"There's an old saying; just because you're paranoid, that doesn't mean they're not out to get you. I have my own variation: just because you're insane that doesn't mean that things aren't slipping in unnoticed through dimensional gateways..." ~ Christopher Knowles (h/t to The Daily Grail for quote.)
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Anyway. one of these shows is Ghost Adventures, on the Travel channel. The host, Zak Bagans, has another show called Paranormal Challenge, where teams of ghost hunters investigate the same haunted locale while Zak and a few judges watch them on cameras. Last night's episode had, as judges, non-skeptics, but also one skepti-bunkie: the one and only Michael Shermer!
I hate to say this, but Shermer was surprisingly low key, non-combative, and barely scoffed at all. At one point he acknowledged he had no explanation for how a light turned itself on (no power in the place, lights were dead. Gone. Black. Out.) and he was open about how objective the ghost hunters were being. He did do some skeptic stuff though; before the teams went out into the dark dank halls of the now abandoned Linda Vista hospital in East L.A., Shermer gave some "background" of the place to each team. He told one team there was a child spirit about and gave them her name. The other team was told there was the ghost of a man named George who liked to hit people. The reasons for this, Shermer explained (and unbeknownst to the teams) was to check for "confirmation bias" and "expectation." Makes some sense. On the other hand, what's to say a spirit, as spirits are wont to do, wouldn't just have a field day with that and play it for all it could get? I think that would have worked much better if mediums were involved.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
They set out to prove that a phenomenon cannot exist, rather than examining the evidence to reach a conclusion. If one sets out to debunk a phenomenon, then one has reached a conclusion beforehand and therefore cannot examine the evidence before arriving at a conclusion. If you’ve already decided the idea is ludicrous, then you have lost all objectivity before you’ve even begun your investigation. Although these folks liked to call themselves skeptics, I prefer to call them pseudo-skeptics. ~ (Shiel)
In particular, Shiel refers to Joe Nickell's article The Truth Behind Modern Cryptozoological Myths which I commented on here last week.
Thanks to Lesley at The Debris Field for link.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Friday, August 19, 2011
Thursday, August 18, 2011
He's right on one thing: language does change, and meanings are ascribed, (and change as well) depending on many factors, including cultures, subcultures, the folk, etc.
Radford points out the obvious: that odd hairless animals, unidentifiable for the time being, have become the new chupacabra, something I've been pointing out for quite awhile. No doubt the majority of those who see these creatures (often killing them on sight) are unaware of the blood sucking, spiny backed alien looking creature but who knows, maybe some are familiar with that story.
One thing Radford can't let go of, in typical skeptic terrier-mode, is his insistence the "original" chupacabra came from a movie, not something else:
Later research, published in my book "Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore," revealed that this original chupacabra report described a monster in a science fiction film, not anything in real life. Thus the whole origin of the monster is based on an eyewitness’s mistake.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Regarding Bigfoot, Nickell combines finding patterns in sightings data, his theories, and the usual skeptic based psychology: us humans love to make stuff up. We create myth and don't want to solve mysteries -- well, you know the routine.
"Bigfoot is our stupid cousin from the past."That's humans for you, projecting our fears and dreams onto made up entities. As far as ET goes:
"The alien is the future version of ourselves."Which alien version would that be? Reptilian? Bug eyed gray? Gigantic praying mantises? Good looking long haired blond Nordic Space Brothers and Sisters? Lizard Men? Hairy dwarf? I don't know about you, but that's a future self I want nothing to do with. (Well, maybe the good looking Space Sister but I don't look good as a blond. And I prefer the swarthy types to Nordic guys.)
Nickell looked at "convergent iconography" which led him to the conclusion we've simply created Bigfoot and aliens out of our own heads; the two are modern living myths. We did the same with Santa Claus and Jesus:
"The same convergent iconography can be seen in artists' depictions of Jesus Christ and Santa Clause."
Grabianowski asks Nickell about cryptids that don't look anything like human beings. Using "data mapping" once again, Nickell finds that reports of water monsters coincided with otter activity. People mistaking otters for a sea serpent: "It really happens," (I love that) Nickell says. Of course it "really happens" people mistake things all the time. Not every weird light in the sky is a UFO, not all strange creatures in the forest are Sasquatch and so on.
Nickell distances himself from combative skeptics and says he treats witnesses with respect; they're not liars or insane, just mistaken.
The article ends with a dismissal of paranormal programming which is "like wrestling" Nickell says. I'll agree with much of that sentiment, to a point. All TV is "like wrestling" when you think of it. For his arguments on how he's treated by producers as a skeptic, UFO researchers and other paranormal investigators can cite the same. It's about ratings, and whatever angle the show wants to present. Researchers and skeptics both can be damned; it's not about the individual ghost hunters, UFO investigators or cryptid chasers, it's about the producers, the station owners and their own agendas. Skeptic, paranormal investigator, or witness: they're all just the talent. Fodder for the program.
For some reason, most programs that deal with fringe topics believe that having skeptics on is "balance." To me it's just annoying. But it's not balance they want; it is, indeed, "like wrestling." There's an innate belief that conflict and tension is necessary for entertainment. Like wrestling.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
I want to give you accolades for your snarly skepticism website. I LOVE it. I Wish I found it earlier. I have been somewhat depressed about the fact that so many people on our side want to "play nice" and have "polite conversation" with pseudo-skeptics. I mean, these people want to destroy us. It seems like every day a new libelous statement hits the internet about someone on our side, and most people on our side would rather "reach out" to these evil people, or at best ignore the pseudo-skeptics. You don't reach out to such people and you don't ignore them and hope that they go away - you go to battle with them. We're in a battle for our existence, here, and it is encouraging to see somebody else, unlike most on our side, who has more of a "FUCK YOU!" type of attitude when dealing with the pseudo-skeptics. ~ Mark Stublarec