In short, skeptics are soppy

I have a tentative, late-Saturday-night hypothesis that people who describe themselves as skeptics are also likely to be hopeless romantics. For example, lots of skeptics are very fond of Love Actually, while cynics – the nemesis of any real skeptic – take great pains to point out they WEREN’T AFFECTED by that film’s sentimental1 nature. One of the Mythbusters guys watches ‘Medium’ purely for its touching portrayal of a marriage. The S2 and S4 Doctor Who finales brought half the skeptical community to tears. Skeptical bloggers seem, to me, to declare their love for a partner far more often than the average political blogger.

I have no statistics, or even any links. It’s more an impression than, you know, anything empirical. I am a rubbish scientist. This isn’t going to stop me from extrapolating, though: maybe it’s related to appreciation of wonder, or maybe skeptics have thought more about the interplay of reason and emotion. Maybe it’s just a general sensitivity.

Or maybe I’m just talking rubbish. Potential problems:

  • Confirmation bias – I’m only noticing those who are.
  • I don’t know enough skeptics…
  • …and those I follow online are part of a group that regularly inter-link, so could be similar people.
  • It could be that many people are hopeless romantics, but skeptics are more likely to admit it.
  • …many, many more.

But I’m sticking with it anyway. I’ll write a paper one day.

  1. I have another theory that explains critics’ overuse of this word. You have to ask: who would want to go into a profession that spends all its time tearing down other people’s creative endeavours? Answer: people with no empathy – let’s say, mildly sociopathic. So when these people see displays of emotion, their lack of empathy means they think ‘that’s not real’, so they scream ‘sentimental’ like it’s a bad thing. When in fact they’re usually talking about feelings (other) people actually have in the real world. This theory is unassailable kthxbai. []