Listener Feedback: That Darned Science

Skeptoid responds to some listener emails that question the validity of the scientific method.

by Brian Dunning

Filed under Feedback & Questions

Skeptoid #324
August 21, 2012
Podcast transcript | Listen | Subscribe
 

Once again we're going to pour the mailbag of listener feedback onto the table, and sort through the pile of questions, suggestions, criticisms, praise, requests for lengthy one-on-one discourse, and death threats. Those are the basic mail slots, for better or for worse.

This week's feedback is comprised of common misunderstandings of science and the scientific method. Most of these are familiar arguments that attempt to bolster a pseudoscience not by providing evidence in favor of it, but instead by trying to show that science itself is fatally flawed; thus, by implication, the preferred pseudoscience must therefore be correct. On top of everything else, this is a false dichotomy. Even if the scientific method were proven to be useless, this would not leave the paranormal to be the only possible true explanation.

Let's get started with an email from Scott from The Villages, Florida, who wrote in response to my episode on expensive alkaline water filters, a health product sold through quack multilevel marketing business scams. Scott reiterates the most basic of all misunderstandings of science based medicine, which is the Big Pharma conspiracy theory:

It's been reported that doctors will not recommend the use of these alkaline antioxidant water making machines because its a fact that do help people get releaf from some medical ailments, and that would cause less people going to doctors for treatments.Bottom line,the doctors would lose money.

The same holds true with the pharmaceuticals companies.The pills they sell will not cure anything.If they did,they would go out of business.

Setting aside for the moment the question of whether doctors truly do conspire to suppress useful therapies, let's focus on the rationale of Scott's argument. If someone is motivated by profits from selling a service, they are not likely to sell a service that will provide what the customer actually needs. My question for Scott would be that if this truly is human nature, does it extend to the sellers of these water filters? Most such devices cost in the range of two to six thousand dollars. Why would someone sell a machine that would truly solve the customer's health problems? If they did, the customers would be taken care of, and would not need to give repeat business.

Scott's logic is also commonly used by supporters of just about every other type of alternative medicine. Herbal supplements, acupuncture, and cleansing concoctions are all sold on a for-profit basis, and thus the argument applies to them as well. I couldn't say it any better than Scott did himself, and I quote: "The pills they sell will not cure anything. If they did, they would go out of business."

Next we have an email from Dezi, who writes:

Skepticism is like a blind religion that "believes" blindly the negative of everything and just rationalises evidence away and comes up with theories that are just as bizzare as anyone elses and then pretends those theories are facts.

Dezi raises several fallacious arguments, but let's focus on the common misperception that the dismissal of an unscientific belief is just as much a type of belief itself; faith-based, as it were. This is popular because it sounds so rational: as silly as it would be to "believe" in leprechauns, logically it's just as unsupportable to assert that they don't exist.

This reflects a misunderstanding of what the scientific method leads to. The application of skepticism to a new idea that's not yet proven does not lead to the assertion that it's false. Instead it leaves us with the null hypothesis, an important concept that's often overlooked. If the new idea is a suggestion that we're surrounded by invisible dancing unicorns, the null hypothesis tells us that there's not yet a compelling reason to make this conclusion. That's different from saying it's a fact that we're not surrounded by invisible dancing unicorns. Maybe we are, allows skepticism; but without convincing evidence that can be tested and repeated, we don't yet agree that the case is proven.

Here's a really good email from James in New York. I love this because James understands just enough to be dangerous:

Science is ever correcting itself. Scientists of the day thought the world was flat. Science today views the solar system in the same way as the people who thought the world was flat. Newton was corrected by Einstein who was corrected by Hawking. Science continually updates, then considers that to be rock solid evidence.

James is absolutely right that science is a continually self-correcting process. Unlike pseudoscience, we constantly revise and improve our knowledge. But James does something that I hear all the time: he twists this fact into an assertion that anything we've learned might be suddenly and completely overturned at any moment. Pre-scientific ideas, like geocentrism, were completely overturned because they had no sound empirical underpinnings. Conversely, today's theories are based on foundations of research and testing; in some cases, centuries of it. It's true that we are still revising some of the nuances of gravitational theory, but by now it's implausible to suspect that its fundamental nature might suddenly be found completely wrong. So it is with nearly every science. Think of science as forever incomplete, not as catastrophically fragile. The pyramid may be uncapped, but it's not likely to tip over.

Macky from Auckland presents another facet of the misrepresentation of scientific thought:

Science has made much progress DESPITE other mainstream scientists who have maintained the status quo of the day, even sometimes at the ruination of the "heretic's" career or life. The mainstream did not engage in critical thinking at all, but proceeded to often pillory the heretic until they either recanted, or faced death or dishonour.

The previous outdated models of science, in fact, was only DOGMA, as it has turned out so often.

Dogma is a set of irrefutable truths established by an authority. Thus Macky is demonstrating one of the most familiar misconceptions, that science is an established set of beliefs, rather than a learning process. There are a number of flaws in this perspective. First, "science" has no authority figure with the power to establish anything. Second, every working scientist's career is defined by his new discoveries; there is no work to be done, and no salary to be found, in accepting irrefutable truths and doing nothing.

I also hear the word "heretic" a lot from people with Macky's perspective. It's usually used in reference to a lone crank who promotes some pseudoscience, often selling a product, who wishes to be seen as a maverick courageously bucking the trend. It's noteworthy that the term "heretic" is only ever used by dogmatic authorities. For example, the Catholic church used it during the Inquisition. I've never heard a working scientist call anyone a heretic in reference to their scientific work; instead, they simply point out that they're wrong and why. But promoters of pseudoscience want to be called heretics, because that would make the scientific mainstream into a dogmatic authority. Whenever you run into a lone researcher who's outside the mainstream and claims to have been labeled a heretic, you have very good reason to be skeptical.

Mick from Liverpool wrote in reference to my episode on the Baigong Pipes, one of many examples around the world where some think modern humans were preceded by a more advanced race:

i think the obvious conclusion is that we are not the first advanced civilization or species on this planet.......thats plausable enough to me, and the geological argument sounds desperate. so , lets drop this inflated sense of ourselves and say..ok, maybe we are not the first bunch of people to get to at least our level of technology and maybe our history is nothing but an educated guess and nothing is written in stone

The charge that today's researchers have an inflated sense of themselves is basically saying that scientists arrogantly claim to know everything. Again, this flies in the face of the whole reason researchers exist. It's to learn new stuff. Nobody funds research that's intended to not learn anything. I've never met an archaeologist or anthropologist who wouldn't love to discover evidence of a superior early civilization. The reason we don't think there were any is not that we have an inflated sense of ourselves, it's that there's no evidence or record of it, and it's fundamentally illogical for knowledge and technology to have actually decreased over the centuries.

Finally, here's an email from Adrian in Romania, who wrote in about the homeopathy episode. Homeopathy proposes that spiritual essence is a functional mechanism:

You people are so concerned (and bitter) about scientific details that you lose the essence of human being.

Tip Skeptoid $2/mo $5/mo $10/mo One time

It must be very lonely to live surrounded only by matter, with no hope, or happiness, or LOVE around you, just because there is no scientific prove of these feelings. No IN LOVE without statistical analysis. Waiting for "material death" to come in a statistically determined moment, destructuring your atoms and molecules and returning them to Earth.

There are only two possibilities:
1. You are well paid to convince readers that the highest entity they must believe in is the President or Royal Highness.
2. You are brainwashed.
3. The possibility of doing that for free is aberrant that I prefer not to consider it.

