Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Article: Undiscriminating Skepticism

Again, something I ran across after googling tribal signalling.

Main thesis: skepticism as tribal signalling versus rational, thought-out skepticism based on facts.

The problem is that most people have neither the trained intelligence nor the time/energy to learn enough about a subject and think deeply about it to have "discriminating skepticism."

We rely on opinions expressed by people we think meet the above criteria. This is why "talking points" exist. People who are otherwise ignorant of a topic can read a summary of the topic by a source accepted by the tribe. They can then signal their tribe that they are members by repeating them.
I'll conclude with some simple and non-trustworthy indicators that the skeptic is just filling in a cheap and largely automatic mockery template: 
1. The "skeptic" opens by remarking about the crazy true believers and wishful thinkers who believe in X, where there seem to be a surprising number of physicists making up the population of those wacky cult victims who believe in X.  (The physicist-test is not an infallible indicator of rightness or even non-stupidity, but it's a filter that rapidly picks up on, say, strong AI, molecular nanotechnology, cryonics, the many-worlds interpretation, and so on.)  
The amusing thing about this and the other 2 indicators is that they are true about Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming skepticism. For example, it is well known that a significant proportion of physicists are skeptics and meet the other two indicators as well.

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