Skeptic magazine and the Skeptics Society celebrates 20 years. And “skeptics” sure have changed.
At the time we founded the Skeptics Society there was a great deal of debate about the wisdom of using the term “skeptic.” Was it too negative? Did it sound to much like “cynic”? There are basically three options when choosing a name: you can find something that means exactly and only what you want it to (not likely); you can invent a word and spend millions on advertising to define it, like corporations do (too expensive); or you can doggedly redefine an existing term to make it mean what you want it to mean.
We have had a great deal of success redefining “skeptic” with the later strategy. One of the great frustrations when being interviewed by the media is trying to convince producers that the reality behind the myths and the reasons for critical thinking errors are just as interesting as the fantastic claims. They admit they know the psychic, bigfoot, or ancient alien stuff is bunk, but argue that it is what the public wants.
But we’ve noticed a change after 20 years. Now calls from the media usually start with the explanation, “We want to get the skeptical viewpoint.”
Scientific skepticism is a method we value highly here at Doubtful News. It’s encouraging to see the “skeptical viewpoint” put forth in more and more media pieces. I hope to see more! I don’t think ALL of the public wants mystery mongering. Many people want the truth, even if that’s uncomfortable for them to hear. We’re glad to be part of the Skeptic Society tradition and featured on the webpages of Skeptic.com as well.
Consider how important this viewpoint is to you and support your favorite skeptical causes like the Skeptics Society, CFI, the JREF, your favorite podcasts and websites (hint, hint) and your local skeptic orgs and events.