I was asked the other day what got me involved in organized skepticism. And if you ignore all the technical aspects, like stumbling across SGU and then meeting and being encouraged to participate by wonderful people like Rebecca Watson and the Skepchick team, then I suppose the main thing that really got me excited about skepticism was the fact that I was an idiot.
No, I really was.
I still pretty much am.
I am an emotional, flawed and an easily confused human. I am prone to believing what is easy instead of what takes time and energy to understand. I take wrong turns. I make mistakes. I tend to trust in people and things when I shouldn’t.
Skepticism as a method has become a bit of much needed protective armor that I have added to my arsenal of street smarts. It is a method I carry around with me that I can rely upon to help me figure out the best solution to many of life’s tricky problems. It helps me to dig out the truth that is often hidden beneath slick advertising or a web of lies. It protects me from making some of the mistakes I am prone to make.
One of the many things I would accept without questioning before I was a skeptic was that just being a good person and thinking positive thoughts would bring positive results. I never read The Secret but I did fall for a lot of the trappings that surround the premise. Just be a good person and things will work out. It’s karma, dude. What comes around goes around.
It seemed reasonable at the time. But really, it was just a bad idea that was easy to accept.
You know what I know now? Statistics don’t care how you think. Hard work and planning and then some more hard work sometimes brings positive results, but only sometimes. And these results have little to do with whether or not you are “a good person” and even less to do with wishing things well. It would have been great if I would have known that when I was younger. I might have been less angry, a lot less disappointed and twice as motivated to try harder. I could have done away with all of the self-blaming that comes along with that irrational mindset as well.
Live, learn and be skeptical.
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were younger?