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The debunker's burden of proof

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posted on Jun, 27 2007 @ 07:19 PM
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In my research of the UFO topic, I have noticed something rather peculiar. Have any of you noticed on many documentaries and in books and such that try to give "both sides" of the story (i.e. believers and debunkers) that the debunkers rarely produce examples of their explanations of various cases which are comparable to the events as reported?

In other words, say a person shows a photo they shot of a UFO somewhere. They have a story related to what they were doing there when they shot the photo, how the thing looked to them, what it did, etc. Then the debunker comes in and calls it this or that - swamp gas, Venus, weather balloon, take your pick. However, while there are exceptions, very rarely have I seen the debunker produce evidence of their explanation which is comparable to the object reported. In this case, if they are calling it swamp gas, well, show me a picture of swamp gas which looks like the object in the UFO picture, (for the record, I don't believe I've ever seen a photo of swamp gas, UFO-related or otherwise). If it's Venus, show me a photo of Venus that looks like the object. If it's a weather balloon, show me a picture of a weather balloon that looks like the object, etc. I want a side-by-side comparison. Same goes for video, documents, eyewitness testimony, etc. Again, sometimes they do produce something that looks like the UFO, but in my research, it is not that common.

If a debunker gives an explanation that this or that UFO must be this or that natural phenomenon, we must assume that person has substantial knowledge about this or that natural phenomenon, at least enough so that they can tell that the UFO is indeed that. Okay, so then it should be fairly easy to produce evidence of this. However, they don't. They simply provide the explanation, and expect the audience to trust that they know what they are talking about.

If we are not to trust UFO accounts at face value, neither should we trust debunking explanations at face value. The average person does not have a wide knowledge or experience of swamp gas or weather balloons or experimental aircraft. You've got to spell it out. If your explanation is correct, then there should be no problem. The burden of proof is shared by both the believer and the debunker. Otherwise it's fanciful conjecture on both sides.




posted on Jun, 27 2007 @ 08:00 PM
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I wouldn't say that the burden of proof is equally shared. If someone claims that they have a home-based business they're gonna sell you where you just stuff envelopes and become rich, I'm going to point out that they're scammers. Have I PROVEN that they are? No. I don't need to. It's simply MUCH more likely that he's a scammer than that this is finally a real example of how to make millions by stuffing envelopes.

There are often two sides to a story. That doesn't mean each side has a 50% chance of being right. Often one side has a 99.9% chance of being right. The other guy gets 0.1%. So it is not *equally* valid to take one side or the other.



posted on Jun, 27 2007 @ 08:23 PM
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I agree with this very much, good post and a good point.
I think the reason we always get so called "debunkers" dismissing everything like that is that they have 'reputations' to 'maintain', and anything less than outright dismissing UFO claims is expected.

[edit on 27-6-2007 by Unplugged]



posted on Jun, 27 2007 @ 08:44 PM
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There are often two sides to a story. That doesn't mean each side has a 50% chance of being right. Often one side has a 99.9% chance of being right. The other guy gets 0.1%. So it is not *equally* valid to take one side or the other.


That, however, reflects an extreme bias. I am not assigning numerical values to this, but f I were, even in an apparently obvious situation such as your example, I would give the potential scammer more than 0.1% credit. Hell, I know that the Nigerian "419" scam is a fraud, but I'd still give them more of the benefit of the doubt than that, seeing as how one could always be wrong.

Anyway, this still does not address the fact that debunkers often provide less evidence of their claims than the UFO witnesses. Even a blurry photo of a tiny light in the sky is more evidence than simply saying something is a weather balloon, without a photo of said balloon which looks like the tiny light.



posted on Jun, 27 2007 @ 09:31 PM
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Claiming to have seen a UFO does not make one a ufologist or even a believer. The witness saw a phenomenon, or photographed it, and that's it. The burden of proof is then placed on ANYONE who decides to tell us what the UNIDENTIFIED object actually was.

If a person says, "I saw a saucer-shaped object land in my backyard," and psychological assessments determine that said person is sane, then the report has to be taken as such initially. Someone claiming that the person didn't see what they said they saw must produce evidence to support that claim.

This reminds me of the Hopkinsville incident in the 50s, where a houseful of people saw a saucer and then a couple of aliens flying around their property. Crazy claims, but the police investigation that followed determined that they were all sane, sober, and genuinely shaken up by the experience. When the debunkers got on the case, they gave two separate explanations. One said the witnesses had seen owls. The other said they had seen an escape monkey in a silver suit (there was a circus in town). Neither provided any evidence, but those explanations became official in their respective circles. The alien sighting, which is what the witnesses actually reported, was thrown out of the window.

