What is skepticism? I found this description of skepticism by the UK Skeptics quite clear.
Skepticism is an honest search for knowledge. It is an approach to claims akin to the scientific method. It is a powerful and positive methodology (a collection of methods of inquiry) that is used to evaluate claims and make decisions. It is used to search for the (provisional) truth in matters and to make decisions that are based on sound reasoning, logic, and evidence. Skepticism is based on a simple method: doubt and inquiry. The idea is to neither initially accept claims nor dismiss them; it’s about questioning them and testing them for validity. Only after inquiry does a skeptic take a stance on an issue.
Wikipedia entry on Scientific Skepticism: Skepticism or scepticism (see spelling differences) is generally any questioning attitude towards unempirical knowledge or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, ordoubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere.
A primer in critical thought: The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark by Carl Sagan. This should be required reading in every school in the nation.
1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
3. any of the branches of natural or physical science.
4. systematized knowledge in general.
5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.
6. a particular branch of knowledge.
7. skill, esp. reflecting a precise application of facts or principles; proficiency.
Scientific Method: The scientific method is the process by which scientists, collectively and over time, endeavor to construct an accurate (that is, reliable, consistent and non-arbitrary) representation of the world.
Science and Skepticism Links
- Bad Astronomy (Phil Plait)
- Bad Science
- Drinking Skeptically
- ICBS Everywhere
- National Center for Science Education
- NeuroLogica Blog (Steven Novella)
- Point of Inquiry
- Quackcast (Mark Crislip)
- Rationally Speaking (Massimo Pigliucci)
- Science-Based Medicine
- She Thought
- SkepChick (Skepticism with a feminist twist)
- SkepticBlog (archived)
- Insight at Skeptic.com (new blog)
- The Nizkor Project (Fallacies)
- The Sceptics Book of Pooh-Pooh
- The Skeptic’s Dictionary
- The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe
- Thus Spake Zuska
- Weird Things
- What’s The Harm? (The danger of not thinking critically)