Last updated 03/18/07.
Published on: September 2, 1998
The Skeptic's Refuge, The Skeptic's Dictionary, and Skeptical Links are three conjoined sites created by Robert T. Carroll, a professor of philosophy at Sacramento City College. Together, they provide one of the most complete and straightforward entries into the world of scientific skepticism.
The majority of the material is, of course, derivative from the large body of skeptical literature, but it is well and accurately presented in more than 325 definitions, numerous essays, and innumerable links both to outside sources and internal cross-references. Not to mention the many citations of the printed literature.
I recommend starting of with the FAQ from The Skeptic's Dictionary, which unlike many purported FAQS does address questions that are truly frequently asked (usually by opponents of skeptics).
The content of these sites seems strongly biased towards addressing claims which skeptics can debunk by evidence, as opposed to philosophical claims which are indefinitely arguable. I think the dictionary could be made quite a bit more complete by at least providing refutations to the most common proofs of god and other popular religious arguments. Indeed, there isn't even a topical index for religion. But since this is a work in progress, and these subjects may be outside of the author's intended scope, I'm quite satisfied with the excellent matter already covered there.
Other gaps in the possible skeptical coverage include politics and commerce, which are omitted or handled only by the fringes (as in multi-level marketing).
One of the most important possible themes in skepticism is that those who apply scientific information are generally technicians, not scientists, and as such may have great difficulty discriminating between real scientific information and pseudoscience. Why? Because learning information and applying it to achieve customer satisfaction is a very different task than creating and evaluating rival theories by means of experimental evidence with an eye out for error and fraud. Many of Carroll's documents might be improved by noting this distinction. It explains neatly why so many "scientific" opinions by credentialed professions are really scientism (the appearance of science without the substance). The process of peer review and criticism maintains high standards of science, but is generally lacking in most practical application.
Overall, I'd say this is a site I'd have liked to have created, and had considered seriously creating a few years ago. I'm glad Dr. Carroll has saved me the effort.
Copyright 2001 by Mike Huben ( email@example.com ).