Do you do "skepticism"? You hear people say "I'm skeptical" all the time, using it to mean general doubt. But that's not what you mean, really. Skepticism is an approach to evaluating claims that emphasizes evidence and applies tools of science. Skepticism is most often applied to extraordinary claims – those that refute the current consensus view. In a nutshell (or as an elevator pitch), the Skeptical process considers evidence obtained by systematic observations and reason.
There are problems with the words “skeptic” and “skeptical” but they are what they are. We can choose to embrace that and work with it or come up with another word for utilizing evidence to evaluate extraordinary claims. Other words aren’t catching on but that shouldn’t stop us from advocating an evidence-based and rational approach.
I wrote the Media Guide to Skepticism for the public – whether that be journalists or anyone else curious about the use of the term "skepticism". It’s valuable to put your concepts on paper, hash out the details, find the common ground, and finalize the document. So, that’s what I did. Now I link people to it when they say "I'm a skeptic".
The document (attached here as an easy to print guide or available in different forms on the website) is free for you to copy, use and distribute under a Creative Commons license. Please share widely.
Whenever someone says, “I’m skeptical,” you can say “Oh, really? So you consider evidence, reason and the tools of science to analyze claims?” Zing.