Hayley is a Ghost

Please stop preaching at me. Thanks.

Posted on: August 3, 2010

I identify myself as somebody who uses skepticism, in general life as well as my paranormal research. I love skepticism because, quite simply it is an approach to things. Not just psychics/alt-med/ghosts/monster things, but everything in life. It’s a simple, educational and amazing way to go about living your life in this complicated world and I love it because of that.

However, what I hate about it is that there seems to be a lot of debate about what skepticism is and what somebody who calls themselves a skeptic should do. I think it’s a lot of hype about nothing in particular.

Is skepticism a community?

Is it a movement?

Is it a collective? A force?

Personally, my opinion is that skepticism isn’t a community, it isn’t a movement, it isn’t a collective or a force. It can’t be labelled as any of those things and anyone who does so is overlooking one very important fact.

Lots of skeptics have different aims and goals with their skepticism.

Skepticism is like a build up of many different movements, many different communities and different collectives and forces who are all doing their own thing in what they probably percieve to be the best way they can do it.

Some people genuinely want to make a difference in the world and want to undo damage done by dangerous claims. Some people want to debate people openly who make said claims, others want to mock them, others just want to learn or talk to people with similar outlooks on life – just because a person who considers themselves to be a skeptic doesn’t “do” skepticism in the same way as others doesn’t mean they’re doing it wrong.

I personally like to remain polite, friendly, but to the point when I use skepticism – but that doesn’t mean other people should, it’s my personal preference to how I go about things that way.

The thing I hate about skepticism is the attitude that many have that makes them seem like they believe they are superior skeptics because they think the way they go about things is better than other people – because they don’t agree with what other people achieve or try to acheive, or the way they try to achieve it.

I don’t like being preached at by people who believe they hold some sort of ground over me because they don’t and never will. So please, no more preaching and telling people how to be skeptical because not only is it rude, it’s oppressive and it may just stop people from being vocally skeptical for fear of ‘doing it wrong’ and that’s a step backwards.

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6 Responses to "Please stop preaching at me. Thanks."

I think at the minute, if anything, Skeptic is more like a brand. The being preached at aspect is probably not entirely the angle those “preaching” intend however it may be symptomatic of a couple of things.

A shift away from London being the centre of the UKs skeptical world perhaps? Most of the criticisms of how skeptics go about things seem to be emanating from down there?

Then again that’s probably just because of the concentration of skeptics in londonium more than anything else.

But I personally can’t stand folks preaching about other people preaching. A recent XKCD cartoon on atheism sums up how most people react to such things.

It reeks of smug superiority and really if your argument is all about how people perceive you than you probably don’t want to be seen as smug and superior.

Critical self reflection is good, it’s a sign of healthy skepticism. But if you go about it in such a way that it puts people backs up…

Well you’ve already lost your own argument.

I know where you’re coming from.

It’s nice when people bring their collective energy together to do something positive about something that’s causing obvious harm in the world, and skeptics can do that and have done that and, I think, should continue to do that.

But that doesn’t mean it needs to be the primary objective and I’m not sure ‘skepticism’ should be the driver.

I think Skepticism is both a thought process and some form of brand, movement, grouping, or something or the other. It also seems to me that this skeptical “class” of folks is experiencing a period of growing pains. While I am not well versed in the skeptical politics of Britain, I think it is a discussion going in much of the English speaking skeptical world.

I think there are many ways to contribute to this amorphous whole, but there are a lot of obnoxious and arrogant people within the group. It just seems to me that while rational thought is a wonderful tool, it does not mean this tool is useful in all of life’s endeavors. Some things such as the arts, parts of moral and ethical views, politics, and to an extent even religion are not always amenable to a rational tool kit. I fear a lot of people fail to grasp this notion. As much as I can defend that American football is superior to soccer, and you might argue the opposite, we are likely never to agree.

Basically, it is good to be a bit humble, and be aware of limits. I just hope the small band of skeptics in the world don’t chew each others heads off arguing how to be a proper skeptic or what the goals of skepticism should be.

Enjoyed the post.

[…] I intend to touch upon these points, going on to address them more fully, perhaps elsewhere as others have already done. However, in this post, I am interested in the greater “meta-issue” that this debate has yet (to my mind) to fully address. Hayley Stephens has already started the ball rolling with her thought provoking piece here. […]

There are certain ways skeptics handle themselves that are, in my mind, wrong. If a skeptic debunks something carelessly, that he/she knows nothing about, it’s possible to give people the impression that the skeptic holds an indefensible position. I explain it better, though much longer, in my blog post:

http://bit.ly/aYA4of

I definitely agree that skepticism has more to do with how one handles themselves in life, and less to do with ghosts and whatnot. Skepticism is helpful when speaking to a salesperson, looking at food labels, or listening to a child’s version of how the lamp got broken, for instance.

I disagree with the idea that skepticism is more to do with “life, and less to do with ghosts and whatnot” because skepticism is just as relevant in those areas as it is in other areas of life.

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Hayley is a ghost

Hayley Stevens is an advocate for science-based research into seemingly paranormal experiences and occurrences. With a background in the pseudo-scientific research into ghosts, Hayley offers a unique insight into the strange world of ghost hunting through her experience.

She describes herself as 'a ghost hunter who doesn't hunt for ghosts' and this is her personal blog where she writes about ghosts, people, and other interesting things. Read more here.

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