The problem for a libertarian like Shermer is that all his sacred texts (Ayn Rand, Von Mises, Hayek, Milton Friedman etc) and all his libertarian friends are absolutely convinced that the welfare state is a very bad thing. It makes people lazy and dependent. And of course libertarians spend most of their time railing against the welfare state in the US. How, then, should a libertarian respond to the clear evidence from places like Scandinavia that welfare state capitalism can in fact work really well? Even someone genuinely committed to critical thinking like Shermer will always find it easier to come up with some other explanation and so hang on to his libertarianism. On the other hand, Shermer might just admit that welfare state capitalism can work pretty well and that many of the central assumptions of right-wing libertarianism are wrong. But to do this is basically to reject the core principles of the tradition and therefore to reject libertarianism. If you reject all of this and still want to call yourself a libertarian then the word ‘libertarian’ just becomes something vague like ‘someone who likes freedom’ and pretty much nobody is going to disagree with this.
On the other side, you have radical left-wing egalitarians who want a society based on solidarity and cooperation rather than greed and competition. Now, these people have an annoying habit of refusing to admit that there could ever be anything good about competitive markets. They only ever want to talk about exploitation, sweat shops, and any other horrors they can find, and they never want to admit that anything positive could be lost if we got rid of market competition altogether. So anyway I don’t just want to single out right-wingers here. Both the left and the right are driven by their utopian visions and tend to ignore evidence when they don’t like it.
The question here is whether skepticism is itself an ideology in the same way. Well, for one thing, I don’t think Skepticism has sacred texts. So in this respect it’s different. But there does seem to be a kind of faith that the mind is the brain (or that the mind is what the brain does), and there’s a kind of desperation to try to come up with materialistic explanations of things like logic and mathematics. There seems to be a fear that anything weird or spooky will just leave a space for theists to jump into. But surely we should be seeking the truth, and not just trying to come up with smart tactical decisions in the war against theists. If, like many philosophers, we’re puzzled and confused about things like consciousness and mathematics, we should just say so. It’s much better to say we don’t know than to say God did it or try to come up with some desperate reductionist materialist explanation.