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Skepticism as a Useful Tool

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.

legal sceptic evaluationWith 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