Montoya #1: Skepticism
Dictionary says it means…
1: an attitude of doubt or a disposition to incredulity either in general or toward a particular object
2: the doctrine that true knowledge or knowledge in a particular area is uncertain
What the internet thinks it means…
I disagree with your conventional explanation using another conventional explanation as a counter argument.
In most cases the term skeptic is used to cast doubt on religious beliefs. Religious beliefs are themselves a conventional world view, so it would be proper to use the term skepticism in disavowing those views. However, if you replace the conventional view of religion with a scientistic worldview, you have merely chosen another conventional ideology. This is not skepticism.
The term is also used by those who dismiss all conspiracy theories or explanations of events and phenomena outside of the official explanation given by authorities. However, by choosing the conventional explanation rather than the alternatives, you are not being skeptical.
To be a skeptic you must look at things from a radically different perspective. This will sometimes mean you believe some patently false and crazy shit, but a true skeptic will not continue to believe any particular explanation for very long. Quasi intellectuals in the mainstream have attempted to adopt the term skepticism because they think it makes them appear more intelligent and superior. The role of the skeptic is not to be right or better, but to push the envelope of accepted knowledge in order that we may evolve from adopting new perspectives and increasing complexity. Conventional answers are stagnation and rot in the evolution of our species and consciousness. Whenever you see a question that has only two widespread acceptable answers, dismiss them both out of hand and look for and temporarily believe in every other answer you can find. Then makes some of your own up. Now you are doing skepticism.
Montoya #2: Proof
What the dictionary say it means…
1. evidence sufficient to establish a thing as true, or to producebelief in its truth.
2. anything serving as such evidence: What proof do you have?
What many people think it means…
Absolutely objectively true. The final answer. The correct results that would appear in the back of the book if life were a textbook; or the reply ‘God’ would give if asked.
What it actually means…
Given the information currently available and with our limited subjective analysis of the information we do have, this ‘proof’ should mathematically model the high probability of the same results in further observation and/or testing.
If it is not abundantly clear to you, let me make it so. We have no objective source available to confirm or verify our ‘proofs’. There is no method for absolute certainty in any phenomena that exists. A proof is merely the best possible answer so far.
The scientific method obtained the idea from philosophers who specialized in logic. These logicians were interested in finding language patterns that could verify the internal consistency of a statement. A false statement was almost always still false when the objects were replaced with similar constructs. A true statement, however, was such that by switching its objects the statement could become false. Using these formal patterns logicians formed lists of logical fallacies. Semantic laws that can be used to show the illogical nature of a statement. Using these same principles, science and mathematics formed similar logical structures for verifying their results.
The methods which are used for determining logical consistency and proof both share a common trait. They are eliminative methods. They eliminate what can be shown to be false by the criteria of their methodology. When they have narrowed the field down to a single most likely contender, this hypothesis becomes a theory based on an elimination of all other possible hypotheses. This is proof.
However, as shown many times in the history of science, new information is gathered which requires the negation of proof while the old theory is tested against new hypotheses. This is the beauty of logic, science and mathematics. There is nothing eternal about their answers. This allows their field of knowledge to grow and evolve rather than stagnate in dogma. Yet there is a popular misconception in modern western culture that a proof is something that it is not.
When we ask those in intellectual fields outside of science, logic and mathematics to ‘prove’ their assertions we are making an intellectual error. The fields of art, psychology, religion and many others do not depend on proofs because they deal in a domain in which probabilities are much less certain than in the natural world and semantics. To question assertions in those fields by asking for proof is like judging a painting by the number of times the artist can paint the picture exactly the same. They are not compatible.
Imagine trying to solve a murder using merely factual proof. You would be unable to submit any subjective evidence that was not repeatable on a consistent basis. Unless your witnesses were able to memorize their entire testimony and repeat it nearly verbatim on many occasions over long periods of time, they would not be credible. And if they did they would seem equally non-credible for different reasons. For a whole host of other reasons you would be unable to construct enough evidence for a conviction without allowing all kinds of subjective, intuitive and emotional facts to be presented. And even if you do get a conviction, new evidence or arguments may eventually reverse that decision.
In science, math and logic there are no solved cases. The are strong cases, cold cases and dead cases; yet there is never a final solution for any given inquiry. Proof as it is used in popular vernacular is a logical fallacy and unscientific reasoning. Before parading around proof as a requirement for validity or as the static objective constant that it is not, remind yourself that proof does not constitute an eternal truth.