Skepticism And The Web

I would like to argue that, as the world becomes more global, it will also become more skeptical. Let me first give a bit of background before I argue the reasons for this prediction.

Skepticism is an epistemological disposition. It is a commitment to disbelief until a certain threshold of evidence has been provided. It disparages faith and credulity.

What would humanity look like were skepticism not the default disposition towards new propositions? It would look exactly as it does now with -isms of every imaginable sort, all competing with specious but majestic assertions and other emotional weapons to trespass the barriers of evidential warrant and created bloated ontologies of mythical entities and proportions. Waiting for the proper evidence to arrive that would substantiate a wonderful concept is not very agreeable to the impatient human psyche that is constantly seeking more existential validation than is ever available. But this longing for existential validation is no warrant for violating the barriers of evidential warrant, and any mind that trespasses in this manner must constantly self-delude. This is the rate of exchange; self-delusion for a bit of existential comfort.

What would humanity look like were skepticism the default disposition towards new propositions? There would be far fewer -isms that trespass the evidence. And there would be far less self-delusion.

But what are the dynamics that I suggest are moving humanity towards the more healthy epistemological default of skepticism?

  1. Respectability
    Previously, skeptics were the small minority of every community. However, with the advent of digital communities, skeptics can argue their points with a solidarity that cannot be dismissed as the mere eccentricity of a handful. And the very fact that individuals from very disparate cultures have a common default that very consistently defines their mutual positions on pseudo-science, pseudo-medicine, religion, and any other belief system based on unwarranted beliefs, lends evidence towards the substance of the position. This respectability is even now beginning to cast proper doubt on the ideologies based on less-than-warranted belief.
  2. A Sense of Community
    The disenfranchisement of the lone skeptic is rarely necessary as skeptics have converged on-line to offer support to one another, alleviating much of the existential angst resulting from their former isolation. It also allows newer skeptics to examine the existential satisfaction of more experienced skeptics who can say “I don’t know” about objective entities without feeling subjectively purposeless.
  3. Empowerment
    Another consequence of this new on-line community of skeptics is that they are now able to choose a focus of resources to make make an active difference in the world.
  4. Unified Ideology
    Skeptics can hone their critical thinking skills by bouncing their arguments off fellow skeptics. The subtle fallacies in thought that often slip into the unsuspecting individual mind are weeded out in this manner.

These emergent properties of community have invigorated once-isolated skeptics, and have allowed many non-skeptics entrapped by one of the many variants of faith to reassess their unwarranted beliefs without fearing the existential darkness previously ascribe to skepticism.

Polls already confirm the trend. Credulity is on the decline. In its stead is a healthy skepticism that much better serves humanity by drawing individuals of every culture away from unconstrained unwarranted belief systems that will inevitably generate hostilities, and back within the proper constraints of evidential warrant. A commitment to evidential warrant will yield a common mind across humanity that will greatly improve our chances for a mutually beneficial existence.


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