Intelligence and Honesty are Not Necessarily Enough

Humans are easily fooled and we easily fool ourselves. Intelligence and integrity are not necessarily a sufficient defence against being fooled, especially when the thing that might fool you is something that you really want to believe. There are many well-meaning, very intelligent people who sincerely believe complete nonsense.

No, intelligence and honesty are often not enough. Just as we need tools to adequately physically care for ourselves, we need tools to sift out fact from folly.

Scientific methods of investigation have been specifically designed to compensate for the various shortcomings of the human brain. These methods have clearly been shown to be the most effective set of tools available for distinguishing between that which is most probably true and that which most probably is not true. The modern skeptical movement is all about employing those tools in the examination of various types of claims, especially claims that involve what is commonly called “the paranormal” – and I’d include most forms of religious belief in that category.

It took me a long time to let go of that which I dearly wanted to be true in favour of that which could actually be shown to most likely be true but it’s my view that I’m a lot better off for it. The journey that begins by embracing skepticism is not necessarily an easy one but I really think it’s worth it.

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