Monday, June 24, 2013


Game reviewer Stephen Splatz has written a wonderful extended essay on the topic of skepticism in which he methodically dissects it as an all-encompassing worldview. Titled "Why I Am No Longer a Skeptic", the essay places modern skepticism in its proper context of intellectual history, correctly identifies it as reactionary philosophical positivism, and highlights a number of problems that have lately come to a head, both in the skeptic community in general, and among some of the movement's premiere spokespersons. 

It begins...
This is not a tale of how I found Jesus, of how acupuncture cured my hemorrhoids, or of how my alien abductors revealed the ultimate truth about 9/11. I still have no faith in anything supernatural, mystical, psychical or spiritual. I still regard the scientific method as the best way to model reality, and reason as the best way to uncover truth. I'm no longer a skeptic, but not one of my core beliefs has changed.

What has changed is that I have come to reject skepticism as an identity. Shared identities like skepticism are problematic at the best of times, for numerous reasons, but I can accept them as a means of giving power and a voice to the disenfranchised. And indeed, this is how skeptics like to portray themselves: an embattled minority standing up for science, the lone redoubt of reason in an irrational world, the vanguard against the old order of ignorance and superstition. As a skeptic, I was happy to accept this narrative and believe I was shoring up the barricades.

However, it's a narrative that corresponds poorly with reality. In the modern world, science, technology and reason are central and vital, and this is widely recognised, including at the highest level. On any major political decision, the technocrat speaks louder than the bishop, or anyone else, for that matter. Sure, Bush and Blair were noted god-botherers, but if you seriously think that, say, Gulf War 2 was their decision alone, or that that "God wills it" would have convinced anyone they had to convince, then you're subscribing to a cartoon view of history.  
Good stuff, right? And it only gets better from there.

I strongly urge anyone who regularly peruses this blog to read Splatz's essay in full, and to let it serve as an example of the kind of honest, deep introspection and intellectual honesty that all of us who are doing writing or researching on topics in the parapolitical and paracultural milieu should always be striving for.