The burden of proof was placed on the witnesses to prove that they had seen what they said they saw. However, no-one asked the debunkers to prove that the witnesses had seen a monkey and not an owl, or vice versa.

There is no balance in ufology.




[edit on 27-6-2007 by cambrian77]



posted on Jun, 27 2007 @ 09:44 PM
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Yes many (well paid)TV debunkers often blatantly ignore radar/sonar evidence and witness testimony instead prefering to shoehorn in their own preconceived ideas.
Their explanations often include glaring contradictions with little regard for objectivity.
Many objects are captured,plotted and correlated on ground radar/air radar/sonar travelling huge speeds,executing right angle turns/immediate stops and displaying completely unprecedented aerial manouverability/flight characteristics-they seem to defy the known laws of aeronautics.
UFO debunkers have a lot of explaining to do with regard to these objects and the onus is on them to 'explain the inexplicable' .
They keep maintaining this is a 'non subject' yet UFOs turn up on radar nonetheless.



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 07:51 AM
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Any positive proclamation can be (and should be) challenged to provide support. So whether it be a theorist or a protagonist, if a positive declarative statement is made, the person making it should be ready to provide evidence to support the statement when challenged - or better yet to provide it at the time the statement is made.

Now - the same does not hold true for a statement in the negative. But at the same time the person who makes the statement in the negative (i.e. "There is no such thing as an alien craft.") should note that they are most likely placing their credibility on the line by making a proclamation that necessarily cannot be proven. But irrespective of how wreckless a rejecting statement can be, the majority burden still lies with the side that declares the positive (i.e. LBJ had Kennedy killed).

What I find most curious about debates over theories is that both sides seem to become married to their theory or counterargument in lieu of the truth. I think this tendency is running rampant through several of the 911 truth movements right now as well as a good chunk of debunkers of the 911 theories. People tend to forget that for any given event in history there is exactly ONE set of complete facts of the events - that is - only one thing REALLY happened. So when you theorize you should keep in mind that irrespective of how adamant you are about your opinion on the events - it's secondary only to what really happened and no matter how adamant you get about what you believed happened, it will never ever change what really happened.

The neglect of this simple fact - that your theory is not the facts even if it turns out to be right* - is what tends to make theorists freak out and start calling debunkers "sheeple" and what tends to make debunkers freak out and start calling theorists other naughty names. It's because both sides have forgotten it doesn't matter a spitting bit of difference if you convince the other side they are wrong - what matters is what really happened.

*Take a minute to think about this statement. The FACTS of what really happened are constant...they will never ever change...your theory is presented will either be proven 100% correct as a representation of the facts, partially correct (which is also partially wrong) as being representative of some portion of the facts, or totally wrong and completely unrepresentative of the facts. No matter where your theory lands at the end of the day, it is still just a representation - an image, a reflection, a dramatization, a characterization, etc. - it will never, ever, ever be the facts. Because the facts have already happened.



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 08:03 AM
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A good example of this is mind control. People just hear the term, and they are conditioned to think they have there own thoughts. But if they look into it, it probably is quite easy for the government to transmit thoughts into peoples brains.

Skeptics have it easy and just say that mind control is a crazy idea, and they never give reasons why, such a thing to them is impossibel.

Its like you say, with ufos and aliens its the same. They just say the word crazy and everyone believes the. Although if the people look into it, they find that it is uite possible, it just takes for there mind to be open.

I often consider how they get these sciencetists who know that most of the public do not think at all for themselves, and they use that ignoraqnce to just use terms like cant be or crazy etc...

Just the way it is. I notice though that now the public has info on another earth like planet out there tahts found, the people seem to wonder if it is possible. Strange how people could not have come to that conclusion by themselves.



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 08:40 AM
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Originally posted by cambrian77
Claiming to have seen a UFO does not make one a ufologist or even a believer. The witness saw a phenomenon, or photographed it, and that's it. The burden of proof is then placed on ANYONE who decides to tell us what the UNIDENTIFIED object actually was.
[edit on 27-6-2007 by cambrian77]


I disagree. The burden is initially on the claimant to show that the experience was anomalous and even requires an explanation. When we do a little digging and find out that the claimant saw, say, an Iridium flare, then we are doing that person a favor. We can't afford to waste our time on every misperception that might come along.

I'm not at all impressed when some stranger comes along and says: "I saw something really weird in the sky," since most of these folks have no idea what they're looking at. Thus, we get people videotaping aircraft landing lights forming a perceived pattern in the sky and wasting everyone's time.

Where the burden shifts is when I investigate and find that the data is credible and the data are not something I want to ignore (say a nocturnal case where the claimants are astronomers), and yet I think I have an explanation. Now I have to show that my explanation fits the data.

One thing that might help us in the future is credibility networks, but I think we're a long way from getting these to work reliably outside our inner circle.

