The Death of Skepticism

August 15th, 2006 by Steve Pavlina

Skepticism is the mindset that says, “I’ll believe it when I see it… and even then I’ll still have doubts.”  In practical terms skeptics need to see a reasonable degree of external proof before they’ll believe anything out of the ordinary.

The idea behind skepticism is fine.  It keeps people from being too gullible and being taken advantage of.  It also contributes to the advancement of certain thought lines.  No problem there.

The basic idea of skepticism is that you should doubt that for which you’ve seen little or no evidence.  Apparently it’s cool to be a doubter these days.  Plus it’s always easy to poke holes in someone else’s beliefs from the outside looking in.

Doubting skepticism

The problem with most skeptics though is that they don’t take skepticism far enough.  If you want to be a true skeptic, then you also need to be skeptical about skepticism.  You wouldn’t want to be so gullible as to swallow a whole thought system without proof, would you?

If we truly live in an objective universe, then skepticism is an intelligent choice.  If external reality is completely independent of our thoughts, then we can safely study it from a position of doubt.  Our bias may be more negative than necessary, but at least we won’t take any flying leaps into falsehood or stupidity.

On the other hand, if the universe is subjective and is influenced even partially by our thoughts, then skepticism poses a serious problem.  We can no longer safely study the external world from a position of doubt.  If we harbor thoughts of doubt, and they manifest in some way through the physical world, then we will end up co-creating a reality that is far more limited and confusing than necessary.  And when we go to study it, we’ll merely be observing the results of our skeptical attitude rather than what’s really out there.

The ultimate skeptic

I was a hardened skeptic (and a sworn atheist) for many years, and I can attest that during that time, I never saw any evidence of what I doubted to be true.  I had no experience of anything non-physical — no astral projection, no communication with spirits, no clairvoyant flashes, no unexplainable surges of synchronicities, etc.  Plus my intuition was so lame I’d never seriously trust it.  I was strictly a math and science guy.

Ironically my skepticism contained the seed of its own destruction.  Eventually I became curious about the true nature of reality, and I started questioning my beliefs.  I realized that if the universe was actually subjective, I’d never recognize it as such if I believed it was objective, since I’d simply manifest an objective universe.  It would be like finding a genie in a bottle and using my first of three wishes to wish that I never found the bottle.  If the universe was truly influenced by my thoughts, but I believed it wasn’t, then I’d be using subjectivity to manifest objectivity.  So I had to know – was the universe really objective, or was I manifesting the illusion of objectivity in a subjective universe?

The only way to find out was to test.  But this was a tall order.  In order to test the subjectivity of the universe, I had to drop a ton of potentially limiting beliefs — anything that would conflict with the possibility of a subjective universe.  And I had to condition new beliefs in the subjectivity of the universe.  This meant that I had to leave skepticism behind as well.  Otherwise, how could I subjectively manifest what I didn’t actually believe?

Testing for subjectivity

Unfortunately, testing for subjectivity is an oxymoron.  You can’t actually test for a subjective universe.  The whole idea of testing implies doubt, and doubt will corrupt the test if the universe really is subjective.  So I had to drop the mindset of testing.  Testing is an objective reality concept that has no equivalent in subjective reality.  Dropping this mindset hasn’t been easy to do, but I’m getting there.

In subjective reality you don’t test anything.  You experience it.  This is something that confused people about the Million Dollar Experiment.  In the English language, the word experiment has multiple definitions.  One is “a controlled test.”  Another is “an innovative act.”  The MDE is the latter.  It’s an experience, not a test.  Of course if you’re coming from an objective reality mindset, then for you it is a test, but that mindset will only corrupt your results on the experiential side.  If I were starting the MDE today, I would name it the Million Dollar Experience instead.  My personal intention for the MDE isn’t to test whether or not I can manifest a million dollars.  My intention is to experience the unfolding manifestation.  Why?  Because it’s a fun, rewarding, and enriching experience.

A self-fulfilling prophecy

If our beliefs are just a self-fulfilling prophecy, then the prophecy of skepticism is a lame one to fulfill.  All you manifest is evidence that causes you to continue doubting.  It would be hard to manifest a more boring reality than that.

If we live in a subjective reality, then you’re free to manifest whatever the heck you want.  If you spend a lot of time observing external reality, then you’re intending continuity.  You’ll simply manifest more of the same.  However, if you imagine something totally different, then you’ll manifest a discontinuity now and then.  Your experience of reality will twist and turn in exciting new ways.

The trap of skepticism

Ultimately skepticism is rooted in fear.  Fear of making a mistake.  Fear of being gullible.  Fear of living foolishly.  From a subjective reality standpoint, skepticism is a mental adaptation that occurs after you’ve made the choice to live in a fear-based objective universe.  Once you’ve objectified your universe, skepticism is the next step.

You can’t really escape skepticism if you believe in an objective universe.  And you wouldn’t want to anyway.  It makes sense to fear and doubt that which you cannot control.

Once objectivity has been chosen, a skeptic will regard a non-skeptic as reckless, foolhardy, gullible, or misguided.  From the emails I’ve received, I can see it really bothers some skeptics that I don’t believe in an objective universe, yet I’m still able to function just fine in the world (probably better than most skeptics in fact).  I would think that if I believed in a subjective universe, and the universe was really objective, then my ability to function should decrease.  But from any measurable standpoint, the opposite occurred when I adopted a subjective mindset.

As previously noted though, if you take skepticism far enough, it eventually leads you to question the nature of reality, and that’s where it finally self-destructs.  Most skeptics don’t go nearly this far, however.

An alternative to skepticism

What would be an intelligent alternative to skepticism that isn’t rooted in fear?  The alternative is to experience and embrace reality openly instead of worrying about your potential missteps.  Reality is something you experience and enjoy, not something you test.  You can experience it as a test if you so choose, but that is only one possibility among many.  Why not remain open to the broader scope of all possible experiences instead of limiting yourself to just a narrow band?

A skeptic is concerned about the probabilities of success vs. failure in any endeavor.  For example, before a skeptic starts his/her own business, lots of questions must be answered to alleviate fear and doubt.  How well are other people doing in this industry?  Do I have enough money?  How will I support myself?  What if it doesn’t work?  Am I good enough?  What are my chances of success?

A non-skeptic doesn’t see life this way at all.  If such a person were to start his/her own business, it would be with an experiential attitude.  There wouldn’t be so much attachment to specific outcomes.  When I started my personal development business, I didn’t ask all these skeptical questions because I wasn’t thinking in terms of success vs. failure.  I just wanted to experience its unfolding.  It made no difference what level of success others were having.  I was simply going to dive in and experience it in my own unique way.  With such an attitude, there’s no success or failure.  There’s only the unfolding experience.

When you seek to experience life instead of doubting and fearing it, joy becomes your natural state of being.  It doesn’t matter what outcome you get because your attitude is always, “What a fascinating experience!”


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