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Do skeptics and debunkers belong in a conspiracy website?

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posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 09:34 AM
Heya ATSers,

ok, been pondering this for awhile, and I seen this argument go on in other threads, but havent come across a thread dedicated to the actual question itself.

Question being...well, the title of the thread.

My personal view is yes. Granted, a conspiracy site is by nature not factual and rarely if ever meet satisfactory proof to make it more than just a theory...however, I tend to think the difference between conspiracy theories and simple speculation is that there is some compelling leads. These leads exist because of debunking and skepticism to begin with (on both the offical stories and of alternative views) and whats left over remains curious.

I think that skeptics and debunkers (not religoskeptics and dethinkers...those are different creatures) are perhaps even more important than anyone whom agree's with any conspiracy simply because it either makes quick work of obvious frauds, or gives legs to conspiracys with merit...but thats just my opinion of course. Some people simply hate any new and interesting perspective to be questioned and ripped apart with facts. My view on that mentality is tht conspiracy theories are not meant to be a starting of a religion, but rather a desire to find the actual truth behind something.

Would you agree skeptics are needed in a conspiracy theory forum? not just someone to ask the odd question...but rather hard nosed ripping skepticism in almost all forums not clearly labelled philosophy

+6 more 
posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 09:40 AM
Believe it or not ATS was originally more of a skeptic site then a conspiracy one, back when it started. Why do you think that we had the tag “Deny Ignorance” and a guy named “Skeptic Overlord” as our board admin? It was all about looking for real conspiracies, and cutting through the BS ones.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 09:45 AM
reply to post by SaturnFX

Interesting and fair point. However, as most CT's tend to have very similar psychological patterns of thought, especially the more obvious traits picked up in the structure of their language, are they, themselves not the 'sceptics' by their own merit for considering what they perceive as the conspiracy theory?

I'm not trying to pick holes in your query here. I'm merely pointing out that CT's themselves in some way, shape or form and by very purpose alone, are sceptical.

So, in answer to your question, yes, they should.

[edit on 8-2-2010 by BAZ752]

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 09:45 AM

Originally posted by defcon5
Believe it or not ATS was originally more of a skeptic site then a conspiracy one, back when it started. Why do you think that we had the tag “Deny Ignorance” and a guy named “Skeptic Overlord” as our board admin? It was all about looking for real conspiracies, and cutting through the BS ones.

I wonder why skepticism is given such a bad rap then in such sites. When I see something wild on the UFO forums, I look for people like Phage to see his views considering he is a pretty solid and passionless skeptic...yet often people want to grab the torches and pitchforks when one comes in. (sry to bring the example up Phage..get over it. heh). The day he becomes truely stumped is the day you know there might be something there if your not the most critical thinker.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 09:48 AM
reply to post by BAZ752

Oh, I agree with that...conspiracy theories in its own nature is a statement of skepticism to begin with...and theoretically one capable of being skeptical should also welcome other skeptics both for and against their concept.

hmm, whats the difference between skepticism and speculation of alternative theories.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 09:50 AM
reply to post by defcon5

I'll have to second what you say. Darn it, I'll even third it.

I couldn't say it better. The only way to get to the beef is by cutting out and tossing away the BS. Some may prefer astral projection or channeling to do so, others, like the debunkers tend to rely on critical thinking - a tool open to and veryfiable by everyone. One can be a critical thinker and still think "outside of the box".

A place where we discard all critical thinking would be a place of absolute relativity and that would quickly devolve into a contest on who can pull the most ridiculous BS withouth standing behind it.

There are plenty of places like that on the internet already - intellect free zones where everyone can claim what he wants withouth having to answer for it.

To me, what has always been the attraction of this site were these 2 words:

deny ignorance.

Help me deny my ignorance, I'll help you deny yours.

Together we can be less ignorant.

edited for a logical blunder...

edited to add: Come to think of it, ATS has forums where anyone can claim anything without being called out.. Skunk Works etc. Much of the time it is a question of wording, some people are fond of sensationalist, wide claims others like it narrow, precise and framed in a conditional sense.

[edit on 8-2-2010 by NichirasuKenshin]

[edit on 8-2-2010 by NichirasuKenshin]

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 09:52 AM
Well with UFO and Metaphysics forums there really isn’t solid evidence for both sides, so both just think they are right. That is the problem with sceptics on those forums. But on every other conspiracy forum you need sceptics to debunk the conspiracies that are wrong.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 09:59 AM
reply to post by SaturnFX

Honestly? I could answer that in many different ways. The only notable difference to me among the many varied characters, particularly the educated lot in here, are the perceptions of the subject at hand.

Some will use the basis of gained knowledge to form an opinion while others refer to material commonly presented and researched, or even the lowest common denominator in some cases.

Either way, the difinitives stem from closed-mindedness or open-mindedness. It's like a spectrum. This is only my opinion, but does that help?

[edit on 8-2-2010 by BAZ752]

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 10:04 AM
I think the whole conspiracist vrs skeptic thing isn't quite so black and white.

