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As per google's dictionary:

Skeptic: 1) a person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions. 2) a person who doubts the truth of Christianity and other religions; an atheist or agnostic

...

Skepticism or scepticism (see spelling differences) is generally any questioning attitude towards unempirical knowledge or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere.

...

Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. It's the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion.

So I think if someone "doubts the truth of [Buddhism]" and "has questioning attitude towards ... opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or ... claims that are taken for granted" and would like to "apply reason and critical thinking to determine validity" -- and asks questions with this objective in mind then perhaps we should make it explicit.

I see two benefits:

  1. Makes it easy for the newcomer skeptics to find preexisting sceptical questions.
  2. Helps the answerers and the audience decide whether they are interested in the question without having to open it. This includes using the favorite tag / ignored tag feature to highlight or gray out certain questions.

I believe this is the intended usage of tags and will make this site easier to use and navigate.

  • 3
    Assuming you'd like to vote in favour of this policy, would you post an answer with a list of several existing questions, to which you'd want to apply this tag? Try to list some questions which would definitely (in your opinion) benefit from and/or deserve this tag, and maybe some edge cases (questions which barely deserve it, and some questions which for some reason don't deserve it). Part of the reason for doing that (identifying examples) is that if the policy were implemented then that list of examples could be used for explaining how and when to use (and when not to use) that new tag. – ChrisW Sep 9 '15 at 23:22
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    I find it difficult to understand where you'd draw the line for a 'skeptics' tag. For example if someone asked, "what's the purpose of chanting" or "what's the benefit of dana" then would that be "doubting the truth"? Apart from 'personal practice' and 'reference request', what types of question wouldn't be "having a questioning attitude", or would they all be? – ChrisW Sep 10 '15 at 10:45
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    +1 for this from em. I know that meta tags controversial but we are seeing questions that have a skeptical edge to them and I think been able to raise a question in that spirit would be helpful – Crab Bucket Sep 10 '15 at 11:00
  • @ChrisW, I will try to find examples, need focused time for that, not between other things. – Andrei Volkov Sep 10 '15 at 11:57
  • Thanks. It seems it could be a popular proposal but maybe let's measure it twice before cutting once. – ChrisW Sep 10 '15 at 12:52
  • I like the idea – Thiago Sep 10 '15 at 19:10
  • @ChrisW - May I suggest opening up some questions that have been closed because of their eyebrow-raising content, tagging them as skeptical, and answering them as case studies? – Krishnaraj Rao Sep 12 '15 at 21:11
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    @ChrisW - May I also suggest the tag "Critical Reasoning" as an alternative to "Skeptical"? – Krishnaraj Rao Sep 12 '15 at 21:12
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    @KrishnarajRao I personally think skeptic is good because it links into the Skeptics SE site that our users may be familiar with – Crab Bucket Sep 12 '15 at 21:19
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    @CrabBucket - The reason I suggest "Critical Reasoning" is that Skeptic is a label that some people attach to others. If you have a Skeptic tag, then maybe you should consider having a tag for a diametrically opposed quality, such as "Fundamentalist" or maybe even "Superstitious"? – Krishnaraj Rao Sep 12 '15 at 21:24
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    @KrishnarajRao I be honest a fundamentalist tag would be enormously controversial. But I would encourage you to post the critical reasoning tag suggestion as an answer and it would allow people to vote on it if they think it's a good idea. You could also post the fundamentalist tag idea if you wanted but I think you would get a very negative reaction for that. I'll leave that one up to you – Crab Bucket Sep 12 '15 at 21:31
4

I would just like to reaffirm that I think that this is a good idea. I think that these questions would be good candidates for the tag

Can the elements of Buddhist Cosmology be confirmed?

Do modern-day Buddhists take "Mara The Evil One" literally?

Did Gautama Buddha exist?

Is rebirth a delusional belief?

Does Human Evolution Disprove a Kamma Based Rebirth?

