The More I Learn, The More I Realize How Little I Know

Well, damn it’s been a long time. I never wanted to be one of those people who let their blog fall into disrepair, but here we are. My last post was made in February. FEBRUARY!

I always enjoyed writing and putting in my own two cents on things, but for awhile there it was beginning to feel like a chore. I think that I was trying too hard to blog on a regular basis, and to make scheduled posts and so on, so it started feeling like homework instead of an enjoyable passtime. After a certain amount of time had passed it felt like I had let the blog die and I was a bit ashamed about all of the promises I didn’t fulfill, and the comments that I didn’t answer. I definitely let myself down.

So here I am about 6 months later hoping to rectify the situation. I want my blog to continue, and I want it to be fun again! So I’m starting with this post, and I’m resolving to make no promises about future posts. I don’t promise to post on a regular basis, I don’t promise to post about certain topics, and I don’t promise to respond to all comments although know that I read them all and take them to heart and appreciate the feedback and challenges! I’m just going to write about what I feel like, whenever I feel compelled to.

Now to the title of this post: The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know. It’s a saying I’m sure you’ve all heard in some form or another (I feel like it’s something I read in the Bible once upon a time, but I’m not sure), but it’s related to why my posts here started tapering off. It might have just been my experience, but when I suddenly realized that I no longer believed in God and started going down the path of skepticism, I felt like everything was clear and that I understood that all of those paranormal things were bunk and I was prepared to handle every argument thrown my way.

I felt like suddenly I was in on the big secret, like I became that one kid in a group of kids that didn’t believe in Santa. I was given some special knowledge that all of these weird things the people around us believe and preach are simply the result of thousands of years of storytelling and indoctrination. I have to admit that it made me a bit arrogant. I didn’t become like that caricature of the atheist as the person who can’t keep his/her mouth shut when someone says “god bless” after a sneeze, but whenever something of a religious or paranormal nature would come up in conversation I had thoughts running through my head saying how can someone really think this crap and that’s so ignorant, and so on.

My blog became a bit of an outlet for that. When I read something loony or came across a ghosty website I would post it up and poke fun without giving it any kind of serious thought, secure in the knowledge that my naturalistic world view was right and that I didn’t have to give these things any further consideration. I even found myself parroting things said by some of the leaders in the skeptical community, without thinking twice. I cringe at that, because as a person who is trying to be a good skeptic, that’s the worst way I could go about things.

But, I’m not worried about that now, because skepticism is a learning process. As someone who previously would believe just about anything if it was under the guise of Christianity or if it made even a little bit of superficial sense, learning to think critically and to think for myself was a long process, and one that’s still ongoing. The more I learn about the universe, about science, and about how to think critically, the less I realize I know, and the less I feel qualified to be repeating things on my blog, so consequently the less I began to write.

In recent times I think I got a lot better at just writing what I knew, taking things at face value and thinking about arguments on my own without just re-hashing someone else’s. But after awhile I felt like I was completely over-stepping my bounds by trying to speak authoritatively on anything besides my own personal experiences. I stepped away from the skeptical community for awhile, I even stopped reading Pharyngula for awhile (shocking, I know), plus all of the other atheist and skeptical blogs that I used to love reading.

I think it’s good to step out of your little world for a little while, but I’ve definitely missed blogging and I’m back to trying to keep up with all aspects of the skeptical community, and it’s great to be back! Sometimes you get stuck in a bubble of only seeing and hearing things that you agree with, so stepping out of that helps you to get a better perspective and to see things from other peoples’ points of view for a change. Here’s a really great TED Talk that’s somewhat related:

Wow, well I’ve been writing for a long time and who knows if anyone will even read this! I completely forgot where I was going with this…hmmm…

I’ll try to conclude here, what I’ve been trying to say is (and I want to be clear that this only applies to me and not all skeptics) that I was getting a little too wrapped up in the skeptical community, to an extent that I was turning off my critical thinking at times and just following along with what I read and heard from people I admire. I’ve tried to expand my influences and gain some better perspective and understanding, so now I fell ready to pick up the blogging game again and think for myself more rather than constantly deferring to authorities. Sound good?

Even if none of that made sense, I had fun writing it and that’s what it’s all about! Right? Right???

8 Responses to “The More I Learn, The More I Realize How Little I Know”

  1. 1 Gem Newman August 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Welcome back, Lindsay!

