I love skepticism. Unfortunately Brian Dunning's Skeptoid podcast is only about scientific scepticism and not the full range of scepticism as found in philosophy.


FROM http://members.westnet.com.au/gary-david-thompson/page6a.html

Brian Dunning and His Work Background and Qualifications ...

Source 1:

Summary from FBI record of interview 19 June 2007 which records Dunning's statements:

1. He has had very little formal education.

2. He does not have a college degree. (He quit college.)

3. He attended classes at BYU, UCLA, and UC Irvine.

4. He is not an experienced administrator.

5. He depended on employees at Rackspace to do most of his technical server work.

6. He does not have any formal training in computer science or any related technical field.

7. His [claimed] expertise in Filemaker Pro is self-learned.

A simple definition of scepticism and its scope can be found at http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_skepticism.html

Skepticism (or Scepticism in the UK spelling), also known as Pyrrhonism or Pyrrhonic Skepticism after the early proponent Pyrrho of Elis, is the philosophical position that one should refrain from making truth claims, and avoid the postulation of final truths. This is not necessarily quite the same as claiming that truth is impossible (which would itself be a truth claim), but is often also used to cover the position that there is no such thing as certainty in human knowledge (sometimes referred to as Academic Skepticism).

The term is derived from the Greek verb "skeptomai" (which means "to look carefully, to reflect"), and the early Greek Skeptics were known as the Skeptikoi. In everyday usage, Skepticism refers to an attitude of doubt or incredulity, either in general or toward a particular object, or to any doubting or questioning attitude or state of mind. It is effectively the opposite of dogmatism, the idea that established beliefs are not to be disputed, doubted or diverged from.

In philosophy, it can refer to:

- an inquiry
- the limitations of knowledge
- a method of obtaining knowledge through systematic doubt and continual testing
- the arbitrariness, relativity, or subjectivity of moral values
- a method of intellectual caution and suspended judgment ....

Types of Skepticism

Moral Skepticism is the belief that moral knowledge is either nonexistent or unattainable.

Religious Skepticism (or Theological Skepticism) is Skepticism regarding faith-based claims. It does not necessarily imply either Atheism or Agnosticism. Religious skeptics question religious authority, and are not necessarily anti-religious but are those skeptical of a specific (or all) religious beliefs or practices. Socrates was one of the first religious skeptics, questioning the legitimacy of the beliefs of his time in the existence of the various gods, which in part led to his trial and execution.

Metaphysical Skepticism is a type of local skepticism which denies any metaphysical knowledge.

Scientific Skepticism (or Empirical Skepticism) is the questioning of the reliability of certain kinds of claims by subjecting them to a systematic investigation using the scientific method (the formulation and testing of hypotheses through observation and experimentation). A scientific skeptic merely seeks likely proof before accepting any knowledge, especially in controversial areas such as health claims, environmental claims, parapsychology, the existence of unproven creatures, etc. So-called Activist Skeptics are a sub-set of scientific skeptics who aim to debunk or expose in public what they see as the truth behind specific extraordinary claims.


Contrast the above with Brian Dunning's definition of scepticism.


FROM https://skeptoid.com/skeptic.php

Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. It's the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion. ...

Skepticism is about redirecting attention, influence, and funding away from worthless superstitions and popular misinformation, and toward projects and ideas that are evidenced to be beneficial to humanity and to the world.

The scientific method is central to skepticism. The scientific method is about the study and evaluation of evidence, preferably derived from validated testing. Anecdotal evidence and personal testimonies cannot be tested, so they generally aren't useful to the scientific method, and thus won't often be accepted by a responsible skeptic; which often explains why skeptics get such a bad rap for being negative or disbelieving people. They're simply following the scientific method.


Clearly that definition does not cover the full range of scepticism in philosophy.

In stark contrast is "Skepticism: From Antiquity to the Present" edited by Diego Machuca & Baron Reed.


FROM https://www.amazon.com/Skepticism-Antiquity-Present-Diego-Machuca/dp/1472507711

Skepticism: From Antiquity to the Present is an authoritative and up-to-date survey of the entire history of skepticism. Divided chronologically into ancient, medieval, renaissance, modern, and contemporary periods, and featuring 50 specially-commissioned chapters from leading philosophers, this comprehensive volume is the first of its kind.

By exploring each of the distinct traditions and providing expert insights, this extensive reference work:

- covers major thinkers such as Sextus Empiricus, Cicero, Descartes, Hume, Spinoza, and Wittgenstein.
- acknowledges the influence of ancient skeptical traditions on later philosophy and explains why it is still a fertile topic of inquiry among today's philosophers and historians of philosophy.
- analyzes various forms of skepticism including Pyrrhonian, Academic, religious, moral, and neo-Pyrrhonian.
- addresses issues in contemporary epistemology and indicates new directions of study.

Skepticism, a driving force in the history of philosophy, remains at the center of debates in ethics, philosophy of religion, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind. Skepticism: From Antiquity to the Present is an essential point of reference for any student, researcher, or practitioner of philosophy, presenting a systematic and historical survey of this core philosophical topic.



