Sunday, November 11, 2012

"To Be a Skeptic Means to Evaluate Claims Skeptically, Not Just to Adhere to a Certain 'Party Line'"

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Are UFO Enthusiasts 'Giving Up' on UFOlogy? Get Real!

By Robert Sheaffer
     Very likely you have seen the article in The Telegraph of London November 4 titled "UFO enthusiasts admit the truth may not be out there after all." The main point of the article is a statement by one Dave Wood, chairman of something called "the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (Assap)," who said that a "meeting had been called to address the crisis in the subject and see if UFOs were a thing of the past."

I read the article's sub-headline "Declining numbers of “flying saucer” sightings and failure to establish proof of alien existence has led UFO enthusiasts to admit they might not exist after all," and I asked myself: where did this reporter get a crazy idea like that?

. . . The way this article was picked up and taken at face value by a number of skeptics is, to me, rather troubling. To be a skeptic means to evaluate claims skeptically, not just to adhere to a certain "party line." When confronted by an article that seems "too good to be true," the skeptic should not just take it as confirmation of what he or she has long believed. Instead, the skeptic should ask a question like, "Who in the hell is this guy Dave Wood, and why should we accept his claim about UFOlogists having second thoughts?"

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