[Reconstructed after software failure]
Some years back, when I had way too much time on my hands, I was active on several newsgroups. Among these were three devoted to UFOs and paranormal activity. I had grown up in the UFO subculture, believed a lot of it (along with Bigfoot, Nessie, and much of Chariots of the Gods?), but with adulthood and the input of various sources I had found many logical difficulties with all of them. My presence on the newsgroups at that time was, as now, from a critical-thinking standpoint, and because I was exercising my photographic knowledge with evaluating the evidence photos.
With such subjects, there are two distinct sides, which I’ll just call Believers and Skeptics for now. These sides, while not necessarily distinct for everyone, nonetheless led to something akin to sports rivalry, and no small amount of pointless sniping back and forth.
Which leads to this. I wrote the list below in direct response to a similar post against skeptics. Yes, it’s intended to be an exceedingly broad generalization, and more than a little tongue-in-cheek. But it’s also wry commentary on the types of arguments that tend to come up in such discussions.
At the time, I wasn’t aware of the common logical fallacies and debating mistakes that have been outlined by numerous people; when I discovered them later, I was pleased to see that I had paraphrased some of them in several cases.
Note: This is a concept called “humor.” Please review your notes on this before commenting.
Belief in Aliens and the Paranormal 101
[First posted 9/27/02 to alt.ufo.reports, alt.alien.research, alt.paranet.ufo]
First off, it is not necessary to provide any guidelines for belief in aliens or the paranormal. A true believer will not be hampered by substantiation or a need to provide a basis for their belief, and in fact, will be oblivious to any actual reality.
However, should you be attempting to become a believer for the first time, these guidelines should be of some assistance.
1) Repetition is proof. If you say it enough times, it will become a fact. A subset of this is the multiple source provision, which states that if enough different sources repeat the same details, regardless of the original source of said details, then such details are factual.
2) If the source is unrevealed, especially if it is rumored to be a leak from a high-security source, then all information from the source is factual. Confirmation is completely unnecessary.
3) Denial is proof. If any governing or authoritative body declares a rumor to be false, this guarantees that it is instead true. All governing bodies, even those politically or diametrically opposed to each other, are engaged in conspiracy and coverups. However, the reverse is not the case – if by some chance a body confirms the existence of a suspected alien or paranormal activity, then they are unquestionably true.
4) Failure of ‘science’ to provide a confirmed, mundane cause to whatever phenomenon is in question, automatically allows whatever outlandish explanation that is then advanced to be proven factual by default. This is regardless of any supporting factors that would be needed, such as reversal of Newtonian Laws of physics.
Subset 4a) If a phenomenon is to be considered explained by mundane science, then every last niggling detail must be explained in detail and proven with reams of documentation. However, to establish a phenomenon as evidence of aliens or paranormal activity only requires any one of the following:
- A grainy out-of-focus photograph
- Any one eyewitness account, regardless
- A depression in the ground
- Someone else believing it too
- Drawings of things that cannot be verified
- Anything you want, really
5) When in need of supporting details or viewpoints, a website created by any individual is considered more than adequate. Web publication is edited for content, and no one is allowed to put up a site that contains non-factual information.
6) The various government and military organizations can effortlessly control the information that is allowed out to the public by taking no notice or actions whatsoever.
Subset 6a) Government and military organizations may attempt to silence an individual who is exposing their coverup, but cannot actually prevent said individual from doing so, or from announcing that the attempt is being made. They lack the means to effectively stop someone from blabbing.
Subset 6b) The NSA, Echelon, et al, can monitor and control Usenet posts, websites, et cetera, but cannot prevent the content from passing through six dozen servers and reaching the public anyway. Instead, they will hire people to call names and make faces at the believer in order to ‘discredit’ them. [Edit: This was in response to the prominent claim that skeptical participants in the newsgroup were government disinformation plants. No, seriously]
7) Any witness, regardless of supporting evidence, sobriety, intelligence, coherence, or the ability to tell a turkey from a pigeon, is ‘reputable’. However, if in doubt, there is a foolproof test for this, which consists of asking the witness if they are indeed reputable and, the tricky follow-up, if they are lying. Passing both questions is all that’s needed.
