Those who know me understand the title of this piece. Skeptical is my middle name.
So where does this doubting instinct come from and why do I always look for another explanation? Even before I could read, probably around age five, I began doubting. The memory of this event is vivid and pops up every so often.
This happened on my grandparents’ farm in Pennsylvania. We had loads of opportunities to explore because we wandered without supervision. No intrusion into our childhood fantasies. Going places that might be blocked to children today.
The farm was also a place I could loiter just outside the adults’ observation area and listen to tantalizing tales about family, neighbors and world events. Truths recited with certitude. That’s where I learned that eyes see and ears hear. But I also learned that some of the declarations might not be correct. How did they know that eyes see and ears hear? Where’s the proof?
I decided to check this out with empirical data. The experimental environment enveloped me there at the farm. Vast vistas of fruit trees, hay growing in the fields, cows enjoying constant eating, the barn, the wagon, the tractor, the hen house emitting those chattering birds. I found the spot to conduct the experiment: not far from the house with chattering adults.
A large log lay across the weeds. It was just the right size. The methodology consisted of me crouching down behind the log, eliminating, one at a time, the eyes and ears. When I covered my eyes could I hear the noise coming from both the house and the hens’ abode? I still heard it all. Then I covered my ears. Could I see the cows, the fruit trees, the sky? YES! They were right. My eyes see and my ears hear. I was disappointed. To this day I love finding out that authoritative pronouncements are wrong. But, like when I was a child, I often find out that I am wrong.