Griffith University Skeptics and Freethinkers

Is it rational, let alone ethical, to call someone a fraud, a charlatan, a con artist without proof ?

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2010 at 11:25 AM

Is it rational, let alone ethical, to call someone a fraud, a charlatan, a con artist without proof ?

We know that everyone can be fooled, that there are incredibly strong psychological forces constantly at work to fool us. We all think we are better looking, smarter, more successful than we must necessarily be. In other words we can’t all be above average, but the vast majority of us think we are. Now there are certainly cases where outright deception has been used in the promotion of the paranormal and the various pseudoscience’s, but that in no way implies that it is always(even mostly) the case.

Having attended various “Health and Wellbeing” type expos and events. I have never seen a purveyor of such things that seemed genuinely financially successful. They all seemed to be people who had uncritically invested both time and money into either a franchise or lifestyle and were now trying recoup (with the exception of the “Christian Science” stand). I strongly feel however that these people are as much the victims of uncritical thought as anyone else, usually more so. It’s them that would spend the most money on the various cultural necessities of their lifestyle, New Age Books, crystals etc. Also consider this; they are the parents most likely to not vaccinate their children.

So what are we doing about this? If we’re insulting them, calling them names or implying, even just flat out calling them stupid, do we really expect them to change? Do we really believe that they’re communities are not self perpetuating? We seem intent on stopping our opponents from getting new followers (customers), but what if they don’t need new customers. Even if my assumption is wrong, is educating those already inclined to listen enough?

It’s really, really easy to just be snide and make fun of our opponents, to be smug just because we know we have the evidence to back up our beliefs.

It’s also really, really easy to forget that we didn’t always have the critical thinking skills and awareness that we have now.

I’m aware that I have done this in the past. I’ve been frustrated at not being able to get a message across, and I’ve fallen to Ad Hominum attacks as a result. But as difficult as it can be not to reflexively do this, knowing what we know about the harms perpetuated due to erroneous beliefs, I know I must try to change that pattern.

It’s much more difficult to step back for a minute, actually try to see where people are coming from before launching into a tirade, but it may be vital if we want to get our message out there. If we actually do want to change things, fix things and help people, we really need to lift our game. It’s obvious to me by now that everyone has something they can contribute to this ‘movement’, and everyone should contribute as much as they feel comfortable with. But if we all just slow down just enough to catch our breath, look at what we are doing and see if it matches our goals and the goals of the movement, things can only improve.

I really recommend reading the following articles:

http://www.csicop.org/si/show/bridging_the_chasm_between_two_cultures/

http://www.csicop.org/si/show/proper_criticism/

Then check out:
http://www.skeptic.com/get_involved/skeptical_activism.html

Thanks for hearing me out and as always I appreciate the feedback,

Jayson D Cooke
GUSSF

Twitter: Jayson_d_cooke

jayson.d.cooke@gmail.com

http://www.meetup.com/SkepticsandFreethinkers/

http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=14643&uid=6117798570#!/group.php?gid=6117798570

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