Hemant Mehta gave a phenomenal presentation on the gullibility of skeptics at the recent Milwaukee Mythinformation Conference. It turns out that we are all bad at fact-checking and verifying sources, even skeptics. The internet has given all people a voice and this means that the internet is littered with bogus stories, unchecked “facts,” and half-truths that are spun and taken out of context.
Fact-checking is an arduous, labor-intensive process. A good fact-checker will verify every quotation and paraphrase by calling the person who was interviewed. He or she will ask to see the source for every assertion, requiring the writer to provide a reference. The drafts will be filled with footnotes citing refereed journal articles, interview notes, and reputable websites. A fact-checker will verify every single sentence.
I’ve long said that atheists are the most superstitious and intellectually lazy people that I know. One of my coworkers would stake her life on the idea that ancient aliens built the pyramids, contrary to the evidence. It is not surprising that we don’t think skeptically and fact-check the way that we should. Humans are an intellectually lazy bunch. We get our thoughts, our culture, our behavior, our ideas, and even our religion from the people around us.
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