T Nation

Is Skepticism Healthy?


#1

I'm curious as to how much skepticism is healthy. Surely being skeptical about every single thing could be bad as you'd be questioning everything in life and become paranoid.

I'm a fairly skeptical person. I tend to question a lot of things that people take as gospel. There's a joke between my friends and I about how I'm always skeptical about different subjects.

There's a lot of intelligent people that frequent this forum that I guess would be skeptical. What are your thoughts?
Is it healthy? How much is healthy? What do you think of people that aren't skeptical at all ecxept for the blatantly obvious?


#2

I'm skeptical about things that directly affect my life... if it doesn't affect me, I don't worry about it.


#3

am sceptical of the value of scepticism

Dan Akroyd expressed an editorial policy of accepting absolutely everything at face value

to me, that implies that every piece of information is initially assigned the same value without discrimination

provisional conclusions are back-burnered and upgradeed in value based upon accrued independent corroborations

merit is a function of internal consistency of the argument rather than pedigree


#4

I found that when I became skeptical I felt liberated.

We hold on to a lot of things that simply aren't real and true and it's not as scary to let go of those things as many would think.

I now fight the forces of evil that you can only see if you're wearing sunglasses. The sunglasses of logic,reason and rationality.


#5

I think it is good to question assumptions, your own and those that underlie what many may take as, in your word, gospel. Questioning does not meaning taking a negative stance towards, or figuring someone is trying to cool you, or even changing your mind in the end. It can be as simple (though not easy) to ask, why do they belive that and what is acting to bring about that belief.

I feel many ignore much of what happens in their day to day life simply because they just assume that is how it is and it probably does not affect them anyway. Paying attention, thinking about what you experience, and asking questions of it is a much more interesting existence in my mind. But then again, I am an academic who studies these things.


#6

An individual's cultivation of skepticism, in my experience, has always made people more interesting (and I rarely use the word 'always'). Becoming a 'Skeptic' invariably makes people incredibly boring.

Once you stop assuming the validity of any set of assumptions, people generally become more mentally flexible and almost always tend to want to learn more about the world around them. Their decisions, both important and casual, become more intentional. Because they think about their decisions, from my perspective it generally means that when you engage them in conversation, they have something real and thought-provoking to say.

To me, this seems like a win-win proposal.


#7

meh to "skepticism"; what's really lacking in your average person is "critical thinking skills". if you want an example of such a person, find someone that buys the WTC conspiracies hook line and sinker; those are your folks that lack critical thinking skills.


#8

I agree with Tex Ag. I'm someone who questions things, but I don't think that necessarily implies pessimism or a negative world view. For example, I tend to assume good will in people. I'm sure that's colored by my life experiences.

Things are less black and white than they were when I was younger, and I'm more comfortable with the grey, or being in a position of not knowing everything. I may reject some things, or suspend judgement and be comfortable with that. I suppose that implies intellectual flexibility, which hopefully is a sign of growth. :slightly_smiling: In my experience, it's led me more toward a position of humility, rather than arrogance.

In terms of religion, that hasn't led me to live without faith. I suppose it's led me to be more open to the possibilities, and I hope to a deeper appreciation and love for the things that I do believe.

A healthy desire to search and inquire and question is at the root of most scientific endeavor. Thank goodness there are people who are thus inclined.


#9

I'm a skeptik.
In fact, I'm so sceptic of skepticism itself, I tend to vary the notation for no particular reason other then me being sceptik of sceptikism.

But let me tell you without doubt, for sure it's not good for you, if "good" consists of acute, physical wellbeing.
Scepticism is kinda the pursuit of structural unhappiness, for some vague higher goal, a rather bumpy ride through life.
So especially in this time and age, your average asslicker has it way easier.

On a bigger level, though, society NEEDS those critical nitpickers deperately.


#10

I was re-checking this thread, especially the post by Mr. BodyGuard...I think he has a point, in that critical thinking may be a more appropriate name for what I think the OP is striving. Not that there is anything wrong with the basic definition of skepticism, but I think the problem is that far too many people have no idea that there is a difference between 'skepticism' and 'cynicism.' For that matter, those same people seem to also have a problem differentiating between skepticism, cynicism, and 'being a total asshole.'