Everyone who asks questions is a skeptic in one way or another, which is to say that everyone is a skeptic.
I once found my bicycle up in a tree in the woods. It had been placed there by some naughty older kids. They wanted to play a trick on me, although I am quite sure that they had no idea who I was. They just saw my bike in the woods behind my friend’s house and decided that it belonged in a tree. They carefully perched the handle bars on one branch and the back wheel on another. It hung about 8 feet up in the air, which was pretty far out of my 5 foot height at the time. So, I walked home.
I was skeptical about whether or not I would be able to convince my mother that this wasn’t my fault, that I hadn’t been careless about leaving the bike in the woods in the first place. I asked myself questions about who could have done such a thing, all the while cursing both the people who had done it and myself for being so trusting of an obviously hostile world.
If Twitter and smart phones and Fail would have exited back then, you can bet that the entire escapade would have been chronicled first by the older kids as a viral video contender and then by me so that I might chronicle the improbability of my bicycle in the tree. I would have tweeted something like “So, my bike decided that the beaten path (or any path) wasn’t good enough for it.” I would have put the twitpic in there too, just for good measure. There would not be much skepticism just then about what had happened or disbelief by my mother. We could have looked up the whole thing and probably gotten a geotagged play by play, complete with facebook profiles on each of the perpetrators because their faces would be tagged.
I tell this story not so that you can pity my former self, but rather so that I can outline just how little skepticism there is for the things that we can see, and how this is bleeding into ideas well.
Right now, it is very easy to like something on the Internet. It is easy to share it and to link to it. It is easy to do pretty much anything except for be skeptical. Sure, there are contrary opinions and lots of snarky comments on Twitter, but don’t really found those and true skepticism. Skepticism is looking something directly in the eye and stating for everyone to hear that you don’t believe it.
I want the ability to not believe again.
Now, all of my choices are to either support or not support (and most of the nonsupporting options are burried in comments). I want the ability to not believe as well. I want to be able to stare wide eyed at the things that hold untruth and disbelieve them. Imwant q universal skeptic button.
This button will be the equivalent of the Facebook “like” button, but instead of converting to page promotion or demotion, it will have the effect of allowing me to highlight the most offensive portion of whatever I am looking at and call it to account. Any time that someone hovers over that text in the future, it will have my record of disbelief and whatever comment I cared to make on why it was untrue. The button will be in ebooks and blog posts, on videos and podcasts too.
The skeptic button will finally make the process of making a case against an idea easier because it will cobble together each and every comment offered and aggregate it for a common purpose.
In the end, I dint want to like/dislike things or even merely comment on them. I want to believe them or disbelieve them. The things that I believe in should be shared in all of the spaces that I inhabit and the things that I do not believe in deserve to connect me with all other nonbelievers. I feel as though we would have a common bond, a network of skeptics.
Right now we are scattered. Someday soon, though, we will rise up and state our intentions for making belief a part of our metadata. We will make asking questions a part of every online interaction.
We will look up at the bicycles in the trees around us and we will start to walk home together to tell someone else the story from memory.
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- Launceston Skeptics | www.launcestonskeptics.com | @LtonSkeptics (jin-ohchoi.id.au)
- I’ll start calling them skeptics when they start being skeptical [Deltoid] (scienceblogs.com)
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- Purity and skepticism (barefootbum.blogspot.com)
- In Brief: Should skeptic organizations be atheist organizations? (secularnewsdaily.com)