I don’t believe you
Skepticism is not science. Science is not skepticism.
Skepticism is about questioning things. It’s about not accepting anything at face value. It requires evidence. It’s a lifestyle.
Science is a tool. It’s a process. It’s a way of finding knowledge that is true or, at least, heavily supported by evidence. It’s a way of finding the evidence that skeptics need to have.
A close friend of mine taught me a phrase a long time ago. ”I don’t believe you.” I usually follow it with a statement that, it’s not personal, but to believe the claim you just made will require more evidence than your say-so. You very well may be correct, but I can’t accept such a claim without some kind of support.
This doesn’t meant that you don’t trust the person. The person may be very trustworthy, but they may have been misled. They may not have all the facts. They may just be confused.
There are varying levels of skepticism here. If my wife comes in and says “it’s raining”. I will tend to believe her. First, she has no reason to lie. ”Raining” is a commonly understood concept and rarely mistaken for something else. So, there’s very little skepticism on my part.
However, if she came in and said, “I just won the lottery.” Well, that’s great, but I really want to see some evidence. She never plays the lottery, so that’s very out of character. The odds of winning the lottery are very small, while someone (eventually) wins, the odds of it being a particular person are small. Plus, there is a chance of miscommunication. I may be thinking of the $200 million powerball and she may have won the local Lion’s Club lottery for a free dinner for two. These three factors would lead me to some degree of skepticism. So, I would want to get some evidence. A lottery ticket, with valid dates, to compare to the official website. A letter of some kind announcing the win. Something that will support her claim.
However, if she came in saying that she had just been confirmed as the Crown Princess of Siam. Well, that’s a big claim and we do need a lot of support for such a claim. So, “I don’t believe you”, should never be considered an insult. From a skeptic, it’s just business as normal.
And this applies to anything. ”Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is the best.” ”Sorry, I don’t believe you.” But, that’s going to be a fantastic experiment. Which brings us back to science.
Science is all about the evidence. Part of this comes from a several month long conversation with a guy who claims to have a Theory of Intelligent Design.
Sorry dude, I don’t believe you. The official leaders don’t have a Theory of ID. The official leaders don’t even have a testable hypothesis, much less actually conducted said test. Their own work is filled with outright mistakes and contradictions. Their message changes depending on the audience. So when some yahoo comes in claiming to have done something that has never been done before and he does so in a minuscule internet forum that must be visited by a dozen or so people every day, well, I’m skeptical.
Over the last few months, we can’t even get this guy to understand that a ‘theory’ must have lots and lots of evidence in support. Much less actually provide evidence of his (or any) Theory of Intelligent Design.
Science is really, really good at supporting skepticism. When we get a claim and get no evidence, it’s perfectly valid to dismiss that claim.
In the past, I’ve told people who make these kinds of claims, that you may even be right. You may be the smartest person on the planet and have solved the mysteries of the universe. But, until you provide actual supporting evidence, then it doesn’t matter if you are right. I can claim to be the King of Siam all I want, but until I can produce evidence (and a lot of it), I’m not going to get the keys to the treasury.