Are you one of those people who have to be convinced to believe? Do you take everything with a grain of salt? Do you scoff at anything that is repeated simply because “I saw it on the internet, so it has to be true?”
You sound like a skeptic, so today is your day. Well, that assumes that you are reading this on January 13. That is the date designated as International Skeptics Day.
At this point, you’re probably saying, “Sure it is. Show me the proof.” Good for you. Skeptics want to see evidence, and they want the evidence to be solid, reputable, checked, double-checked, and cross-checked.
So what is the proof that today is Skeptics Day? Well… we’re a bit red-faced to say it, but basically, it’s true because the internet says it is.
Official holidays in which government offices, schools, and businesses shut down require official action. All other holidays are observed out of custom. While you will find legislation declaring July 4 an official holiday in the United States, September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day because enough people decided that’s what it should be.
In the same way, January 13 has come to be accepted as International Skeptics Day. Perhaps because of the lack of concrete evidence — or maybe because there are so many skeptical people out there — International Skeptics Day is also celebrated on October 13.
If you are one of those who celebrated Skeptics Day on October 13, today is the day to release your skepticism and embrace the impossible by observing Make Your Dreams Come True Day.
If all of this sounds like a bunch of manure to you, then you are almost certainly a skeptic. Or, possibly, you are operating off of the French Republican Calendar and are longing for the annual return of December 28 — Manure Day.
The greeting card aisle at Walmart is woefully understocked of cards appropriate for Skeptics Day. A better way to celebrate the day is to let your inner skeptic have control for the day. Don’t accept claims on social media without doing some fact-checking. Retain a measure of doubt, no matter how many headlines proclaim the veracity of a particular thing. Learn to separate fact from opinion.
Another way to observe this auspicious day is to contemplate the following words from skeptics about skepticism:
- “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ― Voltaire
- “Blind belief in authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” ― Albert Einstein
- “The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.” ― Carl Sagan
- “I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.” ― Arthur C. Clarke
- “One of the biggest problems with the world today is that we have large groups of people who will accept whatever they hear on the grapevine, just because it suits their worldview—not because it is actually true or because they have evidence to support it. The really striking thing is that it would not take much effort to establish validity in most of these cases… but people prefer reassurance to research.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson
- “I have always strenuously supported the right of every man to his own opinion, however different that opinion might be to mine. He who denies to another this right, makes a slave of himself to his present opinion, because he precludes himself the right of changing it.” ― Thomas Paine
- “Their prison is only in their own minds, yet they are in that prison; and are so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.” — C.S. Lewis