Scientific skepticism or rational skepticism (also spelled scepticism), sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry, is a scientific or practical, epistemological position in which one questions the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence. American and British English spelling differences are one aspect of American and British English differences. Epistemology (from Greek επιστήμη - episteme, "knowledge" + λόγος, " Logos " or theory of knowledge In practice, the term is most commonly applied to the examination of claims and theories which appear to be beyond mainstream science, rather than to the routine discussions and challenges among scientists. Pseudoscience is defined as a body of knowledge methodology belief or practice that is claimed to be Scientific or made to appear scientific but does not adhere to the Scientific skepticism is different from philosophical skepticism, which questions our right to claim knowledge about the nature of the world and how we perceive it. For a general discussion of skepticism see Skepticism. Philosophical skepticism (from Greek σκέψις - skepsis meaning Scientific skepticism utilizes critical thinking and attempts to oppose claims made which lack suitable evidential basis. Critical thinking consists of mental processes of discernment, Analysis and Evaluation. The New Scepticism described by Paul Kurtz is scientific scepticism. Paul Kurtz (born December 21, 1925 in Newark New Jersey) is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Buffalo 
Like a scientist, a scientific sceptic attempts to evaluate claims based on verifiability and falsifiability rather than accepting claims on faith, anecdotes, or relying on unfalsifiable categories. A scientist, in the broadest sense refers to any person that engages in a systematic activity to acquire Knowledge or an individual that engages in such practices A hypothesis (from Greek) consists either of a suggested explanation for a phenomenon (an event that is observable or of a reasoned proposal suggesting a possible Falsifiability (or "refutability" is the logical possibility that an assertion can be shown false by an observation or a physical experiment Faith is a Belief in the trustworthiness of an Idea. Formal usage of the word "faith" is usually reserved for concepts of Religion, as in For other uses see Anecdota. For a comparison of anecdote with other kinds of stories see Myth legend fairy tale and fable. Falsifiability (or "refutability" is the logical possibility that an assertion can be shown false by an observation or a physical experiment Sceptics often focus their criticism on claims they consider to be implausible, dubious or clearly contradictory to generally accepted science. Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning " Knowledge " or "knowing" is the effort to discover, and increase human understanding This distinguishes the scientific skeptic from the professional scientist, who often concentrates their inquiry on verifying or falsifying hypotheses created by those within their particular field of science. A hypothesis (from Greek) consists either of a suggested explanation for a phenomenon (an event that is observable or of a reasoned proposal suggesting a possible Scientific sceptics do not assert that unusual claims should be automatically rejected out of hand on a priori grounds - rather they argue that claims of paranormal or anomalous phenomena should be critically examined and that such claims would require extraordinary evidence in their favor before they could be accepted as having validity. "A priori" redirects here For other uses see A priori.
Popular targets of criticism among skeptics include psychics, parapsychology, dowsing, astrology, homeopathy, tarot reading, alien abductions, and ESP, which sceptics allege are pseudosciences or unsupported by existing evidence. The word psychic (ˈsaɪkɨk from the Greek psychikos—"of the soul mental" refers to the claimed ability to perceive things hidden from the normal senses Parapsychology is a discipline that seeks to demonstrate the existence and causes of Psychic abilities and life after death using the Scientific method Dowsing, sometimes called doodlebugging, divining or water witching, is a practice whereby dowsers attempt to locate hidden Water wells Astrology (from Greek grc ἄστρον astron, "constellation star" and grc -λογία -logia) is a group of Systems This article has been the subject of edit wars and has been placed on probation Alien Discussions Proceedings of the Abduction Study Conference. Extrasensory perception (ESP is the apparent ability to acquire information by Paranormal means independent of any known physical Senses or deduction from previous Pseudoscience is defined as a body of knowledge methodology belief or practice that is claimed to be Scientific or made to appear scientific but does not adhere to the  Skeptics such as James Randi have become famous for debunking claims related to some of these. James Randi (born August 7 1928 (stage name The Amazing Randi) is a stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of Paranormal A debunker is an individual who discredits and exposes claims as being false exaggerated unscientific or pretentious Many skeptics are atheists or agnostics, and have a naturalistic world-view, however some committed skeptics of pseudoscience including Martin Gardner express belief in a God. Atheism Agnosticism ( Greek: α- a-, without + γνώσις gnōsis, knowledge after Gnosticism) is the philosophical view that the Martin Gardner (b October 21, 1914, Tulsa Oklahoma) is a popular American mathematics and science writer specializing in Recreational mathematics 
From a scientific point of view, theories are judged on many criteria, such as falsifiability, Occam's Razor, and explanatory power, as well as the degree to which their predictions match experimental results. Occam's razor (sometimes spelled Ockham's razor) is a principle attributed to the 14th-century English Logician and Franciscan Friar, In Methodology, the power of a method is inversely proportional to the generality of the method i A prediction is a statement or claim that a particular Event will occur in the Future in more certain terms than a forecast. In scientific inquiry an experiment ( Latin: Ex- periri, "to try out" is a method of investigating particular types of research questions or Skepticism is part of the scientific method; for instance an experimental result is not regarded as established until it can be shown to be repeatable independently. Scientific method refers to bodies of Techniques for investigating phenomena 
By the principles of skepticism, the ideal case is that every individual could make his own mind up on the basis of the evidence rather than appealing to some authority, skeptical or otherwise. Evidence in its broadest sense includes anything that is used to determine or demonstrate the Truth of an assertion
Skepticism is an approach to strange or unusual claims where doubt is preferred to belief, given a lack of conclusive evidence. Skeptics generally regard it as misguided to believe in UFOs and psychic powers if no empirical evidence exists supporting such phenomena. The word psychic (ˈsaɪkɨk from the Greek psychikos—"of the soul mental" refers to the claimed ability to perceive things hidden from the normal senses The Ancient Greek philosopher Plato believed that to release another person from ignorance despite their initial resistance is a great and noble thing. Biography Early life Birth and family Plato was born in Athens Greece Modern skeptical writers address this question in a variety of ways.
Bertrand Russell argued that individual actions are based upon the beliefs of the person acting and if the beliefs are unsupported by evidence then such beliefs can lead to destructive actions. Bertrand Arthur William Russell 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970 was a British Philosopher, Historian  James Randi also often writes on the issue of fraud. James Randi (born August 7 1928 (stage name The Amazing Randi) is a stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of Paranormal In the broadest sense a fraud is a Deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual On a case by case basis, he attempts to show how some promoters of pseudoscience make money from their claims, while secretly knowing them to be false, which is generally known as a "profit motive". Critics of alternative medicine often point to bad advice given by unqualified practitioners, leading to serious injury or death. Richard Dawkins points to religion as a source of violence, and considers creationism a threat to biology. Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL (born 26 March 1941 is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist, and Popular science "Creationism" can also refer to Creation myths in general or to a concept about the origin of the soul. Some skeptics support opposition to some cults and new religious movements because of their concern about what they consider false miracles performed or endorsed by the leadership of the group. Opposition to Cults and to New religious movements (NRMs comes from several sources with diverse concerns A miracle is an event believed to be caused by interposition of Divine intervention by a Supernatural being in the Universe by which the ordinary operation  They often criticize belief systems which they believe to be idiosyncratic, bizarre or irrational. See also Allegations against cults made by skeptics. The " anti-cult movement " ( ACM) is a term used by academics and others to refer to a perceived collectivity of groups and individuals who oppose cults and new religious