Scientific skepticismScientific skepticism
is a scientific, or practical, position in which one does not accept the veracity of claims until solid evidence is produced.
Skeptics do not rely on faith; instead they search for evidence to support claims, making a decision based on the available evidence. Popular issues among skeptics include dowsing, astrology, ESP or psychic powers, alien abductions, among other pseudosciences. Famous skeptics such as James Randi are famous for debunking frauds and trickery related to pseudoscience. Many skeptics are atheists or agnostics, and have a naturalistic worldview.
The following is a definition of scientific skepticism from Skeptic magazine:
- What does it mean to be a skeptic? Some people believe that skepticism is rejection of new ideas, or worse, they confuse skeptic with cynic and think that skeptics are a bunch of grumpy curmudgeons unwilling to accept any claim that challenges the status quo. This is wrong. Skepticism is a provisional approach to claims. It is the application of reason to any and all ideas—no sacred cows allowed. In other words, skepticism is a method, not a position. Ideally, skeptics do not go into an investigation closed to the possibility that a phenomenon might be real or that a claim might be true. When we say we are skeptical, we mean that we must see compelling evidence before we believe. Skeptics are from Missouri, the "show me" state. When we hear a fantastic claim we say, "that's nice, prove it."...Modern skepticism is embodied in the scientific method, that involves gathering data to formulate and test naturalistic explanations for natural phenomena. A claim becomes factual when it is confirmed to such an extent it would be reasonable to offer temporary agreement. But all facts in science are provisional and subject to challenge, and therefore skepticism is a method leading to provisional conclusions. Some claims, such as dowsing, ESP, and creationism, have been tested (and failed the tests) often enough that we can provisionally conclude that they are not valid. Other claims, such as hypnosis, the origins of language, and black holes, have been tested but results are inconclusive so we must continue formulating and testing hypotheses and theories until we can reach a provisional conclusion.
From a scientific point of view, theories are judged on many criteria, such as falsifiability, Ockham's Razor, and explanatory power, as well as the degree to which their predictions match experimental results. Scientific skepticism itself is part of science, as scientific claims are accepted on basis of evidence.