What Would Really Convince A Sceptic?

A

Anonymous

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#1
Or should it be skeptic or debunker. I'm always nervous about those terms and when to use them.

Its bugged me for years when we hear about the need for convincing evidence because I have no idea what that would be.

I don't see any piece of video or eye witness accounts ever being convincing. Neither are alleged landing marks etc or other physical traces. People who's story can't be disproved are often described as "well meaning but misguided individuals"

Apart from such a person experiencing it directly for themelves is there anything that would convince such a person.

Surely there is a chance howver slight than someone somewhere might be telling it just as it really happened? (whatever "really is"). I've come to believe that in many instances in many aspects of Forteana (not just UFO's) skeptical investigators are more interested in finding a way to discredit the story and have no intention of ever accepting it as even being capable of being true. When I hear people talking about "accepting someone genuinely believed they saw something or whatever" my heart sinks because it is obvious the mind has already been made up that whatever did happen it wasn't what the witness said it was.

I've no problem with alternative sceptical solutions but I wish I believed the intention was to find the truth as far as possible rather than to explain away at all costs. I guess its the refusal to accept the possibility that rankles.
 

athyra

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#2
It depends.

If you mean proof of UFOs, well the proof is abundant. UFOs do not equal aliens. UFOs are simply unidentified flying objects.

As for aliens? Simply, there is no proof. Eyewitness testimony is worth NOTHING scientifically speaking. Other then they witnessed something.

Now, as to "disprove", you can't disprove anything. However you can weigh the balance of probabilities, which tends to indicate that it's very unlikely aliens visit earth. Possible? Yes. Probable? Unlikely.

Now, is there likely something behind the "alien" phenomenon? In my opinion, yes. But I also think it may be quite different then the UFO phenomenon in regards to cause, as well.

I believe in UFOs: I believe in the phenomenon of alien encounters. But I've not seen enough evidence to try to explain what UFOs are, or whether objectively aliens have visited earth, or whether it can be explained in other ways.

It's the same as I few ghosts: I agree, there is something responsible for the phenomenon. What that may be, I have no idea without more proof.
 

Min Bannister

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#4
I am skeptical about aliens. When I tell people I am interested in UFO's they automatically assume I believe they are alien space ships, but I can't see any reason to believe that is the case. I don't rule out the possibility because it is after all an infinate universe, it just seems, for many reasons, the least likely possibility.
I'm afraid I think for me, the proof would have to come from the aliens themselves. They would have to fly in, to the BBC studios say, land and say "Hi we're here, would you like a shot in our space ship?" and take John Humphries to Mars or something.

Mysterious lights in the sky etc could really be anything, there is NO real reason to suppose that, just because you can't identify it, it must come from outer space?

Alien contact, abductions etc, again could be anything. What our ancestors called, demons, incubus, angels etc we now think are aliens. Why should WE be right and THEY be wrong? I suspect that, like so many things where there are extreme differences of opinion we are BOTH wrong.
 

stonedog3

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#5
"Why should WE be right and THEY be wrong? I suspect that, like so many things where there are extreme differences of opinion we are BOTH wrong."

Min - that's beautifully put! can I nick that for my repetoire?

I suppose I feel that when I have no conclusive pointers any particular way it would be daft to close off the options... dogmatic approval of the alien theory is as unsupportable as dogmatic approval of Everything Is A Weather Balloon.

By definition a UFO is a ***U***FO. Like a rose is a rose is a rose...

Kath
 
A

Anonymous

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#6
I guess where I'm going with is, that there is no such thing as "convincing evidence" is there? Mr Randi's $1,000,000 challenge for "convincing evidence" is what started me off thinking about it years ago. Its sounds sensible and genuine but I think almost unachievable.

The only convincing evidence is that which convinces yourself, its never going to be "convincing" to anyone else. In which case is the $1,000,000 challenge bogus?
 

stonedog3

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#7
No, I don't think it's bogus.

For one there's a single known person that applies to - him - so the goalposts aren't moving.

