Skepticism Doesn’t Sell

I’m tired of hearing about chakras, crystals thought to alleviate medical conditions, using “your heart” to verify truth claims, remembering past lives, and the existence of the autonomous rational mind. However, when I express this discomfort, people shake their heads presumably because it looks “intolerant” or “close-minded” to balk at unsupported claims to knowledge and emotive reasoning. It is a thankless action to be the one who expresses skepticism, and it is an action I would rather not do. But, am I supposed to let the intellectual charlatans go on to convince other people with their bombastic nonsense? Even when such beliefs kill?

I can understand why some people can perceive me as intolerant. We have freedom of religion in this country, which is confused as an excuse to call reasonable people, who try to destroy bad ideas, intolerant (even totalitarian!).  We do need to acknowledge, as members of a civil society, that people have a right to believe whatever they want, but we are not expected to let their beliefs go without scrutiny or criticism.

In daily life, we demand reasons for just about everything, but when the topic turns to metaphysical claims, all bets are off: you can say whatever you want, although it’s unseemly to look too adamant. This double standard needs to be eliminated because beliefs determine what people will live for – and, sadly, what they will kill for. Beliefs have real-world consequences. And, to frown upon those who try to make the world more reasonable is a costly way of maintaining humanity’s sanctimonious ignorance.

~ by jsacc001 on June 7, 2009.

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