It is not my intention to offend you, but to awaken you, to understand that every single decision we take has consequences and if you can fool some people around you cannot fool your inner self. So close your eyes, take a deep deep breath and just be yourself.

Adrian makes two basic points, but they contradict each other. First he asserts that scientists who study the physical world are somehow lost or deficient or are unable to enjoy life for some reason; but then he contends that the only reason someone would study the physical world is that they're either brainwashed or paid to pretend to do it. Adrian's proposed dichotomy — which I hear all the time — is that in order to accept what we can learn through scientific research, we must reject all intangibles such as love and happiness. It's a bizarre suggestion, but in my experience, it's all too commonplace. It seems infantile to even have to refute such a statement, by pointing out such obvious facts as the existence of many happy scientists in the world.

There should be something of a self-evident red flag to people who draw this dichotomy and make such a radical assumption about so many people. Great sweeping generalizations, particularly those purporting to know the thoughts and feelings of other people, are almost always wrong. It doesn't really matter whether you're a skeptic or a believer, black or white, gay or straight, liberal or conservative, Eastern or Western, Northern or Southern: when you catch yourself thinking you know the minds of others — and most especially when you assign them some sort of sub-human, amoral, or thoughtless traits — it's almost certainly you who is in the wrong.

Brian Dunning

© 2012 Skeptoid Media, Inc. Copyright information

References & Further Reading

Dyson, Freeman. The Scientist As Rebel. New York: The New York Review of Books, 2006.

Ernst, E., Singh, S. Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts about Alternative Medicine. New York: Bantam Press, 2008.

Plait, P. Bad Astronomy: Misconceptions and Misuses Revealed, from Astrology to the Moon Landing Hoax. New York: Wiley, 2002.

Randi, J. Flim-Flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other Delusions. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1982.

Sagan, C. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. New York: Random House, 1995.

Shermer, M. The Believing Brain: How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2011. 207-230.

Reference this article:
Dunning, B. "Listener Feedback: That Darned Science." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, Inc., 21 Aug 2012. Web. 21 Oct 2014. <http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4324>

Discuss!

"I've never heard a working scientist call anyone a heretic in reference to their scientific work"

No, they say "crank" or "quack," as do we.

I think a good number of Nobel laureates were ridiculed by the scientific community at first. For example, Dan Schechtman's research group kicked him out for "bringing disgrace" to its members, and Linus Pauling, of all people, declared at a conference, "Danny Shechtman is talking nonsense. There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists."

And why was homosexuality classified as a mental disorder until 1973? Was that science or dogma?

Max, Boston, MA
August 21, 2012 1:47am

The REASON scientists use those terms is important, Max. We don't say someone's a crank merely because we disagree--we have evidence and logic behind it. Yes, sometimes that logic is flawed and the evidence is misunderstood; that's inherent in the fact that science is self-correcting. Compare that with, say, homeopaths, who have no evidence (only statistical noise and bias).

It's the same with the homosexuality thing. Scientists were wrong. We made a bad assumption (and the fact that we still discuss sexuality as consisting only of homo- and heterosexuality is proof that we're still not completely free of that error). But--and this is the part you've ignored--we fixed it.

Scientists do not claim omniscience, as you seem to think, and we fully acknowledge that we can commit errors--we'll even tell you how to prove us wrong. But the evidence is incredibly strong that the scientific method, in the long term, will fix those errors. Maybe not as fas as you'd like, but they DO get fixed.

Compare that with pseudoscience, which has been wallowing--and is proud to wallow--in the same muck since its inception.

Gregory, California
August 21, 2012 7:14am

"...and it's fundamentally illogical for knowledge and technology to have actually decreased over the centuries...."

Ouch Brian. You are plaing into the "Ancient Astronauts" people's hands there. Actually there is a lot of evidence of technology being lost over ceenturies and being discovered again. Much of the technology used to build the pyramids was lost for many years as a prime example. The Ancient Romans discovered and made extensive use of hydraulic cement but the existence of it became a legend until discovered again (formalized) in the 18th and 19th century(then called Roman cement)

Archemedes' Mirros, Greek Fire, Damascus Steel, and others are all good examples of technologies which, for onee reason or another were lost and then recently rediscovered.

The answer is Yes, technology can (and has) been lost. To think that it takes ancient Aliens to allow humans to be creative is quite another.

Please Brian, they are annoying enough.... Don't give them a leg to stand on, however brittle it may be

PaulC, Littleton MA
August 21, 2012 10:36am

"And why was homosexuality classified as a mental disorder until 1973? Was that science or dogma?"

It was worse! It was Psychology. Everyone knows those guys are out to lunch!

Government Goodies, Secret Government Lab
August 21, 2012 10:38am

As to the charge against homosexuality-as-pathology:

One needs to divorce the actions of groups and organizations from the model of science. The APA is a political body made up of scientists. It had (and has) competing prerogatives; its members are rooted in social norms. It should not be surprising that their actions and decisions upheld those social norms. This is not evidence that science per se is flawed, only that the people who make decisions based in it (or not, as the case may be) are human. It certainly doesn't mean that science is dogmatic nor does it mean that pseudoscience has any claim to enlightenment.

The APA made a calculated political choice grounded in the assumptions of their day, later refuted by science. And it took the work of members who recognized their error to change the standards of the groups prescriptions—exactly as they should. There's a great episode of "This American Life" that covers this event.

As to Brian's claim that it is "illogical for knowledge and technology to have actually decreased over the centuries," this is for the most part true. There are a few examples (the Dark Ages come to mind), but they are certainly not severe enough to support the idea that a race of technologically advanced non-humans existed before us. I just thought that was an interesting footnote or counterpoint.

As for Adrian's comment: there are material bases for love and happiness. This doesn't negate their powerful effect on the people who feel them.

Noah, New York
August 21, 2012 11:08am

The Dark Ages weren't as dark as people think. If you asked a person in 480 AD what major events were happening recently "The fall of the Roman Empire and collaps of civilization as we know it" would be the last thing to pop up.

As I see it (and any historians, please feel free to rip me apart), technology isn't lost because civilization backslides--rather, it's lost because different cultures emphasize different types of technology. Medieval weapons and steel were superior to Roman weapons and steel, for example. Medieval building techniques, not so much. Communications technology remained largely the same for a few thousand years, despite having all the pieces in place for great advancements. Our own culture shows this pretty well--horse raising, non-motorized farming, and food preservation (other than refrigeration) are all niche hobbies that few if any of us practice on a regular basis, not because we're stupider than our grandparents but because we've emphasized engines and refrigeration.

Technology IS lost--but I don't think you can call it backsliding, as much as choosing a different route.

Gregory, California
August 21, 2012 11:27am

With regard to heretics, I heard Barry Marshall on an episode of the Infinite Monkey Cage at Cheltenham Science Festival talking about his struggle to get his Helicobacter pylori theory accepted, and he said when you come up with a new idea "it's the job of every other scientist in the world to prove you wrong. And eventually when they can't prove you wrong, you must be right. That's the scientific method." He called himself a maverick, which is a good term, and clearly spends a lot of time dealing with people who see themselves as heretics, and seek him out as a potential supporter.
As to technology going backwards, I distinctly remember being told on a NASA tour in Florida that if we wanted to land on the moon again, we'd have to start from scratch, because they'd basically "forgotten" (failed to archive properly) how we got there before. Of course, all the science that underpinned it hasn't been forgotten, but the technology is another matter. The Chinese seem to have been particularly prone to "now where did I leave that..." syndrome over the centuries. The idea that we could have forgotten to remember a whole advanced civilisation is like finding a box of childhood treasures, or even priceless heirlooms, in the loft. Wouldn't we all love it?

