Asymmetric skepticism

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Asymmetric skepticism is a distortion of the idea of skepticism in which skeptical thinking is applied primarily to only one side of an argument – that is, a disliked position is viewed "skeptically" while a favored position is not held to the same standards.

This inconsistency allows one to claim the mantle of a "skeptic" or rational thinker while in fact basing one's conclusions entirely on unexamined preferences or prejudices.

It's sort of the mirror image of confirmation bias: instead of giving more thought to evidence which supports one's preferred conclusions, one gives more thought to evidence which counters conclusions that one dislikes.


People who claim to be "skeptical" about global warming (GW), for example, are engaging in asymmetric skepticism – tending to highlight minor issues and uncertainties in GW arguments while ignoring or dismissing the vast amount of evidence supporting those arguments.