    I think that I understand what you’re feeling; at least, I went through a similar experience a few years ago. What I found most important was to examine my own beliefs and motivations periodically, and to scrutinize my decision-making process when I came to a conclusion.

    It’s easy to dismiss things out of hand, but it seems to me that there is a difference between saying to yourself, “That’s not true,” and saying, “Based on the way that I understand the universe, that’s probably not true. Evidence, please?” Certainty can be bad, but that doesn’t mean we cannot grant provisional assent to certain ideas (“Ghosts probably don’t exist,” for example). We just need to be cautious.

    Jay Novella (or was it Bob?) once expressed on the SGU that he tries not to get too attached to individual beliefs, but always endeavours instead to be attached to the skeptical process by which he arrives at those beliefs. I try not to be too personally invested in what I believe, because otherwise my ego might prevent me from changing my position—and that’s not what skepticism is about.

    I think that the following quotation may apply:

    “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.\”—Richard Feynman

  2. 2 Mom August 12, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    You are absolutely right Lindsay!

    I’m glad to see you back and really enjoyed reading this post. I was wondering what your hiatus was about but reckoned one can only keep up with the intensity of a quest for so long. Frankly, I was amazed you didn’t take a breather sooner than you did. Besides, you have to have time to actually live a life outside of one’s head otherwise you wouldn’t get exposed to new ideas, interests and experiences.

    I enjoyed the TED talk too. Who would have thought?

  3. 3 The Pick Man August 20, 2011 at 4:46 am

    Yes, welcome back, Linsay. You have been missed; I wondered whether all was well with you. I had subscribed to your blog via Google Reader and I left the subscription standing even though it didn’t appear as updated. I checked over at The Winnipeg Skeptics to see whether you had posted there but I was disappointed.

    What I have enjoyed with your blog is the straightforward honesty that you show in your writing. Now that you are back I look forward to your occasional post and seeing the subjects that appeal to you. I have to acknowledge that you have been something of an inspiration to me and I admire the way that you have enjoyed and presented your ‘enlightenment’.

    My own blog has lapsed during 2011 due to both my and my wife’s health. Things are on the mend now and I think that seeing you here again will give me the little spur that I need to pick up this, one of many interests, once more.

    Happy blogging!

  4. 4 random internet person August 28, 2011 at 4:26 am

    Very well written, and your central argument includes a lot of what I find wrong about Dawkinsian (is that a word?) skepticism. To disagree with something simply because you “don’t believe in it” is a logical fallacy, and as close-minded as any sort of other dogma.

    Of course for every bridge there is to be sold, you should examine and criticise until you reach a satisfactory answer. But equally, sometimes it’s okay to accept there are genuine mysteries, and there may not be the perfect logical answer for something (or at least one that can be easily explained).

  5. 5 GaryB August 31, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Welcome back Lindsay,
    I am so glad to know that you are in good health, I was worried about that. I read several skeptic blogs and I am constantly amazed that you all are able to find the time to do this at all! I’m retired and I barely find the time to read let alone write. There is a lot of stuff floating around now that can use a bit of skeptical thinking and it’s good to know you are back in the game.

  6. 6 Lindsay September 4, 2011 at 10:49 pm

    Thanks for the welcomes back and the kind words, everyone!

    Gem – Great quote, and I agree with everything you said. It’s definitely tough not to be invested in certain beliefs.

    Pick Man – thanks for keeping the subscription active 🙂 And it’s wonderful that you and the wife are on the mend, sorry to hear you’ve had health issues.

    random internet person – I agree with what you’re saying, but I’m not sure what you mean when you say “Dawkinsian Skepticism”, maybe you could elaborate.

    GaryB – Thanks for the kind words and sorry if I made you worry! If you have any suggestions for things I could write about I’d love to hear them, although I won’t make any promises 🙂

  7. 7 Gary B September 14, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    Don’t know if you have heard about the alleged shooting of two bigfoots in California but it is making the rounds. I first landed on your site because of the Martin Clemens article attempting to explain the evolution of bigfoot. This is even more unbeleivable. I think it may be cooling off a little now, but Google Sierra Kills and/or Robert LIndsay and I think you will find it quite entertaining:-)

  8. 8 doubtfuldaughter November 29, 2011 at 11:19 am

    Wow, I feel like I could have written that same post! I also found that when I follow politics or hot social issues (women’s rights, religion, etc) too closely, I need a breather. It takes an enormous amount of emotional energy to not be pissed off all the time.

    I too just “returned” and am hoping not to go silent for so long in the future.

    Welcome back!

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