Monday, October 4, 2010

A message for those that debunk

I've never debunked anything in this blog. I'm not saying it will never happen, but it never has, and I'm not in a hurry to scratch that off of my to-do list.

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One thing that I do here is to give possible explanations for things that can balance out the seemingly impossible explanations given by others. Maybe your bigfoot is a man in a suit. Maybe your balls of light are computer generated. Maybe your out-of-body experience is a very interesting kind of dream. If I have to believe it, then I'll believe it. If I don't have to, however, then I'm not going to make that leap.

Unfortunately, if you were to take one of these posts, add a bit of name-calling, and then type "Case closed" at the end, you'll have something that looks like what you might expect from many of today's professional skeptics.

A few examples:

"For those who may need further evidence for my contention, the proof can be found at -- where it is clearly seen that the “facilitator” is looking directly at the keyboard, while the subject is asleep!" (link)
-James Randi

"She also owns the copyright to Ramtha and conducts sessions in which she pretends to go into a trance and speaks Hollywood’s version of Elizabethan English in a guttural, husky voice." (link)

"I kid you not; for some reason the best way to deliver this wonder drug is through the well-established time-honored drug delivery system that is the soles of our feet. This is so ridiculous I don’t even know where to begin." (link)
-Bart Farkas

My fellow skeptics may not see any real problems with the preceding excerpts, but a fan of any of these stories may find one or more of those statements offensive.  And I think this is the gulf that should be bridged.  Are we just entertaining other skeptics?  Or are we writing to educate those that will listen?  Who is your target audience?  Who comments in your blog?  Where does your traffic come from?

When you start with the assumption that a belief is silly, and then go from there, you've already lost your most important audience.  Talking to those you disagree with, rather than joking with those who are on your side, takes awareness, and it's something that I'm still trying my best to master.

I don't think mermaids are real, but if my only piece of evidence is the word Duh, then I might as well not be talking.  Because until you stop debunking, and stop finding different ways to write Case closed, then you'll always be seen as just another asshole skeptic.

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