[edit on 28-6-2007 by disownedsky]



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 10:32 AM
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Hi disownedsky,

You're absolutely right. But there is a huge difference between lights in the sky and a close encounter involving an actual craft. And yet even in your example, the OP's point still stands: the person providing the explanation still has to produce some kind of evidence for his claim, even if that piece of evidence is nothing but a simple comparative photograph of the natural phenomenon, provided as a comparison to the claimant's evidence. It's not enough to look at half of the evidence and then explain it away with ONE possibility. That's not good science, sorry.



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 10:51 AM
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My Spidey senses are tingling again..
Heres a shot in the dark for you.
The OP is GhostRaven or part of his flock.
I believe there is a group, im not totally sure yet of the origins of this group yet . Possibile Counterintelligence group but with more emphasis on research, cause and reaction.. Some of them are responsible for disinformation and misinformation and also very prominent in multiple hoaxes, possibly to research but also with feelers.
JM$0.02



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 10:51 AM
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Well, I am a historian by training, and I have learned to evaluate extraordinary events based on data. However, whether I am stating something positive, (this did happen) or negative, (this did not happen) I still have to provide evidence for my position.

This might be a bit philosophical, but it depends on one's idea of the nature of reality. If one views UFOs to be something extraordinary and fantastical, then one is biased towards the debunking explanations, as we say that these are more likely to be true (with or without evidence). However, if one views UFOs to be something fairly common, (say, perhaps based on the assumption that it would be perfectly logical and likely that highly-intelligent beings populate the universe in vast numbers, and that they probably have a great awareness of the planets which contain intelligent life, including Earth) then they are more skeptical of the debunkers' claims, but not necessarily biased towards witness testimony either. If one views UFOs to be absolute fact and buys into all the ufology literature, then they are going to be biased towards witnesses' accounts.

My philosophy is that I view all things to have equal weight against each other. In theory, all opposites are equally valid. Therefore I hold that all positive and all negative claims are subject to the same scrutiny. Probability is a useful tool at times, but one often finds that the so-called "likely" explanation is not the truth. I used to believe in Occam's razor, but it's as flawed a tool as any other, and relies on the highly subjective judgment as to what the simplest explanation is. For example, say a believer in ghosts sees objects moving around their house, and they can't readily identify the source of this. Well, for them, the simplest explanation may be that ghosts are doing it. See what I'm getting at? It's a human-created tool and is therefore as flawed as humans are.

In purely practical terms, if a debunker wants to prove their case, doesn't it behoove them to produce definitive evidence? How hard is it to produce a photograph or video or drawing comparable to the UFO? Indeed, I have occasionally seen debunkers provide these things...and they look very little like the UFO pictured or described. We are intended to imagine that the "real" explanation could look like the UFO under certain conditions...but they never prove this. To me, it's unbelievable that millions of people across the world who have reported some UFO/alien observation/contact are simply lying, crazy, ignorant of natural phenomena, or trying to make money/get attention by reporting their claims. Are some of these cases BS in one of these ways or another? Absolutely. However, not all of them are, and if debunkers are so keen to disprove, I ask again, why is it so hard to come up with definitive evidence?



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 10:56 AM
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When someone makes a claim, whatever it be, the burden of proof is on them to prove it, if they wish to be believed.

Its all too easy to say, "Oh I saw so and so" or even more common " a friend told me he saw....".

Any claim without evidence is totally worthless.



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 10:58 AM
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My views on this type of issue is very simple, a debunker rarely has to prof anything, while the believer is the one that has to make its experiences attractive enough even with pictures of movies to make it stick.

So the weight of the effort is always on the believer side, debunkers do not have to do anything but deny what what others see or have seen.



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 11:08 AM
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Originally posted by Fowl Play
My Spidey senses are tingling again..
Heres a shot in the dark for you.
The OP is GhostRaven or part of his flock.
I believe there is a group, im not totally sure yet of the origins of this group yet . Possibile Counterintelligence group but with more emphasis on research, cause and reaction.. Some of them are responsible for disinformation and misinformation and also very prominent in multiple hoaxes, possibly to research but also with feelers.
JM$0.02


Well, Peter Parker, sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not GhostRaven or affiliated with this person in any way.

I read the false flag posts, and was fairly well convinced it was BS. It was a random person on a random website forum. If such a person existed, I am sure they would choose a venue with a larger and more objective audience and provide decent evidence to back up their claims. Now, given my arguments, your position on me (while based purely on speculation) is in theory as valid as any other. In this case, however, I do know who I am, and what you are saying is not the case. I do not misrepresent myself on the internet or anywhere else. These are simply my earnest musings, (in fact, I think I came up with this one whilst in the bathroom one day). Furthermore, I am certainly not in any "group" of any kind.