Subset 7a) A dirt farmer in the most socially, economically, and educationally depressed areas of the world can effortlessly determine things like surgical precision, speeds and dimensions of airborne objects, and so on. Note that “sitting in front of the TV downing a 12-pack of beer” is exactly the same as “observing the field carefully all night long, and nothing came near it”. In fact, these statements are interchangeable.
8) Knowledge of basic physics and/or properties of the material world (no, not Madonna’s, but close enough), is not only unnecessary, it is a hindrance.
9) Radar is a valid tool for proof, when it actually shows something other than known phenomena. When it does not, it simply becomes irrefutable evidence that the aliens have radar-proof technology. Really, you can have it both ways.
10) Aliens that can travel vast interstellar distances, defy inertia and thermodynamic constraints, avoid detection by any means known to Man, read thoughts, suppress memories, levitate cattle, and so on, will attempt to communicate with Man by stomping circles in wheat fields.
11) No explanation of any phenomena is acceptable, if it involves known physical or biological properties. Simply fitting all the criteria is not good enough. In fact, it is extremely important for believers to deny any explanation whatsoever if it doesn’t involve a conspiracy, extraterrestrials, psychic powers, rods, spheres, fairies, the hollow-earth, or anal-probing. Everything else is fanciful.
12) While human doctors have the ability to completely sedate their patients, aliens cannot, so the patient is completely aware of all objects inserted in their anus. In some cases the aliens will suppress the memories, but these will always surface at a later date. Aliens have not heard of alcohol.
13) The ultimate in subtlety and covertness is a black unmarked helicopter.
Subset 13a) Setting a mutilated cattle carcass down from an airborne craft into an area it could not possibly have achieved on its own, is the ideal way to avoid arousing suspicion. Both aliens and secret government agencies know this. Having the ability to obtain the cow in the first place without detection, DOES NOT RELATE to a gross inability to simply dispose of it without detection as well.
14) Scientists are very knowledgeable and highly trained individuals when they agree with you. When they don’t, they are blind close-minded robots programmed by academic myths, or pawns in the non-disclosure games of the secret government organizations, sometimes both.
15) When engaged in a debate with any non-believer, it is vitally important to resort to name-calling and shouting when they insist on something as silly as physical evidence or duplicable results. As noted above, you don’t need anything of the sort. You can be completely convincing of this by cussing. Anytime someone walks away from you dismissing you as a nutjob, then you know you’re correct in your assessment.
Subset 15a) It is a useful tool to bring up some prominent scientific figure from the past that was once regarded as a nutjob, and later found to be at least somewhat correct. This is adequate proof that your views are irrefutable. The billions of nutjobs that were proven to be nutjobs have absolutely no bearing on the matter.
16) It is vitally important to misquote statistics (or simply make them up), re-arrange timelines, and produce ‘inside sources’ of supporting evidence for any account of a phenomenon. Any evidence that is found not to have support, or even a source, is naturally being suppressed.
17) If an account has been ‘proven’ by reams of mathematical figures and scientific-sounding terms, there is no need to review these and see if they have any basis in fact.
18) Extra-terrestrial life forms will chose barren planets without any forms of life to set down on and start cities, or carve solitary faces out of the landscape. When traveling billions of miles, the obvious choices are the planets with no ecosphere.
Subset 18a) NASA has the ability to control every photo they ever take of these civilizations on other planets, but releases them anyway. They then go through elaborate rituals to cover them up.
There are undoubtedly more, but these will provide most of the essential tools you need to establish a belief in plasma waffles, or whatever. Interpret them as you see fit.
The Truth is, indeed, Out There. So are most of the believers.