Candida, UK
August 21, 2012 12:06pm

"...and it's fundamentally illogical for knowledge and technology to have actually decreased over the centuries...."

In addition to what PaulC said above, it would not be illogical for knowledge and technology to decrease, it would be unlikely.

Illogical describes things that break the rules of logic, for eksamlple claiming contradictory things like "Thou shalt not kill" and "Kill unbelievers" at the same time.
Unlikely describes things that has a low probability of occuring, for example valuable knowledge beeing lost to all of humanity.

It is a minute, but important distinction.
Not observing it makes it sound like you claim that the "illogical" thing CANNOT happen, and that sets you up for a comeback like the one PaulC gave above.

Knut, Oslo
August 21, 2012 12:34pm

Noah,
"One needs to divorce the actions of groups and organizations from the model of science."

You got it. Most criticism here is leveled at the practice of science, not the theory. Responding that science is better in theory than in practice is sort of a cop out.

For example, "science is self-correcting" could mean that old scientists accept new ideas, or it could mean that old scientists die and young scientists accept new ideas. Big difference in practice.

Max, Boston, MA
August 21, 2012 12:44pm

I was amused by Adrian's letter and your response. Adrian appears to think that scientists are soul-less, humourless beings. The thought crossed my mind that the Hollywood version of scientists in the 1950s must really have stuck in some peoples' minds. You know, like the arrogant researcher in "The Thing" (1951)who knows everything except that the alien is trying to kill everybody.It didn't seem to bother him when the alien used some other researchers for food in the greenhouse. Soul-less indeed! Now that I think about it, scientists are not well-represented in more recent movies, either, like "Jurassic Park" (1993). The Adrians of the world expect the very worst of scientists, probably because they never read articles about REAL science and only pick up the cultural zeitgeist from the movies.

Nancy R., Marietta, GA
August 21, 2012 12:52pm

Max:

This is not an issue of theory vs. practice.

The creation of the DSM is not the scientific method in action: it is the social and political application of criteria which are supposed to be research based, but which in fact may not be. We're not talking about research, we're talking about a misuse or abandonment of research by a body of psychologists charged with writing guidelines and recommendations for other psychologists and psychiatrists.

You're conflating the actions of organizations with the work that their members are doing or using in their clinical practice.

And, moreover, the diagnoses in the DSM are not scripture. They are arguably more important for determining law and insurance obligations than they are a record of cutting-edge research.

Noah, New York
August 21, 2012 1:22pm

Noah,

Cutting-edge research, especially in medicine, tends to be wrong. The guidelines used to make real-world decisions are supposed to be based on the established scientific consensus. That's the best way for laymen to know what "the science" says. If the guidelines are corrupt, then how are you supposed to tell sound science from junk science?

Max, Boston, MA
August 21, 2012 1:50pm

Academia often fails keep Brian’s high mindedness. New ideas get quashed and research gets blocked. Its easier to do in the “soft” sciences like psychology but it occurs in the harder sciences as well. If you can’t get time on the telescope you can’t do your study.

Noah eloquently pointed out.
“The APA is a political body made up of scientists. It had (and has) competing prerogatives; its members are rooted in social norms. It should not be surprising that their actions and decisions upheld those social norms. This is not evidence that science per se is flawed, only that the people who make decisions based in it (or not, as the case may be) are human. It certainly doesn't mean that science is dogmatic nor does it mean that pseudoscience has any claim to enlightenment.”

This is very well said, Noah, and true of any scientific body. But I’m going off topic as I must take you to task for this example, removing homosexuality from the DSM was blatantly political. There was no “gay” cabal within the APA as some charge, but the younger folks were the product of the 1960s far left college scene and they felt that it was a social justice issue. Gold and Spitzer are hailed today but their approach to proving a theory was to move the goal posts and make up a new definition of what constitutes a disorder. Many argue that Spitzer has been supported by later research but very few dare to challenge this as its labeled with the weasel word “homophobic” and will cost your tenure.

John, Seattle WA
August 21, 2012 2:40pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heresy
"A heresy is any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs or customs."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogma
"Dogma is the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization.[1] It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or
believers"

Using Galileo as an example, he was forced to recant his scientific view before the Inquisition and was eventually under house arrest for the rest of his life. The mainstream scientific view held geocentricism as "established doctrine",Galileo was a "heretic"

Is this not an example of the wiki definitions of heresy and dogma that I have posted before ?
There are many examples of this through history

I have never decried science in general, and its methods

What I HAVE said is that human nature being what it is, science itself can become a belief system in practice, by mainstream scientists.

This does NOT dispel what science actually is, but it's an example of what human nature can turn it into.

As I said, I've seen many examples of falacious arguments, personal attacks, and uncritical thinking since I've been posting here, all in support of science and "logic"

Your distortion of what I have actually said about science "Thus Macky is demonstrating one of the most familiar misconceptions, that science is an established set of beliefs, rather than a learning process" is a glaring example.

Macky, Auckland
August 21, 2012 2:40pm

Good post Mackey

Those who study the world around us are people too; they have biases and points of view. And most sciences have their dogma. This doesn’t invalidate the scientific method, it makes it essential. After all if it can be reproduced then it’s not just one voice anymore and the group will usually come to the correct conclusion.
This method has given you wonders, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Antibiotics and the virtual extinction of diseases that used to kill millions. We can quibble about some individual points but the scientific method is proven myriad times in you daily existence. Does your child have polio? Did you have to chase down an Ibex for your lunch? Do you commute to work in a hide boat?

This doesn’t mean everyone involved is perfect, it means that someone, rightly or wrongly made you doubt their motives and now you distrust their position as a result. See the insulting, inflammatory, scientifically inaccurate, scare mongering profiteer Al Gore for more details. He is one of the most loathsome examples of American politics since Boss Tweed. People are correct to doubt him if he claims the ocean contains water but it doesn’t make him wrong, you can have someone else go and check.

Sorry for the froth... Cheers!

Dan Hillman, Seattle
August 21, 2012 3:08pm

"What I HAVE said is that human nature being what it is, science itself can become a belief system in practice, by mainstream scientists."

And the scientific method is there to ensure that, eventually, this gets fixed. Again, it may not be on a timescale you'd prefer it to be on--it may take a few lifetimes, even--but it eventually gets fixed.

And using what happened to Galileo as an example of the concept of heresy in science is disengenuous, as the concept of "science" as we know it today didn't exist back then. It's like blaming chemistry for the mercury fumes alchemists ingested. The dogma that Galileo challanged was a religious dogma, not a scientific one.

Science as we know it isn't nice, and it's certainly chewed up enough careers--but let's be honest about what its faults are, and not attribute to science what it couldn't possibly have done.

Gregory, California
August 21, 2012 3:31pm

What's the scientific method, in your own words? Does it include stuff like peer review?

Max, Boston, MA
August 21, 2012 3:37pm

Gregory

"The dogma that Galileo challanged was a religious dogma, not a scientific one."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_Galilei
"Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, inventing an improved military compass and other instruments."
"Galileo's championing of heliocentrism was controversial within his lifetime, when most subscribed to either geocentrism or the Tychonic system.[9] He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism due to the absence of an observed stellar parallax"

Science was certainly well established in those times. It was NOT only a religious dogma he challenged.

Gregory "Science as we know it isn't nice, and it's certainly chewed up enough careers--but let's be honest about what its faults are, and not attribute to science what it couldn't possibly have done."
Where have I said or implied that ??

