The Skeptical Mind

Skepticism is not the same as perpetual doubt. Imagine that you say, “I’ll never believe what this person says. In fact, because he says it, I’m sure it’s wrong.” This makes you every bit as dependent on the person, and what he says, as if you followed him blindly. In one case you’re looking to what the person says to tell you what is true; in another case, you’re looking to the person to tell you what isn’t true. In neither case does the person decide what’s true. Facts, evidence and logical analysis decide what’s true. If he happens to be a reliable source for facts, evidence and logic, then you’re right to always consider what he says. And if he’s an unreliable source, you’re right to discount him. But don’t lose track of the fact that truth resides “out there” — and not within any one person or group of people. What I’m talking about here involves philosophy and the science of knowledge, known as epistemology. But it has a direct bearing on emotional health and self-esteem. If you don’t know what’s true, or if you don’t know how to know what’s true, then you can’t possibly feel good about yourself, your mind and your life.