A Lesson in Skepticism





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Published on Oct 22, 2012

How skeptical is the so-called "skeptical community" on the internet? Let's give them a quote that directly challenges them to question its authenticity, and see how long it takes to spread around the 'net.

UPDATE... Look, I'm as guilty as anyone of not being skeptical enough. I'm sure we all are. This isn't intended as an attack—just a reminder—and I'm starting to regret singling out the author of the politicalprof tumblr, Professor Lane Crothers, who simply shared a quote that was already making the rounds. I only pointed out his position because it showed how far that little quote spread before anyone could wrangle it. He was far from the first person to repost it without checking it out. But you know the saying: a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth can get its pants on. That's the point of this video.

UPDATE #2... OMG OP WHY DIDN"T YOU LINK TO THE COMMENTS YOU LIAR?!!?!?! Because (1) they're easy to find—I didn't try to hide the username, post title, etc.—and I don't want to waste precious video time analyzing the comment section since (2) that didn't stop it from being spread all over the internet, did it? Which leads me to (3) the top comment in that thread contains unheeded advice that YOU are all ignoring: stop posting and upvoting those kinds of posts. They feed the circlejerk. Finally (4) this video is not solely about reddit; reddit was just the launching pad. No amount of skepticism in the reddit comments prevented the quote from being shared over and over and over again. Subreddits like /r/atheism should take a moment and consider that influence over the rest of the internet.

UPDATE #3... Every other comment says I don't understand what skepticism is. Again: READ THE QUOTE. Skepticism is usually provoked when you're met with an extraordinary claim, I'll grant you that, but the quote being discussed here is talking about skepticism in a very specific context. It speaks to how we often put our skepticism aside when we encounter something that agrees with our worldview, and then the quote advises that we not do that. It seems like all the comments here agree with that sentiment, because I keep being told "it's a good quote" that sounds like "something NDT would say." If you really took the quote to heart, you would be skeptical of it, as it is specifically telling you to be skeptical in a circumstance like this. Either the quote is wrong about when skepticism is appropriate (and the quote is therefore bad), or the quote is a good one (and therefore right). It can't be both. You can't simultaneously tell me that skepticism is only applicable when extraordinary claims are being made while telling me that this quote is valid. (Also, I'm removing repetitive comments here, so check the comment history on this video before posting the same thing over and over—you can have your one-sided discussion on the /r/videos submission's comment page).

The reddit comments that I am supposedly trying to keep you all from seeing:

Pay particular attention to the last part of that top comment. All this discussion about the 'top comment' and no one's talking about the best part of it.

UPDATE #4... So I was standing in a rather large line at my local Wal-Mart today behind a couple families that I know from when I went to church with my family in year younger. It was the only register open so there wasn't much of another option to get my 12 pack of Mountain Dew for a party I was heading to. I was wondering why the line was going nowhere when I decided to poke my head up front to see what the holdup was. It was a little old lady who didn't have enough for her groceries and she was trying to talk the cashier into letting her get away with being short. This struck me as odd until I found out she was a mere $0.21 short of her purchase. Now all these families were just staring and there was even two making fun of her. I walked up and handed my soda to the cashier, handed him a $5 and told her to keep the change. One of the middle aged women (I knew these people, so I also knew that they all make over 6 digits) grabbed her kid and yelled very loudly, "See that man? He's acting just like Jesus wants us to." For some reason this set me off, so I turned around. I haven't shaved in awhile so I'm rocking some nice scruff, a Slayer shirt, and gym shorts, so it must have been a nice sight. Very loudly, I said "Like Jesus? Ma'am I'm an atheist who makes minimum wage and I was the one who stepped up to help her? Your hypocritical Christianity is an inspiration to us all." As I stormed out, a couple of the cart boys started to whistle and cheer, soon shoppers joined in and even the cashier. I gave a wave and went off with a feeling of accomplishment.


"Flying pea v1" by Daddy_Scrabble



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