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Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Does a Skeptic Believe?

Jim Lippard has posted some controversial opinions about skepticism: Skepticism, belief revision, and science.

I don't have time to debate him but I know there are skeptics out there who will want to take him on. They may read Sandwalk but may not be aware of The Lippard Blog. I'm quoting part of Jim's beliefs here but I'm going to shut off comments in order to encourage you to comment on Jim's blog.
Is everything a skeptic believes something which is a conclusion reached by scientific methods?

No. Much of what we believe, we believe on the basis of testimony from other people who we trust, including our knowledge of our own names and date and place of birth, parts of our childhood history, the history of our communities and culture, and knowledge of places we haven't visited. We also have various beliefs that are not scientifically testable, such as that there is an external world that persists independently of our experience of it, that there are other minds having experiences, that certain experiences and outcomes are intrinsically or instrumentally valuable, that the future will continue to resemble the past in various predictable ways, etc. If you did believe that skeptics should only believe conclusions which are reached by scientific methods, that would be a belief that is not reached by scientific methods.