The problem is not skepticism, but pseudoskepticism.
A skeptic requires proof before he or she will accept an assertion as fact, however, they will also refrain from making assertions of their own (such
as the assertion that another assertion is false
) unless they have evidence of their own to support it. That means that a true skeptic doesn't
label something a fake, a hoax, a lie, a fabrication, or an embellishment unless they have definitive evidence
to support that statement. By
the same token, however, they will not accept an assertion (such as the assertion that one was visited or abducted by aliens) as fact without proof.
The best they can say is that it is possible, but that they "don't know."
Unfortunately, many people dislike "not knowing." They want a side to choose, or firm ground beneath their feet - not the uncertainty of
unsubstantiated, yet nevertheless persistent, possibility. Those people are not practicing skepticism, but rather pseudoskepticism. They take their
lack of commitment to an assertion further, by making their own assertions without proof: that something is a hoax, a lie, a fabrication, a
misinterpretation, or an embellishment. In many instances, so vigorous and passionate will their tenacious attachment to their pseudoskepticism be,
that they will resort to disrespectful and uncivil treatment of those making the assertions with which they disagree. That isn't what a true skeptic
does. All a true skeptic can do, unless they have proof, is politely say that they "don't know" one way or another.
When people treat posters that way without evidence, they're actually violating the terms of service they agreed to when they joined ATS, and
mechanisms exist by which users can report such behavior. Take this thread
Courtesy Is Mandatory
, for instance. In it a mod points out that the TOS state:
2) Behavior: You will not behave in an abusive and/or hateful manner, and will not harass, threaten, nor attack anyone.
So in answer to the OP's question: the purpose of ATS is the civil and courteous
discussion of alternative topics. On the other hand, ATS is
fortunate enough to have as constituents of its membership a large number of experienced researchers (professional and lay alike) who are adept at
spotting and proving
hoaxes, misinterpretations, misinformation, and other erroneous assertions or reports. The thing is, unless there is
, users are required
to afford you courtesy, respect, and civility at all times. If they don't, then you should report their
I hope that answers your question.