Can we rely on debunkers?

nsurround

New Member
Since the art of debunking various phenomena is like figuring out how Houdini really pulled off a trick there is a belief system built in to the debunkers methodology that all things can naturally be explained. Just as there is a belief system built into some conspire types. However I have noticed that the things that are debunked are generally ones that have a relatively easy explanation that also reinforces the debunkers belief system. Ones that take a lot of thorough investigation and analysis may either have an absurd explanation or left alone entirely. The fact is there is so much dis-information going on whether conspired or not that the difficult cases generally are not solved by rational explanations to anyone's satisfaction. For instance I have heard quite silly explanations for the Rendlesham forest incident that try and deflect from the actual evidence and observations at hand. I defy anyone here on this forum to debunk this case and make a rational explanation based on the evidence that is available. Things that are known can be debunked but things that are truly unknown generally not. There is a lot of unknown out there. Who can you really rely on?
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
Since the art of debunking various phenomena is like figuring out how Houdini really pulled off a trick there is a belief system built in to the debunkers methodology that all things can naturally be explained. Just as there is a belief system built into some conspire types. However I have noticed that the things that are debunked are generally ones that have a relatively easy explanation that also reinforces the debunkers belief system. Ones that take a lot of thorough investigation and analysis may either have an absurd explanation or left alone entirely. The fact is there is so much dis-information going on whether conspired or not that the difficult cases generally are not solved by rational explanations to anyone's satisfaction. For instance I have heard quite silly explanations for the Rendlesham forest incident that try and deflect from the actual evidence and observations at hand. I defy anyone here on this forum to debunk this case and make a rational explanation based on the evidence that is available. Things that are known can be debunked but things that are truly unknown generally not. There is a lot of unknown out there. Who can you really rely on?
I think you're looking at this quite differently than I would.

For me, debunking doesn't require 'belief' in any way.

My view is more along the lines of: "This person is making a remarkable claim...
(often requiring one to believe a supernatural, extraterrestrial or massive conspiracy explanation)
is there any good reason to accept it?"

As for the "Rendlesham Forest incident," I must admit that--like most Americans--I know little about it.
But, given the fact that it's often called "Britain's Roswell..." I can't say that I'm real motivated to study up,
since I've never seen much reason to believe that America's Roswell was anything remarkable.
 

Pete Tar

Senior Member.
A debunker corrects what can be corrected, no-one is trying to be the master explainer of all phenomena.
(Only of all provably misunderstood or misrepresented phenomena.)

If there is an aspect of the Rendlesham Forest Incident that can be shown to be in error then it can be corrected, but not everything about the incident may be of this nature.
Debunkers may have opinions about what is most likely in these cases, but that is not to be confused with actual debunking, it's more just general skepticism and application of principles like Occam's razor, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, people's senses and memories fool them, much simpler and more mundane possible explanations, etc.
 

Gundersen

Senior Member.
Since the art of debunking various phenomena is like figuring out how Houdini really pulled off a trick there is a belief system built in to the debunkers methodology that all things can naturally be explained. ... However I have noticed that the things that are debunked are generally ones that have a relatively easy explanation that also reinforces the debunkers belief system.

Yes, you are correct. There are a belief system in us debunkers. I think, sorry for generalizing, debunkers in general are prone to be scientific evidence-based types who does not believe in anything unless there is hard evidence supporting the claim.

But even in science there is "belief". The following is three basic assumptions of science:
  1. There are natural causes for things that happen in the world around us.
  2. Evidence from the natural world can be used to learn about those causes.
  3. There is consistency in the causes that operate in the natural world.
Source: http://undsci.berkeley.edu/article/basic_assumptions

Contrary to what many people think, those three rules can't be proven, but they are the basis of all scientific studies. For example, rule 1 can't be proven unless EVERYTHING is examined and proven, which practically is impossible to do. The same goes for rule 3, which I find to be the most important rule. It basically states that if I test the effect of gravity on 100 identical balls, it will get the same result with ball no. 101. This is again something which can't be proven, unless I measure something on all items which exists. This is important, since science would be impossible without the uniformity of nature. If I say that bulls do not have gold in their horns, I don't have to prove that by cutting off the horn of every single bull in the world to check. I simply take an appropriate sample of horns and check.

