Berkeley’s Radical Skeptics

by Steed Dropout
Oct. 8, 2014

Berkeley’s radical skeptics, call them immaterialists if you must–live in a world where reality is suspended.

“If you say so,” these skeptics say, or, “according to you.” Or, “that’s what you think.”

After several years of this, I could take it no longer. “Look!” I spluttered, “who else but me could be speaking my words?”

“Moreover, I investigate my factoids,” I continued. “I’m a reporter,” perhaps exaggerating the investigation-angle.

“I’ve been a reporter myself,” the skeptic claimed.

“Next, you’ll tell me you don’t believe the New York Times because of the Iraq war and the weapons of mass destruction blunder.”

“I don’t believe a word they print,” said the skeptic. “Surely you believe the wrist-watch ads and the crossword puzzles,” I challenged.

One New york Times skeptic I know said he doesn’t read the Times, but still doesn’t believe a word the Times writes.

This New York Times skepticism-syndrome may be related to the concept that only the self mattered. I remember trying to discuss news events with people who said, “I don’t read or watch news. I have better things to do,” which always sounded to me (who else?) as if I didn’t have anything better to do than follow news.

When I was a university student, the term “wrong,” or “wrong, again,” replaced, “it seems to me,” and “I see your point.”

There is something clean and brash about WRONG and something foolish about, “so you say.” You rarely hear “it seems to me,” and “I have a problem with…” seems quaint.

WRONG was so popular that our purple-haired fraternity house mother, blurted out, “Wrong again, Sandy,” during dinner.

I have used Wrong strategically, but only to clear the air.

I recently told a guy, “I don’t accept your data,” but I would never say, “so says you.”

These views do not reflect those of publications in which my work appears.
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