I like to have a little fun here on the blog. I use colorful language and turns of phrase to try and make reading about science, atheism, skepticism, and the like a little less boring-sounding. But one thing that I try really hard not to do is act like an asshole. I don’t think I’m better than anyone, and I hope I don’t come across that way. Some people revel in their assholishness, and it’s those people I’ll discuss now.
You know that skeptic that thinks they’re the best skeptic ever and they’re much better than you at “skeptic”? That guy/gal. That’s the one I’m talking about.
Name: The bestest skeptic EVER
Defining Characteristics: They are the bestest skeptic EVER
Fundie message: I’m better than you.
Why dangerous: They make us all look like fundies. One thing skepticism is supposed to not be, is an organization of people who think they know better than everyone else for no other reason than they think they are better than everyone else. A skeptic must be willing to change their minds, however hard that is, if there is compelling evidence that they should. They should not assume that their minds are immune to the psychological foibles that fool the rest of us. Skeptics, by definition, are not supposed to cling to shreds of old beliefs and act like their into some little secret that others are not. If we start doing that, we’re no better than the people (and their beliefs) that we reject for having that very characteristic. And the worst way to endear yourself to someone is act like you’re better than them. Good luck getting people into critical thinking that way.
Bottom Line: Fancy words, a fancy degree, and a fancily arranged argument do not make a person a skeptic. Being actually skeptical (that is, weighing evidence either way to come to a conclusion) does a much better job. Sure, we may not all be the best skeptic all the time, but that’s the point. Nobody really is. We’re all learning together. “You’re not a perfect skeptic” is hardly an insult, it’s just the truth. And who cares? Not too many until that statement is followed by “but I am”.