Barry Arrington writes:
For years I have been bemused by the website called The Skeptical Zone. Every few months I go over there and peruse the posts. And I think to myself, if they are so skeptical, why does practically everything they say line up with the received dogmas and conventional wisdom of the early 21st century Western intelligentsia?
Do they not know what the word “skeptical” means? Are they going for ironical?
But in a flash of insight today, I finally figured it out. The key is in the quote from Cromwell at the top of their homepage that serves as the motto for the site:
I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.
All of this time I mistakenly thought that they were using the aphorism the way Cromwell intended as in “We should bear in mind that each of us is fallible; it follows that each of us should always allow for the possibility that even his most intensely-held beliefs might possibly be mistaken.”
Yes, Barry, that is precisely what I intended it to mean.
No, that is not it. It all becomes clear when you realize that they mean their motto quite literally and when they think of it they think of it this way:
I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that YOU may be mistaken.
The YOU refers to all those who read the words, including the owner of the blog.
There you have it. They are skeptical all right. They are skeptical of everyone’s views but their own, which they hold with a breathtakingly dogmatic tenacity. It all makes sense to me now
Well, we all tend to think that people who seem unable to see our point of view are holding that view “with a breathtaking dogmatic tenacity”. After all, if we thought we were wrong, we’d change our minds, wouldn’t we? It’s intrinsic to the nature of disagreement that we think the other guy is wrong, and greater the clarity with which we think we are seeing the truth, the more dogmatically tenacious the other guy seems to be for not seeing it. Which simply goes to show that one [wo]man’s obvious is another [wo]man’s nonsense.
So: Just to remind everyone: No, the motto is neither ironical, nor addressed to a subset of the world. It is addressed to everyone, unironically, including me. And of course Barry, should he come over, which I hope he will. Please regard it as the Primary Rule of this site.
Edited to, I hope, avoid copyright violation.