posted on Sep, 9 2005 @ 12:50 AM
The World Of Majic: Conspiracies And Skeptics
(JEJ: It's Majic time)
(The World Of Majic® theme intro)
Welcome to The World Of Majic®. I'm your host, Majic. That's M-A-J-I-C, coming to you via the AboveTopSecret.com Member PODcast network.
Secrets, schemes, plots, cover-ups, lies, deception, power plays, the mysterious Hidden Hand. These are the bread and butter of conspiracy theory, and
a passion for conspiracy theory is the one thing above all else which defines the AboveTopSecret.com online community.
On ATS, we have it all, from shadow governments to the New World Order, from UFOs to alien autopsies, from secret military bases to secret military
spacecraft, technology to terrorism, Martians to Masons, chupacabras to CHUDs, psychics to psychos, almost nothing is outside the reach of our many
While we can marvel at the wide range of amazing theories that are put forward by our members, there is no one among us who can honestly claim that
they are all factual. Heck, a lot of them contradict themselves, let alone other theories.
Consequently, where there are conspiracy theories, there will naturally be skeptics. I consider myself to be a skeptic, as do many other ATSers
who've been around the block a few times. It's inevitable really.
As I like to say: “Skeptics are born of experience.” And indeed we are. The fact that one of our website administrators is named
“SkepticOverlord” is probably not a coincidence, either.
So what is a skeptic? There are many different connotations for the word, but the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language defines a
skeptic as “One who instinctively or habitually doubts, questions, or disagrees with assertions or generally accepted conclusions.”
That definition holds skepticism to be an instinct or habit, and certainly a skeptic does well to make skepticism a habit. The more intriguing aspect
of the definition is the notion that skeptics typically question generally accepted conclusions. In other words, a skeptic is not one to adopt an
opinion or belief simply because others have done so.
In fact, in my opinion anyway, a good skeptic becomes suspicious in the face of widespread agreement. Why? Because when enough people agree on
something, there's a very good chance that most of them are only doing so to conform to a social norm.
Anyone who studies human behavior is aware of such phenomena as herd behavior and groupthink. The skeptic, by simply challenging the acceptance of
popular opinion, also challenges these behaviors. Because they are instinctive, however, doing this exposes the skeptic to hostility.
Not all groups are tolerant of dissent, and history is rife with cautionary tales of what can happen when skepticism is not combined with
Fortunately, with the rise of democratic ideals, the Scientific Method, the veneration of free thought as a consequence of the Enlightenment and the
forces of social evolution, skepticism has come into its own as an accepted and often welcome component of intellectual discussion.
Some skeptics go further than being observers and commentators, and pursue careers as “debunkers”. A debunker is a skeptic who doesn't just
express doubt when claims are made, but actively seeks to prove the falsehood of them.
On ATS, debunkers inspire a wide variety of reactions, from resentment to grudging respect to admiration to outright anger. The very nature of a
debunker's work tends to bring an air of controversy to their endeavors, but dedicated debunkers seem to thrive on it.
While it can be upsetting to have a well-known debunker come into a thread and make mincemeat of your theories, it's important to bear in mind that
when debunkers succeed, it's because the theories could not stand up to scrutiny. It's easy to blame the debunker for that, but let's face it,
it's not their fault that your theories didn't add up.
The other side of the debunker coin which is often overlooked is the fact that debunkers can also lend credence to theories which are rooted in truth.
If a debunker takes on your theory and fails to debunk it, that may not prove it's true, but it certainly gives some weight to the possibility that
it is. In cases like that, a so-called “debunker attack” may actually be reinforcements coming to the aid of your theory.
Thus, despite the scorn they often receive as their reward, debunkers perform a service vital to denying ignorance, and all you debunkers out there
should know that I respect that. My only caveat is that I urge debunkers to do their best to be nice when they cut a theory to shreds. But as I like
to say: “Brutal honesty is better than gentle deception.”
Newer members often complain about skeptics and debunkers, and claim that they may drive away people who may bring truth to the forums. The reasonable
rebuttal is that those who bring truth to the forums need not fear skeptics and debunkers, but welcome them.
After all, if a claim is true, it is impossible to prove false -- unless the proof itself is a falsehood. The remedy, of course, is to be skeptical of
all things, including so-called proofs.
Thus a skeptic is, in the end, a person who can never really be sure of anything. For some people, the idea of living with so much uncertainty is
terrifying. For others, like myself, the idea is liberating. Why? Because I'm always free to change my mind, and to the extent I maintain skepticism,
I will never become a slave to my own prejudices.
Skepticism is not for everyone, that much is clear. But for those who understand its importance and recognize its benefits, no other path is
I encourage all my fellow ATSers to be skeptics.
Each of us will do so in our own way, but when you get down to it, the essence of being a skeptic lies in realizing that, just like everyone else, you
can be wrong.
For more information on Conspiracies and Skepticism, visit any forum on AboveTopSecret.com, because both are what ATS is all about.
This has been another edition of The World Of Majic® brought to you by the AboveTopSecret.com Member PODcast network.
Until next time, remember this:
The great rock star, philosopher and on-stage gourmet Ozzy Osbourne gave the world what I call Ozzy's Uncertainty Principle, and here it is:
If you think you're right, you're wrong, and if you think you're wrong, you're right.
Be well, friends.
( The World Of Majic® theme outro)