virus: from the Skeptic's newsletter...

Richard Brodie (
Fri, 5 Feb 1999 23:48:32 -0800

Very interesting and well said excerpt:

You can spend 5 or 10 or 15 years in a
constant agony of anxiety about having a fatal disease, or you can find a lie and be happy for the same time. Which is better? That's the conundrum facing all skeptics. Lies allay anxiety-- and too much anxiety, particularly about the future and death and pain, which are inevitable, is one of the things that makes life not worth living. Skepticism aims to find out the truth in all things. The lie which skeptics tell themselves is that the truth always, in the end, makes things better. Always. That lie is to relieve the anxiety THEY have that sometimes, occasionally, what they're doing AS skeptics, is not the kindest thing they can be doing. It's recursive and VERY ironic.

I find that a little skepticism about skepticism is occasionally in order, especially when it comes to health, death, and thinking about the human condition. As a doctor myself, I find myself quite often taking a position which is just a little more optimistic than the straight facts will completely justify. I'm not Levashov, but neither am I a computer. The placebo effect is real and beneficial-- that's been scientifically proven, and is not a subject for skepticism. And yet it's not available to complete practicing skeptics as a therapy, either on one side of the doctor's desk or the other. Another conundrum.

                                  Steve Harris, M.D.


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