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The dangers of debunking sites

  1. Sep 16, 2003 #1


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    *beep* This is a public broadcast announcement for all skeptics. Debunking sites are wrong and evil. Thank you. *beep*

    Ok... I don't mean evil and stuff, and we probably all use them occassionally - simply because of practicality. We just don't have the time to research each piece of baloney thoroughly. So why not just give the link, and sit back?

    Because great powers great dangers bring, Obi-wan!

    First is complacency. We get into the habit of just denying everything. Granted a lot of things may well be false, but skepticism is about rational thought - about you showing that whatever can be understood in sensible terms. Rejections without understanding, however tempting is not helpful. Creationism? Crap. Face on mars? BS. Alien abduction? Fairy tales. General relativity? Crackpotism. See the risk? The acceptance must be made that you CAN be wrong. And debunking sites don't always show this.

    Second is paranoia. Fear is the power of the dark side of the Force! In most cases, the person making the claim is not the Enemy. He is not some conniving villian sent by the Pope to murder scientists. While some do insult, and some do attack, and some do lie, most are people who are simply wrong. They just don't understand what you are talking about. If they criticise science for example, they often do not know what science really represents. And many are indeed scientific in their attitude, and open in their approach. If they post on PF, it is because either (a) they are preaching - in which case they must be rebutted, or (b) they have decided to open themselves up. You should not feel a duty to kick them up the backside, and thus turn them from skeptical thought altogether. Crackpots are people too! And most debunking sites do not show this.

    Third is inaccuracy. You must remember that debunking sites are someone else's opinions, and you have no idea how much expertise they have, or what sort of person they are. And they are often wrong. Always read before you link.

    So take care... Debunking resources are useful, but don't let them make judgements for you.

    How come I am talking about this? Well, a year or so ago, when I was arguing with quantumcarl over some stuff. As part of my research, I found a site that made the statement: (or words to that effect)

    "But eventually conspiracy theorists will come up with a scheme that does fit in with all the facts. But just because it is consistent with all the evidence doesn't mean it's any less false."

    I forgot about it at the time, and can no longer find the site. But this, I believe, wholly misrepresents what skeptical thinking is about.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 16, 2003 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Don't worry FZ+, we will continue to consider all possiblities. Also, I have been trying to increase the level of intelligent discussions all along - both the pro and the con. This will continue as well.
  4. Sep 17, 2003 #3
    No, we must deny all psuedoscience, reflexively!! Actually, I think proper debunking, by actually looking at the presented evidence(or lack thereof) can serve as a valuable lesson.
  5. Sep 17, 2003 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    I completely agree. Pseudoscience really has nothing to do with this effort either...aside from the con artists who used pseudoscience to perpetuate myths for money. Of course, the average person often employs a bit of pseudoscience without meaning to; or even realizing that this has happened. Here, we can try to sort the wheat from the chaff. Of course, our pile of chaff always towers over the pile of wheat. But that's OK. The great transdimensional spirit guide, just beyond Jupiter in the mother ship, will help sort things out.
  6. Sep 17, 2003 #5
    Yeah, not alot of wheat...but it will still be useful to actually dig through the chaff, instead of just throwing it all away. At least that way, if people still believe in bunk, at least we gave an honest effort to show them the truth.
  7. Sep 17, 2003 #6
    Someone, might have been Ivan,
    recently put the definition of
    skepticism in a post and I was
    surprised to find it was a more
    negative term than I'd realized.

    My dictionary has a similar
    "An attitude of doubt, or a dis-
    position to incredulity either in
    general or toward a partiular

    Doubt as an attitude or incred-
    ulity as a disposition as opposed
    to as a specific reaction to a
    specific thing is obviously an
    obstruction to learning anything.

    Which isn't to say I'm not
    becoming perversly fond of
    Chroot's way of reacting to
    crank ideas.
  8. Sep 17, 2003 #7

    You have the correct and logic attitude.
    The title 'debunking' is already an subjective evaluation and represents the attitude of the mentors. :/

    I posted in the past some posts about Astrology but find out thet neither Kerrie nor Integral were able to understand a relationship between procreation and Einstein lensing or shielding effects. So I stopped.

  9. Sep 17, 2003 #8


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    FZ+ - As you suggest, skepticism is not an automatic gainsaying of everything. It is a requirement to evaluate the evidence for yourself...whether it comes from a crackpot website or a "debunking" website. Certainly, it would be foolish to base one's beliefs on only 1 source of information.

    pelastration - The restructuring of the forums is meant to reflect the intended science theme for this website. You want to discuss astrology? Fine...but expect the evidence to be discussed from a scientific viewpoint. I'm surprised that you're not pleased to find that the group of mentors at PF includes people who both accept and reject astrology. Kerrie & Integral are doing a great job...your jab at them for not accepting your views is unwarranted. Anyway, we debated whether to keep the pseudoscience forum or drop it altogether. What resulted was what will hopefully be a happy medium (pun intended).
  10. Sep 17, 2003 #9


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    Phobos: I do object to the new title a bit though. It seems to suggest a rather unrepresentative lack of objectivity.

    How about "Fringe Claims". Or "The Extraordinary or the Untrue". Or whatever...

    Think on the positive side. We don't want to displace pseudoscience posts onto other categories by titling something apparently too negative.
  11. Sep 17, 2003 #10
    Thanks Phobos,

    Sure I appreciate all time and efforts the mentors like Kerrie, Integral and yourself put in PF. It's a lot of continuous work in following the posts and hidden work too.

    But I believe - in general - it's intellectual weakness to deny apriori a number of phenomena.
    We must say: IF it would be real ... HOW would it work?

    Has physics all the answers? No. The 10 most fundamental questions: http://www.qub.ac.uk/mp/questions/questions.html , such as number 10 : "When a particle in a quantum-mechanically pure state disappears into a black hole, its state changes to a thermal one; it now has a particular temperature. This constitutes a fundamental violation of the laws of quantum theory. How does it occur?".

    So we start now a debunking thread on QM?

    I have no problem at all with that! Please check some of my old posts and evaluate is this is discussing 'the art of astrology' or looking for scientific indications? It was Quantumcarl to asked for more scientific 'evidence' of astrology.

    FZ+ : I agree again.
    Without mentioning the word astrology I can start a thread on main Physics or Biology asking if concentrations (or the absence) of light or radiation or cosmic particles of distant galaxies may influence the growth of embryos, and thus the life of humans.

  12. Sep 18, 2003 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    Pseudoscience has been the wrong name all along.
  13. Sep 18, 2003 #12
    This is, in my less-than-humble opinion, the exact wrong attitude for us to have.
  14. Sep 18, 2003 #13

    pseudoscience was more neutral.
    Debunking is active, intentional.
    It just shows prejudice.
    Which is non-scientific, because it is based on BELIEVE.

    But lets drop the discussion.

  15. Sep 18, 2003 #14

    the exact wrong attitude?
    That is typically a non creative answer.
    Just accept the common accepted 'reality'.
    I say: Explore the boundaries of our knowledge.

    Did you read my answers (previous posts) I referred to? Or did you just picked out one sentence of my post and reacted on that sentence?

  16. Sep 18, 2003 #15

    Ivan Seeking

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    Understand that your argument is not with me. I would have also liked a more neutral name. In fact when Greg decided to change things, though he kindly offered to have me mentor with Russ in the Engineering section, I quit. I was already off to another site when some other mentors chimed in on behalf of this forum.

    I feel that these are the most important subjects in all of science - the fringe subjects. At the same time, it has never been my goal to perpetuate pseudoscience. I never wanted to "promote" much of the nonsense posted here. The point is to put these things in the light of day. IMO, very few sites offer a balanced perspective on fringe subjects. I have endeavored to get more debunkers on board from day one. I also created two Napsters with this goal in mind. IMO, this only lends credibility to the forum and to the subjects that can survive the debunking.

    Unfortunately, many skeptics live under the illusion that all fringe subjects can be debunked – a pseudoscientific proposition at best. This only demonstrates that they are beyond skepticism and into religion. This is why they feel that a forum like this is unnecessary. Really, what they want is to eliminate the discussion of all subjects that they don’t like – often because these subjects violate their own world view. We can speculate about a pre-bang 10 dimensional hypersurface, or tachyons, or time machines, or many other things that can likely never be tested or used, but ghosts [for example]….nonsense! In spite of a 5000 year written history and millions of experiences, this subject is considered nonsense by many so called objective people.

    I think the general mentality goes like this: Credible subjects are only those which science can directly address. I say that truth is more important than popular perceptions or our present limitations for the process of discovery. The typical answer to this statement is that we are wasting time if we can’t apply the proper methodology. I argue that if we investigate things we might learn something. This also happens to be the justification for mainstream fundamental research.

    In the end however, we do need skepticism and debunking as a part of the process, otherwise we are guilty of parading of our own religious views. Note that I do debunk many subjects myself. Sooner or later, I try to debunk all of them.

    So I agree, the name sucks, but as long as we may investigate the fringe honestly and openly, I will continue to contribute to this site. Sometimes compromise is a necessary evil…in the interest of science.
  17. Sep 20, 2003 #16


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    "neither Kerrie nor Integral were able to understand a relationship between procreation and Einstein lensing or shielding effects."

    Did you find a place to have this discussion Dirk?

    It seems there was something similar in the superstringtheory.com forum.
  18. Sep 20, 2003 #17

    Ivan Seeking

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    Dirk, you are free to make your arguments here.

    Yes. If you have valid arguments that aren't tolerated in the mainstream topics, then this is the place to do it.
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2003
  19. Sep 21, 2003 #18
    Nereid, Ivan

    Thanks Nereid.

    No, I am not frustrated. ;-)

    Maybe you have noticed: I don't need safety belts provided by peer-reviewed guru's. I follow my own path of logic. I follow my program.

    One of my paradoxical remarks is for example that Einstein equation is interpreted (also by himself) in the wrong sense, namely: according to general relativity, all forms of energy and matter produce gravitational effects, but my (top->downwards) analysis shows that gravity (as membrane) creates energy and matter. Einstein looked many years for a EM basis for Gravitation, but EM is just ONE of the results of the friction of oscillations between different spacetime layers (look to my animated Avatar).

    So it is obvious that when matter accelerates that it will influence (bend) spacetime. In another sense formulated: Matter resists acceleration because of the concentration of spacetime layers inside the interial frame. So the fundamental question: what is interial mass? is a perception problem. We seen that even this fundamental principle is not seen by talented ZFP guys like Haisch or Wesson.

    On superstringforum (now apparently a virus-infected website) I called that: Are boats provoking the sea-waves? http://www.superstringtheory.com/forum/dualboard/messages13/256.html .
    IMO this is not contradictory to E's equations or fundamental findings of science, just a correction in perception.

    So no frustration ... changes take time, but forums like PF and superstring are a great tool of communication to show and discuss other ways of interpretation. Questions of others also force one to express in a better way his thoughts.

    Ivan, this is why I will not start to debunk QM because it will take time from my own goals. ;-) . My astrology interventions on PF were just some side-remarks to show that 'reality' can be explained in several ways, and gravitational inter-connectivity or membrane causality is a key. I will not continue the Astrology thread, what I wanted to say/share is said.

    Side-remark: I also believe that my way of writing (English with Dutch structure) may make some of my thread difficult to understand. I also have tendency to concentrate a lot of information in one sentence (habbit of writing patents). ;-)

    Best regards,

  20. Sep 22, 2003 #19


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    Understood. As you can see from the other mentors' posts, there has been some uncertainty on how to fit this in. Good suggestions...let us think about it. We're open to suggestions.

    pelastration - - Thanks for your previous response.
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2003
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