For another, while "nothing is provable" is a sound philosophical position, "beyond reasonable doubt" is a sound practical one :)

Kath
 

Min Bannister

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#8
Originally posted by stonedoggy
[BMin - that's beautifully put! can I nick that for my repetoire?
Oh okay then, flattery will get you EVERYWHERE!:D

I don't think the $1mill challenge is actually bogus because is even the most hardened skeptic so absolutely sure, even to the tune of $1mill that there are no alien life forms here? How many people really want to put their money where their mouths are?

Although having said that, probably the only real convincing evidence would come from the aliens themselves (as I said above) in which case, as they proved their own existance, he would probably argue he doesn't need to pay out to them. Hmmm:sceptic:

But if anyone has any ideas as to what would constitute evidence"beyond reasonable doubt" do tell! 1 million dollars would come in quite handy!:p
 

Yithian

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#9
Min Bannister said:
But if anyone has any ideas as to what would constitute evidence"beyond reasonable doubt" do tell! 1 million dollars would come in quite handy!:p
Well, according to the rules of Old Iron Rod's challenge the specific grounds for 'proof' are determined, in conference with a neutral party (I believe) before any test is undertaken. They are tailored to the specific phenomenon claimed. The key to his challenge, however, is not just to present indirect evidence (how could i have done this if not by....?) but recordable phenomena that are reproducable in controlled conditions.

He's stacked the odds against any challengers but it's (probably) not impossible. However, Iron Rod does seem to hold a preconception of what any a certain branch of these paranormal abilities would be like: Superhero powers. Others have (weakly IMO) argued that such abilities are, by their very nature, inconstant or even unrecordable--they almost consciously 'hide' or 'cover their tracks' so as not to give the game away, kind of like sub-atomic bodies behaving 'as they should' depending on what is being observed.

The most likely way to nab his $1mill would be though some supposed pseudo-science the mechanics of which we don't yet grasp. Homeopathy? Dowsing?
 
A

Anonymous

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#11
Originally posted by Davidwt
Or should it be skeptic or debunker. I'm always nervous about those terms and when to use them.

Its bugged me for years when we hear about the need for convincing evidence because I have no idea what that would be.

I don't see any piece of video or eye witness accounts ever being convincing. Neither are alleged landing marks etc or other physical traces. People who's story can't be disproved are often described as "well meaning but misguided individuals"

Apart from such a person experiencing it directly for themelves is there anything that would convince such a person.

Surely there is a chance howver slight than someone somewhere might be telling it just as it really happened? (whatever "really is"). I've come to believe that in many instances in many aspects of Forteana (not just UFO's) skeptical investigators are more interested in finding a way to discredit the story and have no intention of ever accepting it as even being capable of being true. When I hear people talking about "accepting someone genuinely believed they saw something or whatever" my heart sinks because it is obvious the mind has already been made up that whatever did happen it wasn't what the witness said it was.

I've no problem with alternative sceptical solutions but I wish I believed the intention was to find the truth as far as possible rather than to explain away at all costs. I guess its the refusal to accept the possibility that rankles.
[/Q
go to this link http://www.ufoartwork.com
 
A

Anonymous

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#12
I'd say an anal probe would be pretty convincing :wtf:

We all suffer from skepticism from time to time. A believer in gods will at some point question their faith, UFO advocates will occasionally read a debunking book and question that particular account until stronger evidence comes to light. Skepticism can be healthy if debated correctly.

Other skeptics are just flat out blind to any other possibilities beyond those that they believe. I have had many an argument with people when I have been accused of being blind myself for not believing in a god. Stop preaching to me and show me a god so I may consider the possibility.

For me, I have found UFOs and Abduction cases fascinating over the years. Whilst I enjoy reading about cases and continue to look up in the night sky to see something, I still want to see it to believe it. Why? Seeing is all the proof I need. When we were kids at school, you would hear rumors that Joe Bloggs had been beaten up by John Doe. What would you do? You would set off to go and see for yourself. We didn't trust the rumors, we had to go see for ourselves.

Through out life we hear things from other people and we always have a small amount of doubt until we can witness it for ourselves. This is where some skeptics fail. Everything is denied without proper investigation.

