Skepticism is a necessary complement to an open mind; without it, one may end up believing many things that are either nonsensical or untrue.
In general, skeptical examination checks for both internal consistency (does the information make sense logically?) and external consistency (is the information consistent with other information believed to be true?). Information which passes these checks may, with sufficient verification, become part of one's rational beliefs.
Skepticism is essentially a "rationality filter", which only lets through information that fits into a rational framework. Information which fails consistency checks may be placeable within the framework if additional context is added, e.g. "X believes [information], even though it makes no sense"; it's not as if such information is necessarily "filtered out" completely and ignored – it just doesn't become part of one's beliefs (the "trusted" part of the framework).
- A skepticism bypass is any statement or tactic designed to induce the listener to lower their skeptical filters, so that subsequent statements will not be analyzed skeptically.
- Asymmetric skepticism applies skepticism selectively against a disliked position while not holding a preferred position to the same standards.
- issues evoking skepticism:
- 9/11 anomalies: skepticism about the officially-determined events surrounding the 2001-09-11 attacks
- global warming skepticism: in many cases, there appears to be genuine (though perhaps ill-informed) skepticism regarding the existence and causes of global warming.
- to be written:
- philosophical skeptic "a skeptic is one who questions the validity of a position until shown to their satisfaction that the position is warranted."; adds the "Doubting Thomas" sentence below.
- philosophical skepticism "the Bible itself gives an example of skepticism when "Doubting Thomas" would not believe that Jesus had risen until he saw Him with his own eyes..."
- scientific skepticism "Intolerance for questioning or even engaging in debate suggests a fear that a theory or hypothesis is not up to the test."
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- 2008-05-15 [Talk|Index] When Science Can't Help § “In any case, right now you've got people dismissing cryonics out of hand as "not scientific", like it was some kind of pharmaceutical you could easily administer to 1000 patients and see what happened. "Call me when cryonicists actually revive someone," they say; which, as Mike Li observes, is like saying "I refuse to get into this ambulance; call me when it's actually at the hospital".”