Several months ago I’ve had a very disturbing revelation. I used to think I was a true skeptic but now I know that I’m not. I’m not sure it’s even possible for anyone to really be a true skeptic. This realization all started when I came across a video by Anthony Lawson called “Holocaust, Hate Speech & Were the Germans so Stupid?”. The title seemed innocuous enough and I knew and respected Lawson for other work he had done. So I watched it. To summarize the video briefly, it makes a seemingly strong case for the fact that although many many Jewish people definitely did die in Germany’s Nazi concentration camps, there is no credible evidence that the Nazis had in place a plan to kill Jews en masse in gas chambers. Instead, according to the video at least, the Jews died mostly from illness, typhus in particular.
After watching the video I realized that I had believed the official story of the Jewish Holocaust despite having absolutely no evidence that it actually happened the way I was told it happened. The only support I had for this official story were the pronouncements of authorities. This is the exact sort of behavior I have been long criticizing in others. I also realized that I was not interested in expending much effort investigating these claims to either support or disprove them. I am not willing to change my belief on the matter and be agnostic like a true skeptic is supposed to be. To my credit, although I refuse to reject my belief in the Jewish Holocaust, I will stop referring derogatively to those that profess their skepticism of it.
This is not the first time I’ve had such a revelation either. In the mid 90’s I considered myself a real skeptic because I didn’t believe false the notion of “cold fusion”, now known as LENR (Low Energy Nuclear Reactions). I had rightly noticed that the belief that “cold fusion” was false was not supported by sound evidence or sound reasoning. Then in the mid 2000’s I was exposed to evidence against the official story of 9/11, 2001. Up until then I believed I was a true skeptic despite believing in the official 9/11 story without question. Again, with 9/11 there is no evidence whatsoever to support key parts of the official 9/11 story. There are only pronouncements from authorities meant to be taken on faith.
Now I understand that there are probably some people that refuse to acknowledge the deficiencies in the official 9/11 story because it is simply to painful to question. For some it might be painful to question because they have publicly stated their beliefs in grandiose arrogant fashion and are now afraid to appear foolish. Others lack the critical reasoning skills to understand a truly skeptical outlook. The remainder pretend to support the pseudo-scientific official story to protect or further their careers or reputations.
The lesson for me is simply to not believe that I am a real skeptic. Such a belief encourages an arrogance or sense of correctness that is most probably false. Do you like arrogant people? Do arrogant people convince you that your arguments are valid? Most people would say no. It would seem that what our world needs is a tolerance and compassion for alternative ideas as opposed to a rigid dogmatic stance.
For the most part I think skepticism is like many things and follows a bell curve. On the extreme left are those that believe everything is true or believe everything is false. A little to the right are mainstream “skeptics”, the Michael Shermers and James Randis that believe anything new, unusual or disturbing is probably false. To the extreme right are those perhaps mythical few that truly apply critical thinking to every idea and let the chips fall where they may. Most of us though are in the middle. Generally we are wary of anything really outlandish unless powerful authority figures tells us it is true or false. Then we’ll tend to believe it without question and mock those that do question it. The reality is that true skepticism is probably an unreachable ideal. It is an ideal we should strive to reach but we also must have the humility to accept that we probably never will.
Michael Fullerton is a software designer based in Vernon BC Canada. His writing explores and exposes pathological skepticism and the corporate pseudo-science it tends to serve. He also has an intense interest in organizational psychopathy, or how psychopaths rise up in organizational structures of all kinds. As a pantheist he strives to be part of the movement to unify spirituality and science.