Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Skepticism

a guy wrote: -=- I am genuinely interested (if skeptical).-=-

I wrote: Genuine interest is great. Expressing skepticism to me is a little irritating. Nothing else was irritating.
My kids are 20, 17 and 14 and your skepticism doesn't change their lives.

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That was from e-mail. It got me thinking.

Skepticism as the opposite of gullibility is a good, healthy thing.
When someone reads personal accounts of what has actually happened, and what is working so well that a mom will write about her children on the internet and writes "I'm skeptical," it gets personal!

This has been a problem for years, in and around unschooling discussions. It's related to other issues (probably to all other issues), and is probably a problem of the language itself.

"Skeptical" spoken of oneself isn't bad. "Skeptical" spoken in reference to a report isn't bad in the absence of the reporter

If two people are standing at a check-out stand looking at a headline about someone having Elvis's alien grandchild, one might say "I'm skeptical" and no one would be insulted. If I put up a website with a couple of hundred pages of reports of real-life successes of people, many of whom I know, more of whom I trust, none of whom I have reason to DIStrust, and I do it for free, and I do it out of a desire to give others an opportunity to try those things in their own families, and someone writes to me at my house and says "I'm skeptical," it just isn't the same neutral deal anymore.

The e-mail exchange from which the top quote came has been saved here: http://sandradodd.com/skepticism

While I would certainly hate for someone to write "love your site; I'm gullible" I don't much like "love your site but I'm skeptical" either. I assume that people will read things critically and thoughtfully.

Maybe I just hate e-mail.

I doubt it.

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