So let the anal probing commence and let the skeptics awaken :D
 

MrRING

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#13
I just came across this book with an interesting premise, and this appeared to be the best thread to post about its existence in:
http://whitecrowbooks.com/books/pag...about_the_paranormal_why_they_are_wrong_and_/
Randi's Prize: What Sceptics Say about the Paranormal, Why They Are Wrong and Why It Matters
by Robert McLuhan

The One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge was a cash prize offered from 1964 to 2015 by stage magician James ‘The Amazing’ Randi for anyone who could convince him they had psychic powers. No one ever came close to winning, proof, say sceptical scientists, that there is no such thing as ‘the paranormal’. But are they right?

In this illuminating and often provocative analysis, Robert McLuhan examines the influence of Randi and other debunking sceptics in shaping scientific opinion about such things as telepathy, psychics, ghosts and near-death experiences.

He points out that scientific researchers who investigate these things at first hand overwhelmingly consider them to be genuinely anomalous. But this has shocking implications, for science, for society and for even perhaps for ourselves as individuals. Hence the sceptics’ insistence that they should rather be attributed to fraud, imagination and wishful thinking. However, this extraordinary and little understood aspect of consciousness has much to tell us about the human situation, McLuhan suggests.

And at a time when militants are polarising the debate about religion, its mystical, spiritual element offers an optimistic and enlightened way forward. Randi’s Prize is aimed at anyone interested in spirituality or those curious to know the truth about paranormal claims. It’s an intelligent and readable analysis of scientific research into the paranormal which, uniquely, also closely examines the arguments of well-known sceptics.
 

INT21

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#14
Through out life we hear things from other people and we always have a small amount of doubt until we can witness it for ourselves. This is where some skeptics fail. Everything is denied without proper investigation.
Maybe not denied, but open to scrutiny. And why should one not wish for a full and proper investigation ?

Just to clear it up.
A skeptic hears a story and, having pondered on it, thinks it may be plausible, but some bits don't add up. So he/she will withhold judgement for the time being.

A debunker is a person who, for some ulterior motive, will try to say that the story is actually about something else and that is often because the original goes against his/her belief. It will always be unidentified, a misinterpretation, maybe a hoax.
How could it possibly be anything paranormal ?

INT21.
 

Sharon Hill

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#15
So he/she will withhold judgement for the time being.
That would be me.

As someone who has an involved history in skepticism, one reason (there were many) why I cut all ties with organized skepticism, was that they belittled me for being interested in cryptozoology, ghosts/hauntings, and anomalous natural phenomena like earth lights. They thought it was obviously stupid stuff (even though up to 40% of the public accepts such things as "real"). But worse than that was that few naysayers really understood the reports and the effect they had on people who experienced such events. They should know better but were often quite mean.

It's a tough situation to be squarely in the middle because clearly the evidence is not good in favor of the phenomenon. But clearly people are deeply affected and the phenomenon has had an impact on society. It's worth studying. But I admit, it would take a substantial amount of evidence to sway me to an explanation that goes against all the established knowledge we already have.

I'm still thinking about things. When I call out people for shoddy evidence or speculation dressed up as logic or a reasonable position (and get chastised for it) it's because you need to put up a much better argument to convince the other people like me.
 

Cochise

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#22
My poetry is even worse than the Vogons. But I didn't make the book because I didn't try to write it until after the book was published. If Ford Prefect drops by I will try and get him to mail in an update.
 

feinman

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#23
I've come to the conclusion that many people would need a direct personal experience with the phenomenon in order to believe it represents an alien (avanced, non-human) technology. There are a number of articles about turned skeptics, some scientists, in the historic newspaper articles thread; they all had to see it for themselves to be thrown from the fence of doubt.
 

dr wu

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#24
I suppose any true public event in plain and open view...a daylight landing in Central Park New York with the aliens coming out to meet and greet us......would convince me. Like Klaatu in that film.
But any so called disclosure in a press conference by the gubbermint would not convince me.
The fact that people see ufos and have 'encounters' is not proof that genuine space aliens are involved...only that something strange happened.
 