I think it is a matter of everyone having differing thresholds of belief or disbelief. That is, you can be skeptic with a certain amount of of conspiracist, or conspiracist with a certain amount of skeptic. Even the worst case skeptics still wouldn't be around here if some part of their psyche wasn't attracted to the what if variable.

I think also being a huge skeptic means not just swallowing what the MSM or PTB want the sheeple to believe. Skeptics are great detectives and more times than not they can smell a rat when a rat exists.

There are however extreme skeptics whose foundation of skepticism is so rigid it borders on absurd or delusional. James McGaha comes to mind.

After all there is proof that conspiracies do exist and are being or have been perpetrated.

[edit on 8-2-2010 by sparrowstail]

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 10:05 AM
reply to post by SaturnFX

We had quite a few members like phage in the old days, I learned a lot for them. Many seem to have gone from the site though, either on their own or through banning. When ATS went corporate, I think that they tried to make the site more friendly to folks with wild theories, and your hardcore skeptics started to get in trouble for belittling those theories as was done in the old days. Back then ATS was the more intelligent, adult version of places like GLP or Renese, where folks would come to learn the truth on what they read on those sites. However, Its the same story with a lot of businesses, they become popular, and they change the formula that made them popular in an attempt to become more popular, which inevitably backfires. For example back in the day, SO was very skeptical of the 911 truth movement, now he remains neutral on the topic, and its one of the most strictly moderated forums at ATS. I would venture to say that a lot of our best skeptics got banned just from that forum alone. So what you are seeing is not that a conspiracy site became filled with skeptics, but that a skeptic site is trying to become more conspiracy friendly.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 10:06 AM
reply to post by SaturnFX

Damn straight we do. A conspiracy theory must be able to stand up to any amount of scepticism, otherwise it is simply not substantiated enough for any rational individual to believe.

Considering the topics we deal with on this board, and the wide-reaching effects should they be true, the amount of evidence must be beyond reproach. People laugh at conspiracy theorists because they simply don't have levels of acceptable evidence compared to any other actual investigatory discipline out there.

reply to post by BAZ752

There's being sceptical for no reason, and then there's being sceptical through lack of evidence. The former is who you describe, and the latter is what SaturnFX and myself are describing - please correct me if I'm wrong, SaturnFX.

reply to post by Maddogkull

Those boards should, in an ideal world, be very very empty. It's a sad condemnation of some members of this site that those boards are so highly used. They are full of absolute nonsense, with a few sceptics trying to wade in and remind everyone they are engaging in massive logical fallacies by discussing things that have yet to be demonstrated as existing, let alone paranormal/extraterrestrial/demonic/whatever. Try doing that, though, and you get shot down. Personally, I think those boards should be moderated into the ground - any posts containing assertions of fact unsubstantiated by evidence should be frozen or deleted. It reflects so very badly on the rest of us that a site that says "deny ignorance" in big letters at the top has a place where people can discuss what sort of demon is hiding in their sock drawer with complete immunity from being warned/banned for spreading nonsense. It's, well, pathetic. It's like kids playing "Supernatural", "Harry Potter", or "Twilight" in the school yard. Critical thinking is simply not welcome there. They are the antithesis of the rest of the site.

I could bang on about this for hours, but I'll spare everyone. It's pretty clear that I respect critical thought and critical thought only. Everything else can go jump off a cliff.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 10:07 AM
I agree completely with the sentiments posted in here.

Good discussion.

I like the skeptical method, it allows you to learn things faster.

Knowledge will never increase unless it is challenged.

Unfair debates are common but through educating each other we can over time improve each others skills in debate so that it is fair and gives us both a chance to increase our knowledge and get to the bottom of a conspiracy theory.

It is easy to tell when things are hoaxes or agenda driven though, because typically shills-hoaxers make tons of simple mistakes and claims they cannot back up.

Honestly I do prefer the detective approach. It makes progress quickly.

Failure to question is stagnation.

YOU HAVE to be Skeptic to Question the Gov't and Charlatans alike!

I have to admit though I am not perfect, I fall for a lot of jokes and misinfo and then find out it was untrue later. We all make mistakes. But I like learning when I do, it's the mistakes I don't know still that have me bothered.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 10:11 AM
reply to post by SaturnFX

I agree with you on most points, and most of the responses in this thread. Skepticism is what makes conspiracy theories possible to begin with. I know that I personally welcome all criticism to any of my posts but instead I seem to instill general ignorance.

The only problem I have with skepticism is when it becomes habit forming and takes precedence over someones logic. Someone who might have spent all their life debunking UFOs might feel threatened by something they can't readily explain. So instead of providing their unbiased insight they will look to maintain their image, even if it does mean trying to debunk something they are unsure of or have no evidence against. I believe that this is happening more and more with the more people that come to ATS.

Skeptics are good, but just like people who believe first and question later, there is a fine line between skepticism and flat out ignorance, something that all people should be well aware of. Some people would much rather trust in the words of someone known and reliable than do the research themselves, but honestly, that isn't how it should be.

As long as people learn to balance out the skepticism and beliefs, no harm can be done. It is when one person leads fanatically to one side that problems start to arise, and I question as to if they can ever truly be brought back to the middle ground.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 10:13 AM
reply to post by davesidious

I couldn't agree with you more. I did point out that I could have answered the OP in a number of ways, but for time sake I generalised, perhaps a little too brief of me

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 10:27 AM
reply to post by davesidious

In an ideal world be very empty
I do agree that there are so absurd threads on there talking about different density levels. But if you search it with an opened mind I guarantee you, you will find something amusing. But if are a hardcore sceptic that believes in nothing after death, of course that thread doesn’t appeal to you, and thats fine. But you can’t say it has little importance, I think you have the wrong idea. A lot of the visitors of ATS came to this forum for the metaphysics, not all but some. Also UFO's there are a lot of evidence for them. I didn’t say ET UFO's, but to deny UFOs is really just ignorant. There is enough evidence for them. BTW what is your ideal world? Does it resemble the movie equilibrium?

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 10:37 AM
Questions to the OP, do you believe in EVERY conspiracy theory that is seen here? If you don’t do you question any of them or do you want to let the ones believe just sing kum bay ya? Do you not like your own conspiracies questioned, or do you believe in them 100% without a question?

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 10:41 AM
People who bash skeptics are kind of like the government, just on the opposite side of things.

"You are wrong! I don't want to listen! Stop telling me all those truths!"

Err...something like that.

I can not believe people use the word skeptic here with a negative connotation. How can someone possibly think it is bad to NOT BELIEVE BS!?!


posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 10:42 AM
One cannot exist without the other. Yin and Yang.

Speculation and the synthesis of presumed facts will eventually feed upon itself, losing it's perspective and thus it's entire meaning.

We require measured reason.

I can't say that I would want this to be a sophistic free-for-all where any idea outside the comfort zone of the establishment would be skewered and lampooned, and each phrase and participle subjected to the tricks of semantics, dialectics, and such.

But true skeptics have remained; the honorable Phage is a stellar example of someone who helps us retain focus on reality. Some bounce in and out, depending on their intellectual stamina, their ability to retain a sense of dignified self-expression, and their patience with the eager participants who refuse to accept new data into their paradigm.

The balance is one maintained by active participation and a sincere effort to allow that true and false, right and wrong, real or fantasy, make themselves apparent to us.

Generally, I believe we as a culture have come to learn that few of our institutional efforts can be trusted to convey reality to us 100% of the time. So here we are, trying to ensure that we have at least a fighting chance to learn what our world was, is, and will become.

Short answer: Yes.

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 10:44 AM
reply to post by muzzleflash

I'd go one step further and say critical thinking is the only way to actually know. We might guess the right answer to something, but we'd never be sure we were right. Critical thinking is the only way to know anything for sure.

reply to post by Maddogkull

If we are here to deny ignorance, we can not accept guesswork as fact. That is a logical fallacy. It's not about importance, but evidence. Just because something is really important to people doesn't instantly elevate it to the status of fact. That is the height of ignorance.

We can talk UFOs all we want. We can analyse photographs, look at radar traces, read reports from the field, declassified materials, etc. without issue. That is critical thinking. But to leap to the conclusion that a particular UFO is extraterrestrial in origin, and under intelligent control, is not engaging in critical thinking, but wild speculation. That is what we should avoid in that board. Of course there is evidence that unidentified flying objects have existed. I never once said anything to the contrary.

But yeah, 'metaphysics' is just a pseudoscientific term for "wild guesswork", so I don't know why that board is even on ATS, as it can, by its very definition, never uncover an actual demonstrable truth.

Being "open minded" doesn't help anyone if the mind in question is ill-equipped to differentiate between opinion and fact, which seems to be the bread and butter of the paranormal board, for example.

My ideal world would not be like equilibrium at all. I love art in most of its forms, and require it on a daily basis. I refuse, however, to let someone acting irrationally try to teach me something that should be taught using critical thinking. I wouldn't go to a doctor whose idea of healing was to throw packs of frozen peas at me to satiate the pea demon that causes all human suffering, no matter how important it was to that "doctor" to believe, or how amusing the concept is to some open-minded people.

If we really are here to deny ignorance, then there needs to be a massive culling of the cruft common throughout this site. It's embarrassing, and only serves to damage the credibility of anyone who actually manages to find evidence for a real conspiracy (as detractors, operating irrationally, can point to the myriad threads about Bigfoot's favourite sandwich in order to tar them with the crazy brush). Oh, and it serves to get page impressions, which means more money from advertisers.

Denying ignorance is not as profitable as claiming to, while actually encouraging it. There are more ignorant people out there than critical thinkers, and advertisers pay the same for adverts served to both. You can do the maths here
Sorry if that contravenes the Terms and Conditions, mods - feel free to trim that last bit out if it does (but please leave the rest).

posted on Feb, 8 2010 @ 10:48 AM
reply to post by SaturnFX

Indeed skeptics do belong here. Even putting aside the denial of ignorance, how much fun would we be having if we all agreed on everything? I've been to boards where that is exactly what happens, and it's boring as all get out.

Every issue, whether I agree with it or not, has two sides, maybe even more. This is how truth is arrived at, through examination of all sides of an issue.

Yes, skeptics belong here. Wouldn't be ATS without 'em.

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