No disrespect, though. I am just setting the record straight.



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 11:18 AM
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Originally posted by CrowServo
Well, I am a historian by training


Same here. Well met.


My philosophy is that I view all things to have equal weight against each other. In theory, all opposites are equally valid. Therefore I hold that all positive and all negative claims are subject to the same scrutiny.


Right. That's the only way to do it. Occam's Razor is a useful method only when you have enough information to calculate the approximate probability of each possible explanation. Since we do not know the probability of alien visitations, we cannot use Occam's Razor in their case. We have to work strictly from evidence, taking the witnesses' accounts seriously and looking at all the evidence without favouring one side or the other.


Originally posted by Chorlton:

When someone makes a claim, whatever it be, the burden of proof is on them to prove it, if they wish to be believed.


Again, witnessing a UFO does not make one a believer. It makes one the witness of an anomalous phenomenon. When investigators take on a UFO sighting case, they are not analyzing the phenomenon directly; they are analyzing the witness's report of the phenomenon. The witness's report cannot be affected. It will always remain: "So and so says he saw a flying saucer." Then the burden of proof falls on everyone who tries to explain the report, whether they side with the believers or the non-believers. Since we don't know whether flying saucers are real, it is bad science to side against the possibility of their existence from the get-go.



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 11:27 AM
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Its all too easy to say, "Oh I saw so and so" or even more common " a friend told me he saw....".

Any claim without evidence is totally worthless.


There are many areas of knowledge where scientific inquiry relies solely on subjective experience. One example is mental illness. If a patient tells his or her psychiatrist, "I feel depressed", the psychiatrist doesn't reply: "Prove it." Likewise, if you call the cops and tell them you witnessed a crime, they don't ask you for evidence. They investigate. They don't start off with a bias against you. They assume that you saw something that deserves investigation.

To pit untrained witnesses against scientists is not fair. It is equivalent to telling the witness of a crime to solve the crime himself before even following up on the lead.

The Project Blue Book report found that only a fraction (5%) of UFO sightings were hoaxes. Many of the others were explainable as natural phenomena. A fair number were not and remain unexplained to this day.

A witness report is not worthless: it is a lead, a starting point for investigation. To see it otherwise is to start with an unfounded bias.

[edit on 28-6-2007 by cambrian77]



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 11:37 AM
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This is not a court of law and there is no one sitting in judgement on our experiences. The only thing that matters is whether or not we want to be believed by people around us.

I saw a UFO on the way home from work 30 years ago but whether or not I can convince other people that what I saw was something genuinely anomalous will not change the facts one iota. It may possibly change certain peoples interpretation of those facts but beyond that, nothing. I have given up trying to prove that what I saw was something special, I simply don't have the evidence to convince people who weren't there which doesn't change either what I believe or what was actually in the sky that night it just means that people don't believe me. C'est la vie.

Similarly if my friends want to tell me that I saw a helicopter or some such that's their prerogative, but they'll have to make a bit more effort if they intend to convince me. It's entirely up to them.

Neither side of the debate is appealing to some higher authority to pass judgement, no one is going to be announced the winner or loser. The burden of proof lies with the person who wishes to be believed and if he wants to convince others to change their opinions he is going to have to produce evidence to persuade them to do that



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 11:43 AM
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Originally posted by cambrian77
Same here. Well met.


Oh nice. What's your concentration?


Again, witnessing a UFO does not make one a believer.


Right. I used the term "believer" simply to create an illustrative dichotomy. "Witness" is probably more accurate.

I also agree with your analogy that investigating a UFO report is like investigating a crime. Often the point is brought up by ufologists that we send people to jail or even to their deaths based on eyewitness testimony, but completely write it off for UFOs. I mean, it's based upon the paradigm that UFOs are fantastical and in the same category as elves and unicorns (no offense to believers in such things). We think we have the world mostly figured out by now, and fall back on our old tools, believing that they are time-tested and reliable, when that may not always be the case.



posted on Jun, 28 2007 @ 11:53 AM
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timeless test,

I am not talking about conversations among friends. I'm talking about legitimate research into an anomalous phenomenon. There's no doubt that in normal conversation, we almost always rely on belief. For example, I believe the claims that quantum physicists make about the universe are true, but if I tell a friend about them and he answers that it's all BS, I have no evidence to support my belief. Someone, however, does. Likewise, a lot of people have gathered tremendous evidence (not proof -- evidence) that UFOs are a legitimate phenomenon. The problem is that they are not taken seriously outside their circle.

In a world where alien visitations were accepted as a real possibility (which they are), your friends might have reacted differently to your sighting. The problem lies in our collective bias, which is unfounded.




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