September 12, 2006

Own Opinions

My wife says I should own my opinions more, and she’s probably right. “Fuckin A, I believe in UFOs.” “Fuckin A 9-11 is suspicious.” I’ve mentioned before that I come from a family of skeptics. Even at 34 years old, they influence my thoughts. Every opinion—about a movie, and especially as something as deep as this—I feel them there, wondering how they’ll react to it. It’s no wonder I believe in conspiracies, I’ve got a strange conspiracy of voices running in my head.

But I also want to be measured about these topics—especially 9-11, where people are grieving. Not that I’m a spokesman for anything, but it’s still important to put it in reasonable terms. It’s the reason I love Daniel Pinchbeck’s writing. He goes far into outerspace, or innerspace, but he also tackles entheogens with a fair amount of sobriety. Alex Jones—head conspiracy theorist of the moment--loses a lot of credibility standing on streetcorners, screaming into a bullhorn, “9-11 was an inside job!” Even if he’s right. Might speak to 18-20 year olds, but he needs to reach people older than that, people who have actual power, and skeptics who never, for a second, would believe in these things.

That said, Terrorstorm is worth watching. As is another movie: The Death of John O’Neill, an interesting depiction of what it feels like when this sort of information overtakes you.

I love Google video, by the way, as might be obvious. It’s the best thing to hit the internet since the internet. Words are one thing, but nothing will spread information faster and more convincingly than images. It almost makes me think it’s why the internet was invented.


MWS Media said...

Don't forget, being a skeptic means keeping an open mind, measuring the available evidence, and making decisions based on thought and consideration over emotion and faith.

Sounds to me like you're being a true skeptic -- your family should be proud. There's nothing wrong with allowing for the possibility of UFOs, or 9-11 conspiracies, so long as you don't blindly accept everything you hear about those subjects.

Henry Baum said...

Thanks, Matt. I know a true skeptic will weigh all the issues, but skepticism is not always so open-minded. They look for ways to support a pre-conceived notion, just like conspiracy theorists. There’s no better example of this than the tagline to the Bad Astronomy blog ( “I am an astronomer, writer, and skeptic. I like reality the way it is, and I aims to keep it that way.” That suggests someone who’s afraid of new ideas, not just doubtful.

Philofaxer said...

Thus spake Robert Anton Wilson, whose New Inquisition taught me what I think about skepticism. (Which is essentially what you both have just said.)

However, it is important that skepticism not become a fancy word for nihilism. We can and should make judgments about what we believe to be true, based on likelihoods and unlikelihoods. I'm afraid that some people believe that skepticism, fully expressed, precludes judgment-making. "Hey man, anything's possible!" Well, anything may be POSSIBLE, but most things are HIGHLY, HIGHLY unlikely.

A good skeptic will try to be very aware of both relative probabilities and the personal biases that color his or her evaluation of those probabilities.

hoboscholar said...

thanks again for your insightful romance of the stars in the face of science. Love

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