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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2001 > Apr > Apr 17

Re: Debunkers' Guidebook - Sparks

From: Brad Sparks <RB47Expert@aol.com>
Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 21:49:53 EDT
Fwd Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2001 16:28:20 -0400
Subject: Re: Debunkers' Guidebook - Sparks

 >From: Richard Hall <hallrichard99@hotmail.com>
 >Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 14:29:36 -0000
 >Fwd Date: Mon, 16 Apr 2001 11:31:27 -0400
 >Subject: Re: Debunkers' Guidebook - Hall

 >>Date: Fri, 13 Apr 2001 17:48:09 +0100
 >>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@sympatico.ca>
 >>From: John Rimmer <jrimmer@magonia.demon.co.uk>
 >>Subject: Re: Debunkers' Guidebook


 >>>>I'm happy to agree that there is a degree of self-criticism
 >>>>within the 'ufological community'. However a lot of this is
 >>>>because people are defending their own take on a particular
 >>>>issse, as in the Mack/Jacobs disagreements you quote above. But
 >>>>this cannot go too far.

 >>>No, it tends to stop short of ad hominem attacks. However, the
 >>>behavior you attribute to them is typical of scientific
 >>>give-and-take. I see it all the time in my work abstracting
 >>>scientific journals. Scientist A says his view is right
 >>>because... and Scientist B says Scientist A's view is wrong
 >>>because... They go round and round and others chime in. It's
 >>>called peer review.

 >>I cannot agree that critical comment in the UFO 'community'
 >>stops short of ad-hominem attacks! I do agree that within
 >>ufology arguments go round and round - Rendlesham comes to mind,
 >>for some reason - but I wonder if we are any the better off for

Hi Dick, John,

Rendlesham goes 'round and 'round because skeptics and debunkers
won't discuss sighting details point by point beginning with
compass directions and maps.

I think John seems to be laboring under some fundamental
misunderstandings of what "criticism" and "community" and "peer
review" are all about. Let me illustrate below.

 >You'll have to define "community." I don't consider myself to be
 >part of the full rainbow, ranging from idiots to saints, who
 >consider themselves to be ufologists. My point here, obviously,
 >was that the internal criticism is nothing but standard and much
 >to be desired peer review.

 >Are we better off for it? Is science better off for it? I say
 >yes. Peer review is an essential element of scientific method.

This profound little statement I think went right over the
skeptics' heads. "Peer review" doesn't mean having backslapping
good times with one's buddies. It encompasses the whole range of
scientific discipline, self-correction, self-criticism,
literature review, intellectual integrity, intersubjective
testability and reproducibility of results.

 >>>I suspect one of the reasons scoffers/debunkers tend not to
 >>>engage in peer review is that they don't view themselves as a
 >>>"community". Our U.S. brand clearly view themselves as the
 >>>"defenders of science against human irrationality". It is a
 >>>crusade on their part.

 >>I think you have a good point here, but I both sides are engaged
 >>in a crusade. I suppose that as ufologists are to some extent

 >>With the sceptics, there is no such imperative to present a
 >>united front. If Phil Klass's explanation for Case A differs
 >>from Robert Scheaffer's this is not going to challenge their
 >>consensus world view, and they can afford to shrug shoulders and
 >>say "whatever".

This is a "world view" where it isn't facts that count but
"consensus," having a "united front." It's an ideological
crusade and partisans must take sides and stay loyal. This is
not the ideal of a scientific inquiry.

This lackadaisical attitude about explaining past work fits in
with the notion that seems to emerge that "criticism" simply
means personal attacks or clashes of opinion {"long,
acrimonious, boring, debate" see below), with nothing decidable
by factual inquiry or empirical analysis, and that "peer review'
simply means congratulations by one's buddies. This seems to be
a literary criticism or deconstructionist worldview rather than
a science or engineering worldview.

To a scientist or engineer "criticism" means a learning process
involving technical issues; emotions usually don't come into
play. Often the greatest compliments ever paid are a detailed
and thorough scientific criticism of one's work. Here, I suspect
the meaning of "criticism" is to get slimed.

The skeptics and debunkers who announce the grandiose
"solutions" to famous UFO cases never seem to acknowledge
predecessors with conflicting "solutions" and it seems clear
it's a matter of ego. They don't want to give credit to others
or they'd lose the exclusive, the journalistic scoop, whatever
will maximize visibility, sales, publicity, etc. They are also
quick to cry foul, shout scandal, question motives and denounce
frauds, liars and charlatans, because they seem to have adopted
the journalistic mindset rather than the scientific mindset.

To shrug one's shoulders about the past and to say "whatever"
shows a disregard for the truth as well as for history.

 >>Differing as to whether Socorro was a hoax by
 >>kids or a hoax by Zamarro does not mean that either of them has
 >>to accept instead that it was an extraterrestrial spacecraft, so
 >>there is no particular benefit for them in arguing the toss.

Personal benefit is the key factor in this mentality, not in
arriving at the truth. There is no personal benefit in seeming
to disunite the united front or to appear to loyal partisans to
be breaking ranks. All that matters is that ETH is attacked. It
doesn't matter whether the attack is true. It doesn't matter
whether it contradicts the facts or other attacks. All that
matters is that ETH is denied, the enemy crushed. This tactic
goes by various names such as mudslinging (sling enough mud some
is bound to stick), character assassination, political agitprop,

 >>However, accepting either of those explanations does challenge
 >>those who are promoting the idea of the ETH.

Why on earth would ETHers care what Klass or Menzel or Sheaffer
accepted or believed or didn't believe about the Zamora (not
"Zamorro") case? Again, we see the crusade mentality, this time
psychologically projected onto ETHers. It's this insatiable
desire to make converts, not find out what is true or real.

 >If it doesn't bother them that they can't agree on an
 >explanation in so many cases, it should. In fact, to us it
 >suggests that they are not really investigating cases at all,
 >merely assuming they all can be explained and guessing
 >(inconsistently) at answers.

Indeed it bothers us that anyone can be so cavalier about the

 >>>Or could the reluctance on their part be due to a realization
 >>>that if they are too critical of each other, their own methods
 >>>and techniques may begin to crumble? Hmmm!

 >>I don't think this is the reason. I think the primary reason
 >>that there is less sceptic-on-sceptic criticism than there is
 >>ufologist-on- ufologist criticism (and yes, I do agree that this
 >>is so, I am merely challenging Jerry's assumption that there is
 >>*none* of the former) is that the sceptics are starting their
 >>argument from a consensus position - UFO reports do not
 >>represent extraterrestrial spacecraft - and have no particular
 >>need to get involved in long and acrimonious, and it must be
 >>said sometimes boring, debates.

See here we find "criticism" considered simply to be "long and
acrimonious... boring, debates." Scientists engage in criticism
in an entirely different way, even if they fall short at times,
and it is this ideal that is the standard for rigorous research.


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