March 07, 2016

Scientific skepticism, like atheism, is nothing above general humanity

I've repeatedly said, in various blog posts, in response on Facebook and elsewhere to Gnu Atheists and more, that atheism is no guarantor of either moral or intellectual superiority.

I've pretty much come to the same conclusion about so-called "scientific skeptics" or "movement skeptics," with the partial allowance for them having some degree of intellectual superiority within the narrow field of scientific skepticism.

The last straw on this is (and it's public on Facebook, so I can name him) is Mark Boslaugh claiming that Ralph Nader, and Ralph Nader as a Green, cost Al Gore the 2000 election. The reality, far different, is that Al Gore cost Al Gore the election far more than anybody else, followed by Theresa LaPore and others. And, the rest of the argument is also false. There was no national Green Party in 2000; Nader was running on a mix of independent ballot lines and state Green Party ballot lines, whatever state he was in. In states that had state Green parties, he originally gave a pledge not to run hard in "swing states," which he may have broken.

Sidebar: As I've said elsewhere, I didn't vote for Nader because he had, and has, an ego bigger than either Gore or Bush, and issues related to that popped up in that election.

Boslaugh then, at the end of an argument about this, where I said that scientific skeptics shouldn't pass on urban legends, claimed I didn't know what skepticism is.

In response, in my last comment on thread, I said that I knew well what both the philosophy of Skepticism and scientific skepticism are. Beyond the issues above, I pointed out that Penn and Teller have repeatedly fused libertarian political beliefs with what they claim is scientific skepticism, that Michael Shermer has had, for years, two known racialists, Frank Miele and Vince Sarich, on the masthead of Skeptic magazine (which in turn has made me wonder about Shermer himself) and that, directly related to Boslaugh's condescension, D.J. Grothe accused me of never having read Charles Murray when I said he was a racialist, to which I responded here,

I haven't even talked about convicted con artist grifter Brian Dunning, further con artist, though not convicted, James Randi, and how many skeptics, rather than skepticism starting at home, say it's verboten to criticize the likes of them. (Any scientific skeptics responding to this in defense of this "movement skepticism" will likely pull out the "no true Scotsman" at some point.) Nor have I talked about problems with sexism in the movement.

It's no wonder that the likes of Massimo Pigliucci has moved further and further away from "scientific skepticism" or "movement skepticism."

It's certainly not an inoculator against tribalism, as this has shown. Founder's syndrome with Randi, willful refusal to look honestly at Dunning's case, and other things that indicate the depth of guruism within scientific skepticism only underscore that, as does a general lack of self examination.

And, as scientific skepticism isn't a guaranteed inoculator against tribalism, it isn't against other things, either.

And, for fair measure, per part of my response to Boslaugh, the number of scientific skeptics who have made utterances in the vein of scientism, or otherwise shown their cluelessness about philosophy, their disdain for it, or both, is certainly not low. (I think that's part of why Massimo has pretty much washed his hands.)

No comments: