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The Baloney Detection Kit - Michael Shermer

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posted on Jul, 18 2009 @ 02:38 AM
I hope that this isn’t considered to be off topic in this forum. I just thought that it addresses so many questions concerning the field of ufology and the constantly ongoing discussions on different UFO cases that it might fit here.

Although, I think that Michael Shermer denies ‘positive evidence’ regarding UFO’s, too, the points he makes as a general guide of thinking and reasoning are worth to be taken into account when discussing topics in this forum.

No matter if you agree with him or not, you might enjoy this video:

posted on Jul, 18 2009 @ 09:55 PM
Well my baloney detector just about exploded 3 minutes into the video.. lol. Rent-a-skeptic Schermer makes some pretty sweeping statements right off the bat, starting with making a dumb claim about global warming, then we're told that all people who adhere to anything spiritual tend to swallow the whole thing, including spoonbending and whatnot. Lol.. well, it's plain and obvious what it takes to be a ' skeptic' of the Schermer kind.

And of course there's the inevitable claim that his kind of 'skepticism' represents 'science'. Well. i beg to differ. Gonna watch the rest of the vid once i gather enough mental strength to sit through about 15 minutes of baloney.

Taking the first rule into account (who's making the claim), i should dismiss the entire video because Schermer is a self-confessed Skeptic, making a video promoted by the Dawkins foundation.. now if that isn't bias, i don't know what is.

[edit on 18-7-2009 by payt69]

posted on Jul, 19 2009 @ 04:53 PM
reply to post by necati

Michael Shermer is a debunker, not a skeptic. I did notice he uses selective evidence to help his cause, such as documents with minimal blackened pages. I like the ones Stanton Friedman shows which have the whole page blackened out.

Also, he lumps New Age, UFOs and supernatural into one sum. Not a good thing as many of the areas are quite different.

He makes a point about not finding a body of Sasquatch. When was the last time someone found a dead bear in the woods? If Sasquatch is a hominid, it probably buries its dead like the Neanderthals and other hominids did. (Even scientists claim we have only found less than one percent of the species that have ever existed on our planet.)

SETI looks for old analog waves from space to prove there is intelligent life. They listen for a small period of time and then move the radio telescope to hear another area. Wouldn't real scientists concentrate on one area for a long period of time and listen on many different types of wavelengths? And these same people call ufologists kooks?

posted on Jul, 19 2009 @ 06:12 PM

Originally posted by necati
No matter if you agree with him or not, you might enjoy this video:

I don't think Shermer is the best representative of skeptics we could ask for.
But you have to like how he starts out the video "Why should I believe what you skeptics think?" and his answer? Well, you shouldn't!!!!!

I think we will never get any better advice than that.

I have come to the sad realization that probably 99% of the people on earth are delusional about at least one belief or another, and that's probably including myself, though I'm trying to find out which beliefs I'm delusional about and use facts and evidence to correct my incorrect beliefs.

I can't think of any better way to arrive at the truth than to assume that everything that everybody tells you, whether scientists, skeptics, believers, or whoever, is wrong, and the only way to find out what's really true is to gather evidence for yourself.

I have to agree with the poster who objected to the way Shermer threw newage, ufology and spoon bending all in the same bucket as part of his explanation for tool #2, and in fact I think tool #2 is kind of a weak tool he'd be better off without.

As for the other points, some of them are good, but showing this video in the UFO section of ATS is a bit like going into a Catholic church and preaching about Islam, the audience has already made up its mind that Islam must be wrong or science must be wrong so they tune out before they hear the first word.

Like #7, Is the claimant playing by the rules of science? Too many on this board absolutely loathe science and wouldn't even consider that a valid possibility to consider.

One thing I liked at the end was when he said we all like and trust science, when we go to a doctor or fly on an airplane, if we really thought scientists were such morons would we trust our lives to science like that? So people only choose to disregard selective parts of science, it's an interesting form of cognitive distortion.

FWIW I wrote out the 10 tools, I'll post them here for reference:

1. How reliable is the source of the claim? (some errors can creep into data, so if they are random it's ok, but if they are all biased, that's suspicious)
2. Does the source make similar claims? Is the UFO reported by a new age believer who believes in crystal power and other non-proven claims? Need to keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out
3. Have the claims been verified by somebody else? Example, cold fusion, people had problems replicating the experiment
4. Does this fit with the way the world works? example: E-mail from a foreign country offering a pile of money for doing nothing
5. Has anyone tried to disprove this claim? What else could explain this? What would your critics say?
6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point? Yes there may be 1 or 2 things inconsistent about the theory of evolution, but what about the other 10,000 things supporting evolution?
7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science? SETI community versus UFO proponents, one uses science and the other doesn't
8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence? For their theory, or just denying evidence for an opposing theory? A government document with things blacked out doesn't prove ETs exist
9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory? It's one thing to call a bunch of existing theories wrong, but if your alternative theory doesn't explain everything better, it won't gain acceptance
10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim? Even if you're pro business you have to put your personal beliefs aside when looking at global warming data

[edit on 19-7-2009 by Arbitrageur]

posted on Jul, 19 2009 @ 06:14 PM

Originally posted by kidflash2008
reply to post by necati

Michael Shermer is a debunker, not a skeptic.

Wrong kidflash2008, maybe you don't know the meaning of the word skeptic or you
don't know the man. Here for your information Michael Shermer is the actual leader of
skeptics and I repeat skeptics ok? Learn from the link.

posted on Jul, 21 2009 @ 04:28 PM
reply to post by free_spirit

I stand by my statement that Michael Shermer is a debunker, not a skeptic. Just because his society has the word skeptic in it does not make him one. He does not even take UFOs seriously and lumps it into all the other categories of superstitious nonsense.

The video he is in says it all.

Also, this part of a letter about debunkers:

"...the four basic rules for UFO debunking: 1. Don't bother me with the facts, my mind is made up. 2. What the public doesn't know, I will not tell them. 3. If I can't attack the data, I will attack the people; it is easier. And 4. I will do my research by proclamation, since investigation is too difficult."

Mr Shermer and others are guilty of the above.

[edit on 7/21/2009 by kidflash2008]

posted on Jul, 22 2009 @ 10:31 AM
No matter who Michael Shermer is let’s put him aside and take a look at the points he makes. You don’t need to know the biography of Friar Ockham in order to make use of the so-called Occam’s razor.

I also don’t agree with him as far as the UFO phenomenon is concerned. He probably has never taken an in depth look at UFO cases which provide enough evidence to let even him admit that there must be something more behind it than some stories made up by some attention seeking lunatics. He prefers to expose the gullibility of people.

Link to YouTube video

That exactly is my main concern, the gullibility of some UFO believers. I have indeed difficulties in understanding categories like believers, pseudo-believers, sceptics, pseudo-sceptics, debunkers, experiencers and all shades in between. I don’t know where to pigeonhole myself in.

I am really very interested in the UFO phenomenon but the more I believe the more I feel pissed off by hoaxers, charlatans and also believers who swallow any kind of BS offered without taking any other explanations into account. It seems as if any doubt uttered is an attack on their belief system.
Some even allege that those who dare to utter their doubt are afraid to admit the existence of UFO’s. Honestly, what kind of fear is this supposed to be? I’d welcome any irrefutable, undeniable proof which would once and for all prove the presence of extraterrestrials to the world.

Only a rational approach to the phenomenon can yield useful results and help us to separate the wheat from the chaff.


As for the other points, some of them are good, but showing this video in the UFO section of ATS is a bit like going into a Catholic church and preaching about Islam, the audience has already made up its mind that Islam must be wrong or science must be wrong so they tune out before they hear the first word.

That’s a funny way of putting it. I think you’re right. However, I personally prefer opposing views which I find more challenging than drowning in a boring consensus. That’s why I also read the bible in order to understand Christians. Well, it ended up in becoming an atheist

I knew that Michael Shermer and not his points would be more in the focus of the discussion but I could not possibly list them without mentioning where they came from and giving proper credit.

[edit on 22-7-2009 by necati]

posted on Jul, 22 2009 @ 03:00 PM
reply to post by necati

In some cases, Occam's Razor actually helps ufology. It is about the easiest explanations, and the metallic disks in formation that Gordon Cooper saw (with other pilots) he wrote about in his book "Leap of Faith" are a good example.

The Hill case has many things going for it:
1. A good sighting of a craft (drawn by Barney).
2. Scuffed shoes worn by Barney and a torn dress with a pink organic stain that was unknown in origin.
3. An unknown object detected by radar at Pease AFB at the time and place of the Hill sighting.
4. Circular objects on the car that appeared for a few weeks then disappeared mysteriously that were able to make compasses act wildly (witnessed and seen by dozens of people who also took a compass to them).
5. While Betty did write down her dreams, what she talked about during her hypnosis sessions was different. It was also corroborated with Barney during his sessions, even though both were made to forget what they talked about during their sessions.

Occam's Razor would suggest something extraordinary happened to the Hills.

I will agree that both sides are guilty of the same types of errors each one accuses the other of.

[edit on 7/22/2009 by kidflash2008]

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