Bite Sized Philosophy, 20 July 2015: Skepticism

In academia, a student is often brought to answer a uniquely pressing question: what lends credibility to one person’s ideas over the opinion of another person, if both are of equal standing and repute? Experts are commonly those who have achieved repute and influence due to a demonstration of understanding and practical application of their ideas in their field; someone who has demonstrated their understanding through application  is still subject to peer-review, like all academics. So once they pass through the review-process and have the esteem of a university or educational group, do they become the experts from which we, without skepticism, accept the ideas and foundation of a reasoned structure and work within the structure put forth by said expert?

The pressupposition of expertise often comes with a character of prestigious degrees and honors, despite the undeniable fact that an expert can be as wrong as anyone else when lost in the tangles of their theory’s structure and the rigidity imposed by structure. For each expert’s idea or philosophy, there is the natural response of skepticism, the evaluation process, pragmatic and systematically performed, in the attempt to give expression and application within the proposed theory or philosophical edifice; no one, based on reputation, should be spared the rigorous reaction of the skeptical community to put the idea and philosophy through the crucible, to test the strength of the foundation, its principles and the method behind the implementation of it as accepted practice.

The degree one’s laurel’s vouch for the validity of approach in formalized educational structure is the back and forth process that takes place among aspiring experts, themselves through striving and imagination attempting to become teachers that they may teach and apply that skepticism again, forever sifting through documents and data and proposals dispassionately and popping at the structure to see if it falls, and if not, where it can be better formed, better adapted to changing purposes and students. Skepticism is the crucible through which ideas and theories are made golden or made into dust, where research students become academics or quacks (I am self-aware) in their own pursuit of expertise and influence in popular opinion and the degree to which it affords support and acceptance. If an idea doesn’t seem like that’s how the world should work, put it to the scrutiny presented by what rules the world does obey in its behavior, and do not instead try to impose or extract something for its ability to make sense. Objects of great mass warp space and slow down time and events can happen in different order; we can use reason to our detriment when it is assumed that reason alone can rationalize and make viable thoughts once thought to be ridiculous. Skepticism is the line between passive acceptance and informed understanding.

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