This proposal seesm to have good support. I would go ahead and begin tagging if it were me

  • Is the tag validated and can I begin tagging? – Lanka Sep 13 '15 at 10:02
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    @Lanka I would just go ahead. We can debate further as needed. Cheers – Crab Bucket Sep 13 '15 at 10:41
  • Ok. A few questions are now tagged. Also I created a tag-description. Feel free to change it or say if anything should be added. – Lanka Sep 13 '15 at 12:54
  • @Lanka I was waiting for Andrei's input. – ChrisW Sep 14 '15 at 13:22
  • @ChrisW apologies - we can always change things around. Nothing is set in stone – Crab Bucket Sep 14 '15 at 13:27
  • @ChrisW my proposal was an attempt to dissipate the negative energy by channeling in into a slightly more constructive discussion: instead of being upset about the skeptical questions we could talk about tagging them. The tagging itself was secondary to the purpose. After thinking this over for several days I decided that bringing up the old skeptical questions either here in an answer, or by retagging - can have a negative side-effect. I still think we can tag them going forward. – Andrei Volkov Sep 17 '15 at 13:33
0

I'm not saying "no definitely not" but there was no community support for defining a 'beginner' tag, which might have served a similar purpose.

-1

1) "Skeptic" seems like labeling the person rather than the question -- rather similar to having a "beginner" flag. It may be worth avoiding.

2) Instead, consider introducing a "Critical Reasoning" of "Scientific Questioning" flag. Or maybe, "Secular Buddhism"?

3) Simultaneously, consider having flags to indicate a complete and unquestioned belief in the scriptures. How about "Faithful Disciple" or "Literal Faith"? This might discourage skeptical or non-scriptural answers (or non-literal interpretations of the scriptures) from being attempted to questions thus flagged.

4) With such flagging, one may possibly reduce incidents of skeptical or critical questioning offending faithful/literal followers of the faith. It would be like saying, "Viewer discretion is advised. You have been warned. Proceed with caution." If, after reading this flag, someone feels offended by the question, it means that he/she has actually gone out of his way to read the question in order to feel offended.

5) Vice-versa, it may reduce the incidence of the faithful/literal followers feeling that they are being trolled by persons with a skeptical outlook. Because anybody who deliberately goes to questions marked "Literal Faith" and leaves skeptical answers or questions could be marked as a troll.

6) Questions that have neither flag would allow interactions between skeptical persons as well as literal followers.

Fair enough?

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    Fundamentalist is derogatory & jargon from outside the system. Besides, if you are in Vajrayana, it can be very faith based & devotional, but the source of authority is a current living teacher. – MatthewMartin Sep 14 '15 at 12:42
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    What comes to mind for phrases already in the literature-- secular Buddhism, academic Budddhism, critical Buddhism. Academic Buddhist writers strive to not show if they believe or not, critical Buddhists are keen to question what really is Buddhism. Skepticism, Atheism, Agnosticism, imho, are really about tearing down the structures of religion and not replacing it with anything. – MatthewMartin Sep 14 '15 at 12:45
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    @MatthewMartin - "Skepticism, Atheism, Agnosticism, imho, are really about tearing down the structures of religion and not replacing it with anything." Buddha was a skeptic, not a follower of religion. IMO, over time, all belief systems including religions tend to accumulate structures that have little function or value. Unless critiqued, such structures cover the body of the religion (I'm not talking about Buddhism or any religion in particular), like a bunch of warts. IMO, skeptics play a role by subjecting religions and other belief-systems to the harsh light of reason. – Krishnaraj Rao Sep 14 '15 at 18:18
  • I highly recommend checking out the speculativenonbuddhism.com "Non-Buddhist" project. It is very much along that line and it, as a blog, created spectacular flamewars in comments. It was fun to watch while it was running, but it is too tiresome for me to participate in & it isn't something that SE moderators wants to encourage. – MatthewMartin Sep 14 '15 at 19:41
  • @MatthewMartin - Checked out. It doesn't connect with me at all. Leaves me cold. – Krishnaraj Rao Sep 15 '15 at 4:40

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