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Medieval Beliefs Yield Medieval Results

How did you find skepticism? When did you realize that you had a skeptical mind? Did you know what a skeptic was before you became one? The number of answers here are infinite. Everyone has a unique perspective and a unique story to tell about how they came to the skeptical community.

Perhaps a question that is not asked frequently enough is “what keeps you active the skeptical movement?” While the number of possible answers here might seem equally infinite and unique, you are likely to find that there are a finite number of common threads that keeps skepticism, as a movement, woven together. One of the strongest strands in our skeptical tapestry is in the knowing that pseudoscience can kill. It has before, and it will again.

There are dozens of reasons why I am a skeptical activist. However, this news report and too many other similar stories like this one, remind me of the most important reasons why.

Medieval beliefs yield medieval results.

11 comments to Medieval Beliefs Yield Medieval Results

  • Jim Shaver

    God damnit! What freaking century is this?!

    Sorry for the language, Evan. But honestly, I think any less impassioned response would be inappropriate.

  • IPVlazy

    Religion is why I am a skeptic. Things like that photograph in the article you linked. Religion has killed so many people, in fact more people have been killed “in the name of god” than anyone has been killed for anything else. This is why I stand up for the things that are important and not for some crazy belief or notion that is not backed up by any sort of plausible evidence.

  • I found skepticism about two years ago when my then boyfriend introduced me to Penn & Teller: Bullshit series on DVD. That led to Randi, SGU, my first TAM this year, etc.

    As far as religion, I was leaving Wicca at the time (after twelve years, Christian twenty eight years before that). For the most part I am just embarressed that it took so long for me to be religion free, although I admit I do still feel the pull of Wicca (most likely because I lost the majority of my friends when I left not so much a desire to believe again).

    I don’t think I will ever have a skeptical mind. I think I will always have a woo leaning. This is probably a mix of lack of education (the farthest I went was an AS in General Studies, the last science class I took was in high school) and, up until now, a lack of interest.

    What I do have is the recognition of that. I can see the weaknesses in my thinking and can take some precautions. I can also educate myself as best I can through books, magazines, podcasts, blogs, etc., of those with skeptical minds.

    So keep up the good work!

  • Like a lot of people, I’d “been a skeptic” for quite some time now. It wasn’t until I discovered there was a skeptical movement that I began to identify myself as a skeptic.

    For me, similar to most, I stay active in the skeptical movement simply because truth is the most important thing in life. I feel that skepticism is really the only philosophy that seeks out truth for truth’s sake. We have no sacred writings that must be adhered to.

    Aside from strict adherence the scientific method, and staying true to reason and logic, there is true freedom in the skeptical mindset. It’s a philosophy that actually encourages questioning of authority, not strict obedience to an invisible moral dictator. Facts rule, not emotions.

    So, while staying active in the skeptical movement does help others in seeing ways they are being lied to, deceived, duped out of money, etc… Skepticism is a source of intellectual, mental, and “spiritual” freedom.

    Truth for truth’s sake. What more could someone want?

  • mat alford

    This story is one for all those folk who think Richard Dawkins is too hard on religion..

  • matt346

    Thinking back, I was always skeptical of some things, especially religion, but I didn’t have as many facts to back up my intuitions about phenomena as I do now. There were some exceptions. I used to think some UFOs were alien spacecraft and I was a lot more open minded to the paranormal than I am now. I look back at some of the “evidence” for UFOs I used to accept and think it is pretty weak. I didn’t know what a skeptic (a proper one) was until I listened to SGU. I think I very quickly became a skeptic after hearing how knowledgeable and logical all the rogues, but especially Steve, were. I can’t recall anything on any episode of SGU that I disagreed with (not counting woo woo guests) apart from a few factual errors about Australian animals etc. which were corrected in the following episodes. My parents took me to church until I was 15 but I never really believed in God.

  • CKava

    Evan if at all possible I really recommend checking out the documentary that is mentioned in the article. I watched it yesterday and found it incredibly depressing but still very important to watch.

    Watching scenes like a 5 year old girl being threatened by an obese 50 year old man that he would kill her if she tried to come back to her village because she was a witch and ‘priests’ who keep young kids they have identified as possessed tied up, starve them, beat them and let some special ones stay with them in their bedroom speak freely of their actions without fear of punishment was hard to stomach.

