Jamestown Gazette

On Skepticism

Contributing Writer
Paul Leone

I believe a certain pride attaches to the confirmed skeptic. Being one myself, although I do admit to having too often believed the preposterous, I think doubters affirm their intellectual sophistication through an uncompromising refusal to accept what may or may not be empirically evident. This, of course, is understandable in the age of fake news. Although I doubt the spread of misinformation and disinformation is any more egregious today than it has been in the past. The difference is technology and the speed with which information, credible or not, verifiable or not, speeds universally across cyberspace.

Skeptic that I am, I have at times been unceremoniously duped. This I attribute to an unhealthy conviction beyond overwhelming evidence to the contrary in the essential goodness of the species. I am easy prey. A petitioner with a compelling sob story will find me more often than not an easy score. Only affect desperation and you have me. Once, in Old San Juan, a stranger accosted me with a convoluted story about his father who had been mugged while walking with him where the two should never have been. The father, he said, was then in the hospital fighting for his life. The man needed taxi money. My traveling companions looked on skeptically. Even the least skeptical skeptic would have seen this as a scam. I handed the man twenty dollars. Don’t fret, one of my companions said. That was performance art you just paid for.

Right. Perhaps overpriced.

You will ask whatever possesses me to confess such a thing. Do I not make myself a target? Here’s a question: Does one become more and more skeptical as one ages?

Yes, obviously. Having been subjected to years and years of disrespectful depredations, we, who are euphemistically called senior citizens, are understandably wary. Which is not to minimize the near universal skepticism of each emerging generation. They who hear a dubious discourse out of the bloviating mouths of partisan politicians from the time they are able to hear and understand. When facts are open to interpretation, when indisputable lies are callously repeated over and over as if their very untruth merits consideration, how can one not be skeptical?

Praise be to minor victories, to the far-sighted vision of government sponsored health care for seniors. We senior citizens have been and remain skeptical that Medicare-for-all will be implemented in our lifetimes, but I am confident it will eventually happen. And we rejoice in its recent evolution to permit Medicare price negotiations for specific drugs.

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