So what it skepticism. There are at least two 25 cent definitions.
1) Skepticism is the mentality of having a reasonable standard for evidence before accepting a claim. Under this definition, everyone is a skeptic. There are at least three main differences between being an implicit skeptic (someone who is a skeptic but doesn’t realize it – type one) and and explicit skeptic (a declared skeptic – type two).
A) What they agree on.
While it’s true that most type-two skeptics don’t necessarily agree on everything, we do have a general umbrella of things that we agree on.
B) The rigor to which they apply their skepticism.
Type-two skeptics arrive at similar conclusions on most issues because they have, though with varying degrees of training and skill, a more solidly refined method of how they filter and investigate claims.
C) General science literacy.
While not unanimously true by a long shot, most skeptics have a better idea of what the scientific consensus is on an issue than does the average lay person.
2) Skepticism is the desire to increase awareness (one’s own and that of others) of scientific knowledge in order to foster consumer protection. This is the ‘in a nutshell’ version put forth by Tim Farley, JREF research fellow and creator of the website What’s the Harm?