D. J. Grothe on Skepticism, Humanism

Monday, May 10, 2010 at 7:15 PM Bookmark and Share
You should find time to watch, or at least listen to the talk below. It's the keynote from the recent Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS) given by the president of the James Randi Educational Foundation, DJ Grothe. The talk, entitled Skepticism is a Humanism, can be viewed in full here or on vimeo.


Previously on this blog, I've talked about what skepticism is and is not, but it's worth pointing out that much of the skepticism movement is driven by humanist principles. In his talk, Grothe defined humanism as...
Humanism 
       A naturalistic (as opposed to a supernatural) ethics focused on human well being.
While this is really a definition of secular humanism, it gets the point across: humanism is a set of morals and ethics based primarily (or solely) on human welfare.  You can read more about humanism from the American Humanist Association (AHA), or on Wikipedia here, here, here and here.

Grothe also takes pains points out that he's not saying "Skepticism = Atheism" nor that "Skepticism = Secular Humanism". Instead, he asserts that skepticism is both a method of inquiry, and a social movement to apply that method of inquiry towards humanistic goals (more from Grothe on skepticism starting around 11:30, and around 22:30).  Good stuff, though I wish he would have gone further to draw distinctions between these and related terms like rational inquiry, which in my mind is the "method" part of skepticism separate from the social movement (although I'm not sure that is the commonly accepted meaning of the phrase).

Thoughts?

[Hat tip to Phil Plait via Bad Astronomy]

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