Anyone can be skeptical about a scientific result. It's good to state your skepticism, to make your view known. But are you done once you speak your view? Is that all it takes, a quick skeptical wrench and we shut off the flow of science? Guest writer Dan Krimm neatly captures the useful role of skepticism in the scientific process, below.

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image courtes y of the Skeptics Society,

'Skepticism about Skepticism', by Dan Krimm

The skepticism inherent in the scientific method itself is what keeps it strong as our best collective approach (not arrival) to universal objectivity.

It means that science must always keep a critical eye on itself and its own processes (not just its practice and results). But that means "critical" in the sense of *discernment*, not in the sense of knee-jerk *rejection*. Get the signal from the noise.

Once you voice your skepticism publicly, your stance necessarily enters the scientific discussion itself, where your skepticism itself becomes subject to critical scrutiny in turn. Skepticism *engages* the activity in detail, as opposed to mere dismissal that writes off all the details without consideration.

So, I can be skeptical about your skepticism. Skepticism is about judging the details of the endeavor according to the structure of its own process. If a skeptical viewpoint proves to be indiscriminate or tribally-driven, then it will be discarded by the same process of critical scrutiny that sometimes discards scientific attempts as unsupported by a valid process.

Science in its most robust form is a strongly crowd-sourced activity, rife with skepticism, which strengthens the final outcomes. This is what peer review, conference presentations, etc., are all about. Transparency is the friend of science (just as it is the friend of market competition and political dynamics), and when scientists fall prey to incentives to obscure the transparency of their work, science suffers as a result.

Indiscriminate skepticism is not useful for strengthening scientific results, and neither is tribal competition when it gets too far out of hand. But the structural skepticism that infuses modern science is one of its greatest strengths as an institution. It does not guarantee outright that science will never drift off to error, but it reduces those chances as much as we can humanly achieve.