Macky, Auckland
August 21, 2012 5:15pm

Macky
Galileo was forced to recant by the Catholic church. Amongst scientists of the time that weren't funded by the church (not many admittedly) the helio-centric model had been accepted for hundreds of years. Aristarchus 280bc

Peter Lindsay, Newcastle Aus
August 21, 2012 5:27pm

my favourite thing about people who push psudeoscience is that they always speak so high and mighty and feel that they are so much more enlightened than whoever it is they are lecturing, when often they are lecturing somebody far more knowledgeable than themselves on the subject. They are no different than religeous fundamentalists, they refuse to change their position regardless of overwhelming evidence against their beliefs.

Mal, Newcastle, Australia
August 21, 2012 6:08pm

I am so sick of people bringing up Galileo in support of quackery. He would be disgusted. In hundreds of years of Western science he is the only example that most people can ever think of as someone persecuted for his scientific beliefs, and the Church officials persecuting him were doing it on their *faith based* fear of science.
Just like the people who use him in their arguments now.
Pathetic.

Colin, Okazaki
August 21, 2012 6:50pm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignaz_Semmelweis

Despite various publications of results where hand-washing reduced mortality to below 1%, Semmelweis's observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected by the medical community. Some doctors were offended at the suggestion that they should wash their hands and Semmelweis could offer no acceptable scientific explanation for his findings. Semmelweis's practice earned widespread acceptance only years after his death, when Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory and Joseph Lister practised and operated, using hygienic methods, with great success. In 1865, Semmelweis was committed to an asylum, where he died, ironically, of septicemia at age 47.

Max, Boston, MA
August 21, 2012 7:12pm

Peter
Yes he was, but the point that I make in answer to Gregory's post is that it was not only heresy to the church, but also to mainstream scientific thought of the day, backed up by the wikipedia information.

I posted :
"What I HAVE said is that human nature being what it is, science itself can become a belief system in practice, by mainstream scientists."
"This does NOT dispel what science actually is, but it's an example of what human nature can turn it into."
In fact, the current level of science at any one time can become dogma to a great number of scientists, and heretics who question its "irrefutable truths" of the day often find themselves out in the cold very quickly.
As said heretics assertions are gradually accepted as new irrefutable facts, the old system of scientific thought was proven to be nothing more than another belief system of outdated dogma.

Brian has distorted what I have actually said about science in other posts, in this latest article.

I would add that his implication that seems to indicate that I belong to a group "who wishes to be seen as a maverick courageously bucking the trend" "who wants to be seen as a heretic" etc, is also not true in my case.

I do not promote pseudoscience, especially in place of proper science.

Macky, Auckland
August 21, 2012 7:34pm

I remember there was a show on a major network about the moon landing and how it was a complete hoax. I never saw the show but my friend did and soon as I came over I was bombarded with all the evidence that the show talked about. I dont know all evidence they had but it was usual stuff like how the flag was waving suggesting air current. I told her that they cant take someone else's evidence then look for flaws and then put the burden of proof on the original evidence, they have come up with something on their own. I couldnt convince her. But I bet Brian could.

Guy, Regina, Sk, Canada
August 21, 2012 9:18pm

I have followed Skeptoid for about 2 years now. I'm not a student or academic, just a plumber with a keen interest in science. I most often agree with the articles but sometimes think they could do with a bit more explanation (Though it is hard with limited space).
However it seems every time Brian mention certain topics old mate Max. takes it as a personal attack and starts parading around on his high horse. Why would you subscribe to a website that so often offends you? I have been on many other Pseudoscience sites with feedback and not many critical thinkers get upset like the Alt Med dudes do.
I figure you are trying to sell something Max, just have not worked out what.

Mik, Pearth West Oz
August 22, 2012 1:54am

That would be 2C and telling scientists they are egg heads doing things they ought'n't..

Yep, I know who is is crack pot in this room!

Science is never dogma. I have no idea how this came about.

There are a number of things that Galileo was aware of. There were a number of things Galileo was aware of that predated him by 2000 years.

The dogma was in the world view of the times that Galileo lived. That wasnt science, it was religion..

Get yer facts up and running!

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
August 22, 2012 2:43am

Mik,

Consider it peer review. I figured Brian was trying to sell something, since he spends a lot of time defending big industry, and uses the same kinds of disingenuous arguments that denialists like Steven Milloy use.

Max, Boston, MA
August 22, 2012 4:59am

One must remember, too, that any individual scientist or even group of scientists are made up of people, and can be motivated by personal moral or social investments. People can be haughty, petty and dismissive of someone (such as Semmelweis as Max mentioned) but that in no way discredits the concept and methodology of scientific progress. In the instances where people seem to be dogmatic in their assertion of their worldview, it must always be looked at on an individual basis and not indicative of the institution as a whole. To do so is operating on generalizations on par with common bigotry.

Jerimiah, Boston, MA
August 22, 2012 5:15am

Jeez.. I just did my work as best as could..

Its pretty hard to work in a field and push issues when the work doesnt have issues.

I am still amased that we get accused of being dogmatic. I know there has been the odd fraud spotted. But they are only detected when someone goes over their work and contacts Journal editors. Obviously it isnt a journalist that spots these things.

As for Max' comment, I have even less an idea what he is on about than Macky when he sprouts his ongoing self satisfaction.

Could both look at their keyboard and realise...they LOVE big industry!

For goodness sakes.. I havent heard either proclaiming candles, skateboards and pen and paper when they post....

Of course not..

Maybe there is a non dogmatic petrol, silicon and cutlery...

They should tell us.

Science tells you what to do.. you exercise your right to opt.

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
August 22, 2012 5:50am

Max, for it to be peer review you'd have to be a peer of Mr. Dunning's. The fact that you assume he's a corporate shill merely because he doesn't hate anything larger than a mom-and-pop grocery store (yes, I know it's an exageration) suggestst that you are not.

Macky, you should read up on the Alvarez Hypothesis. Alvarez et al. cut at the very heart of geology--the notion that things happen slowly and steadily over time. There was a pretty massive firestorm in the field over it, and a LOT of really nasty stuff happened.

But you know what else happened? In the end, all but a handful of cranks admitted that strict uniformitarianism--a theory as fundamental as Christ's ressurection is to Christians--was wrong. It certainly wasn't nice, and people got hurt (emotionally and professionally--the physical damage was all the normal wear-and-tear geologists experience, to my knowledge), but the evidence won.

Individuals can be dogmatic, but science as a whole pretty much crushes those people. They rapidly become irrelevant.

Gregory, California
August 22, 2012 7:58am

Gregory,
Your post:

“Individuals can be dogmatic, but science as a whole pretty much crushes those people. They rapidly become irrelevant.”

Is certainly how things are supposed to work and in fairness things usually work out eventually as the real monsters tend to eat one another. But it is naive to assume that various types of chicanery don’t happen. I can only speak for the University setting but you would not believe what some of these folks do to each other and to promising grad students. In my own area of Neuroscience and in others that I have close friends in (some of the psychical sciences) they get dogmatic as heck and try to hinder studies that might contradict their own. Grants also tend to steer research. This is as it should be but, a lot of science that ought to be done doesn’t because the NSF is obsessed with polar bears or whatever the topic of the week is. I don’t mean to criticize a particular topic. but good old human nature plays a bigger part than most realize.

John, Seattle WA
August 22, 2012 8:25am

An interesting example of crankery is mathematical crankery. People who decide they've solved unsolved problems (in some cases, such as trisecting an angle with straight edge and compass, a problem which is proven to be unsolvable.) These people are usually mentally ill, and they always go through the same set of arguments about being repressed and mathematicians being closed-minded and protecting their turf. These people merely have ego on the line, not money, but ego is enough for people whose intelligence is not as strong as their mental illness.

