The goal of this blog is to promote the methods of critical thinking and scientific skepticism. A pretty good summation of the frequent topics being discussed here can be found in the Michael Shermer quote on the top of the blog’s main page. Some specific topics of particular interest to me aside from science news are: Creationism/Intelligent Design, alternative medicine, psychic claims, ghost hunters, UFO sightings, Big Foot, Chupacabra, and all matter of bullshit. In fact, if you’ve seen the TV shows Penn & Teller’s Bullshit or Mythbusters then you probably already have a good idea of the kinds of things I’ll be discussing in this blog.
I graduated from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. I also hold a Masters Degree in Media Studies from New School University.
If you were wondering what the name, Skepacabra means, it’s the name I’ve assigned to Chupacabra’s skeptical cousin. Chupacabra or “Goat-Sucker,” is a legendary Latin-American crypto-zoological creature that mysteriously turns up now and again to attack and drink the blood of livestock. And every once and a while someone reports having seen it. He’s kinda like the Latin-American Bigfoot. So Skepacabra is the skeptical response to Chupacabra and other paranormal or just plain weird claims.
What is “skepticism” and what does it mean to be a “skeptic”?
The word skeptic derives from Greek. Its original meaning was inquiry and doubt – which is actually a good first approximation of a definition. Later, philosophers used the word to mean philosophical doubt – the notion that all pretense to knowledge is mere hubris. In other words, we know nothing and can know nothing.
In contemporary vernacular, skeptic generally means someone who questions conventional wisdom, or someone who habitually or excessively doubts. It is often used as a pejorative to mean closed-minded. This is the baggage that the modern term “skeptic” must deal with, and it is about as far away as you can get from skepticism as defined by those who actually call themselves skeptics.
The modern skeptical movement has used the self-label of “skeptic” for decades to refer to what Carl Sagan called “scientific skepticism,” to distinguish it from philosophical skepticism or mere cynicism.
So here is my attempt at a reasonably concise definition of skeptic and skepticism – the brand of scientific skepticism we advocate as activist skeptics.
A skeptic is one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient, and therefore rigorously and openly applies the methods of science and reason to all empirical claims, especially their own. A skeptic provisionally proportions acceptance of any claim to valid logic and a fair and thorough assessment of available evidence, and studies the pitfalls of human reason and the mechanisms of deception so as to avoid being deceived by others or themselves. Skepticism values method over any particular conclusion.
Skeptigirl also takes a crack at explaining what skepticism and the skeptical movement are all about here.
Another important article worth including here is Daniel Loxton’s explanation of what falls into the domain of skeptics: What, If Anything, Can Skeptics Say About Science?