North Texas Skeptics
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
What Rational Skeptics Are
Rational skeptics routinely question claims to truth. They demand
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
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
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
Objectives of the North Texas Skeptics
As noted in its articles of incorporation, bylaws, and charter, the objectives
of the NTS are to:
Promote the use of rational thinking, thorough evaluations and unbiased
Promote the use of the scientific method through rational skepticism, the
basis of that process, science education and scholastic excellence.
Critically, but objectively, examine claims that appear to improperly assert
scientific validity or are of a pseudo-scientific, paranormal, occult (or
Act as a resource for communicating information on those, and related,
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
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:
All members have a vote in how NTS is run.
Members can borrow materials from a library of books, periodicals and tapes
maintained by NTS.
Members have ready access to other NTS members that share similar interests.
NTS has occasional parties and socal events -- generally hosted by individual
members -- for members and their guests.
Contacting the North Texas Skeptics
The North Texas Skeptics
P. O. Box 111794
Carrollton, TX 75011-1794
214-335-9248 Skeptics Hotline (current information)
This page, and all contents, are Copyright (C) 1995,1996,1997 by
the North Texas Skeptics, Dallas, Texas.