Thomas, Cambridge, MA
August 22, 2012 9:29am

Mud,

I don't love big industry so much that I avert my eyes when Merck creates a fake medical journal to advertise its products, or when sports drink companies invent a whole science of hydration to scare people into buying Brawndo the thirst mutilator.
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2009/05/04/when-big-pharma-pays-a-publisher-to-publ/
http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e4737

Gregory,

To be a peer of Mr. Dunning's, I'd need to have no training in statistics, science, or medicine, and ask for money to speak with great confidence on these topics. Read John's comment above.

Max, Boston, MA
August 22, 2012 10:40am

John:

I agree, it was a political decision. The APA (at least in part) makes political decisions. I think it is the right decision. And this only highlights the issue: they decided something, they did not discover something. They are not doing science but bureaucracy.

Noah, New York
August 22, 2012 11:23am

I can't believe some on here are citing Wikipedia as their 'evidence'. Is someone seriously saying that science today is unreliable or not perfect based on some guy long dead? One born every minute.

Science isn't perfect but it what we use to explain stuff and it works a lot better than believing in Goblins, Elves, Pixies and an invisible super-being.

The whole thing about science is that it CAN be over-turned IF the right conditions are met. The fact that it - generally - doesn't get over-turned is indicative that it is right.

Some folks in one part of the world can make a statement evaluated by experiment and observation and ANYONE on the planet can replicate the outcomes and prove that it is essentially true - until someone can prove that it is not. This makes scientific facts.

It is the case that because ANYONE can prove ANYTHING wrong that makes science strong, in my opinion. But we need proof and not some crazy bull.

Science has made this technological world that we know today. A world built on replicable studies and not on stupid, unproven beliefs.

No bat-shit crazy, new age, hippy bull could have made the modern human world today.

If we left world building to the spiritually inclined and the metaphysical nutters we would all be hugging trees and singing kumbaya round the camp-fire, asking God, Allah or any of the other millions of gods for guidance.

Science put men on the Moon and built nuclear power stations. Not god or any other 'woo' bullshit.

Steve Johnson, Hampshire, England, UK, Europe, the world - third rock from the Sun
August 22, 2012 11:56am

Steve,

I mentioned Semmelweis in response to Colin's comment that "In hundreds of years of Western science [Galileo] is the only example that most people can ever think of as someone persecuted for his scientific beliefs."

But if you look at previous comments, the first victim of ridicule I mentioned was Dan Schechtman, who is very much alive and was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of quasicrystals.

Oh by the way, Brian Dunning is a fan of Wikipedia.
http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4050 "Note that I'm no doubt going to be criticized for pointing laypeople toward Wikipedia as a starting point for research, mainly due to the usual criticisms of Wikipedia. But, as I said before, Wikipedia's weakness is also its strength, and I do stand by this recommendation, especially for laypeople of a given subject who don't otherwise have the experience to choose a good starting point."

Max, Boston, MA
August 22, 2012 1:30pm

When scientific knowledge affects policy, it necessarily needs to get involved in politics. Scientists are dealing with political pushback on global warming, and have to make political decisions about how to best be heard and influence the political conversation.

Thomas, Cambridge, MA
August 22, 2012 2:34pm

* But it is naive to assume that various types of chicanery don’t happen.*

Fortunately for me, I don't. I've SEEN them happen, so to deny their existence would be stupid. My point is that in the long run they don't matter--they are discovered, the errors corrected, and science moves on. It's just that this process doesn't happen fast enough for some people.

Max, Mr. Dunning also provides sources and logical arguments. You, on the other hand, have provided precious little of either. And bear in mind that Mr. Dunning's podcast is for entertainment--it's educational, but not intended to be an exhaustive course on any single topic. So you've got the wrong criteria anyway.

Gregory, California
August 22, 2012 2:40pm

Look, all I've basically said is :

"I have never decried science in general, and its methods

What I HAVE said is that human nature being what it is, science itself can become a belief system in practice, by mainstream scientists.

This does NOT dispel what science actually is, but it's an example of what human nature can turn it into."

In other words, human nature and the actions of mainstream scientists themselves can turn science into a belief system of dogma that is vigorously defended often using falacious arguments, personal attacks, illogical and unprovable assumptions as "proofs" of its integrity.

Is that plain enough, or are there some parts of the above that are still not understood ?

So far on this thread, I have seen all of the above as arguments against what is plain evidence of my assertions. Even Brian has mis-represented what I have said about science in other post(s).

Dan Hillman, Max, and John have got the gist of what I've posted. So I will clarify for the others.

1 I have never decried science in general, and its methods

2 I do NOT promote psuedoscience as substitute for science

3 I do NOT regard myself as a heretic

4 I often agree with what Brian posts, and I can give several examples

5 I'm not inflexible or fanatical in my assertions or beliefs. I have now changed my view of food irradiation, and have modified my attitude towards nuclear power, since Brian's articles on the subjects.

Is that clear enough for even Mud to understand ?

Macky, Auckland
August 22, 2012 3:22pm

Gregory,

You, John, and I have seen various types of chicanery happen in science, but I don't see any indication that Brian Dunning has seen it happen. He doesn't say, "These things happen, but in the long run they don't matter." Instead, he paints a rosy picture where scientists never bully anyone, "they simply point out that they're wrong and why."

The problem with painting a rosy picture is that when people do get a glimpse of how the sausage gets made (e.g. Climategate), they figure, "Well THIS isn't science. Scientists are supposed to be open-minded and welcome criticism or their work."

Max, Boston, MA
August 22, 2012 4:05pm

Why try and belittle peer review then cite Wiki as a reference ?
Brian says (and I heard this on a radio talk back in Australia not Skeptoid) Wiki is a good starting point because a lot of it is Peer reviewed but is not base fact.
You will never be able to sell me on the evils of big Pharma because it is blatantly obvious science based medicine has achieved so much for human kind and big Pharma employ scientists to develop products. Sure they make lots of money so as is the American way the fringe dwellers label them evil and make conspiracies that they are trying to rule the world. BWAH HA HA HAAA the evil scientists live

Mik, Pearth West Oz
August 22, 2012 5:31pm

Mik,

My Wiki reference to Semmelweis WAS a starting point. It's my way of saying, "Look up Semmelweis."
Brian likes Wikipedia for the same reason he praises science: it's self-correcting, democratic, evidence-based, etc.

About big Pharma, is it a conspiracy to create a fake medical journal just to advertise your products? Is it a conspiracy to pay recognized experts to sign articles written by corporate ghostwriters, and publish them without disclosing that they were ghostwritten? Or is it just business as usual?

Read "Flacking for Big Pharma"
http://theamericanscholar.org/flacking-for-big-pharma/

Max, Boston, MA
August 22, 2012 6:49pm

Hm. I can't really say I agree with Mr. Dunning's comment that authority figures do not shape scientific study / discourse / etc. I mean, ideally this wouldn't be the case, but I hardly think it's controversial to point out that tenure is a significant factor when it comes to how well received or harshly criticized a study is? Richard Lindzen's paper on the 'Infrared Iris', for example, was only met with a soft rebuttal because of his tenure at MiT. Meanwhile, Rupert Sheldrake's 'Morphic Field' hypothesis led to the tidy bisection of his career via an editorial in Nature. One could hardly disagree that Sheldrake was asking for it, but why the double standard? It seems to me that the reasonable explanation for the double standard is, well, disparate levels of academic authority.

Kevin R Brown, Qualicum Beach, BC
August 22, 2012 7:00pm

I am always amused by those who reject scientific method, yet use the internet and computers to proclaim it !!

Dripping with irony; a shame that they don't see it !!