    However, seeing hundreds of kids with volunteers march to the the local governors residence, protest at the gates for 4 hours and finally get the governor to agree to sign a children rights act was truly inspiring.

    The documentary should be watched by everyone who thinks that superstitious thinking never hurts anyone.

  • Bob Magness

    How did I find skepticism? Well, I always had a grain of skepticism in me since I began performing amateur magic at the age of eight. I realized how easily people could fool themselves. However, I still believed in a whole host of pseudoscience and paranormal activities. I was also a moderate Christian but became a born-again Christian in my early 20s. About 3 years ago, however, after doing some serious study of the Bible, I abandoned Christianity and wallowed in deism for a short while. But I soon found that stance untenable as well. Without a belief in a god I began to doubt the basis of many of my other beliefs. It was then that I learned about the skeptical community and began listening to SGU. I would say around that time was when I adopted the “skeptic” label. I am still pretty hesitant to let people in my life know I am an atheist (perhaps posting under my real name is a way of letting them know without me actually having to confront them on it) but I proudly will state that I am a skeptic to anyone if a pertinent subject should arise.

    The reason I remain active in the skeptical community and try to be an “evangelist” for skepticism is because once you adopt a skeptical way of thinking, you become hypersensitive to the credulity around you. It is scary going through my day to see how many people allow things like religion, pseudoscience, and quack medicine to affect their lives. I don’t beat people over the head with my skepticism, but I try to get them to examine WHY they believe the things they do. I believe a world in which most people are critical thinkers will be a world in which it is much better to live. So I will do what I can to see that such a world come to fruition.

  • sushwotwaszat

    This would be the primary reason I’m here.
    So, I’m going to do the vaccuuming and dusting while my wife is off at bagpipe lessons,think about what I’m going to type and get back with an update.

  • sushwotwaszat

    Hmm. House is now 100% dust free.Let me show you how! Just send $10 to http://www.gotchaagoodonethattimesucker.com.au.

    I was dagged off to church every Sunday,until my protests wore ‘em down.I also attended a C of E private school in Sydney. I enjoy the singing,traditions etc.
    But as I got older, I began to notice things. Stuff like the lady across the street. She’d give me a lift to the train in the mornings and is a kind hearted ol’ gal, but she, I decided was suffering from blind faith. Everything was part of “God’s plan”. At 14 I would ask her, “even the kid up the street being run over and killed?”. I wondered why God would put breath into little babies ,only to have it snuffed out so soon? I thought God would have to be a pretty crappy planner.
    She wouldn’t question anything in the Bible, which would irritate me something chronic. I then discovered Robyn Williams on the ABC (oz) who hosted The Science Show.. A pastime I thoroughly enjoy is listening to smart people,particularly scientists and people of reason talk about what they’re up to.
    So over the years, the niggling would get louder. “How could ‘God’ do this to innocent people or animals?”
    I also figured out that God has an ego as big as all outdoors.
    I watched what happens if you “drank the Coolade” with hundreds of others.. oh Jones was a nut. He believed in this stuff.
    So what was the difference in what he thought was true to what the nice ol’ gal across the street thought to be ? (besides the lack of motivation to knock up a few hot barrel of Coolade). It was the belief,not the actions in question…
    In recent years, there were programs on The Bible.. how it came about. Scriptures written 200 years after the occurance? By the same people who are lead to death in that part of the World even today? The political intervention over the centuries.. what part could I believe?
    I concluded the only part is that over all, it’s a guide to living in society. Don’t shag your neighbour’s Mrs, or he might break another rule…on your head as it were.That sort of stuff.
    Now, today what gets right up my nose, are the evangelists. I think that “God” would be pretty ticked off at the golden palaces built by these types. I’ve been taken by the undertow myself in early 20′s by the “Haleluyah” singing etc.. It’s part of the human condition. Hitler used it to greatest effect. At least the average evangelist just takes money…and if he think he can get away with it, his neighbours Mrs,or kids…

    The Hypocricy of religion.

    If I had to choose, I think I’d go into bat with the Buddists. They don’t bang on about what they do. Don’t go to war. Just meditate and as far as I can understand from the periphery, follow nature. I really admire the Dali Lama (sp).

    About a year ago, I was given an iPod. I would listen to Robyn Williams,Astronomy Cast and music. One night, I searched for skeptic based casts.. and the rest is modern history.

    So, onward Skeptic Soldiers.

  • mat alford

    Onward Skeptic Soldiers…….. Nice!

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