these signature life results, most likely also lacks the meritorious qualities which serve to produce them.
Parents’ Basement Skepticism has taken over from armchair skepticism. Armchair skepticism was a form of quasi-academic, cynical denial; a redeployment of the fear which religion created, inside a person who had rejected religion, but not its motivations of dogmatic denial. These were the people who insisted for instance, that the the gestures of Koko the gorilla, were mere imitations of her trainers, and not indeed a ‘vocabulary’.1 The religion was gone, but the fear based denial still resided in their core. These individuals were typically lazy, prone to pontification, angry and stuck in some form of academic cul-de-sac.
The new form of armchair skepticism, Parents’ Basement Skepticism, consists of social media fueled angry trolls; some of whom are compensated by industry front groups. Political and social activists who knew everything they needed to know, at age 17 – and may or may not have added a PhD in order to place an exclamation point behind it. They are often filled with hate (albeit demonstrated through virtue signaling), lacking adeptness at science and maths, struggling with their relationship or role inside academia, or pretty much failed at everything, seeking to punish those who they blame for their predicament.2 3
The Six Questions to Ask Your Internet Skeptic
There are six questions to ask this type of ‘skeptic’, when encountered inside issue advocacy or over social media. Some of these do indeed constitute pretty tough standards; but remember, you are challenging the credential of a person who is implying that they hold science-proved truth, have ascertained it themselves through ‘critical thinking’, that you are irrational and are a member of some pejoratively named group they despise, and that they represent science in all this. Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence. Ask for the evidence inside these questions:
1. First question to ask a social skeptic:
Have you moved out of your parents’ basement yet?
2. Second question to ask a social skeptic:
Does your quality of life reflect the results incumbent with allegiance to the critical thought, order, hard research work and discipline which you implicitly enforce upon others?
(having made some money, does not count – your household, love, career, children and charitable works should all exhibit a quality of leadership, goal focus, discipline and character)
3. Third question to ask a social skeptic:
How many trips into the field or direct studies have you personally funded or provided the work content for? Have you filed a patent/discovery/study and do you know the difference between a claim, framing, observation, prior art and disclosure?
(arm’s length statistical studies or ‘research articles’ do not count – funding a study indicates that you really wanted an answer)
4. Fourth question to ask a social skeptic:
What objective and visible dissent from your club’s talking doctrine have you ever offered up to them for their consideration?
(‘dissenting’ but keeping quiet about it, does not count)
5. Fifth question to ask a social skeptic:
What major contribution, groundbreaking original idea, or change to the world have you ever personally crafted or helped to deploy? And what did you do in response to the nay-sayers?
(deploying skepticism or critical thinking itself does not count. Having published an article or book does not count – in fact if one has more articles or books, than funded studies or trips into the field – that is a warning flag that they are a glorified Parents’ Basement Skeptic. And if you did not have any nay-sayers, ‘cuz everything you did was correct’, then you have not done anything)
6. Sixth question to ask a social skeptic”
Have you ever changed your adult or professional point of view, based upon novel evidence?
(having ‘discovered science’ which changed your childhood indoctrinated mind about God, critical thinking or pseudo-science, and then never having had it changed thereafter, does not count. Minor shit does not count either – as there are literally hundreds of subjects your club decries, which are of major import – these count)
For example, if one were in a discussion with Dr. Michael Shermer – one would find that he is a well regarded professional, with a disciplined lifestyle academically and personally, has made numerous trips to investigate anomalous activity, has chastised his skeptic cabal at times for their proclivities, and has made some major contributions to skepticism and philosophy. Finally, he has begun to change his mind on the methods of skepticism in recent years; ‘softening a bit’ as he puts it. All laudable characteristics and positive personal history flags. He has earned the right to stand on the stage of skepticism.
I disagree with his conclusions, and am wont to point out that he sometimes lets the indicators of a priori club bias and conclusion-mindedness slip through the smokescreen of sophistry, which belie his claims to suspension of judgement and desire to see the evidence first. But I now listen to Michael with an open mind because he has passed my question qualifications.
But there are several social skeptics, money-minded authors who churn out books with regularity, bearing titles like ‘Conspiracy Theory Refutations’ and ‘Critical Review of The Paranormal and Pseudoscience’ on hundreds of topics inside which they could not possibly have developed any expertise, nor to which they have contributed any actual field work. These fakers I count as Parents’ Basement Skeptics too.
The gist of these questions (discounting the first one of course) is – don’t talk to me a lot about skepticism and science. Show me where you have really applied it in your life.
The Ethical Skeptic, “Parents’ Basement Skepticism” The Ethical Skeptic, WordPress, 21 Jun 2018; Web, https://wp.me/p17q0e-7R9
- National Geographic Magazine: Conversations with a Gorilla”; June 2018; Web, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/1978/10/conversations-with-koko-the-gorilla/
- The evolution of the internet troll. Part 1: we are all trolls”; Phrasee Blogs, 7 June 2016; Web, https://phrasee.co/the-internet-troll/
- (note: the picture to the right is reused with many thanks from “The evolution of the internet troll. Part 1: we are all trolls”; Phrasee Blogs, 7 June 2016; Web, https://phrasee.co/the-internet-troll/)
Honestly engaging or debating people with a different viewpoint is often helpful in order to break out of a narrow way of thinking. This YouTube video is likely too long for most folk to watch (something like three and half hours!) but in this podcast you can see Michael Shermer getting some push-back when he rather blindly resorted to his talking points. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=39&v=tFlAFo78xoQ Yet still at the end of the podcast Michael Shermer said some kind remarks to a man he was debating. So Michael does have some open-mindedness. He even corrected some material that another guest or partner of… Read more »