Denis, Australia
August 22, 2012 7:13pm

Max,

Don't the Alt Med's also use this technique of employing paid shills, Generally washed up sports stars or American Dr's with numerous letters after their names, to promote miracle cure products? (one even shares your name).I have heard one lately referred to as the biggest breakthrough since the polio vaccine (a little ironic from Alt Med).
Meanwhile the label on the bottle reads, The FDA does not endorse this product to treat assist or cure any disease. or something along those lines.
I will read the link you suggested, as I have previously said I am not an academic and all my knowledge is based on personal research, so my mind is not a closed door.

Mik, Pearth West Oz
August 22, 2012 7:56pm

"I am always amused by those who reject scientific method, yet use the internet and computers to proclaim it !!"

And where is there anyone on here who has rejected the scientific method, Denis ??

Macky, Auckland
August 22, 2012 8:54pm

Mik,

Yeah, some of the Alt Meds don't even pretend to do science, but big players like the Bravewell Collaborative manage to insinuate "integrative medicine" into hospitals and medical schools.
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/the-infiltration-of-cam-and-integrative-medicine-into-academia/

Max, Boston, MA
August 22, 2012 10:17pm

On the nature of scientific revolutions:

Previous scientific theories do not get overturned.

Newtonian physics is still perfectly valid when dealing with the scales and precision it was applied to and we still use it to great advantage today. It just turns out that it doesn't apply to the very large or the very small. Which is interesting.

The story isn't being 're-written', it's being expanded.

Anthony, Ottawa, Canada
August 23, 2012 12:17pm

I actually already subscribe to science based medicine and have read that article before.
Flacking for Big Pharma reads a little like a paranoid scare paper to me. Not really my cup of tea. As with anything on the net for every paper for there are ten against, so I will stick by my guns and say although it is a multi billion dollar business they are doing more good than harm.(by the way I am not sponsored by big pharma so if any of you are reading and would like to throw me a new boat I will except ;-).)
Some of the big issues with big pharma eg. the anti Vac movement make no sense what so ever to me and actually make me mad and scared for society. I have a 5 and 3 yr old boy and there is not a paper study or article printed that would convince me not to get the boys vaccinated. Because I love them

Mik, Pearth West Oz
August 23, 2012 5:53pm

Gregory

"Macky, you should read up on the Alvarez Hypothesis. Alvarez et al. cut at the very heart of geology--the notion that things happen slowly and steadily over time. There was a pretty massive firestorm in the field over it, and a LOT of really nasty stuff happened.

But you know what else happened? In the end, all but a handful of cranks admitted that strict uniformitarianism--a theory as fundamental as Christ's ressurection is to Christians--was wrong. It certainly wasn't nice, and people got hurt (emotionally and professionally--the physical damage was all the normal wear-and-tear geologists experience, to my knowledge), but the evidence won."

Exactly the points I'm making Gregory.

Latterday proof postive.

The truth eventually wins, but not before the heretic is pilloried, often by other scientists, which bears little resemblance to textbook descriptions of how science should operate.

Macky, Auckland
August 23, 2012 9:02pm

I think your views on how to be skeptical while still being open to new information should be a basic course every college or maybe even high school. The course would be something similar to a philosophy class. I feel it would help a lot of young people shake any preconceived ideas or belief's that might prevent them from having a clear and logical view of something. Skepticism 101 with b. dunning, lesson 1 "spotting pseudoscience".

John McClane, New Jersey
August 24, 2012 6:22am

*The truth eventually wins, but not before the heretic is pilloried,*

No. Many of the people who opposed Alvarez et al. remained respected scientists the rest of their lives. Gerta Keller, for example, is still respected as a microfossil expert, even if her views on the K/Pg event aren't taken too seriously anymore. The term "cranks" didn't refer to all who disagreed with Alvarez, but rather with people who simply abandoned reason in support of a pet hypothesis. Some of them went FAR off the deep end. And the professional relationship thing happens. It's rough, but it's part of life--even when there's not a major controversy.

As far as textbooks go, the one my wife is teaching out of defines "theory" as "a hypothesis which has been tested". Textbooks are great for beginners, but once you start dealing with actual science they're a crutch that fast becomes crippling.

Gregory, California
August 24, 2012 9:33am

You need to remember that when you reference some one like Sammelwise, that it was a class bias and not a medical issue. Class bias was a real problem.

WMccreery, Yucaipa CA
August 24, 2012 11:03am

Gregory you still haven't got the point of what I originally posted, that Brian himself also misrepresented in this article.

You continue to split hairs, and lead yourself away from what I actually said, that science itself can become a belief system ( dogma ) and anybody ( including another scientist ) that steps outside the mainstream thought is often pilloried as a heretic.

I AGREE that science will eventually correct itself, but's that's not the point of what I'm on about.

Much of your posts actually endorse what I'm saying in the first place, apart from a few factual errors.

Macky, Auckland
August 24, 2012 2:59pm

Mik,

"Flacking for Big Pharma" is no more paranoid than "The Infiltration of CAM and Integrative Medicine into Academia." They both raise concerns about threats to science-based medicine.

Max, Boston, MA
August 24, 2012 3:26pm

*I AGREE that science will eventually correct itself, but's that's not the point of what I'm on about.*

Than you're focused on petty irrelevancies of no import beyond the life of the individuals impacted.

The whole reason science was established was to minimize these impacts you're focused on. The protocols we have in place--even the fact that researchers aren't bound to any particular avenues of research, but can go wherever they find topics that interest them--guarantee that over time any errors will be identified and corrected. These include factual errors (ie, bad data) and procedural errors (ie, frauds and manipulation). That's the entire purpose behind science. To dismiss it out of hand because some people got their feelings hurt, and some frauds succeeded during the perpetrator's lifespan, is to misunderstand what science IS.

And you've yet to substantiate your point. You've yet to point to ANY scientists labeled as "heretics". Your one example was declared a heretic by the Catholic church, not science. Until you provide some examples, there's not much to discuss when it comes to science and heresy.

What REALLY happens in science is that you get factions, by the way. Some scientists agree with you, some disagree, and you split and argue and journals make a lot of money off it until something proves one side right or wrong. Or at least, that's what I've experienced.

Gregory, California
August 24, 2012 3:53pm

I wish you would actually go back and read what I've posted from the start on this subject, Gregory.

Other posters have immediately understood what I've said about science actually ending up as another dogmatic belief system, due to human nature, despite all the wonderful sentiments you post regarding what it should be.

"To dismiss it out of hand because some people got their feelings hurt, and some frauds succeeded during the perpetrator's lifespan, is to misunderstand what science IS."

I ask you again, where have I dismissed science out of hand ? I have clearly posted my positions on science, pseudoscience, and what science can become through plain old human nature.
I have also said NOTHING about fraud or bad data.

"Heresy" and "heretic" do not only apply to religion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heresy
"Heresy is an opinion held in opposition to that of authority or orthodoxy. It is primarily used in a religious context, but by extension (and with increasing frequency), to secular subjects."

I supplied clear evidence that Galileo was at odds with many mainstream astronomers of the day, not only religion.

I assume you are a scientist yourself, from what you say in your posts. If you are not, I apologize for my error.

Why is it that at least three scientists on this site continuously misconstrue, and in Mud's case, deliberately distort, what I say ?
Is it because you are all so focused on the leaves and twigs, you cant see the forest ?

Not meant as insulting.

Macky, Auckland
August 24, 2012 7:45pm

"But promoters of pseudoscience want to be called heretics, because that would make the scientific mainstream into a dogmatic authority."

