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Appreciating Skepticism—3 Tips

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“Doubt is the beginning, not the end, of wisdom.”
George Iles

Although my credentials are the result of objective empirical research involving real-world concerns, and clients of all walks of life including public figures, skeptics abound, essentially due to the esoteric underpinnings of this type of work.

Healthy skepticism is welcome since it encourages me to constantly attempt to disprove my theories (theories can only be invalidated, not proven) about personal fate, karma, unavoidable personal adversity, and other spiritual matters. These theories have yet to be invalidated.

However, utter cynicism is another matter.

“There are in fact four very significant stumbling-blocks in the way of grasping the truth, which hinder every man however learned, and scarcely allow anyone to win a clear title to wisdom, namely, the example of weak and unworthy authority, longstanding custom, the feeling of the ignorant crowd, and the hiding of our own ignorance while making a display of our apparent knowledge.”
Roger Bacon

Two of the most notable cases of articulated doubt about my livelihood came from a couple family members.

One of them expressed his bewilderment of my, “…putting ideas in people’s heads,” as we sat down to a family dinner.

Very much accustomed to this sort of perspective, I smiled and said to him and those at the table, “My clients value my advice and guidance; I merely report my findings. You’re free to think whatever you want.”

Another family member has proclaimed twice that, “…there is no personal accountability with the belief of karma.” He totally disagrees with my belief that karma follows you forever in subsequent lifetimes until it’s balanced directly, and that to embrace the tenet of karma is to embrace personal accountability.

He believes that you need a judging God to keep you in line. There seems to be a lot of fear driving his (pious) viewpoint. Perhaps in past lives he was on the accusing side of events such as the inquisition. Alternatively, maybe he and, or his loved ones were punished for holding metaphysical convictions such those mentioned in this article, so the unconscious apprehension propels his opinions.

The moral of such stories includes the following:

  1. No matter how much you educate others about your beliefs and no matter how reasonably you relay your findings, there will always be those who hold opposing views. The most constructive approach is to accept what you can’t change.
  2. It’s important to thoroughly consider disparate viewpoints, then use them as a means to objectively dig more deeply into your principles, expanding your comprehension.
  3. Others’ skepticism can serve to strengthen your determination, helping you to advance your level of expertise.

“It is evident that skepticism, while it makes no actual change in man, always makes him feel better.
Ambrose Bierce

Copyright © 2011 Scott Petullo

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