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Thread: What happened to liberal skepticism?

  1. #1
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    What happened to liberal skepticism?

    Are there any skeptical communities left that are still Trekkie liberal and tolerant, instead of racist, homophobic and misogynistic? This isn't a rhetorical question; I really want to know because I'm feeling a bit isolated online.
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

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  2. #2
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    What would you like to be skeptical about?

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    Nothing in particular; simply around people who understand the discipline of skepticism, rather than using it as a fig leaf to cover their own bigotry.
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

    Stephen Colbert.

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Nothing in particular; simply around people who understand the discipline of skepticism, rather than using it as a fig leaf to cover their own bigotry.
    "Scepticism" has been hijacked by people who don't understand what it .means. Seek out the Forteans, who have stepped sideways into the rational space vacated by the self-styled Skeptics.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Are there any skeptical communities left that are still Trekkie liberal and tolerant, instead of racist, homophobic and misogynistic? This isn't a rhetorical question; I really want to know because I'm feeling a bit isolated online.
    I can second this opinion, a lot of fora other than CQ that were originally about skepticism and science that I used to read for fun have taken on very nasty reactionary tones.
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    At the same time be wary of the echo chamber that the internet can create, where the only voice you hear is your own and those who sound the same.

  7. #7
    There was a good Era of Skepticism in the the first decade of the 2000's but some there was in fighting and some scandals. There are a lot of good podcasts and blogs from all over the world that still deal with skepticism. some wanted to get away from the image of being skeptic they felt like it was getting to extreme like Adam Savage, there were things like the JREF having bit of scandal with DJ Grothe and James Randi getting older, plus you have people taking of the title of skeptic who are just deniers in disguise. Try some podcast like the Skeptics guide, Europen Skeptic podcast, merseyside skeptics, or LUEE (life the universe and everything else) from Canada, good old fashioned skepticism exist.
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    Hold My Beer While I Show You How To Do This

    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Are there any skeptical communities left that are still Trekkie liberal and tolerant, instead of racist, homophobic and misogynistic? This isn't a rhetorical question; I really want to know because I'm feeling a bit isolated online.
    We are in the best one I can find.

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Mendenhall View Post
    We are in the best one I can find.
    Yeah, I was thinking the same. I don't think by any means that all members here are liberal, but it's certainly a fairly liberal atmosphere as far as I can tell. It may not be specifically labeled "skeptics" but the basic atmosphere is, I think.
    As above, so below

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    Have a care folks. Recent comments seem danger-close to off-limits territory.
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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Are there any skeptical communities left that are still Trekkie liberal and tolerant, instead of racist, homophobic and misogynistic? This isn't a rhetorical question; I really want to know because I'm feeling a bit isolated online.
    I think it is just society in general, not really any further because it might go into politics a bit.
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    I suspect that most self-proclaimed skeptics are skeptical only in a few selected topics and not in everything in general.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
    I suspect that most self-proclaimed skeptics are skeptical only in a few selected topics and not in everything in general.
    Part of the problem is that when they were young some were told something like everything natural is better than anything artificial but arsenic is natural as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    Are there any skeptical communities left that are still Trekkie liberal and tolerant, instead of racist, homophobic and misogynistic? This isn't a rhetorical question; I really want to know because I'm feeling a bit isolated online.
    The intolerant and prejudiced are increasingly adopting and perverting the terminology of the more openly and scientifically inclined, and then turning that terminology around on its original users. IE saying that "scientific evidence" refutes vaccines or climate change etc, or blatant racists' claims of "reverse racism" or "persecution" when called out.
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    The anti-vaccers seem to come from both sides--the hate-gov't types on one hand and the "everything artificial is bad" on the other. Rational-wiki seems pretty good, from what I can tell.

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    Is there such a thing as an optimistic-pessimist?

