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Interesting blogpost. I agree with some of the criticism, but not all.

I'll comment briefly on the definition aspect, sorry for not having the time to comment on the entire article.

I agree that it can be frustrating that there is no globally accepted definition. However, I think the various definitions floating around are pretty similar to each other. I think when Steve firs outlined his definition, he wrote that he had thought about the question of defining "skepticism" for more than a decade, and that it is hard to make a brief definition of it. As you might be aware, Novella has also given somewhat different definitions of it elsewherem for example here:

As for Sagan, you have to take into context that he presents that definition in the same chapter as the baloney detection kit, and that chapter also includes the importance of experiment, not only logical fallacies.

I don't think there is any universally accepted definition of "science" or of "philosophy", yet these fields are perfectly able to exist, and to make progress.

I would hope that even though you step down as a leader of the Swiss Skeptics, you don't abandon the movement as a whole, or cease identifying as a skeptic.

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Original Poster1 point · 4 months ago

I agree, we almost certainly don't need a universally accepted definition of skepticism. We probably don't need that. However, I wish there were more of a productive debate about this.

Even though I'm stepping down as president, I remain a skeptic through and through :). With my (hopefully constructive) criticism of the movement, I don't mean to abandon it, but rather to explore ways of making the skeptic movement stronger.

One thing the author doesn't mention is the tendency of skeptics to be jerks, especially to "alties" - but that matters a lot. It alienates people from the skeptics and as a result, it alienates them from what the skeptics think.

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Original Poster1 point · 4 months ago

Yes, I agree: I have also (anecdotally) observed that some skeptics tend to "punch down". There is a saying in French I like in this regard: C'est le ton qui fait la musique. The way skeptics do what they do is very important.

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Isn't the same thing true everytime you deploy a unit into the field. Once that unit is out of direct contact with the chain of command it is operating on it's own. The US doctrine at least is for soldiers to take individual initiative barring other orders. They are autonomous is that sense. Sure they are less likely to be taken over and used against you but that doesn't mean you have complete command and control.

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Original Poster1 point · 4 months ago

That's a very good point! In this paper (which I like a lot), that kind of situation is also addressed:

There can be situations in which individual soldiers or units are isolated and the chain of command is broken. But such situations are the exception, not the rule - and they are an exception that the military tries to avoid. So, in a sense, something that happens some of the time in regular warfare might become the norm with autonomous weapons.

Marko Kovic

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