#hyperskepticism = a big, fat pile of bullshit!
A few months ago, I encountered this ridiculous term. I don’t remember where or how. I think I was reading someone’s Twitter feed. I saw it pop up and thought, “Gee, what’s that?” I was unfortunately not soon to be satisfied with a straight-forward definition. It seemed, though, to mean the doubting of something beyond a reasonable amount.
That sounds like bullshit! Why? Because that establishes an arbitrary, artificial threshold on what is “reasonable.” As has been pointed out in many of my discussions with the religious, something like miracle claims, to them, seems perfectly reasonable given a world created and controlled by an omnipotent god. Yes, I know, this then begs the questions on how we know about this god, etc., but the question alone of miracles does fit into this model as being perfectly reasonable.
I decided to google “hyperskepticism” just to see what came up. You know, shits and giggles. My hypothesis was that it’d been coined by any of the not-so scrupulous at Freethought Blogs or Skepchick or the like. Yes, yes, I even thought it might’ve been coined by PZ Myers. Not for any ad hominem reason, just I swore I saw some mention of him having said it.
I was wrong.
About Myers. Not about FtB and S’chick. In fact, I was the opposite of wrong regarding one of those two. What’s the opposite of wrong?
Yep. The first three results on google as of this writing were 1. Lousy Canuck of FtB (seems he coined it), 2. someone else of Atheism+, and 3. Justicar.
To be fair, Justicar’s vid is entitled “skepticism vs. hyperskepticism” and I haven’t watched it so I don’t know what it says.
The usual suspects. (With S’chick not too far below the others.) Why is it whenever I hear something within the freethought community that sounds like absolute horseshit, the pantheon of (some) bullshitters inevitably comes up? I feel like I never see people like Secular Students or Black Non-Believers. It’s always fucking FtB, A+, and S’chick!
Anyway, A+ gives us a definition.
“Hyperskepticism is a tactic of intellectually dishonest argument where unreasonably high standards of evidence are required for a claim to be accepted.”
–Atheism Plus Forums
Intellectually dishonest. How so? This supposes that it’s ever dishonest to question or doubt. But how could that be true? Isn’t it more dishonest to proclaim a priori that there is such a thing as too much doubt?
Unreasonably high standards. What, pray, then, is unreasonable? And who decides this? The moderators of A+? I fucking hope not because they haven’t had a great track record with being reasonable.
Scientists, then? I doubt it, they tend to tell us to doubt everything. Yes, everything.
Let’s end on my perfect example of this bullshit in action. A few days ago, I was having a conversation on Twitter with someone whose name I’ve since forgotten and screen caps of which I neglected to take. So yeah, you’ll have to take my word for it (or simply skim my timeline).
The subject of harassment came up. I suggested that such a thing, and the label of “victim,” should be qualified with “alleged” until the victim, crime, and perpetrator were all proved through due process of law. I was accused of being hyperskeptical.
It’s hyperskeptical to expect presumed innocent until proven guilty to be applied in all cases? Isn’t that just how the American justice system works and should work to both protect the innocent and punish the guilty? You know, as in we don’t punish the innocent until we’re sure they’re guilty?
It got better.
I asked this Tweeter how he’d go about assessing the fact of a harassment situation. He said, basically, that he’d first believe the victim (alleged victim!), trust the more trustworthy of witnesses for either side (we’re measuring trustworthiness now??), and if the perpetrator were proven innocent… What?? If they’re •proven• innocent?? No, no, no. It’s presumed innocent until proven guilty! Did no one attend grade school but me??
I went on to point out that this was an identical argument Christians make of the Gospels. That they should be assumed to be eyewitness accounts until proven otherwise. He said they were unreliable. I pointed out that this was his opinion. And I wished him the best should he ever be accused of harassment and deemed less trustworthy than his alleged victim.