Were you a skeptic this week?

Your Friday Trigger Question for 5 February 2021

Some people believe nothing they see or hear. Others fall for any nonsense on offer. And then there are the giddy few who swing wildly from one position to the other, depending on hysteria, media, or mood.

Of course, we also have our opinionated experts, those who strive to make us believe nothing and everything, often at the same time.

I am an economist by formal education, so let me use economists as an example, with the help of George Bernard Shaw: “If all the economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.”

That quote from 1933 is commonly attributed to Mr. Shaw. But some people think the expression was already being used in 1932. Others believe the expression surfaced soon after economics became a formal “concept”, probably in 1776, when Adam Smith published his The Wealth of Nations. As an expert (in nonsense), I also have an opinion. I believe it to be much older, dating back to those oldies called The Ancient Greeks.

As an expert (in nonsense, lest you forget) and economist (not a boast), what’s my conclusion?

  • Be a skeptic. It’s good for you and it’s good for your business.

By skeptic, I don’t mean you should automatically reject new ideas. And I don’t mean that you should be a cynic either. Instead, return to the original meaning of skepticism. Question all ideas. Use the scientific method to rate reports and assess statements. Ask for compelling evidence. Don’t accept hearsay. Don’t automatically trust experts (like me.)

Keep in mind that in an ever changing world, “facts” are never final. They are open to challenge and subject to change. Be wise and treat all facts as provisional conclusions. (Note: there is a tremendous difference between truth and Truth. But that’s another fact.)

Remember, don’t take up skepticism as a position. It is a method. Use it.

Your Friday Trigger Question(s):

Were you a skeptic this week?

(If not, why not?)