Sharon Hill

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#25
I've come to the conclusion that many people would need a direct personal experience with the phenomenon in order to believe it represents an alien (avanced, non-human) technology. There are a number of articles about turned skeptics, some scientists, in the historic newspaper articles thread; they all had to see it for themselves to be thrown from the fence of doubt.
Not necessarily. If I had a weird experience, I would not jump to a paranormal conclusion. There are so many other options. I know how fallible senses, perception, and memory are. I would doubt myself first. There is also a thing called "avowal of prior skepticism". It's a framing mechanism to create a sense of credibility: "I used to be a skeptic until [this thing happened to me]". It creates an artificial baseline to make the experience have more impact in the telling. It's hard to define "skeptic", really. It's a spectrum and very nuanced and personal. Everyone is "skeptical" about something. But practicing skepticism as a method has a much stronger meaning that involves critical thinking, scientific principles, and logical reasoning.
 

EnolaGaia

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#26
There is the observation event, there are the possible interpretations of the observation event per se, and then there are the explanations implicit in or imposed upon any or all the possible interpretations.

Jumping directly from the first step (observation event) to a single explanation with smug certainty is a naive, prejudiced or simply dogmatic response hardly deserving of being considered anything other than an off-the-cuff impression or opinion.

It is the middle phase or ground skipped over by such presumptuousness - i.e., surveying and assessing possible interpretations - that represents the primary playing field for skepticism. A skeptic is one who's unconvinced by one or another conclusion (explanation), choice of interpretational path taken, or maybe even the nature of the alleged observation in the first place. A skeptic is someone who still recognizes that "I don't know" is a viable conclusion.

You can't cut out or skip over this middle ground without painting yourself as a fool. Whether that results in your being seen as a suggestible / gullible true believer versus a dogmatically doctrinaire naysayer makes no difference except for which population of fellow fools will clap you on the back and claim you as one of their own.

I agree with feinman that personal experience is more likely to sway someone than second- or third-party reports. This, however, is not guaranteed to magically turn skeptics into true believers. I've personally witnessed multiple UAP / UFO incidents during my lifetime. Of the small number among these I consider open cases, I can claim no more than having ruled out known terrestrial aircraft as the things I saw. By the same token, I can just as firmly claim there was nothing about any of them that suggested, much less demonstrated, they had to be artificial vessels from beyond earth. Being confident about what they were not doesn't - and can't - mean I'm necessarily confident about what they were.
 

Min Bannister

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#27
There is also a thing called "avowal of prior skepticism". It's a framing mechanism to create a sense of credibility: "I used to be a skeptic until [this thing happened to me]".
Ooh, I have noticed mediums pretty much all say that. In fact they go even further and claim to actually be a sceptic but that their experiences prove that they really talk to dead people. I didn't know there was a name for it. I will try to remember that.
 

eburacum

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#28
I'd like to have a good piece of material evidence, displaying signs of advanced technology, or better still, alien DNA. I regularly talk to people in the astrobiology community (such as it is), and to people researching exoplanetary habitability, starship propulsion, and exotic physics; few of these have much belief in the UFO phenomenon as an example of alien visitation, but given some good evidence they would be all over it, looking at the likely stellar origin of such entities, their biological evolution and post-biological development.

There are thousands of people with skills in these areas - if there is even the slightest chance that any of the material evidence that has been touted around is of exoplanetary origin, it should have been given to them first.
 

eburacum

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#29
And I've had plenty of personal experiences with some fairly spectacular UFOs, but I've managed to turn them all into IFOs in one way or another. I am fairly confident that I could come up with a reasonable explanation for any sighting, given enough evidence. In the most interesting cases this information simply isn't available, but I would expect any honest witness to recognise the solution if they were had access to facts not available to them at the time.

And maybe the explanation for some UFOs might even be alien visitation. I'm fairly convinced this hasn't happened in the short period of time Humanity has been on this planet, but it may happen one day.
 

EnolaGaia

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#30
Ooh, I have noticed mediums pretty much all say that. In fact they go even further and claim to actually be a sceptic but that their experiences prove that they really talk to dead people. I didn't know there was a name for it. I will try to remember that.
It's a well-known influence gambit in sales pitches. By claiming to have been impressed or convinced him-/herself, the person making the pitch establishes a bit of rapport with the audience - at least some of whom are practically guaranteed to be credulous enough to be swayed by the tactic.

In a less savory vein ... It's also a reasonably safe ploy to build credibility when selling snake oil. If you don't have a third party to provide supporting testimony, do so yourself.
 
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