What is skepticism exactly? In Wikipedia, it states that:
Skepticism generally refers to any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere.
For me, skepticism means to question everything, make no assumptions, and judge each claims based on evidence. Of cause, even when we examine all the evidences, most of the time we will still left with some uncertainties. But I think it’s better to live with uncertainties rather than to have answers which might be wrong. Does it mean once we adopt skepticism, we are not able to decide anything because we are uncertain about it? No. We can act based on different degrees of uncertainty.
For example, the uncertainty of the negative effects of smoking is pretty low. We have many studies to indicate that it has effect on many diseases; we know what chemicals in cigarettes can raise the probability of getting cancer; we know some of the users will develop addiction and never able to quit. Nevertheless, we know little about the health effect when one smoke rarely(not daily); we can’t see with our own eyes that cigarettes actually cause harms; we can’t be absolutely sure that all these evidences are not lies that are designed to trick us so somebody can enjoy more cigarettes by themselves! But no evidence has shown that this is the case. Thus, we can avoid cigarettes as much as possible with high certainty that it could cause harm, at the same time, trying to find out more about it.
Naturally, this skepticism let me questioning many aspects of things. Some of them are little thing in life: Why do we celebrate birthday by cake and candles? Why do we celebrate Christmas with gifts and trees? Who are we really celebrating for? Why do we always buy a diamond ring for marriage? Some of them are bigger questions: Can strict laws and longer imprisonment (lock someone in prison) effectively lower crime rate? Is our educational system outdated? Can free market solve all economic problems by itself? Does god or gods exist?
It turns out that most of them don’t have an easy answer. But as we find out more about it, the fogs surrounding these questions will become clearer.
“Curiosity killed the cat” is an old saying used to warn the dangers of unnecessary investigation or experimentation. For one thing, we are not cats! For another, curiosity is exactly the hallmark of our species. It is why we can improve science and technology so rapidly, free ourselves from daily work and feed a cat!