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Cryptozoology Pisses Me Off

Posted in SkepticBlog by Skepdude on May 14, 2009

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And here’s why.

It pisses me off because it’s the perfect microcosm of what’s wrong with television science reporting. They’re not interested in reporting good science or in educating their viewers; they’re only interested in tabloid stories. And they affix a “science” label to them. Send some horseback kooks into the woods with a megaphone and an infrared camera to look for Bigfoot, show it on the Science Channel, and that’s what passes for science programming in the United States. The obvious result? We have a population who believes that communication with ghosts represents the leading edge of brain research, that multilevel marketing schemes are a way to get rich, and that a mail order gadget (suppressed by the oil companies) will make your car run for free.

I grew up obsessed with cryptozoology. I knew all the Bigfoot stories, I fully believed Nessie was a relic plesiosaur, I was convinced that Neanderthals survive in Russia. Having seen, as a young boy, the skeleton of the Megatherium that died falling into the Grand Canyon Caverns millennia ago, I was thrilled to learn that a “scientist” had discovered that they may still exist in the Amazon, based on local superstitions. I had no doubt. It seemed perfectly plausible and scientific.

That’s because I, at ten years old, had an understanding of the scientific method comparable to that of the cream of today’s cryptozoologists. My reading had taught me that you start with a conclusion (”Bigfoot exists”), support it with a logical fallacy (”Either it’s true or it’s a hoax of impossible proportions”), and you’re automatically right because nobody’s disproven it. This was absolutely convincing to a ten year old boy, and that’s good enough for the TV networks. What an easy sell! If your “science” broadcasting is effective, it must be good.

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Skepquote of the day

Posted in Skepquote by Skepdude on May 14, 2009

There is a temptation to agree with them, I’m afraid: the idea that I’m a post-human mutant bestowed with the super-powers of reason and the ability to see through superstition is flattering. But it’s not true. Everyone has those powers, it’s just that some of us have had the good fortune and a history of experience that allows us to shake off some indoctrination. Nothing more.

PHARYNGULA

Subtle format change

Posted in Skepdude by Skepdude on May 14, 2009

Upon receiving en e-mail request from a reader I have decided to implement a simple format change. From this point on all re-posts, full or partial will have the link to the original entry posted both at the beginning and the end of the entry, to make it easier for readers to figure out the source of the entry right away. The link will be in CAPITAL RED LETTERS and underlined for increased visibility. Another added benefit of this change is that you will be able to distinguish between a re-post and original Skepdude material from the very beginning. Please keep the comments and suggestions coming. Thank you.