Skeptics have already made their minds up about UAPs

Discussion in 'Conspiracies' started by Yazata, Sep 1, 2023.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Mostly he debunks claims that UFOs are alien spaceships, by showing that they are, in fact, regular commercial aircraft, camera artifacts, weather balloons, or other "mundane" things.

    Why do you think that "debunking" (literally removing the bunk from things) is a bad thing?
    This is a good thing. As you say, it is standard practice in science. There's no point publishing your next great scientific theory if you haven't first bothered to imagine any of the ways it might be wrong. Because, if you don't do it, somebody else will, in science, and then you risk looking like a bit of a naive fool if you've overlooked a simple test you could have done or a simple observation you could have made.
    I would use the word "uncertain". Part of any good scientific study is trying to quantify the uncertainty. If you set out to measure the speed of light, it is important to know whether you're able to get the right answer to within 1 metre per second, or only to within 100,000 metres per second. Either way, if your particular experiment differs from the average results of thousands of other experiments (within the bounds of your uncertainty and theirs), then the chances are very high that there's something wrong with your experiment.
    Yes. The great thing about science, though, is that it has built-in mechanisms to filter out those personal biases and preferences over time. In contrast, the UFO believer community seems to have no such process, or even a desire to avoid confirmation bias.
    As Magical Realist pointed out, the idea that aliens are visiting earth is very welcome, among a certain crowd of people. Some people manage to make a living from the active promotion of alien nonsense.
    That's because they don't know much about how amazing reality really is. They prefer simple, comforting myths to complex, uncertain answers and to real mysteries.
    Who are these "adherents of scientism" you refer to, exactly? I challenge you to find anyone who has stated publically that he or she believe he or she, personally, has all of reality nicely categorised in little boxes. That's equivalent to a claim to knowing everything. I think that, among the sane, you will find no examples of people who claim to know everything.
    I think you will find that many atheists disbelieve in alien visitation for the same kinds of reasons they disbelieve in God - the main one being a lack of convincing evidence for the existence of any such thing. That has very little to do with any inherent lack of longing for transcendence, or whatever.
    Why are you so keen to concentrate on the motives of the people making the arguments on both sides, rather than on the arguments themselves?

    Here's what I think: I think that you know that the evidence for alien visitation is extraordinarily weak, but you still feel a kinship with UFO believers for some reason. Perhaps you feel that they are an unjustly persecuted minority. Perhaps you feel they are fundamentally fragile people who need your protection from the bullying "scientism" people. Then, since you know that you can't mount a good argument for belief in aliens, you try to defend the UFO believers by making ad hominem attacks on the skeptics, in the false belief that if you can show that they have bad motives or that they have goals or biases, they must be wrong, by default.

    That, of course, is a completely fallacious line of argument. As a self-styled philosopher and "philosophical skeptic", you must know that.
    No skeptic claims to know, beyond doubt. That straw man is part of your Big Lie. You know this, too. And yet, here you are, still pushing that line. Why?
    foghorn and exchemist like this.
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  3. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    I very much agree that people with an agenda of debunking perform a valuable function in science. The process of challenge to hypotheses by sceptics is a longstanding tradition and very useful in weeding out faulty ideas. As ever, the burden falls on those putting forward novel hypotheses to justify them. Ockham's Razor rules.

    Yazata seems to see "scientism" under the bed, when all this is is the usual stance of scepticism. In the early days of science, "scepticism" was a valued hallmark of the scientist. It should be still.
    foghorn likes this.
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  5. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Fun fact - Houdini was one of the first debunkers. He regulary proved mediums and seance-providers to be frauds.
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  7. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    Quick reply for now, that I’m not ignoring you. I’ve been busy these days with a hobby becoming more, but I’ll reply in greater detail, when I have the time.

    I do read your responses, fwiw, even if I don’t reply straight away, so thank you for following up and your thoughtful insights to my comments.

    I’ll answer though your question (paraphrasing) “what’s wrong with West debunking, taking the “bunk” out?” West seems to think that UAP enthusiasts are conspiracy theorists, so he’s a little biased before the debunking even begins. If he wasn’t biased, if his site wasn’t designed to poke fun at UAP enthusiasts, then I wouldn’t feel that he had an “agenda,” beyond that of wanting to encourage people to think critically about UFO’s. I feel that when you come to the table with your mind made up, your “debunking strategy” will be carved around that bias.

    I don’t think West’s insights are bunk (see what I did there?), it’s his opinion of UAP enthusiasts (as mainly conspiracy theorists) that turn me off to him. The reality is, West is only offering opinions, and we should be careful to not misconstrue his negative opinions of UAP “believers” for science.

    If he could approach the topic without that negative bias, I wouldn’t think he has an agenda - that being to get other people to look at the MR’s of the world as conspiracy theorists, which deter “skeptics” from genuine debate with them. If he’s interested in leading with science, he doesn’t need his bias as a crutch.

    I’ll respond to the rest later.

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  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Hi wegs.

    Thanks for your reply. Don't feel pressured to reply rapidly. I know what it is like to have limited time due to other commitments.
    Actually, studies have been done on this sort of thing.

