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"Skeptics" v "Believers"

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posted on Oct, 18 2009 @ 04:13 AM
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Every few days on ATS there is a thread addressed to "you skeptics" (or "pseudoskeptics") or to "you believers".

There are many issues in relation to the actual words themselves, e.g. many "believers" object to the implicit characterisation of their position as based on faith and in fact consider themselves the true skepticss, claiming that their position is based upon a proper and detailed examination of the evidence whereas many "skeptics" are alleged to be biased and/or ignorant of the data rather than someone that has adopted a proper skeptical approach to the evidence.

Many "believers" claim that they fall within the definitions of skepticism put forward by "skeptics", e.g. “… a skeptic is one who questions the validity of a particular claim by calling for evidence to prove or disprove it” by Michael Shermer (in his “Why People Believe Weird Things” (1997) at pages 16-17 (in Chapter 1) of the Freeman softcover edition).

The terms "skeptics" and "believer" are probably too prevalent to make it worthwhile to refer to other potentially more useful or accurate terms.

The one point that I really want to stress is that the terms "skeptics" and "believer" are used as if there is a firm line between the two camps and that all the individuals within one camp (e.g. all "believers" share the same views.

This is, of course, nonsense. Not all "skeptics" or all "believers" share the same opinions.

Addressing a thread to "you believers" or "you skeptics" ignores the enormous variation in opinions within each camp.


The "skeptic"/"believer" divide is far from the only schism within ufology (but these terms are a shorthand to refer to the main divide).

Some of the "believers" that contend that it is necessary to resort to an exotic theory to explain some UFO reports do not subscribe to the ExtraTerrestrial Hypothesis ("ETH" - i.e. that aliens are visiting us). The main ones that spring to mind are that some reports are caused by:

    (1) time travellers hypothesis (the "TTH"),
    (2) inter-dimensional travellers / Ultraterrestrials,
    (3) psychic projections / tulpas,
    (4) intelligent beings (whether humans, dinosaurs or others) returning
    to Earth,
    (5) a civilisation within a hollow earth
    (6) a civilisation evolved underwater / based underwater
    (7) atmospheric creatures
    (8) Nazis operating from a secret base on Earth, the Moon or Mars
    (9) Secret mind control research
    (10) Angels / demons,

etc etc etc.

Those that support the ETH (i.e. that aliens are visiting us) have many schisms, e.g. whether the aliens are friendly, hostile or indifferent to humanity; whether the Disclosure Project is a movement that will save humanity from itself or an example of insufficient filtering of potential evidence; whether Exopolitics is a fresh new approach or a pile of excrement.

Skeptics have almost as many internal schisms, e.g. as to which explanation to support for specific cases or the relative importance of certain factors (e.g. stressing mirages, plasmas or mere misperception - query where to draw the line between some "skeptical" theories and some of the "believer" theories...).

Probably more significantly, there are fundamental differences of approaches between some skeptics e.g. CSICOP vs Truzzi : CSICOP ‘came to be dominated by anti-paranormal hardliners’ and adopted a ‘crusading, inquisitional approach’ (Carter, 2007, p. 10). According to Northcote, it is the ‘hard-line scepticism’ that ‘tends to dominate the Skeptic organizations’ (Northcote, 2007, p. 73).

By the way, these numerous schisms are not new - there were numerous schisms in ufology in earlier decades e.g. the hatred that existed between the large UFO groups (e.g. NICAP vs APRO and APRO vs MUFON...)

In short, I think that threads addressed to "you skeptics" or "you believers" indicate that the author either has a rather over-simplified view of the UFO debate, or is simply a troll attempting to provoke a reaction.

All the best,

Isaac



References:

Carter, Chris (2007). “Parapsychology and the Skeptics”. Pittsburgh,
Paja Books.

Northcote, Jeremy (2007) “The Paranormal and the Politics of Truth”,
Exeter, Imprint Academic.


[edit on 18-10-2009 by IsaacKoi]




posted on Oct, 18 2009 @ 06:02 AM
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I am giving this very well written, balanced and intelligent OP a bump, since there are a couple of heated "belivers versus skeptics" discussions going on right now. Thanks for your valuable input, as always, IsaacKoi!


