I have been meaning to post this for some time, but better late than never.
Paul Kurtz - better known as the “father of skeptical humanism” - wrote the following affirmations for the back cover of the May/June 2009 issue of Skeptical Inquirer. Though I find some of the terminology less-than-perfect (particularly “believe”, which would read better as “affirm” or “assert”), the overall message is thought-provoking and well worth a read.
Thanks to TPO for transcribing the text.
AFFIRMATIONS OF THE NEW SKEPTICISM
The methods of critical inquiry used so effectively in science need to be extended to all areas of human interests. All claims to knowledge should be open to revision in the light of inquiry.
Skeptical inquiry is essential for the development of human knowledge. It represents a historic tradition in science, philosophy, and learning. We may distinguish skeptical inquiry, with emphasis on inquiry, from classical skepticism, which was apt to be negative, even nihilistic. This form of skepticism is a new skepticism, for it is positive and constructive; its principles are essential for the development of knowledge about nature and human behavior. With these considerations in mind, a set of principles serves as guidelines for skeptical inquirers:
WE BELIEVE in the possibility of discovering reliable human knowledge. We affirm the positive powers of human intelligence. We believe that the methods of scientific inquiry can expand the frontiers of knowledge and that these can be used for the betterment of humankind.
WE SUBMIT that skepticism is an essential part of scientific inquiry and that it should be extended to all areas of human endeavor—science, everyday life, law, religion and the paranormal, economics, politics, ethics, and society—and that the standards of rationality apply to each area of human interest.
WE BELIEVE that critical thinking is inherent in all worthwhile inquiry about the world and that it can be enlisted to solve problems, neutralize animosities, compromise hatred, and negotiate differences.
WE BELIEVE in clarity rather that obfuscation, lucidity in the place of confusion, and linguistic definitions to overcome vagueness or ambiguity.
WE DO NOT reject any claim to knowledge prior to inquiry. We insist, however, that claims be framed in testable form and that the burden of proof rests primarily with the party asserting the claim.
WE ASK for facts, not suppositions; experimental evidence, not anecdotal hearsay or conjecture; logical inference and deduction, not faith or intuition.
WE DO NOT believe in absolute dogmas or creeds, whether set in stone or proclaimed as official doctrine.
WE REJECT mythologies of salvation whether based in ancient fears or current messianic illusions, unsubstantiated by corroborative empirical grounds. We believe in inquiry rather than authority, reason in the place of tradition.
WE MAINTAIN that reason and science can be used to develop new technologies, alleviate suffering and reduce pain, and ameliorate and enhance human happiness.
WE SUBMIT that rational inquiry can help us to develop and test ethical principles, moral values, and social policies and thus can contribute to human well-being.
WE ARE NOT negative skeptics, naysayers, debunkers, cynics, or nihilists. We simply wish to oppose hypocrisy, cant, deception, and illusion. We emphasize instead the tests of evidence and rationality.
In short, we believe that critical inquiry is the best way to frame our means and fulfill our ends.