On Selective Skepticism

12 July, 2020 - 3 min read

There is skepticism as a permanent attitude and there is selective skepticism. A distinction between both is necessary. Selective skepticism is necessary in sound reasoning and discovery of truth. But being permanent skeptics can damage our perception of the real-world.

We shouldn't respond everything with doubt. There are situations where we should use selective skepticism. Selective skepticism is a useful tool when investigating the truth. It is useful to find enough information to validate a hypothesis or an argument. We should be reluctant to accept any conclusions at face value. Especially when a premise is questionable. Or a premise is being made by a questionable individual. This kind of healthy skepticism is necessary.

But skepticism as a permanent attitude can impair our perception of the real-world. Someone with this view will refuse to accept any sound reasoning. Or fail to understand the reasoning process. The extreme skeptic will claim there is no standard for sound reasoning so he or she will reject any truth. The whole purpose of logic is to discover the truth. It can be deadly if an individual does not bother to search for truth.

So, what should we do? Besides, being a selective skeptic, we can strive to be an optimist. But be aware of naive optimism. A naive optimist is someone who makes positive estimates without sufficient evidence. This represents an illogical position because a naive optimist acts out of prejudice. Their mind is already made up about a particular matter before they have engaged in other alternatives. Being a naive optimist clouds our observation if we ignore reality.

Embrace reality and seek to improve it. We can fix problems by keeping our minds open to various possibilities. A narrow-minded person will not consider alternatives because they do not meet their assumptions. An open-minded person will seek all possible alternatives and relevant information.

Being a permanent skeptic, naive optimist, or narrow-minded will cloud our observations. So what must we do? Do what scientists do: strive for objectivity. Scientists try to describe the world as it is, not as they want it to be. Selective skeptics will seek to answer whys and hows questions by using method of scientific integrity.

A sound reasoning can eliminate all prejudices by deploying selective skepticism in necessary situations.

Selective skepticism and sound reasoning can eliminate all prejudices in necessary situations.

There are in fact two things: science and opinion; the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance. — Hippocrates

It does not make any difference how beautiful your guess is. It does not make any difference how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is—if it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. — Richard Feynman

Sit down before facts like a child, and be prepared to give up every preconceived Notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses Nature leads, or shall learn nothing. — Thomas Henry Huxley