I am not suggesting that one must be a skeptic but rather that constructive doubt is useful in my profession. I need to have an understanding of the differences among (1) what I think, (2) what I believe, and (3) what I know.
With regard to thinking, it involves the development of a process by which I gather information. It is being open-minded, being non-judgmental and does not evaluate the information or documentation assembled.
With regard to what I believe, it involves looking at the information and the documentation assembled and sorting through the information and documentation to analyze which is vulnerable and which has substance. At this point, I test the information and documentation assembled. Does the information have creditability? Is it believable and can it be substantiated. Here is where my skepticism is most active because I need to look at the information and documentation with a critical eye. This is the area also where judgment and analysis are most important.
Concerning what I know, I cannot say that I have actual personal knowledge of all factors of the situation, but rather that I need to formulate a knowledgeable position based on the credibility of the information of documentation which has been assembled.
There are times when I have questioned/challenged the extent of which I have adequately assembled the information or documentation during the thinking process. I have to be aware of my own prejudices and my biases. My goal is to be objective as possible.
For me, the use of skepticism is that I have a tool available to identify the issue and thereafter implement a cohesive plan to address the issue.
In summary, for me (1) thinking is the research, (2) believing is the evaluating, and (3) knowing is acting on what I believe based on my research and the evaluation.
By – Ned P. Miller