    When I deal with students, I tend to see a lot of "disbelief" of things that should be reasonably understood. It is obviously feigned ignorance or a complete lock down on passion. It is almost as if students are so skeptical of the world around them, they do not want to be so foolish as to express to their belief in something that is wholly rational.

    These kiddos know that whatever answer they give off the top of their head has a more refined, better answer if only they could access Google. That answer from Google would be better than whatever they can convey in a moment or two, therefore they are skeptical that any answer will be sufficient. It's almost as if they are pressuring themselves not to embrace what they know, out of skepticism that they know anything at all.

    It's worse when there is actual peer-pressure involved. One time I asked how many students went to play (answer - all of them). The first kid said they attended and it was stupid. The other children then refused to admit they were there, even though I saw them, said "hi" and they were up on stage, performing. Hmm.

    I personally believe that skepticism is alive and well, but dang near hardcoded into kids these days, to the point of freezing them out of offering well reason thoughts virtually any and every subject. I spend a lot of time doing icebreakers to get students to speak about a variety of subjects. It's almost like they equate thoughts with fact or correctness, until you force them to just use some reasoning.

    In the classroom, there ain't a lot of wrong answers, especially if you are trying to figure something out for the first time.
    Last edited by Solfe; 2019-Jul-27 at 04:45 AM.
    Solfe

  17. #17
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    There’s a certain space commentary site that I’ve visited on and off for about 12 years that has lately degenerated into cranky old guys writing articles for other cranky old guys, with even crankier old guys in the comments sections. They keep calling young people stupid without actually interviewing any young people for their opinions, had an article that was basically “You are a bad space advocate if you like Star Wars more than Star Trek”, and fawn over very disturbing politicians because they said something vaguely pro-space once. I drop in every few months to see if it’s as bad as I remember, and it is— the last straw for me yesterday was seeing a commenter call engineers researching space solar power “those environmentalist freaks”.
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    Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with cranky old guys ...

    And I must say the whole politico-philosophical distinction that people seem to draw between Star Wars and Star Trek had passed me by entirely until I read the phrase "Trekkie liberal" in the OP and went off to find out what all that was about. I've never thought of either franchise reflecting any philosophical stance at all, beyond half-baked spirituality and half-baked cultural relativism, respectively. Then again, I don't actually enjoy either of them much, so what would I know?

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2019-Jul-27 at 03:27 PM.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    There’s a certain space commentary site that I’ve visited on and off for about 12 years that has lately degenerated into cranky old guys writing articles for other cranky old guys, with even crankier old guys in the comments sections. They keep calling young people stupid without actually interviewing any young people for their opinions, had an article that was basically “You are a bad space advocate if you like Star Wars more than Star Trek”, and fawn over very disturbing politicians because they said something vaguely pro-space once. I drop in every few months to see if it’s as bad as I remember, and it is— the last straw for me yesterday was seeing a commenter call engineers researching space solar power “those environmentalist freaks”.
    So you have been 12 years now. The Star Trek vs. Star Wars thing has been going since the mid '90s.
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  20. #20
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    It's been going since 1977. And I wouldn't call Trek culturally relativist. Socially liberal utopian, perhaps. Certainly a cannibalistic, warmongering tribe that practiced any form of racial, gender, or caste based discrimination would not be allowed into the Fenderation.
    "Occam" is the name of the alien race that will enslave us all eventually. And they've got razors for hands. I don't know if that's true but it seems like the simplest answer."

    Stephen Colbert.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    It's been going since 1977. And I wouldn't call Trek culturally relativist. Socially liberal utopian, perhaps. Certainly a cannibalistic, warmongering tribe that practiced any form of racial, gender, or caste based discrimination would not be allowed into the Fenderation.
    Well, yes indeed, hence "half-baked" - The Next Generation spent a lot of time hand-wringing about the Prime Directive in a distinctly relativist kind of way: "Who are we to interfere?" seemed to be something of a tediously recurring mantra. But only, as you say, for a boringly limited range of cultural stances. Beyond which, it was OK to go a bit Kirk on the problem, and kick some alien bottoms in the interest of personal freedom.
    I can only comment on the original series and some of TNG, but it seems to me that if you're going to characterize those versions of Star Trek as (philosophically) liberal, I'd say they approximate to what's called (confusingly and possibly vexingly for an American audience) "republican liberalism", of the kind described by Kant, which is a bit of a specialist subset.