To people who "believe" in science, this is logical. To people who don't, they can question those assumptions, and we can't do much to prove them wrong.

So, if what the above is what you refer to as our belief system, yes. I believe in that. That is my religion!

Edit: I like below wording better, including limitations of the scientific assumptions:
Source: http://www.indiana.edu/~ensiweb/NOS Over.BasicAssump.html
 
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MikeC

Closed Account
For instance I have heard quite silly explanations for the Rendlesham forest incident that try and deflect from the actual evidence and observations at hand. I defy anyone here on this forum to debunk this case and make a rational explanation based on the evidence that is available. Things that are known can be debunked but things that are truly unknown generally not. There is a lot of unknown out there. Who can you really rely on?

You are perfectly free to say "we don't know..." about things we don't know about.

Much of the bunk around is people trying to say we DO know about things that are actually not known!!
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
For instance I have heard quite silly explanations for the Rendlesham forest incident that try and deflect from the actual evidence and observations at hand. I defy anyone here on this forum to debunk this case and make a rational explanation based on the evidence that is available. Things that are known can be debunked but things that are truly unknown generally not. There is a lot of unknown out there. Who can you really rely on?

You are quite welcome to start a thread about this incident. I have actually studied this one in some detail, and I think it's pretty clear that the cause was a combination of unrelated and rather ordinary factors, chief among which was a lighthouse. (The key witnesses in their INITIAL statements stated that they realised they had been following the lighthouse beacon out across the fields for some time. Of course, that gets hidden from the later mythology.)

Do I know that this is the case? Absolutely not. But the evidence and probability greatly point to the simple explanation. The later wacky developments (eg the "binary code downloads") are such obvious bunk that they strongly sway me towards "initial error, added to by later deliberate hoax".
 

Hevach

Senior Member.
There's a reason why we have a "show your work" rule. Admittedly the site can get kind of lazy about that, but dealing with many claims it's the same work over and over and we're just putting the kettle on the floor.

(If that doesn't make sense, read the joke here about the mathematician boiling water).
 

Gundersen

Senior Member.
There's a reason why we have a "show your work" rule. Admittedly the site can get kind of lazy about that, but dealing with many claims it's the same work over and over and we're just putting the kettle on the floor.

(If that doesn't make sense, read the joke here about the mathematician boiling water).
I like that!
 

jaydeehess

Senior Member.
Debunking follows known science and tech, known value of various forms of evidence, ie. that eyewitness statements are not particularly reliable and that documentary and physical evidence that contradicts eyewitness statements is to be considered of greater veracity.
 

JRBids

Senior Member.
Since the art of debunking various phenomena is like figuring out how Houdini really pulled off a trick there is a belief system built in to the debunkers methodology that all things can naturally be explained. Just as there is a belief system built into some conspire types. However I have noticed that the things that are debunked are generally ones that have a relatively easy explanation that also reinforces the debunkers belief system. Ones that take a lot of thorough investigation and analysis may either have an absurd explanation or left alone entirely. The fact is there is so much dis-information going on whether conspired or not that the difficult cases generally are not solved by rational explanations to anyone's satisfaction. For instance I have heard quite silly explanations for the Rendlesham forest incident that try and deflect from the actual evidence and observations at hand. I defy anyone here on this forum to debunk this case and make a rational explanation based on the evidence that is available. Things that are known can be debunked but things that are truly unknown generally not. There is a lot of unknown out there. Who can you really rely on?


Can you give a few examples of bunk that is easily explained?
 

Efftup

Senior Member.
Some people do seem to spend a lot of time debunking and there is certainly a mindset that can set in.
Other people debunk things because they have a huge amount of expertise in a particular area.

Take 9/11 theories for example. A demolition engineer might debunk CD as a mechanism for many reasons, but if then asked, whatabout the stand down order? what about space based energy weapons? what about etc etc, he might say "I have absolutely no idea but I can tell you straight it wasn't thermite or standard controlled demolition because........"
They would still be a debunker, but not have the "debunker mindset".

Plus the art of debunking is to remove bunk.

Someone who sets up as a debunker is looking at evidence critically and will accept an expert opinion. Even though the temptation is there, i don't think the debunker is as prediposed to confirmation bias as the CT because they have less invested in the "official story" than the CT does in the conspiracy.

I also think debunkers are more ready to admit when they are wrong or missed something.
The advantage of a forum like Metabunk is that we are free to discuss ideas. We can disagree about things and talk them through. there is no pressure to conform to a particular world view or belief. A dissenting view will not be silenced or banned. There are many CT sites that dislike any possible criticism of the arguments they put forward, and like to immediately dismiss any opposing view as a "shill". Even people who were once part of the movement are ostracized if they change their mind, like a person leaving a religious cult.

This site at least is much more scientific. If you disagree with someone's point then refute it, but come with something to back it up. Nobody is trying to force you to believe in something, you are free to make your own mind up on it.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
You are quite welcome to start a thread about this incident. I have actually studied this one in some detail, and I think it's pretty clear that the cause was a combination of unrelated and rather ordinary factors, chief among which was a lighthouse. (The key witnesses in their INITIAL statements stated that they realised they had been following the lighthouse beacon out across the fields for some time. Of course, that gets hidden from the later mythology.)

Do I know that this is the case? Absolutely not. But the evidence and probability greatly point to the simple explanation. The later wacky developments (eg the "binary code downloads") are such obvious bunk that they strongly sway me towards "initial error, added to by later deliberate hoax".

Linda Moulton Howe has some interesting interviews and talks on that incident. Check Youtube. Either explanations got WAAY exaggerated later or their seems to have been a lot more to it than a lighthouse.
 

vooke

Active Member
There is nothing like objectivity even among debunkers. There is an unspoken 'consensus building' and not 'towing the line' is not as tolerated.
@NewAmericanCenturySucks is one guy who raised pertinent questions over MH370 official narrative and was almost hounded out of this place
 

Gundersen

Senior Member.
There is nothing like objectivity even among debunkers. There is an unspoken 'consensus building' and not 'towing the line' is not as tolerated.
@NewAmericanCenturySucks is one guy who raised pertinent questions over MH370 official narrative and was almost hounded out of this place
I just skimmed through the posts regarding MH370, NACS and Mick clearly disagreed, but in what way was he "hounded" out of the place? Seems like a relatively objective debate going on between those two.

Many forums have some kind of consensus building, yes. But I have actually not experienced that here. Feels like people are open towards new ideas, but they will however ask critical questions and demand proof.
 

Efftup

Senior Member.
Consensus is usually built when people are genuinely trying to find the truth. It;s the scientific way.

If I say water boils at precisely 100C, then I will invite everyone else to prove me wrong.
When people come up with some different results we probe and find out why.
Eventually we realise pressure has an effect on what temperature boils at.
The consensus is eventually built where we can draw a graph of pressure/boiling point.

Nobody gets hounded out of this place. Some people just come in here with a big head and a certainty that they know what is right. They then don't like being disagreed with or asked for proof so they make a flame post and leave.
 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Linda Moulton Howe has some interesting interviews and talks on that incident. Check Youtube. Either explanations got WAAY exaggerated later or their seems to have been a lot more to it than a lighthouse.
Without wanting to hijack this thread, I believe it is very much the former. LMH is not what I would call an unbiased investigator, especially when it comes to UFO/alien topics.
 

Gundersen

Senior Member.
Consensus is usually built when people are genuinely trying to find the truth. It;s the scientific way.
Yes, that is how it should be working. Unfortunately, science is not always that open-minded. This is OP, and should not be a long discussion, but in science there is something called paradigms. Within science, there is a tendency to work towards a common goal. This is subconscious. This means that there are some generally excepted theories, and if less known scientists contradict that, they will often see it as an error and try to locate the error. Big things only changes after a LONG time, when a paradigm shifts.

A good example is global warming. Yes, this is more or less a scientific fact now, but in the beginning a lot of scientists trying to prove that it wasn't man-made were not published and was disregarded.
 

NoParty

Senior Member.
I still don't even understand the title of this thread:

"Can we rely on debunkers?"

Obviously most here believe that debunking is worthwhile and important...
that's why they've bookmarked this site and give it some of their free time.

On the other hand, if the title is meant to imply individuals having some
sort of blind faith that one or more debunkers is automatically correct,
that seems to be almost the opposite of the mindset I think most here would have.
 

jaydeehess

Senior Member.
I still don't even understand the title of this thread:

"Can we rely on debunkers?"

Obviously most here believe that debunking is worthwhile and important...
that's why they've bookmarked this site and give it some of their free time.

On the other hand, if the title is meant to imply individuals having some
sort of blind faith that one or more debunkers is automatically correct,
that seems to be almost the opposite of the mindset I think most here would have.
Debunkers, in my experience , are more apt to check original sources of information. For instance if an anti-vaxer claims the CDC said something about a specific vaccine, the debunker will want to view the original text of the statement from the CDC and not simply take the word of the claimant. Debunkers are more apt to do this type of checking whether a claim is made by a person making an extraordinary claim or a debunker.

Debunkers don't automatically rely on each other the way that conspiracy theorists seem to. The OP asks if debunkers should be relied on (to have stated true fact and reasoning) and the answer is no. The expertise, education,of the debunker and especially the source and veracity of their statements need to be considered.
For instance, claim made that an aircraft is to be flutter free at Vd​+15% needs to be backed up by quoting the relevant FAA regs and it was. The counter (original) claim, that an aircraft will break up quickly after passing Vd​ was bolstered by the claimant, by quoting journalistic articles. The veracity of the articles is thus shown to be in error by the actual regulations in effect.
THAT'S debunking.
 

Jason

Senior Member
Debunkers, in my experience , are more apt to check original sources of information. For instance if an anti-vaxer claims the CDC said something about a specific vaccine, the debunker will want to view the original text of the statement from the CDC and not simply take the word of the claimant. Debunkers are more apt to do this type of checking whether a claim is made by a person making an extraordinary claim or a debunker.

Debunkers don't automatically rely on each other the way that conspiracy theorists seem to. The OP asks if debunkers should be relied on (to have stated true fact and reasoning) and the answer is no. The expertise, education,of the debunker and especially the source and veracity of their statements need to be considered.
For instance, claim made that an aircraft is to be flutter free at Vd​+15% needs to be backed up by quoting the relevant FAA regs and it was. The counter (original) claim, that an aircraft will break up quickly after passing Vd​ was bolstered by the claimant, by quoting journalistic articles. The veracity of the articles is thus shown to be in error by the actual regulations in effect.
THAT'S debunking.
Brilliant, nailed it... All I would add to this is debunkers also know how to ask the right questions and are willing to learn from their mistakes and correct them as well. They tend to let the evidence speak for itself.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Brilliant, nailed it... All I would add to this is debunkers also know how to ask the right questions and are willing to learn from their mistakes and correct them as well. They tend to let the evidence speak for itself.
well, debunkers HERE tend to do that. But I've seen other 'debunkers' .. well, bottom line, Mick said it best. "Look it up".

The whole point of debunking is to teach NOT to just trust everything at face value.
 

jaydeehess

Senior Member.
well, debunkers HERE tend to do that. But I've seen other 'debunkers' .. well, bottom line, Mick said it best. "Look it up".

