By the term "skepticism" I do not refer to the classical philosophical position which denies that reliable knowledge is possible. Rather, I use the term "skepticism" to refer to skeptical inquiry. There is a contrast between two forms of skepticism, (1) that which emphasizes doubt and the impossibility of knowledge, and (2) that which focuses on inquiry and the genuine possibility of knowledge; for this latter form of skepticism ("the new skepticism," as I have labeled it),1 skeptical inquiry is essential in all fields of scientific research. What I have in mind is the fact that scientific inquirers formulate hypotheses to account for data and solve problems; their findings are tentative; they are accepted because they draw upon a range of confirming evidence and predictions and/or fit into a logically coherent theoretical framework. Reliable hypotheses are adopted because they are corroborated by a community of inquirers and because the tests that confirm them can be replicated. Scientific hypotheses and theories are fallible; and in principle they are open to question in the light of future discoveries and/or the introduction of more comprehensive theories. The point is that we have been able to achieve reliable knowledge in discipline after discipline because of the effective application of skeptical inquiry.
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source: Skeptical Inquirer magazine