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How to be a "debunker"...


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ZEN. . . AND THE ART OF DEBUNKERY

© 1993 by Daniel Drasin. All rights reserved.

May not be reproduced without permission. May be posted

electronically provided that it is transmitted unaltered, in its

entirety, and without charge. File begins and ends with ####, and

totals 27,251 bytes.

Also available as a handy, attractive booklet for $6.50 each,

postpaid. Send checks to Daniel Drasin, P.O. Box 1772, Boulder, CO

80306. Allow 2-3 weeks for shipment, as I am often out of town.

Order a dozen as gifts for your skeptical friends!.

---------------------------------------------------------

So you've had a close encounter with a UFO or its occupants. Or a

serious interest in the subject of extramundane life. Or a passion for

following clues that seem to point toward the existence of a greater

reality. Mention any of these things to most working scientists and

be prepared for anything from patronizing skepticism to merciless

ridicule. After all, science is supposed to be a purely hardnosed

enterprise with little patience for "expanded" notions of reality.

Right?

Wrong.

Like all systems of truth seeking, science, properly conducted,

has a profoundly expansive, spiritual impulse at its core. This "Zen"

in the heart of science is revealed when the practitioner sets aside

arbitrary beliefs and cultural preconceptions, and approaches the

nature of things with "beginner's mind." When this is done, reality

can speak freshly and freely, and can be heard more clearly.

Appropriate testing and objective validation can--indeed, *must*--

come later.

Seeing with humility, curiosity and fresh eyes was once the

main point of science. But today it is often a different story. As the

scientific enterprise has been bent toward exploitation,

institutionalization, hyperspecialization and new orthodoxy, it has

increasingly preoccupied itself with disconnected facts in a

spiritual, psychological, social and ecological vacuum. Virtually

gone from the scene is the philosopherscientist, to whom meaning

and context were once the very fabric of a multi-level universe.

Today's mainstream science tends, instead, to deny or disregard

entire domains of reality, and satisfies itself with reducing all of

life and consciousness to a dead physics.

As we approach the end of the millennium, science seems in

many ways to be treading the weary path of the religions it

presumed to replace. Where free, dispassionate inquiry once reigned,

emotions now run high in the defense of a fundamentalized

"scientific truth." As anomalies mount up beneath a sea of denial,

defenders of the Faith and the Kingdom cling with increasing self-

righteousness to the hull of a sinking paradigm. Faced with

provocative evidence of things undreamt of in their materialist

philosophy, many otherwise mature scientists revert to a kind of

skeptical infantilism characterized by blind faith in the

absoluteness of the familiar. Small wonder that, after more than

half a century, the UFO remains shrouded in superstition, ignorance,

denial, disinformation, taboo . . . and debunkery.

What is "debunkery?" As intended here, it is the attempt to

*debunk* (invalidate) new information and insight by substituting

scient*istic* propaganda for scient*ific* method.

To throw this kind of pseudoscientific behavior into bold--if

somewhat comic--relief, I have assembled below a useful "how-to"

guide for aspiring debunkers, with a special section devoted to

debunking the UFO--perhaps the most aggressively debunked subject

in the whole of modern history. As will be obvious to the reader, I

have carried a few of these debunking strategies over the threshold

of absurdity for the sake of making a point. As for the rest, their

inherently fallacious reasoning, twisted logic and sheer goofiness

will sound frustratingly familar to those who have dared explore

beneath the ocean of denial and attempted in good faith to report

back about what they found there.

So without further ado . . .

== HOW TO DEBUNK JUST ABOUT ANYTHING ==

*PART 1: GENERAL DEBUNKERY*

<>Before commencing to debunk, prepare your equipment.

Equipment needed: one armchair.

<> Put on the right face. Cultivate a condescending air that

suggests that your personal opinions are backed by the full faith and

credit of God. Employ vague, subjective, dismissive terms such as

"ridiculous" or "trivial" in a manner that suggests they have the full

force of scientific authority.

<> Portray science not as an open-ended process of discovery

but as a holy war against unruly hordes of quackery-worshipping

infidels. 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.

<> Keep your arguments as abstract and theoretical as possible.

