Monday, April 14, 2008

Doggerel #149: "Why Do You Ask So Many Questions?"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

Woos love to call us skeptics "closed-minded." Probably because they've been indoctrinated by Hollywood and elder woos as to what they expect. It should be no surprise, then, that they're very commonly caught off-guard by us expressing one of the critical drives behind open-mindedness: Curiosity. If someone is claiming knowledge about something, you ask questions. Few things frustrate a woo faster than asking a question that they never thought to ask themselves.

When a skeptic is asked a question he doesn't know the answer to, he will commonly A) admit his lack of knowledge on that particular issue, B) form a hypothesis that appears reasonable and note it's his spur-of-the-moment response, rather than a researched answer, C) get the answer from someone with more expertise, D) look it up at an online resource and use their answer, or E) any combination of the above.

I don't see woos doing much of that, except for uncommon instances of admitting ignorance, usually followed by statements of being completely incurious about the matter. I typically find that they'll berate the questioner, claim that the answer is forever unknowable, or just generally being very unhelpful and pessimistic in our quest for knowledge.

We ask questions because we want to know more about the world around us. Science has repeatedly shown us how cool the universe is, and often how it can exceed our imagination. It's that simple. Far too often, I've seen woos act appalled that anyone would care about discovering the universe around them, whether we're trying to learn out of simple wondrous curiosity about some obscure particle, or if some drug treatment would help those we care about. Too often, woos supply authoritarianism and calls to conformity where answers would be much more satisfying.


Evolved Rationalist said...

This LOLcat is so cute, I may have to steal it.

Bronze Dog said...

Click it for the ICHC post I got it from.