    While the usual disclaimer about "not all UAP enthusiasts..." applies here, it is a fact that many UAP enthusiast also tend to believe in lots of other things for which there is very little persuasive evidence. One of those things is conspiracy theories about Men in Black and secret groups that work within the government (or above it) to suppress knowledge about captured alien craft, collected alien bodies, and captured alien technology.

    Studies, often based on self-identified voluntary surveys, show that UAP enthusiasts are more likely than the average person to believe in one or more conspiracy theories. Moreover, anybody who says they believe in one conspiracy theory (alien coverup, 9/11 inside job, faked moon landing etc. etc.) is far more likely than average to believe in one or more other conspiracy theories.

    On top of that, a person's belief in alien visitation also raises the likelihood that the person will also believe in other forms of pseudoscience (e.g. pyramid power, the Bermuda triangle, ancient astronauts, ESP) or "paranormal" phenomena (e.g. ghosts, spirits, poltergeists, psychokinesis).

    The upshot of this is that if you meet somebody who is a UAP enthusiast (the kind that believes the aliens are here), then you'll be making a reasonably safe bet that that person will also believe in one or more conspiracy theories and have some other pseudoscientific and/or mystical ideas. There are exceptions, of course, but this is the pattern. It is interesting to think about why these kinds of beliefs are correlated, but that's another topic.
    You have to appreciate that the vast seas of misinformation, false claims and shoddy thinking that skeptics are constantly surrounded by can, over time, lead some skeptics to become a little cynical about the latest thinly-supported fad claim that comes to their attention. One way to cope with the constant barrage of nonsense is to maintain one's sense of humour. Poking fun at obvious absurdities, and sometimes at people who make appalling bad arguments in support of beliefs, is one way to blow off a little steam. It's not healthy to take pseudoscience too seriously; much better to view it with an ironically raised eyebrow and have a bit of a laugh that people can continue to believe that stuff, despite their having the best-ever access to reliable and expert information about such things.

    I have spent very little time looking at West's web site, but my guess would be that it was not "designed to poke fun at UAP enthusiasts". I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of that goes on there, though. Some things UAP enthusiasts assert are so ridiculous that laughter is the best response.
    Everybody has their biases and prior opinions; those are unavoidable. But coming to the table with a bias (which you must admit that both UAP enthusiasts and skeptics do) is very different to coming with your mind made up. In fact, I'd say that the most important difference between skeptics and UAP believers is that the skeptics are willing to change their minds in light of new evidence, whereas UAP believers very seldom are. In the case of the UAP believers, that stubbornness often extends as far as them actively denying the existence of reliable facts put in front of them.
    You know there are plenty of other skeptics out there, apart from West, right?

    If, for whatever reason, you don't like West's style of presentation or you find him personally grating, why not look at what some other skeptics have to say, instead? He's just one guy, at the end of the day. The skeptical movement doesn't have Grand Leaders or Gurus to whom all other skeptics must defer. Rather, skeptics' reputations tend to be built around their record of being right about stuff, and on how clearly they communicate.
    I take your point and I agree, for the most part. However, I think it is important to note that not all opinions are created equal. Opinions backed by solid evidence, analysis and expertise are generally more valuable than opinions that are unevidenced, lack any analysis and are uninformed.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2023
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Far from offering mere opinions, West has gone to the trouble of analysing a number of these reports in detail and providing concrete evidence that the reporters have in at least some cases misinterpreted what they thought they saw.

    It's true he has an agenda, which he does not hide, of debunking extravagant explanations for UAPs. However, as already pointed out on this thread, in science that is an asset. Additional hypotheses (e.g ones proposing alien or secret government technology) need to be challenged, to ensure they are soundly based, before they are accepted: entia non sunt multiplicanda sine necessitate.

    If people don't like what he says, they need to show that his analysis is faulty, case by case.

    But instead, all we get are attacks on his motives. That shows the weakness of the case of his opponents.
    cluelusshusbund, James R and foghorn like this.
  10. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    How is it scientific to have an agenda for falsifying everything that opposes your own beliefs? It's obvious that West has a preexisting belief that uaps are not a mysterious phenomenon in themselves, that they are really just mundane and ordinary things and events mistaken for something else. Hence every uap he examines is already concluded to not be a new and unknown phenomenon in itself. How is such a bias helpful for doing real science? Shouldn't science make no assumptions about uaps and what they are in order to let the evidence speak for itself? I see the AARO's report on metallic spheres as more objective and unbiased than anything West says. Skeptical debunkery isn't scientific. It is at most a defensive ideology and is motivated by the biasing assumption that every unknown uap can be explained away as something mundane with enough effort. Hence it dogmatically closes itself off from ever discovering something new and unprecedented, which good science should always remain open to.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2023 at 8:26 PM
  11. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    My dude.

    1. Any amount of skepticism, when confronted with sufficiently irrefutable evidence - simply vanishes. It's really as simple as that.

    2. West and like-minded skeptics aren't interested in what's possible. (Yes, there could be unicorns on Proxima Centauri b.) They're interested in getting to the bottom of what is.

    3. West (or anybody else) being skeptical hasn't stopped anyone from doing all the science they want to get to the bottom of the mystery. All he is really doing is providing a sanity check.

    Your objections to West hold no water.

    The essence of science is: show us some evidence that requires a different theory and we'll get to work on a different model. Without that foundation, we'd still be believing in God makes hte planets spin. (After all, God is possible, right?)

    Truth does not shy from criticism; it welcomes it with open arms. It is lies that shy from criticism.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2023 at 8:41 PM
  12. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    The goal of skeptics is to create doubt in any way possible, and if they can suggest possible explanations without really arriving at what the uap actually is they are happy. The uap becomes a placeholder for some hypothetical mundane possibility we have not yet encountered, and hence the permanent deferral of it being a non-mundane phenomenon that would change the way we view the world. It is telling how skeptics justify this conclusion: "well what is more likely, a mundane phenomenon or a non-mundane phenomenon?" All things being equal the mundane phenomenon. But the encounter with a uap isn't equal. It is an extraordinary event in itself like winning the lottery. Highly unlikely, yet happening nonetheless.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2023 at 6:12 PM
  13. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Huh. When did you become telepathic?

    It's funny, you're taking Yazata's Big Lie to a whole new level.
    You purport to know the operation of other peoples' minds - what their goals are and what makes them happy.
  14. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    "In psychology, theory of mind refers to the capacity to understand other people by ascribing mental states to them. A theory of mind includes the knowledge that others' beliefs, desires, intentions, emotions, and thoughts may be different from one's own.[1] Possessing a functional theory of mind is considered crucial for success in everyday human social interactions. People utilise a theory of mind when analyzing, judging, and inferring others' behaviors. The discovery and development of theory of mind primarily came from studies done with animals and infants.[2] Factors including drug and alcohol consumption, language development, cognitive delays, age, and culture can affect a person's capacity to display theory of mind. Having a theory of mind is similar to but not identical with having the capacity for empathy[3] or sympathy."---
  15. Pinball1970 Registered Senior Member

    Wrong. I am skeptical of a lot of things because of the supporting evidence being flimsy or inconclusive.
    NASA are sifting through the evidence to see which data may have legs.
  16. foghorn Valued Senior Member

    Skeptics have the open mind, unlike you MR with your ufos "ARE" craft.
    Remember the caps you use to emphasize your meaning of ufo? "ARE"
    BTW your current meaning of uap, is it the same as your meaning for ufo?
  17. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    You pretend you know what the goals are of other people (a whole group of people, whom you have never met), and you claim you know when they are happy.
    That requires knowing the operation of their minds. Again - minds you have never met.

    OK, I pretend to know that UFO believers secretly desire to eat kittens. They will only happy when they can eat kittens. That is the mental state I ascribe to all UFO enthusiasts ever, for all time - even the ones I've never met.

    That's not ridiculous at all.
    Pinball1970 likes this.
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

    People who question him are doubting his religion, and he responds angrily.

    This stopped being a rational discussion many posts ago. Now it's MR defending his religion, and you won't get any rational answers out of someone with a religious motive.
    Pinball1970 and foghorn like this.
  19. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    Of course.
    I long ago stopped trying to educate MR. But he's not the only reader of this thread. He's an excellent Devil's Advocate - a cautionary tale for other budding UFO enthusiasts.
  20. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

    I’m not saying that I don’t believe West puts forth good arguments or that he hasn’t taken the time to assess the various UAP claims, but he hasn’t debunked anything. “It could be ___” is just offering food for thought, which many of us could do as skeptics.

    Maybe many people dislike West because he bases his opinions on software and homespun experiments, discounting trained, seasoned pilots, as with the tic tac flying object video, for example. I think he attracts mainly people who dislike the UAP crowd, claiming they’re conspiracy theorists and anti-science.

    I don’t dislike West’s website or his desire to want to uphold the integrity of science, and get everyday people to embrace critical thinking. That’s a good thing. But, why should we believe him over the US government, for example? Has the government failed in its analysis and consistently mistaken drones and balloons for UFO’s?

    I guess what is problematic for me, is when someone comes on the scene with vehement criticism about UAP enthusiasts, when there have been incredible developments over the years, for one example, in how NASA is approaching the subject of UAP’s.

    I happen to be a skeptic as I’ve noted throughout the thread, but I can be a skeptic and not care for West’s approach.
    Magical Realist likes this.
  21. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    I have no idea what my religion is, if there is one at all. But uaps have little to with it I'm pretty sure. To me that we are from time to time encountering some sort of transhuman intelligence in the form of uaps does not comfort me or give me spiritual solace. It has no bearing on my moral behavior and doesn't guarantee immortality. It's just one among many amazing facts of this surprising universe we find ourselves in.
  22. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    That's OK, we do.

    There is nothing that points to transhuman intelligence. That is wild speculation and wishful thinking.

    It absolutely does. I causes you to lie chronically to protect your beliefs. This is matter of record.

    There are no facts about transhuman intelligence. That is wild speculation and wishful thinking.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2023 at 11:01 PM
    billvon likes this.
  23. gmilam Valued Senior Member

    Replace UAP with demons... How religious does it sound now? Oh wait, you probably believe in those too.

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