This will "send the message" that accepted theory overrides any

actual evidence that might challenge it--and that therefore no such

evidence is worth examining.

<> Reinforce the popular misconception that certain subjects

are inherently unscientific. In other words, deliberately confuse the

*process* of science with the *content* of science. (Someone may,

of course, object that science must be neutral to subject matter and

that only the investigative *process* can be scientifically

responsible or irresponsible. If that happens, dismiss such

objections using a method employed successfully by generations of

politicians: simply reassure everyone that "there is no contradiction

here.")

<> Arrange to have your message echoed by persons of

authority. The degree to which you can stretch the truth is directly

proportional to the prestige of your mouthpiece.

<> Always refer to unorthodox statements as "claims," which

are "touted," and to your own assertions as "facts," which are

"stated."

<> Avoid examining the actual evidence. This allows you to say

with impunity, "I have seen absolutely no evidence to support such

ridiculous claims!" (Note that this technique has withstood the test

of time, and dates back at least to the age of Galileo. By simply

refusing to look through his telescope, the ecclesiastical authorities

bought the Church over three centuries' worth of denial free and

clear!)

<> 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."

<> Equate the necessary skeptical component of science with

*all* of science. Emphasize the narrow, stringent, rigorous and

critical elements of science to the exclusion of intuition,

inspiration, exploration and integration. If anyone objects, accuse

them of viewing science in exclusively fuzzy, subjective or

metaphysical terms.

<> Insist that the progress of science depends on explaining the

unknown in terms of the known. In other words, science equals

reductionism. You can apply the reductionist approach in any

situation by discarding more and more and more evidence until what

little is left can finally be explained entirely in terms of

established knowledge.

<> Downplay the fact that free inquiry, legitimate

disagreement and respectful debate are a normal part of science.

<> At every opportunity reinforce the notion that what is

familiar is necessarily rational. The unfamiliar is therefore

irrational, and consequently inadmissible as evidence.

<> 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.

<> Maintain that in investigations of unconventional

phenomena, a single flaw invalidates the whole. In conventional

contexts, however, you may sagely remind the world that, "after all,

situations are complex and human beings are imperfect."

<> "Occam's Razor," or the "principle of parsimony," says the

correct explanation of a mystery will usually involve the simplest

fundamental principles. Insist, therefore, that the most familiar

explanation is by definition the simplest! Imply strongly that

Occam's Razor is not merely a philosophical rule of thumb but an

immutable law.

<> Discourage any study of history that may reveal today's

dogma as yesterday's heresy. Likewise, avoid discussing the many

historical, philosophical and spiritual parallels between science and

democracy.

<> Since the public tends to be unclear about the distinction

between evidence and proof, do your best to help maintain this

murkiness. If absolute proof is lacking, state categorically that

there is no evidence.

<> If sufficient evidence has been presented to warrant

further investigation of an unusual phenomenon, argue that

"evidence alone proves nothing!" Ignore the fact that preliminary

evidence is not supposed to prove *anything*.

<> In any case, imply that proof precedes evidence. This will

eliminate the possibility of initiating any meaningful process of

investigation--particularly if no criteria of proof have yet been

established for the phenomenon in question.

<> Insist that criteria of proof cannot possibly be established

for phenomena that do not exist!

<> Although science is not supposed to tolerate vague or double

standards, always insist that unconventional phenomena must be

judged by a separate, yet ill-defined, set of scientific rules. Do this

by declaring that "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary

evidence"--but take care never to define where the "ordinary" ends

and the "extraordinary" begins. This will allow you to manufacture

an infinitely receding evidential horizon, i.e., to define

"extraordinary" evidence as that which lies just out of reach at any

point in time.

<> 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. For

example, if a claim having some superficial similarity to the one at

hand has been (or is popularly assumed to have been) exposed as

fraudulent, cite it as if it were an appropriate example. Then put on

a gloating smile, lean back in your armchair and just say "I rest my

case."

<> Use the word "imagination" as an epithet that applies only

to seeing what's *not* there, and not to denying what *is* there.