The whole point of debunking is to teach NOT to just trust everything at face value.
Yes, which is the reason why I said reliable debunking includes references and science that can be tested for veracity.

In some cases though an extraordinary claim is made for which a much better, less complicated explanation suffices. For instance I am told that WTC7 suffered an explosion ( actually supposedly two) before either of the twin towers collapsed. This because of the timeline of a witness inside #7 and despite there being no other witness or documentary or physical evidence to bolster the claim. A more parsimonious explanation is that this witness's timeline is wrong and his characterization of his experience is better explained by his being near the area badly damaged when WTC1 collapsed.
 

vooke

Active Member
In short, 'debunkers' or at least ALL I have met here are equally biased consciously or not. And nobody walks around with a 'SUBJECTIVE' collar around their neck. just because somebody claims to be following the 'scientific' process, is rational, flexible and all don't mean they they are free of bias.



I just skimmed through the posts regarding MH370, NACS and Mick clearly disagreed, but in what way was he "hounded" out of the place? Seems like a relatively objective debate going on between those two.

Many forums have some kind of consensus building, yes. But I have actually not experienced that here. Feels like people are open towards new ideas, but they will however ask critical questions and demand proof.
 

Gundersen

Senior Member.
In short, 'debunkers' or at least ALL I have met here are equally biased consciously or not. And nobody walks around with a 'SUBJECTIVE' collar around their neck. just because somebody claims to be following the 'scientific' process, is rational, flexible and all don't mean they they are free of bias.
I do agree that nobody can be truly objective. It's human nature to sometimes adapt what we see to what we believe, even though we should be adapting what we believe to what we see.

With that said, I do believe that a scientific evidence-based approach (like the majority of the contributors on Metabunk rely on) at least limits the impact of subjectivity.

There is bias, yes. Bias is the idea of having made up our mind before studying evidence. This should be limited. But, to be fair, bias is often based on previous experience. If there has been presented 10 claims of "smoking gun" evidence from, let's say, look-at-the-sky-up-there.org.uk, which all has been debunked and categorized as misunderstandings and even sometimes intentional misleading fraud, you can't expect people not to be biased towards claim no 11.
 

JFDee

Senior Member.
just because somebody claims to be following the 'scientific' process, is rational, flexible and all don't mean they they are free of bias.
That may well be true, however the scientific process itself dictates that if opinion (or expectation, or hypothesis) does not hold in the light of evidence, it must be changed.

The research mechanism in natural sciences is designed to overcome bias and subjectivity. Of course, debunkers are in no way exempt.

However, with conspiracy theories there is quite often the element of plausibility involved. That's where the notorious "Occam's Razor" comes into play. It says that of multiple explanations for any phenomenon, the one with the lowest number of necessary assumptions is to be preferred.

Conspiracy theorists often take a lot of assumptions for granted that skeptics want to see evidence for.
This may feel like bias from the conspiracy viewpoint but isn't really.
 

Gundersen

Senior Member.
The research mechanism in natural sciences is designed to overcome bias and subjectivity.

No, it is designed to limit bias and subjectivity, it can't be overcome in humans, only in machines or computers. Yes, strictly speaking, science should be completely objective and unbiased, but it is still humans who hatch the abstract in their minds, plans the study, chooses the scientific methods, interprets the data and writes the conclusion. Not to mention the economic aspect of science. Even the famous "Occam's Razor" (which i personally love myself, hint, see my signature), is very subjective in nature.

As I wrote earlier, I see myself as a sciency type of guy. But it is important even for sciency types to acknowledge the human aspect of science.
 

JFDee

Senior Member.
No, it is designed to limit bias and subjectivity
I was not referring to the individual researcher. I mean the process of peer review and the condition of repeatability by fellow (or rather competing) specialists.

Humans will stay fallible and more or less biased, but the knowledge created - and probably built upon many times - is not bound to individuals and their subjectivity.
 

