I think that doubt and skepticism are crucial in the age we live in, and I think they’re, in some ways, even more crucial today than they have ever been, because we live in a world of mass communications.
While we have the Internet and we have blogs and we have Twitter and Facebook and things like that, the major media tends to be controlled by corporate forces. And I don’t mean for this to sound sinister. I’m just saying it’s a fact of life that we are surrounded by points of view and by propaganda that is heavily messaged and it’s meant to persuade us of something.
Maybe the things they’re trying to persuade us of are right. Maybe they’re wrong. But I think that we need to have enough information and enough knowledge to say, wait a minute, I don’t think so. Let me go check that against some other sources. So you have to know how to check against other sources and you have to have enough knowledge to be able to say I don’t think so. I want to know if that’s true. I want to have alternate ways of verification.
That’s what doubt and skepticism is about. It’s about rationality. It’s about thinking for yourself. It’s about having an independent mind. And, in an age of almost the complete domination of these powerful media of communication by small numbers of people, that’s what’s going to keep us a democratic society.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think’s studio.
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