<> If a significant number of people agree that they have

observed something that violates the consensus reality, simply

ascribe it to "mass hallucination." Avoid addressing the possibility

that the consensus reality, which is routinely observed by millions,

might itself constitute a mass hallucination.

<> Ridicule, ridicule, ridicule. It is far and away the single

most chillingly effective weapon in the war against discovery and

innovation. Ridicule has the unique power to make people of virtually

any persuasion go completely unconscious in a twinkling. It fails to

sway only those few who are of sufficiently independent mind not to

buy into the kind of emotional consensus that ridicule provides.

<> By appropriate innuendo and example, imply that ridicule

constitutes an essential feature of scientific method that can raise

the level of objectivity, integrity and dispassionateness with which

any investigation is conducted.

<> Imply that investigators of the unorthodox are zealots.

Suggest that in order to investigate the existence of something one

must first believe in it absolutely. Then demand that all such "true

believers" know all the answers to their most puzzling questions in

complete detail ahead of time. Convince people of your own 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 or disbelieving, but about finding out.

<> Use "smoke and mirrors," i.e., obfuscation and illusion.

Never forget that a slippery mixture of fact, opinion, innuendo, out-

of-context information and outright lies 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 flimsiest foundation of truth will always appear to firmly

support your entire edifice of opinion.

<> Employ "TCP": Technically Correct Pseudo-refutation.

Example: if someone 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 the original remark.

<> Trivialize the case by trivializing the entire field in

question. Characterize the study of orthodox phenomena as deep and

timeconsuming, while deeming that of unorthodox phenomena so

insubstantial as to demand nothing more than a scan of the tabloids.

If pressed on this, simply say "but there's nothing there to study!"

Characterize any serious investigator of the unorthodox as a "buff"

or "freak," or as "self-styled"-the media's favorite code-word for

"bogus."

<> Remember that most people do not have sufficient time or

expertise for careful discrimination, and tend to accept or reject

the whole of an unfamiliar situation. So discredit the whole story by

attempting to discredit *part* of the story. Here's how: a) take one

element of a case completely out of context; B) find something

prosaic that hypothetically could explain it; c) declare that

therefore that one element has been explained; d) call a press

conference and announce to the world that the entire case has been

explained!

<> Engage the services of a professional stage magician who

can mimic the phenomenon in question; for example, ESP,

psychokinesis or levitation. This will convince the public that the

original claimants or witnesses to such phenomena must themselves

have been (or been fooled by) talented stage magicians who hoaxed

the original phenomenon in precisely the same way.

<> Find a prosaic phenomenon that resembles, no matter how

superficially, the claimed phenomenon. Then suggest that the

existence of the commonplace look-alike somehow forbids the

existence of the genuine article. For example, imply that since

people often see "faces" in rocks and clouds, the enigmatic Face on

Mars must be a similar illusion and therefore cannot possibly be

artificial.

<> When an unexplained phenomenon demonstrates evidence of

intelligence (as in the case of the mysterious crop circles) focus

exclusively on the mechanism that might have been wielded by the

intelligence rather than the intelligence that might have wielded the

mechanism. The more attention you devote to the mechanism, the

more easily you can distract people from considering the possibility

of nonphysical or nonterrestrial intelligence.

<> Accuse investigators of unusual phenomena of believing in

"invisible forces and extrasensory realities." If they should point

out that the physical sciences have *always* dealt with invisible

forces and extrasensory realities (gravity? electromagnetism? . . . )

respond with a condescending chuckle that this is "a naive

interpretation of the facts."

<> Insist that western science is completely objective, and is

based on no untestable assumptions, covert beliefs or ideological

interests. If an unfamiliar or inexplicable phenomenon happens to be

considred true and/or useful by a nonwestern or other traditional

society, you may therefore dismiss it out of hand as "ignorant

misconception," "medieval superstition" or "fairy lore."

<> Label any poorly-understood phenomenon "occult,"

"paranormal," "metaphysical," "mystical" or "supernatural." This

will get most mainstream scientists off the case immediately on

purely emotional grounds. If you're lucky, this may delay any

responsible investigation of such phenomena by decades or even

centuries!