In other words, as long as people don't admit that they're dogmatic, they aren't! By the same token, cranks don't admit that they're cranks, and bigots don't admit that they're bigots, so they aren't!

Max, Boston, MA
August 24, 2012 8:32pm

I'm sorry Macky, but after reading many of your comments Ive quickly realised that not only do you not read other posts...Subsequent comments will show you didn't understand your own.

I have no idea how your above series of comments indicate such disparity to the patent rants in the LHC issue.

I invite anyone to find Mackys entry into skeptoid with his rants and self defence in the LHC post.

PS Science tells you what to do..

Mud, sin city, NSW, OZ
August 26, 2012 5:28am

With respect Mud, I don't know what you're on about.

I've been perfectly clear in my posts, often with very good circumstantial, and even irrefutable evidence, to back up my concerns, claims, and assertions.

Many other posters seem to know what I'm saying, so at least with some people, I'm on the right track, aren't I ?

Since you once again bring up the LHC, the evidence that it is not a completely safe machine is right in front of you.

Nine/ten days after start-up 6 tonnes of helium were dumped into the tunnel. A design fault was missed by 4 engineering review boards, proving that they were either incompetent, or that their enthusiasm got the better of them.
Had there been personnel standing nearby the spillage, the incident would have been a tragic accident.

Of course the LHC people will do their very best to keep everything safe, but the intention to keep on turning up the power abd scope of the experiments increases the dangers of mechanical failure, one of my concerns.

The other concern is more tenuous, I admit, but when the LHC scientists themselves are expecting the unexpected, then I think that it should be a matter for concern.

Isn't all that plain enough for you or anyone else to understand ?

Like I've indicated, I hope my concerns prove to be unfounded. I'll be happy if they are.

Macky, Auckland
August 26, 2012 6:08am

I find it interesting that the pretense of pity always accompanies the assertion of superiority. Like "I'm so sorry for you, that you are so deluded to think that science has all the answers and are denying yourself the greater truth that is attainable through spiritual healing (or whatever)". Always followed by a condescending yet earnestly ridiculous explanation of why science is wrong and thier guru, Yogi McWeirdo, is preaching the only path to true health and enlightenment by irrigating his colon with kitten tears or something...

Christine, Weeki Wachee, FL
August 26, 2012 9:37am

By the way, Mud.

The LHC subject was NOT my first entry into Skeptoid, yet another of your many factual errors about what I'm doing and saying in my posts.

In fact, you have never actually presented any solid evidence against my posts, preferring ridicule and derision over critical thinking.
While I can put up with "peacock ignorance" and "bone headed" as a couple of your colourful descriptions of what I say, your many allegations of me telling lies and back-flipping in my posts are quite unfair and unfounded.

However, since you invite "anyone" to examine my "rants" and "self defence" on the LHC subject, I will in turn invite you to present to Skeptoid readers EXACTLY where I have lied, and back-flipped.
If it is found to be so, I will readily apologize.
If not, then I would expect you to cease and desist the including of me lying and back-flipping in your posts.
In other words, Mud, with respect, put up or shut up.

Also BTW, Science does NOT tell me what to do.
It's corporate interests and their govt lackeys that largely determine what I will do or not, sometimes aided by scientists that are funded by them.
Corporate owners and their govt paid officials tell "you" scientists what to do, actually, by and large.
Where do you think your funding for scientific research comes from ?

Macky, Auckland
August 26, 2012 2:37pm

I liked your reference to Stephen Hawking refuting and refining some of Einstein's and Newton's study of gravity. Hawking made the scientific assertion there was no God by using the theories that go back to the Big Bang. His assertion dealt with the characteristics of a black hole, that if there is no space, with everything in an infinite density, then there is no time. If there was no time, then ther could be no cause and effect, therefore, no time for God to create the universe. That also seems to assume that God is part of the Universe. I can find no evidence of this fact, and cannot agree that one can create itself, therefore, God can't be a part of the Universe. But, this may have just been one of Hawking's rants at the religious teachings. My belief in God is my faith, any religion is politics. We can't all be children of one God, then insist that those that don't pray like me are praying to the wrong God, therefore asserting there is more than one God. This is why we should not allow religion into our government. We have enough political discourse without including religion into the political arena, as that would be politics into politics. Another dilemma.

Bruce, Virginia
August 27, 2012 5:58am

I agree that Brian made some valid points and that, overall, he was probably more right than wrong. It is blazingly obvious to me that people who denounce science in general have a very deficient and distorted understanding of what science really is and how it works.

I also found Macky's comments to be interesting and thought provoking. I don't think his observations are completely out of line, and agree with him that some of the posted criticisms of him reveal at least a partial misunderstanding of what he was trying to say.

Gunnar, Yuba City
August 27, 2012 8:25pm

You are wrong about one thing, Brian: it absolutely does matter if you are white, straight, and conservative. If those three attributes are evident, NOTHING you ever say will be accepted by modern society or reported fairly by the Old Media. Today, it is more important to be politically correct and culturally diverse than to be factual, and that bias is seen in every facet of modern society.

John, Augusta, Maine
August 28, 2012 1:13pm

Thanks Gunnar.
Someone else on here that understands the gist of what I saying.

Brian IS more right than wrong usually, and this article is no exception.
But he misrepresented what I have actually said about science, this time, and I certainly do NOT regard myself as some kind of "heretic" or "maverick courageously bucking the trend".

My posts of agreement on many other subjects should show that quite plainly.

Macky Not A Heretic, Auckland
August 29, 2012 1:51am

" I have clearly posted my positions on science, pseudoscience, and what science can become through plain old human nature."

And you continue to ignore my point, which is that while your concerns are valid in the short term science as a process renders such concerns irrelevant in the long term. Yes, science can become rigid and dogmatic--for a short time (though this "short time" may be far longer than anyone likes). Eventually, however, science will break the dogma. THAT is the part we disagree on--the scale at which it is appropriate to address these concerns.

Gregory, California
September 4, 2012 10:37am

Gregory wrote:
"Yes, science can become rigid and dogmatic--for a short time (though this "short time" may be far longer than anyone likes)."

That's exactly what I started out with, Gregory.
"I have never decried science in general, and its methods
What I HAVE said is that human nature being what it is, science itself can become a belief system in practice, by mainstream scientists.
This does NOT dispel what science actually is, but it's an example of what human nature can turn it into."


"Eventually, however, science will break the dogma."

I fully agree. No question.

Macky, Auckland
September 4, 2012 2:46pm

Right--where you and I disagree is that I acknowledge that when science becomes rigid it's always a temporary condition, and that the process of science itself removes any dogmatism. I've always been pointing out that your focus on the short-term is causing you to downplay the fact that science by its nature destroys dogma, even internally. THAT is why I said something like "It may not happen fast enough for you"--science ALWAYS destroys dogma, and your concern, while valid, is by design limited to very small scales. You're focused on the small scales. I'm focused on the design.

Gregory, California
September 4, 2012 3:20pm

Looking back on things I have never known science to be dogmatic. I have known people who think they know what science is.

There are numerous occassions where frauds have hijacked a science credibility by deliberately publishing bad data but these are caught relatively quickly within their fields.

There is a "publish or perish" mentality that generates endless swathes of very weak literature. This allows for nonsense to be published as science. You only need look at the ridiculous trials published in the alternative methodologies journals.

I think the failure in the argument is, people do not recognise dogma for dogma and science for science.

Mud, sin city, NSW, OZ
September 4, 2012 5:30pm

Gregory, you and I agree far more than we disagree.

In fact I DO agree that when science becomes rigid ( dogmatic )it's always a temporary condition, and that the process of science itself removes any dogmatism.

