Thanks, Jamy Ian Swiss, you’ve opened my eyes and I will no longer consider myself a “skeptic”. I am a scientist, and from the talk he gave tonight (which was pretty much exactly the same as his TAM talk, except for the additions where he called me stupid and a liar), it is clear that “scientific skepticism” is simply a crippled, buggered version of science with special exemptions to set certain subjects outside the bounds of its purview. In addition, its promoters are particularly sensitive to having their hypocrisy pointed out (that, by the way, is what triggered his outburst — you’d have to be stupid or a liar to think that skepticism gives religion special privileges.)
But what else can you call this logic? Skepticism has no sacred cows! Except that skepticism only addresses “testable claims”. By the way, the existence of gods is not a testable claim.
That’s a pretty explicit loophole by definition.
I was also annoyed by the skeptic movement’s appropriation of the term “scientific” all over the place…except that it’s a “science” that doesn’t make use of accumulated prior knowledge, that abandons the concept of the null hypothesis, and that so narrowly defines what it will accept as evidence that it actively excludes huge domains of knowledge. It’s toothless science that fetishizes “consumer protection” over understanding.
So don’t call me a “skeptic”. I’ll consider it an insult, like calling a writer a stenographer, a comedian a mime, a doctor a faith healer, a scientist a technician. I’m out.
It was an incredibly repellent talk that was not improved in the past year, but only made uglier and more grotesque. He ignored all of my previous criticisms, answering them only by yelling louder. I coulda gagged at the end when he piously announced we all ought to be fighting together for the cause of reason…after an hour of caricaturing atheists as ignorant and smug posturing of “scientific skepticism” as the great good virtue.
Earlier tonight I spent 15 minutes getting interviewed by Ray Comfort. That was a far more pleasant experience than an hour of listening to Jamy Ian Swiss.
Bleh. And then the hotel bar was closed early.