A great majority of those who label themselves as skeptics find it difficult to question their beliefs, often using techniques like compartmentalization or turning a blind eye to any subject that may cause some uproar. Being a skeptic is not about being an atheist or humanist, let alone blindly questioning everything. Those are two extremes that have to accept are unacceptable in our pragmatic universe.
You may be an atheist for a number of reasons, none of which equate to being a skeptic. Hatred of or confusion within the church do not lead to skepticism. Skepticism is a world view, a filter through which you pass everything before placing it into one of the grooves of your brain. Skepticism is not a badge that you wear that makes you immune to the irrational, and more it doesn’t plug into the internet and channel the information of the cosmos.
Being willing to question beliefs can be quite offensive to a person who holds them to be gospel. Imagine being in the position of having been born into a church, as my new friends at the LDS church have been. How would you handle someone coming forward with the fact that it doesn’t really make sense, poking holes in their beliefs and showing that its impossible to know they are correct when opposed to the panacea of options before us. It can only be frustrating and upsetting, and people will avoid feeling that way like the plague.
These people may have been as reasonable about politics and the wars in the world, mathematics and science as is humanly possible, but as soon as they offer up a position on a subject that is unsupported and or unreasonable, which they hold true, you have to ask the question – Why?
Admittedly, not everyone is in a position to be able to question their world. Alcoholism, poverty and illness, death and a number of other things are often offered up as reasons for allowing people to believe, and unfortunately people enjoy their pseudo science.
This past week my friends and I went into a shop called East Meets West, a store of everything pseudo. Inside, a woman was touting the benefits of feng shui. For those who don’t know already, feng shui is all about organization of ones house, and the belongings therein, to help the good energies in and the bad energies out, increasing ones luck – from this point forward we will refer to these as juju, not because it is scientifically useful but because the word is the only thing more hilarious than the idea that moving a couch so you do not face a window would lead to improving ones chances of winning the lottery.
This woman pushes the belief that if you overlay a 3×3 grid of same sized squares on your room, you can put one key juju channeling item in each square and you will achieve your goals. Juju channeling is accomplished with fountains and glassware, as opposed to a window or a piece of furniture. The woman made it clear to one woman that her fireplace needs a mirror over it, to channel the bad juju of the fireplace through the room. She diagrammed the grid and showed something peculiar – If you put all of your items in the 8 spots on the edge outside of your room, your 9th can go anywhere within that circumference, including outside of the middle square. That may make the squares just a silly task, but… theres more…
On her desk was an EM Field detector, industrial grade. She was making the argument that the EM fields in your house are bad for you, by showing that they are present. “Mountain View is the wire! The EM fields are all around you here. If you want to get away from it you should move to Idaho or Montana.” Note that she said this inside a shop in mountain view with halogen lights beaming down on her, signing books that she had to have printed off from a digital format, next to her cell phone and while her assistant took pictures with a digital camera.
“Look, I am skeptical. Don’t get me wrong. Life is not all woo woo. But if you don’t organize things in your house with these scientific patterns you will have a much harder time in life.“
Clearly this woman is not a skeptic.