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Posted by on Jul 12, 2014 in Activism, Psychology, Science, Skepticism | 3 comments

What makes a Skeptic a Skeptic?

skepticconThis Tuesday I’ll be giving a free talk on one of my latest studies (kindly sponsored in part by the good folks at the James Randi Educational Foundation). Specifically, I’ll be presenting at this July’s Disbelief Discourse, co-hosted by the UCO Skeptics and Oklahoma Atheists. On Tuesday, July 15th at 7:30 pm in Education Building 301, I’ll do a talk entitled “Believers in versus Skeptics of the Paranormal – What’s the (Psychological) Difference?”

What makes someone believe in paranormal phenomena? What makes some skeptical of the same? Are there measurable psychological differences between skeptics and believers? Dr. Caleb Lack, associate professor of psychology at the University of Central Oklahoma, will present results from his latest study that will help to answer the questions. He will discuss cognitive, personality, and mental health differences found between paranormalists and rationalists and the implications thereof.

I’m going to try and get audio and video of the talk as well, which I’ll post as I’m able to do so. Hope to see you there!

  • guerillasurgeon

    I like to ask a question of all those I considered to be true believers. It goes something like – I know what would change my mind (insert evidence here) what would change yours? If the answer is “nothing”, then they are not a sceptic. You notice I don’t say not a true sceptic – because I don’t like the no true Scotsman defence. I’ve been doing this now for about 5 years on various public spaces on the Internet. I’ve only had one rational answer. Usually it’s either the famous “nothing”, or a very loud silence.

    • http://www.caleblack.com/ Caleb W. Lack

      Well, there’s a big difference between believing something to be true because you have faith in it versus believing something to be true because you have evidence for it. Scientific skeptics really need to keep in mind that cognitive biases don’t just apply to other people, but also to themselves. Makes it easier to admit you are wrong when it happens, if you are okay with being wrong and making a shift in your beliefs.

      Most people aren’t, though.

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