“Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay, you may kick it about all day like a football, and it will be round and full at evening.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
Are skeptics aggressive? This is a question I’ve been asking myself lately. Of course I believe the answer is “No.” But judging by the kind of conversations I end up having whenever I assert my opinion on matters like religion, the supernatural, magic and CAM, it seems some think otherwise.
But the knife doesn’t cut both ways. If a Buddhist were to explain his or her beliefs, then elaborate why he or she believes such things, I don’t think anyone would be disturbed or think their own beliefs were being aggressively challenged. Ditto for any religious believer. But when a skeptic says, for instance, that he or she is a materialist, an atheist or whatever it is almost certain to elicit a response such as, “Well, I don’t like having your views shoved down my throat.”
The double standard is obvious. Believers in all sorts of things enjoy the freedom to expound on those beliefs. They expect to be heard out, respected and thoughtfully considered. Fine. But why can’t skeptics expect the same? Why must it always be, “Don’t force your truth on me?”
Skeptics don’t adopt that tactic because it’s not what skepticism is about. We like to air opinions. We are even glad when someone proves us wrong. We are not at all dogmatic, as we try to have good reasons for believing what we do. None of it is based on faith or intuition – things we are, well, skeptical of.
In fact, we love nothing more than talking things over. That this approach should be considered “aggressive” is perhaps telling us more about our interlocutors than it does about us.