Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The "Skeptic" Machine

I'm trying to raise my kid as a skeptic. The public often confuses a "skeptic" with a cynic. This couldn't be further from the truth. Skepticism is (according to Michael Shermer of Skeptic Magazine) "a provisional approach to claims. It is the application of reason to any and all ideas - no sacred cows allowed. In other words, skepticism is a method, not a position. Ideally, skeptics do not go into an investigation closed to the possibility that a phenomenon might be real or that a claim might be true. When we say we are "skeptical", we mean that we must see compelling evidence before we believe. Skeptics are from Missouri - the "show me" state. When we hear a fantastic claim we say, "that's nice, prove it."" This is what I mean my raising him as a skeptic, and there is nothing cynical about that. I prefer raising him as a skeptic to raising him as an atheist. He'll make his own choice on theological matters later...for now the message is, "what is the evidence?", and he can apply that to everything.

Fortunately for me, one of my son's favorite shows has always been Scooby Doo (not the live action movies...the older cartoons). I know, you probably don't think of the show as skeptical, but you should. In every episode of Scooby Doo (older ones at least...some of the newer stuff, not so much), the teen detectives look into some supposedly supernatural claim (ghost, zombie, vampire, etc...) and it always ends the same....the mystery gets solved and it is never a monster or ghoul, but instead some janitor in a mask or some dude with a movie projector. Of course, Scooby and Shaggy are BIG TIME superstitious, but the rest of the gang always start out on a search for a natural explanation using the "skeptical" method (something more of the aforementioned public should consider using.)

My wife and I have felt this way about the show for years, only recently have I discovered that other people feel the same (other's mention it online and their posts are superior to this one). Tim Minchin even references the show in his beat poem "Storm".

I've introduced him to many "supernatural" heroes (Superman, Thor, Hellboy...), and he enjoys them. He also knows he can't fly or see through walls. No one believes in any of that. I think that's why Scooby Doo remains one of his favorites. Of course it's fiction, he understands that (the dog talks for goodness sake). He also understands the method the "gang" uses to solve the mysteries, and he knows that "skeptic" is something he CAN be. He may also have a thing for Velma (he gets it honest...and who could blame him/us?).

1 comment:

  1. walking here with a smile.. have a nice day ~ =D

    Regards, (A Growing Teenager Diary) ..