How to Debunk just about Anything

Even Well-Documented Alien Craft!!

Dedicated to those who at one time or another successfully debunked just about everything we take for granted in today’s world, and also to Nicolo Machiavelli, without whose inspiration this presentation might have been unnecessary.

1. Debunkery: General Principles
2. Science According to the Debunker
3. The Debunker’s Rules of Evidence
4. Debunking Just About Everything
5. Debunking the UFO
6. Debunking the Great Conspiracies
7. Optional and Extracurricular Debunkery
8. The Debunker’s Last Resort

1. Debunkery: General Principles:

– Portray science not as a universally beneficial process of discovery but as a holy war against the infidels of pseudoscience. Since in war the ends justify the means, you may fudge, stretch or violate scientific method, or even omit it entirely, in the name of defending scientific method.

– Choose the turf. Remember that all else being equal, whoever gets to choose the battleground usually wins the battle. For the defender of the status quo the most sympathetic arena in which to debunk just about anything is the popular media, since they tend to offer little or no opportunity for intelligent analysis or reasoned debate. As an added bonus, TV studio audiences may generally be counted on to support the conventional view of things, or to be easily swayed in that direction. As presently constituted, the media assume that the public has a short attention span, faulty memory, little patience for details and blind faith in authority, and that it can not be trusted with the truth. This is ideal soil for the seeds of debunkery.

– Put on the right face. Cultivate a patronizing, Wm. F. Buckley-ish air that suggests that your personal opinions are backed by the full faith and credit of God.

– Worm your way into the hearts and minds of the people.  Take emotional control of your audience by cracking a few jokes about Elvis, little men from Mars and so forth. Once you have accomplished this they will predictably respond with snickers, giggles and knowing glances if you do no more than report the facts straight.

– Avoid the evidence. The more abstract and theoretical you keep your arguments, the less easily people will notice that you haven’t examined the actual evidence. Not examining the evidence allows you to say with impunity, “I have seen absolutely no evidence to support such a claim.” If examining the evidence becomes unavoidable, report back that “there is nothing new here.” If confronted by a watertight body of evidence that has survived the most rigorous tests’ simply dismiss it as being “too pat!”

– Call the kettle black. While maintaining absolute faith in the ability of the current scientific paradigm to explain everything, accuse your opponents of being “true believers.”  State categorically that the unconventional arises exclusively from the “will to believe” and may be dismissed as, at best, an honest misinterpretation of the conventional. In this way you can camouflage your evangelical hellfire and brimstone under a facade of cool impartiality.

– Convince your audience of your sincerity by reassuring them that you yourself would “love to believe” in these fantastic phenomena. Carefully sidestep the fact that science is not about believing, but about finding out.

– Imply that your opponents are zealots. Suggest that in order to investigate the existence of something one must first believe in it absolutely.

– Similarly, always act as if your opponents have intended the extreme of any position they’ve taken. Repeated often enough, this procedure may literally drive them bananas.

– Practice debunkery-by-association. Lump together all phenomena popularly deemed paranormal and suggest that their proponents and researchers speak with a single voice. In this way you can indiscriminately drag material across disciplinary lines or from one case to another to support your views as needed.

– Deliberately confuse the process of science with the content of science. Do this by implying that a scientist’s procedural integrity somehow hinges on his or her choice of subject matter. In other words, reinforce the popular notion that certain subjects are inherently unscientific or pseudoscientific. If someone points out that only the investigative process can be scientific or unscientific and that science is properly blind to subject matter, dismiss such objections using a method employed successfully by generations of politicians: simply reassure your audience that (‘there is no contradiction here.)’

– Employ vague, subjective, dismissive terms such as “ridiculous” or “trivial” in a manner that suggests they have the full force of scientific authority.

– Ridicule, ridicule, ridicule. It is far and away the single most effective weapon in the war against discovery and innovation. Ridicule has the unique ability to make people of virtually any persuasion go completely unconscious in a twinkling. It fails to sway only those who are of sufficiently independent mind not to need the kind of emotional consensus that ridicule provides. Fortunately there are few enough such people in this world that they may be safely disregarded.

– Do your best to convince your audience (although not in as many words) that ridicule constitutes an essential feature of scientific method and can raise the level of objectivity, integrity and dispassionateness with which any investigation is pursued.

– Charm your audience and disarm your opponents with pithy aphorisms and clever remarks. For example, “I’ve always been strongly in favor of open-mindedness — as long as your mind isn’t so open that your brains fall out!” But take care never to specify just how much openmindedness is too much; this keeps your views outside the realm of rational debate. As long as you keep things vague nobody will notice the absurdity of your gems of wit and wisdom.

