Tonight, I and another skeptic from our group were treated to a wondrously, momentously, splendiferously, supercalifragilisticly fabulous occurrence! We were privileged enough to meet a young lady who was never wrong! It was during our local lyric cinema book group* that we watched a girl in her mid twenties take control: cutting people off, patronizing attendees twice her age, and outright laughing at other people’s opinions.
Of course, I was a pitcher or so in, and as my mind is wont to do, it started to wander. Is this what it’s like to be seated next to a table of skeptics? How can we avoid being perceived as a bunch of know-it-alls? Was “Turning Japanese” really about masturbation? Sure the last one is no “To be or not to be?” but I’d still like an answer damn it.
But, back to my point, how do we avoid becoming a group of elitist know-it-alls? While I’m sure anyone who knows me is laughing at the idea that I would try to tackle this issue, I’d like to respectfully submit that the answer is: loving the process. We have to love the logical steps that lead us to a provisional answer, not the answer we get.
As skeptics, we are blessed to have so much low hanging fruit: Roswell was project Mogul, the Bermuda triangle is a case of confirmation bias, and Silvia Brown is a horrendous b****; easy, done, knocked out before breakfast. But, I think we lose something when we approach things in that manner, we lose the process. After all, everyone has the capacity to be skeptical; it’s just a matter of what we choose to apply our skills to. With each final answer we come to, with each decision we become 100% certain of; we create one more set of circumstances in which our skeptical tool kit plays no part. A true believer is just a skeptic who has picked a “yes” in their life that they feel is beyond the process, and a denier is just a skeptic who, conversely, has chosen a “no.”
Tomorrow, someone is going to confront me with woo; it could be a friend, a teacher, a colleague or a salesman; and, at the end of the conversation it’s likely that homeopathy still won’t work, I won’t be signing up for any expeditions to capture big foot, and I won’t be hanging crystals from my nipples to ward off insomnia. But, I hope that I’ll manage to listen openly and honestly to those who disagree with me, and ply my skepticism in a way that lets people know that I’m looking for the answers, not providing them.
Not that I’m so fucking clever,
*The lyric cinema book group is a monthly group in Fort Collins where we read a book, watch the movie, drink a few beers and have a great discussion. If you get the time it’s a lot of fun.