And on a personal note, I very seldom engage in "believers/skeptics" threads anymore. I find them boring and pointless, probably because I have seen so many of them turn into a nightmare of off topic personal attacks and insults.


Sadly I have come to the conclusion that most of these threads are started by trolls, and that they are in it simply for the fight. So I choose to not feed the trolls.

(Edit for spelling)

[edit on 18/10/09 by ziggystar60]



posted on Oct, 18 2009 @ 06:11 AM
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Did you know....

that they dont exist?



So yes I very much agree that addressing people in that way is nonsense. If anything they should be addressed as "UFO-skeptics" or "UFO-Believers" or "2012-Skeptics" and "2012-Believers" etc.



posted on Oct, 18 2009 @ 06:36 AM
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Originally posted by ziggystar60
I am giving this very well written, balanced and intelligent OP a bump,


Thanks for the kind words. I try to be balanced in my posts but the problem is:

balanced = relatively uncontroversial = few responses = sinks quickly down the page on ATS = posts somtimes overlooked or have limited impact

whereas:

overstatements / intentional trolling = controversial = provokes lots of respones = stays near the top of the forum list for longer = more views and more respones

Mmm...

The flagging system helps counteract this effect to a limited extent, but controversial/sensational threads get more exposure than many of the well-researched threads I've seen some members of ATS put a lot of work into.

All the best,

Isaac


[edit on 18-10-2009 by IsaacKoi]



posted on Oct, 18 2009 @ 06:42 AM
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This is just the continuation of classic BS we humanity seems to enjoy so much. Polarization at even the hint of disagreement into parties that then proceed to bicker so much they often forget what they were bickering about and the conflict takes on a life of it's own.



posted on Oct, 18 2009 @ 07:01 AM
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So i see 3 different threads with similar content, so i guess ill post in this one for the sake of non-favoritism. My view on the title of the post

UFO =
Yes they do exist, some are of human origin and some are not.

Aliens =
Yes they exist and have and visited the earth in the past/present and will do so in the future.

Disclosure =
Yes there will be disclosure but not in the form of how 99.9% of the people think it will be.

Have we been coexisting with non Earthly entity's =
Yes we have, for many thousands of years, way before our dna strand ever learn't to walk upright.

Is there evidence of real ufo's=
Yes, naturally there is, but given the amount paranoia and government intervention its overlooked.

Will human society remain the same after non Earthly official contact =
No, offcourse it will not. That is the period were freedom and all your notions of aliens and enlightenment will be put to rest as it will be the beginning of the end for the human evolution on a natural scale as our history has recorded it.

That is the about the normal content i would like to put in this thread, so from here on end let the flaming begin.


[edit on 18-10-2009 by tristar]



posted on Oct, 18 2009 @ 07:48 AM
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I could not agree more with IsaacKoi.

It's a false dilemma to insist that one, for example, cannot reach the conclusion that the ET explanation makes sense as a working hypothesis and be a "real" skeptic at the same time. It seems the pathological disbelievers (who seem to primarily consist of atheist humanists) have seized this term over the years without justification simply to bolster their case rhethorically ("hey, we say science and reason are on our side, so we win!").

In that light Truzzi's remark that SCICOP has/had an anti-paranormal agenda, does not care for investigation and is in fact blocking inquiry into paranormal topics is revealing.

Pseudo-skeptics do not care for objective research and truth, they are here to defend their own turf and peddle their own metaphysics.



posted on Oct, 18 2009 @ 08:34 AM
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I think first off, there is a difference between skeptics and cynics.

a skeptic simply wants some proof..preferrably solid undeniable proof. a skeptic wants to believe, but needs to see evidence before starting to ponder reasonings and different types of aliens on a serious note.

I like to think I am a skeptic but I do occasionally slip excitedly into a believer catagory (especially after I watch the disclosure project now and again), but force myself to snap back into skepticism.

a cynic on the other hand ignores all things, pretending that they want only one piece of hard evidence...they will ignore testimony of any/everyone from joe the plumber to former presidents and top brass military simply because it doesnt apply to their predetermined mindsets.

