July 13th, 2007

the problem with skeptics

It may be that the old astrologers had the truth exactly reversed, when they believed that the stars controlled the destinies of men. The time may come when men control the destinies of stars. - Arthur C. Clark

So I know I have many a friend and acquaintance that put some stock in astrology. I myself was never able to accept it. The descriptions generally given by astrology tend to be general enough to apply to most people and have an element of truth that anyone will recognize in themselves. I fundamentally did not like the notion that who I am, the essence of my personality and judgment will be based on the date of my birth and what planets and stars are in what position. I know some people do put stock in it and I don’t want to offend people but I don’t believe in it generally and at best I think it is fun little goof like the internet personality quizzes we take. I have a strong line of logical skepticism in me that struggles with the spiritual man in me.

My problem with most skeptics though is that they end up being insulting about it. I have talked to some over the years or listen to podcasts by them or even watched some episodes of Penn and Teller’s Bullsh*t. Almost always I start out liking them and then invariably the sheer level of vitriol spewed turns me off. Your average rabid confrontational skeptic is as bad or worse than your rabid confrontational fundamentalist. They will accuse believers of being stupid, mentally ill, or brainwashed. I may not believe in the psychic or religion or seer someone else does but why would I confront them on it. What does that help? Does insulting someone make me appear more rational?

Maybe part of it is I would love for there to be psychics and other things semi mystical in this world. I was once told I love beauty. I will add I love wonder. I want a sence of wonder in the world. Sometimes I get that through knowledge of science. How anyone can look at the wonders of the universe and not be in awe at times is beyond me? Maybe there is something in humanity that needs something to believe in. maybe it is our way of dealing with the sheer scope of it all. Who knows? I just don’t think I have any ground to fell superior to people who look for meaning in it all by looking for and believing in wondrous things.

am i scary?

So I have been told by several of my coworkers I am scary and generally thought of as mean. One of them told me I give the impression I could become violent at the drop of a hat. Now I have never become violent around any of them. I don’t curse and I don’t in anyway try to relate anger at my fellow employees.

Am I scary? I would blow this off if it were not several people saying this and they are not the only ones to have said such. I have long time friends who have said so. Do you think maybe that has something to do with my lack of advancement at work?

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