What’s the thing about skeptics?
Is there a thing about them? Yes, I think there is. They tend to attract assholes. They tend to be assholes. I know lots who aren’t assholes, but I also know, and know of, lots who are. More than many other groups and movements and “communities,” skepticism seems to be a recruiting hall for assholes. Why is that?
I do not consent to the skeptical “brand”, insofar as there is one, being represented by malicious con-men and other ne’er-do-wells. The skeptical way of thinking is a toolset that supplements a person’s identity. Not every person’s identity toolset is complete — many people lack empathy or a strong moral compass, among other numerous lacks. The skeptical toolset has too long been associated with amoral Libertarian con-artists that comprise the big-name skeptics, like Dunning, and I’d very much like that to end now.
That, I think, is the thing, the one I asked about above. What’s the thing about skeptics? That. The fact that skepticism is not enough, not nearly enough. It’s useful, but it’s woefully inadequate as a foundation for morality or a worldview. It has nothing to do with concern for fairness or equality, it has no connection to kindness or generosity or even politeness. It presents a constant temptation to be a smug superior jerk.
It’s not enough, and it attracts a lot of people who seem to think it is enough – people whose first loyalty is to the skeptical “movement” and other skeptics. It’s becoming more obvious all the time that the result is a movement packed to the rafters with noisy abrasive belligerent assholes, people who think they’re another Christopher Hitchens but are actually another Penn Jillette.