Monday, 31 August 2015

Scepticism and burden of Proof

Don Aitken on his blog has a thought provoking piece titled:

Am I a sceptic? I think so.

Describing his scepticism, Don says:
What is it to be sceptical about something? My own meaning is that where I am not sure about something I think is important, and can’t reasonably be sure, I am sceptical about claims. That doesn’t mean I think it’s wrong, whatever it is; it is simply that I am not in a position to make a proper judgment. Some other person or organisation may be sure, but that is no real help to me. I need to make up my own mind about it, and for the moment I can’t. Therefore I don’t accept the proposition, at least for the moment. Quine would call it the state of ‘suspended judgment’, one of non-belief rather than of disbelief.
Don then moved on to " a neat little series of thoughts on the issue of scepticism on the Fabius Maximus website..."  by Marcello Truzzi (bold added)
In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant; and the more extraordinary a claim, the heavier is the burden of proof demanded. The true skeptic takes an agnostic position, one that says the claim is not proved rather than disproved. He asserts that the claimant has not borne the burden of proof and that science must continue to build its cognitive map of reality without incorporating the extraordinary claim as a new “fact”. Since the true skeptic does not assert a claim, he has no burden to prove anything. He just goes on using the established theories of “conventional science” as usual. But if a