Oh, dear. Every Halloween-themed story out this week about ghosts and monsters and the people who seek them will invariably have the term “skeptic” in it. This person is the group’s “skeptic” or this person “was a skeptic until…” Most egregious are those who are completely gullible and pooh-pooh the skeptical process as being “closed-minded” or grumpy. Well, we’re here to set the journalists straight if not the ghost hunters who revel in the attention this time of year.
Freely available to distribute is The Media Guide to Skepticism.
- What is ‘skepticism’?
- What does it mean to be a ‘skeptic’?
- What skepticism isn’t
- What do skeptics do?
Skepticism is application of critical thinking. Those who say they are seeking evidence of ghosts and monsters aren’t applying any critical thinking whatsoever or they would not be using this particular approach. Yet, today I’m deluged with fluff pieces promoting the local groups desiring paranormal publicity.
Here’s what you can do:
Go to public presentations by amateur paranormal investigators. Ask what they mean if they say they are “scientific” or “skeptical”. How do they apply critical thinking? (They rule out non-paranormal sources? Oh? They have exhausted all plausible options?) Ask them if they have done peer-reviewed research, published their results, or have any degrees in scientific fields. Are they vetting their findings through an actual scientist? What use are their results? It’s easy as pie to get them scrambling.
Pass on the Media Guide link in the comments of any article that throws the word “skeptic” around too loosely. Send the link to the journalist. Be polite but firm. Too many are cheapening the learned skill of critical thinking just to make themselves seem more credible. It’s a ruse, don’t be fooled.