<> Ask questions that appear to contain generally-assumed

knowledge that supports your views; for example, "why do no police

officers, military pilots, air traffic controllers or psychiatrists

report UFOs?" (If someone points out that they do, insist that those

who do must be mentally unstable.)

<> Ask unanswerable questions based on arbitrary criteria of

proof. For example, "if this claim were true, why haven't we seen it

on TV?" or "in this or that scientific journal?" Never forget the

mother of all such questions: "If UFOs are extraterrestrial, why

haven't they landed on the White House lawn?"

<> Remember that you can easily appear to refute anyone's

claims by building "straw men" to demolish. One way to do this is to

misquote them while preserving that convincing grain of truth; for

example, by acting as if they have intended the extreme of any

position they've taken. Another effective strategy with a long

history of success is simply to misreplicate their experiments--or

to avoid replicating them at all on grounds that to do so would be

ridiculous or fruitless. To make the whole process even easier,

respond not to their actual claims but to their claims as reported by

the media, or as propagated in popular myth.

<> Insist that such-and-such unorthodox claim is not

scientifically testable because no self-respecting grantmaking

organization would fund such ridiculous tests.

<> Be selective. For example, if an unorthodox healing method

has failed to reverse a case of terminal illness you may deem it

worthlesswhile taking care to avoid mentioning any of the

shortcomings of conventional medicine.

<> Hold claimants responsible for the production values and

editorial policies of any media or press that reports their claim. If

an unusual or inexplicable event is reported in a sensationalized

manner, hold this as proof that the event itself must have been

without substance or worth.

<> When a witness or claimant states something in a manner

that is scientifically imperfect, treat this as if it were not

scientific at all. If the claimant is not a credentialed scientist,

argue that his or her perceptions cannot possibly be objective.

<> If you're unable to attack the facts of the case, attack the

participants--or the journalists who reported the case. Ad-hominem

arguments, or personality attacks, are among the most powerful

ways of swaying the public and avoiding the issue. For example, if

investigators of the unorthodox 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 they have labored to achieve public recognition for

their work, you may safely characterize them as "publicity seekers."

<> Fabricate supportive expertise as needed by quoting the

opinions of those in fields popularly assumed to include the

necessary knowledge. Astronomers, for example, may be trotted out

as experts on the UFO question, although course credits in ufology

have never been a prerequisite for a degree in astronomy.

<> Fabricate confessions. If a phenomenon stubbornly refuses

to go away, set up a couple of colorful old geezers to claim they

hoaxed it. The press and the public will always tend to view

confessions as sincerely motivated, and will promptly abandon their

critical faculties. After all, nobody wants to appear to lack

compassion for self-confessed sinners.

<> Fabricate sources of disinformation. Claim that you've

"found the person who started the rumor that such a phenomenon

exists!"

<> Fabricate entire research projects. Declare that "these

claims have been thoroughly discredited by the top experts in the

field!" Do this whether or not such experts have ever actually

studied the claims, or, for that matter, even exist.

*PART 2: DEBUNKING THE UFO*

<> Point out that an "unidentified" flying object is just that,

and cannot be automatically assumed to be extraterrestrial. Do this

whether or not anyone involved *has* assumed it to be

extraterrestrial.

<> Equate nature's laws with our current understanding of

nature's laws. Then label all concepts such as antigravity or

interdimensional mobility as mere flights of fancy "because

obviously they would violate nature's laws." Then if a UFO is

reported to have hovered silently, made right-angle turns at

supersonic speeds or appeared and disappeared instantly, you may

summarily dismiss the report.

<> Declare that there is no proof that life can exist in outer

space. Since most people still behave as if the Earth were the center

of the universe, you may safely ignore the fact that Earth, which is

already in outer space, has abundant life.

<> Point out that the government-sponsored SETI program

assumes in advance that extraterrestrial intelligence can only exist

light-years away from Earth. Equate this a-priori assumption with

conclusive proof; then insist that this invalidates all terrestrial

reports of ET contact.

