Tom Jonard's Inquiry Page

    Even though the subject of this page is usually called "skeptical inquiry" I've purposely avoided using the word "skeptical" in both link and title to this page because of its negative connotations.  I've often been been called "skeptical" as though it's a bad thing -- as in, "Tom, don't be so skeptical!".   Nevertheless I take some pride in being a "Doubting Thomas".  My namesake was after all the disciple of a certain carpenter and his catch phrase was something like, "Show me!".  Credulity in the face of miraculous events does not seem to me to be a virtue.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

    It's not an aversion or ambivalence toward skepticism that moves me to eschew the word but a desire to avoid a negative presupposition by the reader.  The negative image of skepticism comes from equating it with the philosophical school of thought known as Sophistry that doubts the possibility of knowing anything.  Now that's extreme.  And pointless.  And self contradicting.  But not all skepticism is radical skepticism.  Michael Shermer the resident Skeptic columnist for Scientific American and founding publisher of Skeptical Magazine has a  more positive view of skepticism that seems to me well said.

    Why be a skeptic?  Sometimes I don't think individuals have a choice -- it is a matter of nature and not nurture.  On the other hand to promote the teaching of science and scientific principles you've got to believe that it is a matter of nurture.  And if as some maintain we are living in an increasingly unscientific and superstitious society for which the only antidote is science and science education then it seems we cannot believe that nurture is irrelevant.  Maybe the Why? of skepticism is more a matter of personal journey than rational decision.  Here's a little bit of mine.

    There are some in the skeptical universe who lump scientific inquiry in with skeptical inquiry.  And while science does require a certain amount of skepticism  I think it is better to separate inquiry into the natural from inquiry into the extranatural.  And so I will limit this page to the questions of paranormal experience, extra-sensory perception, U.F.O.s, Astrology, pseudo-science, etc. and whether any claims about these are claims about reality or not.  Here are some links to my critiques:

      Alien Abduction.Revised 1/9/03
      Spontaneous Human Combustion
      Telepathy, Telekinesis and Remote Viewing.New 3/12/03
      Pseudoscience.New 1/10/03

    Keep an open mind but don't let your brains fall out.  Instead use them to investigate interesting stuff that happens to you and others.  Its fun.  Its science.  And remember:

    "Unusual" does not imply "supernatural".

    Home.Return to Tom Jonard's Science page

    Created April 1 , 2001, 
    © 2001, Thomas A. Jonard