    (I just wrote and then deleted a couple of paragraphs of elaboration - while not political per se, they kind of invited political responses. I invite anyone who's interested to do a search on Kant and "Perpetual Peace".)

    Grant Hutchison

    ETA: Oh, actually, here is a blogger who sums up the half-baked cultural relativism of TNG better than I can, because he offers illustrative quotations. (Political content is purely historical and context-setting, relating to the transition from the original series to Next Generation.)
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2019-Jul-27 at 06:54 PM.

  22. #22
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    Some further reading and reflection suggests to me that the use of the word "liberal" with reference to Star Trek is inextricably linked to a very particular cultural context. I'll bow out - apologies for derailing the discussion.

    Grant Hutchison

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by parallaxicality View Post
    It's been going since 1977. And I wouldn't call Trek culturally relativist. Socially liberal utopian, perhaps. Certainly a cannibalistic, warmongering tribe that practiced any form of racial, gender, or caste based discrimination would not be allowed into the Fenderation.
    Well I remember reading news groups on usenet in the 90's which is better Star Trek vs. Stars threads which go on forever.
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  24. #24
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    “Which is better?” is absolutely a long-running and widespread debate that I was well aware of, this was “Trek is for True Space Enthusiasts, Wars is for dumb casuals who don’t really like space”.

    Who is the author to tell me I’m a bad advocate for space exploration because I prefer one fictional series to another? (It’s not that I don’t like Trek, I just like Wars more.)
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  25. #25
    Or there are the real weirdoes like me like them all and read some of the books.
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  26. #26
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    Hmm. Never tied my post back to Trekkies. These kiddos seem to believe that things will not get better without some activism. They are super tolerant of others, almost to a fault, but with some clearly delineated lines that are never crossed. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" is understood, but not embraced.

    This next generation has evolved on Trekkie style liberalism. I've never asked a child what they think of non-intervention, but observationally, I suspect they find the whole thing to be repugnant because it fails to move things forward towards a goal. Or worse, causes a simmering pot of trouble. They do not want something to blow up on them, but they embrace the idea that perhaps they aren't the best people to solve certain situations, so simmer it does.
    Solfe

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    How would a conservative fan of Heinlein's Starship Troopers embrace skepticism? I'm thinking in much the same way as a liberal Trekkie.

    Need to define what kind of "skepticism" we are all talking about. I am not sure we are on the same page here.

  28. #28
    Well the skeptical movement has all kinds of different types, there are atheists, there are some from different religions there are libertarians and some conservatives. There are a lot issues people agree on such as vaccines, homeopathy and a few other areas.
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    When the Star Trek ideology comes to mind I see it as members of the human race seeing each other as equals, even to the extent of seeing other alien races as equals. More recently though it seems the human race is more focused on our own differences, and sadly more and more in a negative light. Why is this occurring? I hesitate to answer...

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    How would a conservative fan of Heinlein's Starship Troopers embrace skepticism? I'm thinking in much the same way as a liberal Trekkie.

    Need to define what kind of "skepticism" we are all talking about. I am not sure we are on the same page here.
    I think Brian Dunning gave a nice compact definition of the usage that seems to accord with the intention of the OP. (Again, the philosophical definition would be different.)
    [Skepticism is] the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion.
    If that doesn't fit for some reason, at least it's a starting point. It's certainly what led me to suggest that the word "scepticism" had been to some extent hi-jacked by people who didn't understand it, and that its principles are often very well applied by the Forteans.

    Grant Hutchison

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