<> When someone produces purported physical evidence of alien

technology, point out that no analysis can prove that its origin was

extraterrestrial; after all, it might be the product of some perfectly

ordinary, ultra-secret underground government lab. The only

exception would be evidence obtained from a landing on the White

House lawn-the sole circumstance universally agreed upon by

generations of skeptics as conclusively certifying extraterrestrial

origin!

<> If photographs or other visual media depicting a UFO have

been presented, argue that since images can now be digitally

manipulated they prove nothing. Assert this regardless of the

vintage of the material or the circumstances of its acquisition.

Insist that the better the quality of a UFO photo, the greater the

likelihood of fraud. Photos that have passed every known test may

therefore be held to be the most perfectly fraudulent of all!

<> If you can't otherwise destroy the credibility of a UFO

photo, plant a small model of the alleged craft near the

photographer's home where it can be conveniently discovered and

whisked off to the local media. The model need not resemble the

original too closely; as long as the press says it's a dead ringer

nobody will question the implication of fraud.

<> Argue that all reports of humanoid extraterrestrials must

be bogus because the evolution of the humanoid form on Earth is the

result of an infinite number of accidents in a genetically isolated

environment. Avoid addressing the logical proposition that if

interstellar visitations have occurred, Earth cannot be considered

genetically isolated in the first place.

<> Argue that extraterrestrials would or wouldn't, should or

shouldn't, can or can't behave in certain ways because such behavior

would or wouldn't be logical. Base your notions of logic on how

terrestrials would or wouldn't behave. Since terrestrials behave in

all kinds of ways you can theorize whatever kind of behavior suits

your arguments.

<> Stereotype contact claims according to simplistic scenarios

already well established in the collective imagination. If a reported

ET contact appears to have had no negative consequences,

sarcastically accuse the claimant of believing devoutly that

"benevolent ETs have come to magically save us from destroying

ourselves!" If someone claims to have been traumatized by an alien

contact, brush it aside as "a classic case of hysteria." If contactees

stress the essential humanness and limitations of certain ETs they

claim to have met, ask "why haven't these omnipotent beings offered

to solve all our problems for us?"

<> Ask why alleged contactees and abductees haven't received

alien infections. Reject as "preposterous" all medical evidence

suggesting that such may in fact have occurred. Categorize as "pure

science-fiction" the notion that alien understandings of immunology

might be in advance of our own, or that sufficiently alien

microorganisms might be limited in their ability to interact with

our biological systems.

Above all, dismiss anything that might result in an actual

investigation of the matter.

<> Travel to China. Upon your return, report that "nobody there

told me they had seen any UFOs." Insist that this proves that no UFOs

are reported outside countries whose populations are overexposed to

science fiction.

<> Where hypnotic regression has yielded consistent contactee

testimony in widespread and completely independent cases, argue

that hypnosis is probably unreliable, and is always worthless in the

hands of non-credentialed practitioners. Be sure to add that the

subjects must have been steeped in the UFO literature, and that,

whatever their credentials, the hypnotists involved must have been

asking leading questions.

<> If someone claims to have been emotionally impacted by a

contact experience, point out that strong emotions can alter

perceptions. Therefore, the claimant's recollections must be

entirely untrustworthy.

<> Maintain that there cannot possibly be a government UFO

coverupÉ but that it exists for legitimate reasons of national

security!

<> Accuse conspiracy theorists of being conspiracy theorists

and of believing in conspiracies! Insist that only *accidentalist*

theories can possibly account for repeated, organized patterns of

suppression, denial and disinformational activity.

<> Argue that since theoretically there can be no press

censorship in the United States, there is no press censorship in the

United States.

<> In the event of a worst-case scenario--for example, one in

which the UFO is suddenly acknowledged as a global mystery of

millennial proportions--just remember that the public has a short

memory. Simply say dismissively, "Well, everyone knows this is a

monumentally significant issue. As a matter of fact, my colleagues

and I have been remarking on it for years!"

* * *

Daniel Drasin is a media producer, writer, musician and award-

winning cinematographer with a passionate interest in the field of

New Science. He lives in Boulder, Colorado and chases flying saucers

in his spare time.

* * *

####

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1. Never look for the simplest, most obvious cause of something. Refrain from mentioning Occam's Razor (it's your nemesis).

