Part I - Misconceptions About Skeptics
Throughout my somewhat limited time here on ATS, I've engaged in several debates with believers of the alien/UFO phenomenon, and invariably a typical
set of issues arises in such discourse.
These issues seem to be the crux of most disagreements between skeptics and believers, and it is my intent to catalog most of them, and to offer some
talking points/advice so that believers might better understand the skeptic's position and perhaps avoid recycling the same points over and over
again. I was going to post the entire list as one thread, but I'm a verbose sucker, and the entirety of the list is far too long for one OP, so I'll
be breaking this out as a series.
For the purposes of this thread, I'm going to label the UFO/alien phenomena--to specifically include claims of contact, abduction, co-conspiracy with
Earth's governments, implants, and UFO sightings--as the Alien Hypothesis. This helps any literal confusion between UFOs--which remain as
unidentified phenomena and technically do not bridge the gap between unidentified and any posited claim of alien existence--and such claims of alien
Please note that the terms skeptic and believer are used generally here; for brevity's sake, I'm relying upon some stereotypes, but obviously in
reality these terms describe attitudes/mindsets that exist along a spectrum rather than purely a polar plane. For the purposes of this thread, a
skeptic is one who generally maintains a neutral point of view and who requires scientific evidence that demonstrates proof in order to consider the
Alien Hypothesis to be truth. On the contrary, a believer is one who has already considered the existing evidence, and considers such evidence to be
sufficient for believing the Alien Hypothesis to be truth.
1. The Skeptic's True Position, or, A True Skeptic's Position
Even though this has been addressed elsewhere, I believe it would be beneficial to explain what I consider to be the true skeptic's true position.
Many believers confuse skeptics with debunkers, and while one can certainly play the other's role in specific contexts, they are not one and the same
The very first thing I'd like to address is the skeptic's belief. Skeptics, in this regard, are really no different than anyone else. They may
certainly have their own belief regarding the Alien Hypothesis, and that belief can generally fall into one of the following categories:
- A lack of a belief: The truly neutral position. The skeptic holds no personal stake in the matter whatsoever, and remains unconvinced from the
current existing evidence.
- A disbelief: The skeptic believes the Alien Hypothesis is false. This position may vary when applied to the constituent tennents of the
Hypothesis; i.e., the skeptic may disbelieve in alien visitation but may believe in the existence of alien life somewhere in the universe.
- Belief: Yes, even though believers may be surprised at this, many skeptics may (and do) actually believe in the Alien Hypothesis. This may be
stretching the literal definition of a skeptic, but I'll elaborate in a moment on why I think this seemingly contradictory position is still valid
for a skeptic.
I'm breaking this out because I think it's important to realize the distinction between a personal belief, and any claims to know
objective or "scientific" fact. This is also why I feel you can have a believing skeptic.
The true skeptic should put his or her personal belief aside and consider each claim, each bit of evidence, on its own merit. She is not looking to
enforce her belief in any way. In short, a true skeptic can separate belief from knowledge, and does her best to maintain this separation.
Obviously, not all skeptics are great at doing this, and in the case of those who fall under category "b" above, they are slipping towards the realm
of a debunker rather than an impartial skeptic.
The main take-away point here is that many believers think skeptics all actively disbelieve in the Alien Hypothesis, and it is only to support this
"pre-existing belief" that skeptics reject the current evidence. This is simply not true of all skeptics, and certainly not of honest, true ones.
The true skeptic is not concerned with belief, but with fact: the insistence on having evidence that proves the Alien Hypothesis stems from
convincing him of a fact, not a belief. If you are a believer, the next time you engage a skeptic, you may want to consider simply asking the skeptic
about their belief in the Alien Hypothesis--it certainly shouldn't change their stance in the context of the debate, but you may be surprised to find
that they actually believe in similar things as you.
That's it for Part I. Again, I'm speaking in some large generalities and do not mean to offend any particular group if I have misrepresented you
here. I'd like to invite any believers to share their thoughts on these points--if I've missed the mark from your point of view, if you see it
entirely differently, or if any of this helps bring insight into the minds of skeptics.
[edit on 26-8-2008 by thrashee]