– Use “smoke and mirrors.” Never forget that a slippery mixture of fact, opinion, innuendo and out-of-context information will fool most of the people most of the time. As little as one part fact to ten parts B.S. will usually do the trick. (Some veteran debunkers use homeopathic dilutions of fact with remarkable success!) Cultivate the art of slipping back and forth between fact and fiction so undetectably that the grain of truth appears to underlie and support the entire edifice of opinion.

– Keep a repertory of avoidance techniques at hand in case you get cornered. Examples include changing the subject, attacking your opponent’s personal habits, distraction with humorous irrelevancies, lengthy storytelling and so forth.  Remember that the main point of such diversionary tactics is to consume precious air time.

– Arrange to have your message delivered or echoed by persons of authority. The degree to which you can stretch the truth is directly proportional to the perceived level of authority of your messenger.

– If you can’t attack the case, attack the people. Ad-hominem arguments, or personality attacks, are one of the most powerful ways of swaying thoughtless people and avoiding the issue. Insist that if a witness has ever been accused of stretching the truth in any way, to any degree, for any reason, his or her testimony about anything is, always was, and always will be, worthless. Employ similar tactics if the claimant is known ever to have had a brush with the law (whatever its outcome), has ever entered into any kind of psychological counseling or can be shown to have unusual personal habits or predilections. If you can determine that your opponents have profited financially from activities connected with their research, accuse them of “profiting financially from activities connected with their research!” If their research, publishing, speaking tours and so forth, constitute their normal line of work or sole means of support, hold that fact as “conclusive proof that income is being realized from such activities”‘ If your opponents have labored to achieve public recognition for their work, you may safely characterize them as “publicity seekers.”

– Employ “TCP”: Technically Correct Pseudo-rebuttal. For example, if your opponent remarks that all great truths began as blasphemies, respond immediately that not all blasphemies have become great truths. Because your response was technically correct, no one will notice that it did not really refute or even contradict the original remark.

– Trivialize the case by trivializing the entire field in question. Characterize the study of orthodox phenomena as deep and time-consuming, while deeming that of unorthodox phenomena so insubstantial as to demand nothing more than a scan of the tabloids. If pressed, simply say “but there’s nothing there to study!” Characterize any investigator of the unorthodox as “self-styled” — the media’s favorite code-word for “bogus.”

– Deny any subject by denying that rational discourse about it is possible.

– Condemn the entire field by generalizing from carefully selected data. For example, declare that all of ufology must be nothing more than an evolving system of paranoia because some of its founders and practitioners suffered from childhood trauma. (If this seems at all far-fetched, please refer to the piece by Martin Kottmeyer in UFO Magazine, Vol.7, No.3, May, 1992.)

– Confine the game to your preferred end of the playing field. One way to do this is to limit the permissible rules of discovery to those of certain physical sciences. Deny that court procedures, which admit human testimony in matters of life and death, are objective enough to have any value whatsoever in determining the truth of anything at all.

– Employ time reversal. Demand that your opponents know all the answers to their most puzzling questions in full, certain detail ahead of time. A variation on this approach is to deny the existence of something on grounds that we cannot yet explain how it might work.

– Accuse your opponents of believing in “invisible forces and extrasensory realities.” If they should point out that the physical sciences have always dealt primarily with invisible forces and extrasensory realities, respond with a patronizing chuckle that is “a naive interpretation.”

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posted for educational purposes only

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How To Debunk Just About Anything
1. Debunkery: General Principles:

by Daniel Drasin Independent writer and media producer, Oakland, CA.

Selected section from pages 101-117 in
The Proceedings of the

Denver Colorado, USA
May 22-25, 1992

Sponsored by:

International Association for New Science
1304 S. College Ave.,
Fort Collins, Colorado 80524.
Last but not least-A UFO debunkers “Scientific Research Methods”

1) Start with a preconceived conclusion.

2) Develop experimental procedures and analysis to prove stated conclusion.

3) Control experimental conditions to arrive at pre-stated conclusion.

4) Prejudiced analysis of results.

5) Consultation with Corporations that will profit from the process.

6) Publication in accepted corporate journals that will profit from findings.

7) Ridicule ALL independent UFO researchers doing ANY research, especially those dealing with removal of alien implants, analysis of animal mutilations and crop formations.

8) Never, I mean NEVER address UFO research, do not get within 30 feet of any UFO witnesses or researchers and pretend you’ve never heard of the NRO, NSA, CIA or NASA.

9) Attack the person-never address the evidence.  Get into flame wars.

10) Come up with any kind of ridiculous excuses to explain it all away.  The latest: time-compressed crash-test dummies; meteors from Venus and Mars, super-secret-ingredient swamp-gas (please debunkers, only where there are swamps!)