Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Proving your UFO case by debating

Victory in debates between people who study the UFO phenomenon about certain cases or theories are touted by some ufologists, most notably Stan Friedman, as part of their case that they are right, and their opponents wrong. This is ridiculous.

Debates in and of themselves prove nothing, particularly when the "outcome" is determined by a popular vote of everyone who listened to the debate. There are any number of factors that can skew the results.

For example, if you are debating Seth Shostak or James McGaha on Coast to Coast, and you take the pro "some UFOs are alien spacecraft" position, not only should you "win" the debate in terms of the popular vote, but you should do so by a wide margin, given the fact that the audience for Coast to Coast is already predisposed to accept your point of view.

Then there is the factor of the quality of the debater. So far in his career, Stan Friedman has been well-served by having some pretty poor opposition - no-one is ever going to confuse McGaha or Shostak with Martin Luther King when it comes to his oratorical skills, for example. A good salesman can get away with peddling faulty merchandise sometimes, and when it comes to selling, Stan is both good and experienced - but that doesn't necessarily make him right. However, against a good debater and public speaker, in a moderated setting (especially in cross-examination format, where Stan would be open to frequent questions), with a more or less neutral audience, I have a feeling that Stan would have a much tougher go of it that he usually does.

All of this is moot, however, because when it comes to matters of provable fact and unprovable conjecture, public opinion is worthless. George Bush and his posse convinced an overwhelming majority of Americans that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, including Senator Hillary Clinton. As everyone now knows, Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. Using Stan's logic, however, where winning a debate at a particular time is deemed important, perhaps even definitive, Bush would still be right, because he could cite opinion poll after opinion poll from back then that showed a majority of people thought he was right.

Anyone who trumpets wins in a debate, whether on Coast to Coast or at Oxford, is trying to gull you into thinking that it matters. Don't be fooled - it doesn't.

What really matters are the facts, the data and the evidence, and the reasonable conclusions that can be drawn from them - not a single individual's well-honed ability to move a crowd at a particular moment in time. Science isn't a popularity contest, and neither is serious UFO research.

Paul Kimball


Anonymous said...

Well, I totally agree with that. I’ve tried to argue against Dr. David Jacobs’ belief that he is in communication with alien hybrids on AOL instant messenger, pointing out some of the data and evidence of the case, and I have taken a fair amount of grief for it. I would have thought that anyone looking at that case would have laughed their head off, but facts and common sense put against reputation and oratory skills sometimes seem to come off second best.

Paul Kimball said...


One of the biggest ironies amongst some UFO-ET believers is that they constantly rail against authority, in any form, but then they base most of their arguments on an appeal to authority, i.e. "oh, well Stan Friedman is backing it, so it must be true". Beware of anyone who, as a way of buttressing their argument that something is a good case, or whatever, relies on that appeal to authority as their best argument.


Joseph Capp said...

Please don't cry ms woods, I guess Jacobs should have cried also when they tried to take tenure away from him...but darn it, he didn't cry on anyone's shoulder. He kept it quiet in his own hell, probably because he is a man of honor. He fought the fight on principles. I quote James McDonald, another man of honor, smarter and wiser then both of you could ever hope to be.

"If it were insisted that I limit my entire talk in that title("Are UFOs ET Suvvellenance Craft" I should find it hard to choose between the softer answer, "possibly", and the riskier answer that actually comes to closer to my present opinion 'probably". The evidence I have been examined would drive me to the latter answer..."

So who is brave ones here the people who go with the common misinformed thinking that allows them to be applauded and accepted by the mainstreamed or the one word that turns them off ET which can make them destroy you.
Joseph Capp
UFO Media Matters
Non-Commercial Blog

Joseph Capp said...

Dear Jim,
If you were to write about any other subject other then UFOs you would have to prove from a checkable source these conclusion you draw.
About Coast to Coast for instance. You conclude that most of the people are believers...I find the debunkers who have something to prove also a powerful element on You Tube so I believe they are just as likely to vote no.. no matter what A UFO researcher presents... So what part of the "No" vote do they represent, because you can bet they will vote. The debunkers lose simply in debates because when they are stuck they don't debate they character assonate, or hint of wrong doing or motives of the UFO witnesses... these UFO witnesses have been proven over and over again to have same character as friends you would trust in your home for dinner. I see the filtering of the witnesses testimony in the big stores so UFO researchers like yourself feel independent very sad... are you really independent or trying to win brownie points ...when the source, a human being, becomes nether more than a line of graph or something to go around to sell a book.
Paul I use to think you were a mistaken but now I am not so sure. You may be getting credit from the skeptical side but you have lost the soul of UFO research. To at least honor the good people with the courage to come forward on the UFO phenomenon who are the people who really get hurt.. they just doesn't seem to mean that much to you or that bunch including Pflock.
By the way my last post didn't get up?

Joseph Capp
UFO Media Matters
Non-Commercial Blog