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Skepticism is a powerful tool. One that can and should be used in a variety of situations. And at first glance a properly skeptical attitude seems so easy to adopt: just, like, try not to believe everything instantly.

Of course, like most things in life, it's easier said than done. Skepticism must become a habit. A muscle. It has be worked and exercised in order to be useful. It must be applied in new situations and scenarios. It must be tried and tested to find its limits.

When statements are made, the skeptical mind must spring to action. What is the source of the claim? Does the claim contain any logical fallacies (which, it should be noted, doesn't make the claim wrong per se, just not argued properly)? What is the evidence? Where does the evidence come from? Are there any hidden assumptions? Are there any implied biases? 

It's laborious, painstaking work to go through this exercise with every claim and statement made. Well, too bad. If you want to be skeptical that's just the game you'll have to play. If you apply your skepticism to some statements (or categories of statements) but not others, why are you even bothering?

Which brings me to my main point. When was the last time you were skeptical...of yourself?

It's easy to probe and prod statements made by others. But what about statements made by you?

When was the last time you questioned your own beliefs?

When was the last time you interrogated your own statements?

When was the last time you asked yourself for evidence?

When was the last time you searched yourself for hidden biases and assumptions?

When was the last time you made a claim, and turned right back around to attempt to dismantle it?

it's a very, very difficult thing to do. We naturally assume that our statements and beliefs come from a properly skeptical and evidence-based place. But the truth is that the easiest person in the world to fool is ourselves, and we frequently have beliefs that don't fit within a skeptical framework.

Which, actually, is totally fine. We're human beings after all, and humans are complex. We're under no obligation to be 100% rigid in all of our belief systems in all ways at all times. But being skeptical of oneself is still a very useful exercise to undertake every once in a while. For one, that skeptical muscle could always use the practice. And second, it's always good to know yourself.


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