North Texas Skeptics

NTS Logo Rational Skepticism
And the North Texas Skeptics

Rational skepticism is benign in character. By its very nature, impartial rational, objective questioning should simply verify any really valid truth!

What Rational Skeptics Are

Rational skeptics routinely question claims to truth. They demand
  1. Explicit definitions
  2. Consistent logic
  3. Convincing evidence
before accepting claims as being valid beyond a reasonable doubt. Accepted claims are not regarded as valid beyond all possible doubt however, since future discoveries may dictate a reevaluation.

This philosophy is an essential part of objective scientific inquiry or any other search for an extremely reliable level of knowledge. Virtually all progress has been guided by those willing to question, to reevaluate and to continuously seek more valid answers.

The skeptical philosophy is not limited to scientific disciplines, per se. It's a methodology for acquiring knowledge. While essentially the same as the "scientific method," which was derived from rational skepticism, that methodology can be applied to many subjects.

Rational skepticism tends to produce highly reliable results. It also promotes flexible decisions and value-weighted opinions, since freedom from certainty is the element that enables us to make value-type judgements. Credulity, on the other hand, produces dogmatic-type decisions and opinions, unreliable results, and is potentially very dangerous.

Skepticism cannot endanger real truth. If a contention is valid, even the most demanding questioning should only produce additional confirmation. If it's wrong, we gain an opportunity to discover the correct answer. Either way, we come out ahead; sincere questions should be welcomed, not avoided.

What Rational Skeptics are NOT

There are a number of misconceptions about skeptics. The most common ones seem to be that they are:
Skeptics are simply realistic. They're aware that their decisions and opinions are typically based on the best available information -- and they proceed accordingly. In many fields that entail inherent personal risks this is commonly called "having a strong sense for self-preservation."



Cynical, hyper-critical or "negative"
Actually skeptics tend to be very open-minded. No ideas are rejected "out of hand." They are not "debunkers," per se -- since the term implies a prejudicial view at the onset of an evaluation. Objective questioning and evaluation is not "criticism" -- and criticism should not be confused with critical thinking.



There is no known, objective test for a Deity -- so rational skeptics concede that there's a finite possibility either way. They may have opinions as to the probabilities, however -- which can, likewise, be either way.



Advocates of "fringe" science, paranormal, pseudo-historical or various similar subjects
Skeptics spend a fair amount of time evaluating such claims, simply because there are so many of them. Uncritical acceptance of them can be hazardous -- so a critical, but fair, evaluation seems dictated. Interest in evaluating a subject does not imply one is, in any way, an advocate of it. We get a lot of mail from "fringe" types that seem to feel we'll help with their "crusades." They have the wrong impression of what skeptics do.



"Know-it-alls" that reject the unexplained as "impossible"
Rational skeptics simply recognize the unexplained for what it actually is: either something we can not explain (at this time) or -- when illogical claims are made -- something highly improbable that lacks valid convincing evidence.



Objectives of the North Texas Skeptics

As noted in its articles of incorporation, bylaws, and charter, the objectives of the NTS are to:

What NTS Does to Meet Its Objectives

The organization hosts lecture-type meetings (generally, monthly) on subjects appropriate to its goals. All lecture meetings are open to the general public and are presented on a no-charge basis -- except for certain special programs (such as field trips, etc.) that, by their nature, require admission fees.

NTS also hosts a monthly combined board of directors and social meeting open to all members and their guests. The meetings are normally held at a local restaurant, with attendees responsible for their own expenses.

NTS publishes a monthly newsletter as part of its regular membership package. It is also available (at a reduced rate) for those who merely want a newsletter subscription. Copies of the newsletter are provided free of charge to appropriate schools, organizations, libraries, individuals in the news media, etc.

In addition, the group (or individuals within it) get(s) involved with a wide variety of special projects. Virtually anything that falls within the scope of our noted objectives is considered as "fair game."

Finally, relevant library and research materials are obtained, archived and made available to members, subscribers and the groups noted above.

The major advantages of a general membership (over that of merely having a newsletter subscription) are:

Contacting the North Texas Skeptics

The North Texas Skeptics

P. O. Box 111794
Carrollton, TX 75011-1794
214-335-9248 Skeptics Hotline (current information)

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