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True Scotsman in a Lab Coat

by Craig Good

June 14, 2011

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Donate Somehow the other day I stumbled, which purports to apply real science to questions of the paranormal, unlike all of us pseudo-skeptics. If you crave practice playing Name That Logical Fallacy you'll find it a target-rich environment.

One of my favorites is on the Fallacies page, natch. The listed traits of True Skeptics starts off promisingly, with only a whiff of woo.
  • Able to adapt and update their beliefs to new evidence and does not resist new information

  • Asks questions to try to understand new things and are open to learning about them

  • Applies critical examination and inquiry to all sides, including their own

  • Are nonjudgmental and do not jump to rash conclusions

  • Seeks the truth and considers it the highest aim, unafraid to challenge the status quo

  • Does not consider the official version of anything to be infallible and above examination

  • Thinks in terms of possibilities rather than in terms of rigidity and limitations

  • Fairly and objectively weighs evidence on all sides

Then things start coming subtly off the rails.
  • Acknowledges valid convincing evidence rather than ignoring or denying it

Convincing? Hmm. Smells faintly of Appeal to Authority.

  • Possess solid sharp common sense and objective reasoning

Spoken with no sense of irony, as if those two things weren't opposites. But then comes the one you just knew lay ahead " a full-throated call for Argument from Ignorance!

  • When all mundane explanations for a phenomenon are ruled out, are able to accept paranormal ones

Yup! That's what makes a true skeptic, all righty. I originally thought of listing all the fallacies on this site for this blog post. I don't have that much time, and I'd end up with a post bigger than the web site. So trawl it on your own and work those logical muscles while getting a good chuckle from a Wacko of the Week candidate by the name of, and I swear I'm not making this up, Vinstonas Wu.


by Craig Good

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