Warranting Disbelief: A Discourse Analytic Study of the Justification of Modern Scepticism
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In the Psychology of Paranormal Belief scepticism tends to be accepted as a default position, despite the fact that it is a belief position in its own right, while research in this area tends to be dominated by a quantitative methodology, despite many flaws with such an approach. Answering a perceived gap in the research the present study utilises Discourse Analysis (DA) to examine how scepticism is justified. To this end the Editor’s Note section of the magazine, Skeptical Inquirer has been analysed to assess how persuasive rhetoric has been constructed to warrant disbelief. This study highlights how warranting disbelief requires the active construction of the objects and people involved in the debate in particular ways which ironize paranormal belief as erroneous, harmful, dishonestly motivated and caused by cognitive deficits, while building-up scepticism as a position which is correct, beneficial, honestly motivated and supported both by experts, and by an ideal science. It is suggested that the rhetoric adopted by the Skeptical Inquirer shows scepticism to be a position based on faith, rather than evidence or reason, and that this can be seen through the idealised construction of ‘science’ employed throughout the data.