Skepticism is welcomed and encouraged in UFOlogy..it keeps the charlatons and idiots out and gives the subject the element of seriousness it deserves.
Believers and cynics are sadly in the same box, neither further the field.

So please folks...make the difference between skeptics and cynics (alternatively, I quite like the term religoskeptics)

my 2 cents.



posted on Oct, 18 2009 @ 01:34 PM
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Originally posted by Watcher-In-The-Shadows
Polarization at even the hint of disagreement into parties that then proceed to bicker so much they often forget what they were bickering about and the conflict takes on a life of it's own.


While many UFO discussions are quite polarised (particularly, it seems to me, when the discussion takes place via the rather impersonal method of swapping emails/posts on the Internet), there can be a surprising degree on consensus when you discuss matters with sensible UFO researchers and skeptics.

There are quite a few media myths about UFO reports and UFO witnesses that most UFO researchers and skeptics would agree are misconceived.

However, it seems that few people are interested in identifying points of agreement. Arguments are much more fun...

All the best,

Isaac



posted on Oct, 19 2009 @ 01:48 AM
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reply to post by IsaacKoi
 


Very succinct, correct, well presented, and relevant post Isaac. Personally I am sick of all the "battle threads" about "believers and skeptics", it stretches beyond ATS too, so it is not localized here, it is a problem for ufology as a whole. I don't know when or if people will ever realize that we are in this together and there is no "sides", as Skyfloating already mentioned as well.

For some reason it appears that many feel you have to pick on side, that you can't be neutral and look only at the facts, lol you either think it is a Pleadian mothership or swamp gas, you can't remain open to both, only giving each option its respected probability. Humans have a bad habit of making something either one or the other and trying to force a definite answer, even when one can not be presented.

Also, I have noticed that there is a more recent upsurge on the other "side" of the spectrum, the "pseudobeliever" side, quite honestly I think these hurt ufology more than anything, even though they are NOT part of any legitimate research effort for the most part. They are the ones that gets all the lunatic UFO theories spread out there and thus skews legitimate UFO research for all of us and reinforcing the pseudoskeptics, why at the same time placing the "laugh factor" on us via mainstream media.

The only thing we can do is continue to move on and attempt to work together, leaving those who refuse to conform to the proper research method behind. Of course it makes it harder on all of the real researchers but there is nothing else to be done. Good thread Issac, S/F...



posted on Oct, 19 2009 @ 02:41 AM
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reply to post by IsaacKoi
 


First off there is a line between those who accept ufology and those who claim to be UFO skeptics.

It mmakes no sense to act like there's not a big difference between the two camps and you can see it clearly in thread after thread.

The skeptic will ask for evidence and when the person who accepts these things presents evidence, it's the same response from most skeptics. They say,"that could be anything" or "that doesn't prove anything."

This occurs in thread after thread after thread.

The reason that there's a back and forth is because skeptics start off with a belief that these things are not extraterrestrial/extra-dimensional. Of course many of them will not say this because they know it looks close minded. So they will say they are open minded skeptics and all things are possible.

This is silly and a cop out. Of course there's multiple possibilities but these possibilities are not weighed equally because they don't share equal evidence.

The skeptic will start this way. They will say these things are possible.

1. Weather balloon
2. Chinese lantern
3. the person is lying
4. The person is making things up
5. Fairies
6. extra-terrestrial/extra-dimensional beings

And they will remain in a perpetual state of possibilities ad infinitum.

The person who accepts these things will start off in a similar way.

1. Weather Balloon
2. Chinese lantern
3. The person could be lying
4. extraterrestrial/extra-dimensional beings

The skeptic will never weigh the evidence. They don't care about the evidence and they just say that all of these things are possible because they don't want to look closed minded. This is the case with most skeptics.

The person who accepts these things will weigh the evidence within reason and reach a conclusion based on the available evidence.

Most skeptics have an illogical position. They don't want to weigh the evidence until there's absolute proof. This way they can stay in a state of perpetual possibility and they can convince themselves that they are being open minded.

