Curing cynical skepticism 1 – Introduction

I tried writing this as a single post, but as it quickly crept past 1000 words, I decided that each individual subsection was worthy of its own post. So over the next week I’m going to try to document and deal with an issue that I want to refer to as cynical skepticism (don’t criticize the name until we actually get to my discussion of that topic).

The topics I plan to cover are (I’ll make these all links once the series is done):

  1. Introductory remarks (Today – Saturday)
  2. Non-active atheists (Sunday)
  3. The cynical skeptics (Monday)
  4. The wrong spin (Tuesday)
  5. Building positive communities (Wednesday)
  6. Diversifying the skeptical market (Thursday)
  7. Concluding thoughts (Friday)

My goal today is to simply introduce the topic and my bare motivation for it. I will admit that part of making this a series post is to try to boost my blogs regularity by prewriting and scheduling a bunch of posts, but that’s more of a secondary reason.

I’ve basically noticed a bit of a trend, or at least a standing issue in the atheist/skeptics communities that is potentially acting as a barrier to entry for otherwise potential members and donors. I’m calling this cynical skepticism, not as an insult or a suggestion that skeptics are mere cynics who reject everything, but to highlight the negative tendency of many of the conversations that happen at meetings.

I should also emphasize that I’m not claiming that I’m not part of the problem or am innocent of any of the criticisms that I plan to outline. My hope is that from this discussion, we, as a community, can identify the direction we want to proceed and from there work to establish positive and constructive freethought communities that appeal to (almost) everyone.

I will also note that, in general, I am not criticizing the activities currently undertaken by any specific freethought group. My goal is more to find specific, constructive avenues along which existing, or new, groups can expand their audience and further the ambitions of a society based on reason, rationality and humanism.

So check back over the course of the series and leave your comments below.