2. Always favor the conspiracy angle over the boring angle. Mundane explanations (like saying that Roswell was a balloon) are for dullards and government drones. If you want to sleep with that curvaceous new-age chick, don't tell her you think astrology is bogus! (Non woo-woos may benefit from that advice temporarily).

3. Don't accept mainstream science unless it's something you've believed in for years (like gravity).

4. Try to answer as few direct questions as possible. Always obfuscate and try to sound learned. Mimic Richard Hoagland's style and you'll go far.

5. Use "what if" scenarios to change the subject whenever possible. If you linger on one topic too long you may be asked to provide annoying things like "proof." Don't let that happen! Consult a creationist if you need practice with subject-changing.

6. If you're cornered and asked for proof of something, always tell the person that they "can't disprove" your claims. Many of them will just walk away shaking their heads, which of course means they agree with you. A side-to-side head shake could be the same as a vertical nod. Anything is possible, after all.

7. Memorize all the sci-babble terms used in the Star Trek series. They are very useful if you get cornered by a skeptic, and you need to come up with some sort of "scientific" explanation. e.g., Inertial Dampeners. (Thanks to SkepticReport.com for the Star Trek terminology correction!)

8. When all else fails, start asking hypothetical questions that have nothing to do with the actual debate. If your opponent chooses to ignore your pointless questions and remains on topic, repeat your meaningless question(s) over and over. This will make any Believers in the audience think that your opponent is evading the issue.

9. Accuse your opponent of being a xxxx, or try some other tactic that will (hopefully) make him angry. If he responds in kind to your endless taunts, change the subject to his anger, and accuse him of name calling. If he accuses you of provoking him, then you have changed the subject of the debate. If he stays on topic, keep the heat up. The Believers in the audience will forgive the worst verbal attacks you use, but they will think even the mildest replies he makes to you are personal attacks that undermine his argument.

10. Use the word quantum in a sentence, despite not knowing what it means. For a more impressive effect, use it with the name of your favorite superstition - "quantum dowsing" sure sounds mighty serious.

11. Two more words: Paradigm shift.

12. Always claim that the other guy is "closed-minded" and that you're as free-thinking as a newborn baby. Other woo-woos love the concept of "open-mindedness" and will take you into their inner circle without question. They have no tolerance for those "mean old nasty" types who demand evidence for everything.

13. Drink heavily while posting.

14. You must believe that the word "anomaly" means proof of paranormal activity.

15. Use the word "anomaly" as often as possible.

16. When your position appears hopeless, your entire audience is laughing at you, and you've lost all credibility (and perhaps even won a Kook of the Month) threaten everyone within proximity with a lawsuit. You don't need to actually prepare a lawsuit, just make the threat. That will let them know you're a serious person.

17. Go make your own newsgroup with a group charter drawn up to keep out anyone who doesn't agree with your view of the world. Occasionally crosspost to other newsgroups from that one, then complain when people answer your posts, complain to their system admistrators that they're abusing the terms of your newsgroup and demand their accounts be yanked for abusive spamming. Respond to each answering message with a duplicate copy of the FAQ for your

newsgroup.

18. Open numerous accounts under other names, then post agreeable responses to your own messages from those accounts. Everybody knows that the only reason anybody disagrees with you is that they like the belong to "the group" and have no independent thought of their own. Just manufacture a group of people who agree with you, and the rest of the mindless zeebs will fall into line, tripping over each other to become one of your supporters.

19. Fix the 'reply to' line of any post you make, to direct responses to your email account - this will automatically mail you a copy of any response made to your posts on usenet. Send copies of these mails to the postmasters and sysadmins of anyone who posts a disagreeing answer to you. Refer to these people as 'internet terrorists' and demand their accounts be canceled immediately for sending you unwanted email spam.

20. Refer to anyone who doggedly uncovers your latest little scams, time after time as "stalkers." Write to their sysadmins and demand their accounts be removed for net abuse.