Gundersen

Senior Member.
I was not referring to the individual researcher. I mean the process of peer review and the condition of repeatability by fellow (or rather competing) specialists.
I think we are agreeing here. People can't be trusted to be objective, even scientist. But true, peer-reviewed, duplicatable scientific results can.
 

Jason

Senior Member
I think we are agreeing here. People can't be trusted to be objective, even scientist. But true, peer-reviewed, duplicatable scientific results can.
Honestly, I think scientist who are searching for the truth can be objective and trusted. Most scientist in the world that deal with developing theories in the world of physics actually go about their day looking to prove themselves wrong. Hell scientist over the decades have even been trying to disprove Einsteins and Newtons theories. The objective of good science is to find the truth in what's wrong or why something didn't work out the way they expected. Most discoveries come from mistakes made or errors.
 
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Gundersen

Senior Member.
Honestly, I think scientist who are searching for the truth can be objective and trusted.
Again, I agree. And just for the record, I'm not opposing science or scientist in any way.

Just remember that even PhD's are human, and there are more than a few examples of researchers doing fraud to excell themself. All I am asking is to be critical towards new claims, even when they come from a respectable person. And not everybody claiming to be using scientific methods create objective results.
 

Jason

Senior Member
Again, I agree. And just for the record, I'm not opposing science or scientist in any way.

Just remember that even PhD's are human, and there are more than a few examples of researchers doing fraud to excell themself. All I am asking is to be critical towards new claims, even when they come from a respectable person. And not everybody claiming to be using scientific methods create objective results.
Agreed, humanity as a whole is flawed and we're often judged on the small percentage of (****) ups and misguided individuals in society.
 

Minimalists 56

New Member
Since the art of debunking various phenomena is like figuring out how Houdini really pulled off a trick there is a belief system built in to the debunkers methodology that all things can naturally be explained. Just as there is a belief system built into some conspire types. However I have noticed that the things that are debunked are generally ones that have a relatively easy explanation that also reinforces the debunkers belief system. Ones that take a lot of thorough investigation and analysis may either have an absurd explanation or left alone entirely. The fact is there is so much dis-information going on whether conspired or not that the difficult cases generally are not solved by rational explanations to anyone's satisfaction. For instance I have heard quite silly explanations for the Rendlesham forest incident that try and deflect from the actual evidence and observations at hand. I defy anyone here on this forum to debunk this case and make a rational explanation based on the evidence that is available. Things that are known can be debunked but things that are truly unknown generally not. There is a lot of unknown out there. Who can you really rely on?

"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."

Which is a correct sentiment (and, BTW, originally attributed to and coined by Dr. Carl Sagan):

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Extraordinary_claims_require_extraordinary_evidence

 

Gundersen

Senior Member.
Most debunkers are not scientifically qualified to make these debunking claims and have to come onto a forum to do so .
Agreed, which is why debunkers should (and in the most cases do here on MetaBunk) provide links to documentation for their claims. If I for example say that contrails can form at a certain altitude, of course, don't take my word for it. But if I can provide scientific documentation, lets say, a link to a scientific report regarding conditions for contrail formation made by a respectable scientific source, my background is not important.
 

Minimalists 56

New Member
Most debunkers are not scientifically qualified to make these debunking claims and have to come onto a forum to do so .

And what exactly makes one qualified? Two million dollars and seven fancy degrees later? My point being that opinions are like ears everyone has them. Being qualified does not make anyone more right or wrong than some one who is not. I use to do a lot of debating on religious forums and that was one of the things that was always thrown in some ones face especially when they were losing the debate.
 

Hama Neggs

Senior Member.
Being qualified does not make anyone more right or wrong than some one who is not

What do you think the word "qualified" means, then? Can no one have any training which would equip them to know more than the anyone else on a given subject?

I use to do a lot of debating on religious forums and that was one of the things that was always thrown in some ones face especially when they were losing the debate.

Religious training is not the same thing as scientific training. Evidence about God is debatable, at best.
 

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