Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Extraordinary Claims?

"I know what I saw!"

One of the common battle cries among 'Skeptics' is the phrase, "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". Well that seems straightforward enough, until one begins to peer into the semantical labyrinth of what is considered to be 'extraordinary' and what is 'ordinary'. Both are value judgements based on what is already known, or believed to be true.  Can anybody ever agree on what is considered acceptable, considered extraordinary? 

Twenty five years ago, 'extra-solar planets' were not yet proven to exist, but most agreed they must surely exist based on an extrapolation of what we already knew, which is our own solar system.

The thousands of people who've witnessed and reported UFO's have very detailed descriptions of their experiences, which is in itself 'extraordinary'. If what is required is extraordinary 'physical evidence' then one need not look any further than the Crop Circle Phenomenon (CCP, not to be confused with the CCCP, Communist Crop Circle Phenomenon) to find that. The question there is; Who made them? Since Giraffes are pretty much out of the question, we're left with two likely possibilities: 'Earthlings' possessing an unknown technology, or 'Extraterrestrials'. Either answer requires we treat this phenomenon with more respect than we do.

What does one consider to be 'extraordinary evidence', if it's not solid evidence, like say a 'crop circle'? We can always look to corroborating anecdotal claims, who in sufficient enough numbers, should lead one to conclude the veracity of an 'extraordinary' claim. Similarly, if the person making the claim has perceived credibility, like an Airforce Pilot, belief in any claim of a 'flying saucer' would be given more credence than a similar claim made by an 'unshaven alcoholic street person living out of a cardboard box'. 

We would take the Airforce Pilot's claim much more seriously for obvious reasons, like his familiarity with aerial phenomenon, keen eyesight and judgement, what he may be risking personally by relating his story, such as his job, credibility, or the fear of public ridicule… etc. 

Our 'unshaven friend' would not be considered a credible witness because of the possibility of having impaired judgement due to his alcoholism, a possible desperate need for attention, or for the simple fact that he is not highly qualified as a trained observer. 

But the possibility of the opposite being true must also never be dismissed outright. The Airforce Pilot might be working on behalf of a covert agenda requiring him to make fallacious claims, he may be making false assertions because he wants a discharge or demotion from a job which he can't admit now 'frightens' him, or he's just a jerk and is outright lying. 

Our 'unshaven man' may simply be telling the truth. Just because someone is 'down and out' doesn't mean they are fantasists or liars.

A common abuse of 'skepticism', sometimes called 'debunking', which takes upon the challenge of trying to disprove 'extraordinary claims'. How do they do this? By offering plausible explanations to fill the void left by claims of phenomenon not yet accepted to be true. If someone says they "saw a UFO", the 'debunker' would then propose an alternative explanation, saying something like "Venus was low in the sky that night, perhaps you saw Venus", or the other implausible explanation: the dreaded 'Swamp Gas'.  

They engage in a process specifically designed to neutralize the potential exploration of unexplained phenomenon, offering instead prosaic explanations. The horrible side effect of this activity is that those who have the strange experience become infuriated when they explain their experiences to these persons, who didn't witness what they witnessed, and then passively watch on as these 'debunkers' peddle alternative explanations for something they never even personally experienced. 

It is the right of a Skeptic to ask questions, and to doubt,  but since the phenomenon experienced has not yet been established as being fact (much like the extra-solar planets had once not been) it's impossible to make any definitive judgement one way or the other, that will satisfy anyone determined to not accept possibilities which are incongruent with the 'status quo'.

In the time before 'extra-solar planets' were discovered, few would have dared to suggest they don't exist. The planets did not need our discovery for their existence to become true, WE only needed to validate it ourselves for them to become true to us. 

When dealing with 'extraordinary' phenomenon, we are usually dealing with politically charged potentials which have massive implications as to the unfolding of our worldview narrative.

Due to the high compartmentalization within corporations like government, and intelligence, those who promote 'official secrecy' may not have ever been in a position to know certain truths in the first place. Hierarchical structures like governments are designed to protect themselves the further one ventures into penetrating it's secrets. At the point where attempts at transparency collide with 'the interests of national security', confessions of lesser abuses will likely be conceded at the expense of protecting graver ones. 

So 'truth' can appear different depending on what level of the hierarchy a person operates. Only a select few of those on the highest levels of the hierarchy would be in a position to truly 'know', and it's well within the realm of possibility, given what psychologists, historians and sociologists know of human behaviour, to have one's integrity compromised due to the fear of entrapment, ridicule or other unknown consequences associated with the disclosure of truth, regarding highly charged and potentially paradigm altering enigmas.

Many of the 'extraordinary claims' regarding, UFO's, 9/11, Crop Circles, the JFK assassination, and suppressed Tesla technology (among others) are not like 'ordinary' scientific claims. Their highly political implications challenge the current ruling paradigm, whose secrets, if revealed, have the potential to drastically alter the current structure of control, that is to say, who gets to rule, how we view ourselves, the division of labour, our relationship to the planet and universe, who gets to lend money, charge interest on it and so on.

My concern with other extraordinary claims like Vampires, Bigfoot or The Loch Ness Monster, is minor, since to my knowledge, the governments of the world don't possess highly classified or blackened documents on these alleged phenomenon.

                                                                                                              Debunk This!
Dirty CT   February 2012

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