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The Burden of Skepticism by Carl Sagan

July 15, 2012

What is Skepticism? It’s nothing very esoteric. We encounter it every day. When we buy a used car, if we are the least bit wise we will exert some residual skeptical powers — whatever our education has left to us. You could say, “Here’s an honest-looking fellow. I’ll just take whatever he offers me.” Or you might say, “Well, I’ve heard that occasionally there are small deceptions involved in the sale of a used car, perhaps inadvertent on the part of the salesperson,” and then you do something. You kick the tires, you open the doors, you look under the hood. (You might go through the motions even if you don’t know what is supposed to be under the hood, or you might bring a mechanically inclined friend.) You know that some skepticism is required, and you understand why. It’s upsetting that you might have to disagree with the used-car salesman or ask him questions that he is reluctant to answer. There is at least a small degree of interpersonal confrontation involved in the purchase of a used car and nobody claims it is especially pleasant. But there is a good reason for it — because if you don’t exercise some minimal skepticism, if you have an absolutely untrammeled credulity, there is probably some price you will have to pay later. Then you’ll wish you had made a small investment of skepticism early.

Excerpt of an essay written by Carl Sagan. Continue HERE

2 comments

  1. I think everyone’s got an inner skeptic. It’s just a matter of how much you listen to him or her. For some people, that’s not at all. Waking up the inner skeptic should be a good thing. Unfortunately, it’s not always fun being a skeptic. I know my inner skeptic is always struggling to get out and tell people what I really think. It’s a lot of work to keep him quiet. He always wants to argue.


  2. Arguing is growth.



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