One of the most underrated parts about proper skepticism is avoiding or circumventing idea innoculation & trying to understand an alien worldview on its own terms even as you put it to tests you doubt it will withstand. This is practically ethnography. (Some skeptics do a really great job of this ethnographic portion of skepticism: Ross Blotcher & Carrie Poppy come to mind. Others shoot themselves in the foot from the beginning by mostly speaking to their in-group but doing it loudly enough that the outgroup can hear them — like James Randi.)

Since skepticism is something we should be exercising throughout our lives, and since it’s something we ought to be working doubly hard to apply to our own already-accepted beliefs in order to avoid compounding the impact of confirmation bias, we might try using idea innoculation against itself: inventing strawman versions of things we believe to be true and poking them apart, as the other side of a steelman-oriented attitude toward alien ideas.

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Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software. http://www.lord-enki.net

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