21. Remember to occasionally tell your opponents that you've handed all the information you've collected about them to the local police/Mounties/FBI who were extremely interested and grateful for the advance notice of where to find criminals like you. You don't actually have to collect any information, or send it to anybody, but this will keep your opponents edgy, and make them paranoid. Mention that the police/Mounties/FBI are closing in on them, and that their

day of reckoning is just moments away.

22. Refer to anyone who does not immediately agree with you as being uneducated on the matter, lacking in important information, or just plain too stupid to understand your magnificent statements.

23. Pretend to write a book. Nothing says "I am beyond reproach" like having written a book. If asked for an ISBN number, just make something up. Nobody ever looks at those anyway.

24. Pretend to have a degree. Never let yourself be pinned down to what kind or where you got it. Just state repeatedly that you have one, and therefore are superior, and may not be questioned upon any subject by anyone.

25. Claim that there is no evidence that you are a fraud, kook, net-abuser, spammer, or xxxx. Refer to any actual proof of this s "spinning" or "disinformation." Post messages that the system administrators of every system your opponents post from are on the verge of killing their accounts for net-abuse, and that you're going to set things right, and get rid of all these cynical lying fact-spinners by sending one final massive complaint against them all.

26. When all else fails.... SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM SPAM.....

27. When questioned, be sure to exclaim "They laughed at Galileo, too!" or perhaps "They laughed at Columbus, until he proved the earth was round!"

28. Always bear in mind that The Conspiracy Against You can do almost anything. After all, they've kept those 300 MPG carburetors secret for years.

29. Keep trotting out the one "respectable" scientist who might possibly have said something that could be construed as perhaps giving a hint that it may theoretically support your position. Even better if said scientist has said it outright. Ignore all complaints that the work is 50 years out of date, the scientist has no experience in the field in question or that other experts in the same field think said scientist is a complete loony (and they can prove it, too).

30. Dig out one reference that supports your position. Complain when someone presents a reference that refutes yours. Say that this means they can't think for themselves and your reference proves it. Ignore all queries on why you hold this hypocritical position.

31. Whenever you read something on the Internet, re-post it as fact. Never bother to do even basic research into the matter.

32. Be sure to repeatedly spam your petty political rants onto lots of unrelated, off-topic newsgroups. (Those folks reading rec.culture.needlepoint are just dying to read about how much you hate a certain politician!)

33. One word: "Hyperdimensional."

34. When debating, remember that the best technique to "proving" your hypothesis is to start with a supposition, and when you get to the third point, refer to the supposition as a "fact". This may cause just enough initial confusion to let you escape with a momentary triumph.

35. Sock Puppets are very useful. If you can't find a weak-minded soul who will blindly parrot you in support of your nonsense, create your own. Then you can refer to your "many" supporters.

36. Quote Einstein, and do so often. Quote things he said if possible, but Einstein has been dead for ages now and so it's permissible to bring him up to date. Change the odd word here and there to make it clear that Einstein would have supported your argument if only he knew what you know. Act as if any arbitrary Einstein quote supports your position.

37. Any and all communications problems including satellite failures, bad phone connections, mysterious messages when dialing known phone numbers, busy signals when trying to enter the grassy knoll on AOL, and radios left on during calls must be blamed on the 'Conspiracy' trying to 'silence the truth'.

38. Use lots of ALL CAPS letters. Use them randomly: "I was posting my URL in alt.paranormal/alt.astrology. Then I was stopped because A MAJORITY OF POSTERS, PSEUDO-SKEPTIC RAVING FANATICS SCREAMED ABOUT IT."

39. Beware the "goodtimes" virus.

40. When all else fails, try to redefine what "skeptical", "skeptic" and "skepticism" mean so that you become a 'real' skeptic who accepts your own nonsense at face value.

41. Refer to yourself in the third person.

(originally posted in sci.skeptic and alt.fan.art-bell, based on an original idea by Reality Check)

Also:

Logical Fallacies & the Art of Debate

Edited by Evan Burton
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You forget a very important one Evan

42. Continue to recycle your previous work, even though it has been shown to be wrong every time it is posted. Make sure you pretend it is still valid. Finallly when challenged, always reply "My work has never been debunked." Remember, someone might actually believe you if you post it enough times.

Edited by Craig Lamson
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