Skeptic or Sceptic? We prefer Skeptic, it looks more... well, skeptical.
Skepticism is generally any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts. It can also take the form of doubt regarding claims that are commonly taken for granted.
Skepticism is an approach to knowledge that requires all information to be well supported by evidence. It relies on reason and evidence rather than belief, tradition or convention.
It often includes::
- critical thinking - questioning assumptions, demanding factual support
- doubt - not in the sense of indecision, but challenging weak or ill-supported arguments
- debunking - attempting to expose or discredit claims believed to be false, exaggerated or pretentious
Philosopical skepticism originated in ancient Greek philosophy and was further developed in the European Enlightenment. It is often associated with Descartes and David Hume among others. There was even a skeptical thread in Islamic philosophy in the 12th century.
Scientific skepticism is a term coined by Carl Sagan, questioning whether claims are supported by empirical research and have reproducibility, in other words respecting the scientiic method and Popper's principle of falsifiability.
Religious skepticism involves doubting certain religious beliefs or claims e.g miracles, omniscience, omnipotence, etc.
Skeptics also question practices that take advantage of people at their most vulnerable - cancer patients seeking alternative cures, grief-stricken bereaved seeking contact with the dead. These kinds of practices often prey upon the trust, hopes and fears, and exploit people's lack of specialist knowledge. Where the potential for harm exists - whether physical, mental, emotional or economic - skeptics consider it unethical not to challenge such claims.