RE: virus: Scientists and Philosophers

Richard Brodie (
Tue, 9 Feb 1999 13:47:20 -0800

Perhaps one reason skeptics get a bad rap because they come across as not caring about people as much as ideas.

Richard Brodie Author, "Virus of the Mind: The New Science of the Meme" Free newsletter! Visit Meme Central at

-----Original Message-----
From: []On Behalf Of David McFadzean
Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 1999 12:28 PM To:
Subject: RE: virus: Scientists and Philosophers

At 09:30 AM 2/9/99 -0800, Richard Brodie wrote:
>I don't think so, David. The (Level-3) point that Reed is making is that
>skeptics are blind to their own faith. Faith, as he says, in the
>of the universe. Faith in inductive reasoning.

If faith means to believe in something without complete logical proof, than I agree. But that definition misses out on some important distinctions, namely the reasons behind the belief. Don't you think scientists have some good reasons to believe the universe is knowable? Why do you think they use inductive reasoning? Even without making any value judgements on the validity or efficacy of beliefs, you have to admit that people believe things for different reasons. Insisting that they all fall into the category of "faith" does nothing to advance understanding.

> Faith that pursuit of the
>truth does not conflict with the pursuit of happiness. So many times we act
>as if we would rather be right than happy.

Skeptics emphatically do not hold truth above everything else. When is the last time you heard of a group of skeptics descending on an amusement park to debunk the rides, proving to the poor deluded thrill seekers that the roller coaster is in fact not nearly as dangerous as they had believed? (Or did I miss that special issue of Skeptical Inquirer? ;-)

On the other hand, I think I disagree with Wade when he states that skeptics don't claim that truth makes any difference in any quality whatsoever. Skeptics insist on extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims because they don't tolerate fraud. Can anyone explain to me how skeptics got such a bad rep? I suppose injudicious use of logic as a weapon has something to do with it (thanks for that insightful post, Reed).

David McFadzean       
Memetic Engineer      
Church of Virus