Skeptics: Should You Be One? |

Photo by Eunice Lituañas on Unsplash

by Julian Rosario

The word “skeptic” (or “sceptic” if you prefer) tends to carry some bad stigma when thrown around these days, but they are not naysayers, pessimists and cynics; on the contrary they do not approve or disapprove the subject until provided with backing evidence. In today’s society, more and more “fake news” is littering the internet and it seems like every person is doubting any online content. 

In truth, becoming more skeptical is something our society needs to adopt, since more and more people are falling for numerous cons and scams. Young children are especially vulnerable as they are extremely influenced by anything they hear or read, so as they grow into adulthood, they will need to question the “facts”. 

That being said, becoming more skeptical and being a “skeptic” are two separate things. Being skeptical of things means that you simply have your doubts, but as a skeptic you’d take action and investigate any claim. You may think everyone around you is becoming a skeptic, but there is much more to a skeptic than meets the eye. 

Pros of being a skeptic

  1. A skeptic will never accept something at face value – they thoroughly check the facts to see if it is true or not.
  2. By delving deeper into a story, they open their minds and learn new things.
  3. A skeptic will often uncover problems that were not seen by others.
  4. A true skeptic is non-judgemental, just because they are unsure whether or not the concept is real doesn’t mean they want to see it fail. They just need real hard evidence. 
  5. They tend to ask many questions, which can lead to other avenues for people to explore in the relating topic.

Cons of being a skeptic

  1. Skeptics are very likely to be argumentative.
  2. Many times, being skeptical can lead to problems between people as arguments can break out.
  3. Skeptics will not believe something until they have personally checked it, often doubting the information at first glance.
  4. Skeptics have trust issues, they always need to cross reference for themselves and struggle working with others.
  5. Finding elements which refutes subject matter is good, but a skeptic will continually pick at it until they uncover everything, even if it makes little difference.

Should we all be skeptics? 

In school, most of us were taught to memorise facts, but even fields as seemingly sturdy as maths and physics are full of uncertainty. Everything we believe as fact is most likely wrong to some degree – much of what passes for scientific knowledge today is based on multiple research with varying results.

Taking everything into account, someone who is a skeptic would seem to be the perfect scientific researcher who will continually test and retest the subject matter until they are 100% confident that the outcome concluded is correct. Furthermore, a skeptic could make a great police officer or lawyer, whose jobs are to continually investigate an issue until the outcome is clear cut.

Researchers have also found that skeptics, more often than not, also keep a distance between themselves and the subject, not allowing themselves to become emotionally skewed. All of these points together would create some of the most efficient workers in those respective fields. 

That being said, with the good comes the bad. The suspicious outlook that a skeptic has is the real downfall when it comes to the trait. Continually second-guessing both people and information easily stirs arguments and can also impact the effectiveness of the individual to operate in the workplace. 

However, healthy skepticism cultivates an ability to open yourself to alternatives – to question, and challenge yourself and open your horizons. When it comes down to it, it’s always better to have a degree of skepticism – be skeptical, rather than be a skeptic – especially when it comes to reading fake news, or believing a scammer’s story. As the saying goes, it’s better to take everything with a grain of salt.