My 2017 album "The Place" - original rock available for streaming or free download. The entire album can be heard in the correct order at http://www.soundclick.com/marktindall. Follow the album cover. "The Place" is written around the concept of HaMakom.

THE PLACE (2017) - Mark Tindall

01 - I Love You (For Bev)
02 - I've Time
03 - That Urban Groove
04 - I Wish
05 - Just A Simple Song
06 - Hold On (Keep On)
07 - Everything's Certain
08 - Growing Up (Not Growing Older)
09 - Wander Wonder
10 - Mystery

Follow me at at https://www.facebook.com/marktindallmusician



My favourite bible verse which I wrote following the tradition of many different authors over many different times for the ending of Mark's Gospel. It's from the Mark Tindall Version (MTV). Feel free to use it whenever you have the need.

Mark 17: 1-3 (MTV) "All things are probable. Try to believe. Really! Try to believe even if it's bloody stupid and irrational. Why? Because I said so, that's why! Don't ask questions. Just believe."



My argument for same sex marriage is based upon ethics.

The debate is one between equality and inequality.

1. - What is the moral harm in marriage equality?
2. - What is the moral good in marriage inequality?

One has to ask why anyone who cared about homosexual people would want to treat homosexual people unequally compared to the rest of Australian citizens.

Can you really care about another person and treat them unequally?
Can one really care about women and treat them unequally in sexism?
Can one really care about Aboriginals and treat them unequally in racism?
Can one really care about homosexual people and treat them unequally in denying them the exact same legal rights as heterosexual married people by voting No?

These are not inconsequential questions but those which are at the very heart of the problem.


Can you really love your neighbour (as Jesus commanded) and treat them unequally?
Can you really love your female neighbour and treat them unequally in sexism?
Can you really love your Aboriginal neighbour and treat them unequally in racism?
Can you really love your LGBTI neighbour and treat them unequally in denying them the exact same legal rights as heterosexual married people by voting No?


Christianity, atheism and the 2016 Australian Census

The Australian 2016 Census figures show a decline in Christian belief from 61% to 52% of our population. This goes along with the steady decline since 1901:

1901 96.1%
1911 95.9%
1921 96.9%
1933 86.4%
1947 88.0%
1954 89.4%
1961 88.3%
1966 88.2%
1971 86.2%
1976 78.6%
1981 76.4%
1986 73.0%
1991 74.0%
1996 70.9%
2001 68.0%
2006 63.9%
2011 61.1%
2016 52.0%

In just over a hundred years Christianity has lost 44% of the population in Australia. Obviously the Christian church is doing something wonderful to continue in this downward spiral.

In a blow to Islamophobia the decline in Christianity (9.1%) was more than the percentage of Muslims in Australia (2.6%).

The category of "No religion" is up from 22.6% to 29.6%.  Despite what some atheists may like to believe, "No religion" does not mean that every person in this category is an atheist. It includes agnostics and theists who belong to no religion.


An Agnostic’s Assessment Of New Atheist Attitudes

FROM http://strangenotions.com/an-agnostics-assessment-of-new-atheist-attitudes/

An Agnostic’s Assessment Of New Atheist Attitudes by Matt Nelson

BBC Radio personality, John Humphrys, an agnostic ... responds to seven common New Atheist attitudes in his book, In God We Doubt (I have reconfigured the statement/response format for easier reading):

1. Believers are mostly naive or stupid. Or, at least, they’re not as clever as atheists.

To which Humphreys responds: “This is so clearly untrue it’s barely worth bothering with. Richard Dawkins, in his best selling The God Delusion, was reduced to producing a “study” by Mensa that purported to show an inverse relationship between intelligence and belief. He also claimed that only a very few members of the Royal Society believe in a personal god. So what? Some believers are undoubtedly stupid (witness the creationists) but I’ve met one or two atheists I wouldn’t trust to change a light-bulb.”

2. The few clever ones are pathetic because they need a crutch to get them through life.

To which Humphrys responds: “Don’t we all? Some use booze rather than the Bible. It doesn’t prove anything about either.”

3. They are also pathetic because they can’t accept the finality of death.

To which Humphrys responds: “Maybe, but it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. Count the number of atheists in the foxholes or the cancer wards.”

4. They have been brainwashed into believing. There is no such thing as a “Christian child”, for instance—just a child whose parents have had her baptised.

To which Humphrys responds: “True, and many children reject it when they get older. But many others stay with it.”

5. They have been bullied into believing.

To which Humphrys responds: “This is also true in many cases but you can’t actually bully someone into believing—just into pretending to believe.”

6. If we don’t wipe out religious belief by next Thursday week, civilisation as we know it is doomed.

To which Humphrys responds: “Of course the mad mullahs are dangerous and extreme Islamism is a threat to be taken seriously. But we’ve survived monotheist religion for 4, 000 years or so, and I can think of one or two other things that are a greater threat to civilisation.”

7. Trust me: I’m an atheist.

To which Humphrys responds: “Why?” He adds: “I make no apology if I have oversimplified their views with a little list: it’s what they do to believers all the time.”