These threads are important because there's a gulf between those who accept these things and the UFO skeptic. This is partly do to people like James Randi and Michael Shurmer turning skepticism into a permanent state.



posted on Oct, 19 2009 @ 01:50 PM
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Originally posted by Matrix Rising
The reason that there's a back and forth is because skeptics start off with a belief that these things are not extraterrestrial/extra-dimensional.


But even most "believer" ufologists would also start off with a belief that a particular sighting probably is not extraterrestrial/extra-dimensional.

Virtually all the ufologists that I know would accept that most sightings have perfectly mundane causes that can be identified if sufficient information is gathered.

Percentages vary from ufologist to ufologist, but many claim to successfully identify the causes of over 75 per cent of sightings (and many claim figures closer to 90% or 95%).

All the best,

Isaac



posted on Oct, 19 2009 @ 02:04 PM
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It is indeed true that a "skeptic" will continue to entertain possibilities and always consider probabilities. However, if something is absolute and true, then all potential evidence will point out as such. Nothing that the "believers" has presented is able to be tried and true.

Besides, there are "skeptics" that want to believe. Not all "skeptics" want to rain on everyone else's parade.

I know I personally would like to be shown enough evidence to become a "believer" myself. I earnestly would like for these hypotheses to be true. However, to date, I haven't been presented with anything even remotely conclusive. If anything, the only "evidence" I have seen has made me all the more "skeptical".

In my mind, the entire subject is akin to Schrodinger's Cat. Until that box is opened, we do not have anything definitive to reliably determinately state anything other than possibilities/probabilities.



posted on Oct, 19 2009 @ 02:05 PM
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reply to post by Matrix Rising
 


Again, you are confusing the term "skeptic" (which is irrelevant in a real scientific investigation) with PSEUDOSKEPTIC. Those are two entirely different things. Where as in REAL ufology there is no believer or skeptic (these are made up terms that are erroneous), but there are factions that are either on the extreme skeptical or believer end of the spectrum. These people have no REAL interest in studying ufology and thus are NOT part of it, as much as they claim to be at times. What you are describing is exactly what a pseudoskeptic is (and it is the reciprocal on the other end of the spectrum). Stop trying to combine the two, they are ENTIRELY different things.




posted on Oct, 19 2009 @ 02:07 PM
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Originally posted by Matrix Rising
The skeptic will never weigh the evidence.


Most skeptics have an illogical position.


What you're talking about, then, are not skeptics-- a skeptic will weigh the evidence, always.

You're arguing against this image you have of someone's position and calling it the skeptics position, when in fact, it's not. You are describing the denialist position of pseudoskeptics, not skeptics.

You aren't helping anyone, including your side of the argument, when you and others, continuously misidentify and mischaracterize the real skeptics and their position.



posted on Oct, 19 2009 @ 08:47 PM
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My views on the subject...

UFO == Exactly what it sounds like... an object in the air that we cannot identify
...

And I would have to say I believe some for of "Alien" has to see us via personal experiences...



posted on Oct, 20 2009 @ 05:18 AM
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my 2 euros

sceptics and believers are on the same boat.skeptics help us stay on the straight line.i dont think theres any opposition here.



posted on Oct, 20 2009 @ 03:29 PM
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Originally posted by fraterormus
Besides, there are "skeptics" that want to believe.


Indeed - this probably applies to most, if not virtually all, skeptics that I have had contact with.

Many simply prefer to put money on SETI rather than ufology...



posted on Oct, 20 2009 @ 03:33 PM
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Skepticism and belief are not mutually exclusive.



posted on Feb, 12 2011 @ 05:01 PM
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Originally posted by IsaacKoi
Every few days on ATS there is a thread addressed to "you skeptics" (or "pseudoskeptics") or to "you believers".


Since I started this thread a year or two ago, I've formed the view that most of the relevant attacks on "you believers" and "you skeptics" are simply trolling and/or seeking to provoke as many replies as possible.

Or perhaps I've just become (even) more cynical.

All the best,

Isaac




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