I never didn't agree with that point, just that it wasn't my focus.


"You're focused on the small scales. I'm focused on the design."

Not really on the small scales, although I agree with the possibility it could be perceived as that.
I am focused on the overall basic principle of science becoming just another dogmatic belief system due to human nature. ( No matter how temporary )

You're focused on the design.

All good.

Macky, Auckland
September 4, 2012 6:04pm

In the first sentence, "pour" should be "pore": http://www.dailywritingtips.com/poring-over-pore-and-pour/

Excellent article by the way...!

Eugene Foss, Carlsbad, CA
September 5, 2012 3:46pm

Ummm Eugene no. The sentence says, "Once again we're going to pour the mailbag of listener feedback onto the table, and sort through the pile of questions, suggestions, criticisms, praise, requests for lengthy one-on-one discourse, and death threats." It is correct the way it is, but thank you for providing a link to prove yourself wrong.

Gilbert, Phoenix, AZ
September 5, 2012 10:16pm

Yeah, I realized that, right after I posted. Would have deleted the comment but the web interface wouldn't let me. Went home last night feeling pretty stupid...

Eugene Foss, Carlsbad, CA
September 6, 2012 9:42am

<i>I also hear the word "heretic" a lot from people with Macky's perspective. It's usually used in reference to a lone crank who promotes some pseudoscience, often selling a product, who wishes to be seen as a maverick courageously bucking the trend. It's noteworthy that the term "heretic" is only ever used by dogmatic authorities.</i>

Contrary to Brian's thinking, the "dogmatic authorities" category does include today's scientists, at least those involved with the prominent magazine, "Scientific American." Two years ago, it published an article so labeling Dr. Judith Curry of Georgia Institute of Technology: "Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues."

Dr. Curry is not a heretic in the sense of radically opposing the orthodoxy of climate science. Her views are mainstream except that she argues that climate science claims for certainty about climate change are exaggerated, the methods used by climate scientists in the Climategate scandal are deplorable, and it would be helpful to communicate with climate skeptics rather than censoring them or ignoring them.

One can certainly disagree with Dr. Curry. However, the approach of much of the climate science community has been that of dogmatic authority -- to declare her a heretic and ostracize her.

And this falls right into the blind spot of liberal skeptics like Brian Dunning.

jacksf, San Francisco
December 13, 2012 11:47am

Jacksf, scientists and journalists may have some cross-overs but one is far more inclined to hyperbolic declarations than the other. While the scientific community may well ignore what Dr Curry is saying it is more likely to do with a lack of compelling evidence rather than they've declared her a heretic.

That and she gave a load of fodder to climate-skeptics by claiming the studies weren't performed well which'll drag the entire discussion out for an extra 5 years of continued damage.

Jimmy, England
December 19, 2012 8:42am

Jacksf... without reading your examples literature, are you sure you are comparing Macky (admittedly only once calling himself "the Heretic and only in his tag line...to your example?

Macky (a superb writer in comparison to most skeptoid) is a pop culturalist and speculator that posts here. He doesnt need verification as he hasnt promoted himself to be a polemicist of any sort.

Sadly, Sci Am lost its credibility as anything but an media pub (along with New sci) a very long time ago.

It may have changed but the literary garble and speculative articles lost me in 1991.

If your example says something that meliorates the climate change that is predicted, its also being intimated from time to time by a sci am regular (or once regular) Mike Schermer.

You have to be in field to be a heretic and neither Mike is or you have claimed your expert example to be.

PS...Heretic is now accepted to be somewhat of a slur. Literally its not.

Its like that "sophisticated" thing people drag up from time to time. If something is good and complex you do not need the word sophisticated to mis ascribe it, not when someone agrees badly do you need "heretic" to ascribe it.

But then we live in a world of mis ascriptions when better words are available.

Its only laziness on behalf of all of us that lend us to these truly bizarre extensions of grammar.

Doc Price quite often lectures us on grammar and the grammars he will correct.

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 10, 2013 1:39am

Jacksf

I might add here that Brian misrepresented me to Skeptoid readers in this article.

It was after some discussions about how science itself can become a belief system, a dogma, in some scientists minds, an opinion of mine reinforced by some mainstream scientists' actions against "heretics" who speak out against said scientific current theory and facts.

I do NOT regard science as entrenched dogma, nor did I.

Brian also implied that I enjoy the label of "heretic", a lone voice "courageously bucking the system".

This is patently untrue, as much of what I've written into Skeptoid has been totally in agreement with Brian, and even Mud on occasion.

I've also revised my thinking on at least two subjects, Nuclear Power and Irradiated Food, proving also I'm not here just to argue for the sake of it. And I have accepted in writing where I have been wrong on other subjects.

I'm quite happy despite Brian's misrepresentation of my position on science, and implications of enjoying heresy etc.

I merely post this information to clarify my position.

Aside from that, all good.

Macky, Auckland
January 19, 2013 8:46pm

Macky, the "heretic" thing came from your promotional sign off (only the once) as

"Macky, The Heretic

I responded that you arent smart enough to be a heretic.

Now I'll have to trowel your irradiated foods comments and those pertaining to nuclear power.

I'll see if they match up with my experience.

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 22, 2013 9:05pm

It was not as a self-promotional sign-off that I used it, otherwise I would have kept using it.

It was a tongue-in-cheek response to your posts. Hence the single time only that I used it.

Whether I am smart enough to be a heretic or not is not the point.

However I'm not smart enough to remember which subject I posted it on. Where was it ?

Macky, Auckland
January 22, 2013 10:48pm

Homework Macky, homework...

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 22, 2013 11:34pm

"However I'm not smart enough to remember which subject I posted it on. Where was it ?"

"Homework Macky, homework..."
Mud's latest buzzword.

Translation: I don't know either.

Macky, Auckland
January 23, 2013 12:33am

Look, I am not the one who can't remember the post but can accurately comment on it..

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 23, 2013 12:43am

"It was not as a self-promotional sign-off that I used it, otherwise I would have kept using it.

It was a tongue-in-cheek response to your posts. Hence the single time only that I used it."

I clearly remember the circumstances of my signing off as Macky the Heretic.
Despite my assiduous efforts, I am unable to locate the article where I used it.
Having posted on over 50 articles, I'm not surprised.

Macky, Auckland
January 23, 2013 9:11pm

Macky, you havent posted any articles on the skeptoid comments.

You've just posted comments.

Same as me, just comments.

Could you please post your fl77 posits in one clear concise comment on fl93 skeptoid?

You have asked me to comment on your notions, I'd like to see your full and developed case history and explanations.

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 24, 2013 9:13pm

Mud I didn't say I had posted any articles.

I stumbled over it in the finish, anyway.

My recollections and the reasons for the once-only sign-off are accurate.

Yours are too, except for the "promotional" bit.

Macky, Auckland
January 25, 2013 2:29pm

Oh, I thought you were implying you were clever..

Most real heretics were.

Sorry, Pho has woeful "borrowed" wifi interenet.. These skeptoids take an age to load.

Maybe because its rained about 200mm and (still is) the wind is ruining every bit of comms (including the HDTV Pho treated himself) loading and entertainment is curtailed. Slaving means siphoning off water build up and breaks are spent looking at the wet garden where its too cold for even the daily visit by a black snake..

MIND YOU... the feckless TV news last night told us there were storms with waves up to...100ft..

This is what happens when reporters too lazy to research interview..the weather man for 20 minutes.

100ft??? what on the sets? Only on chit chat we call the 24 hr news cycle..

Normally I phone or email the TV channel... From the Gulag with Ratchett, Pho and Stoma, we left it alone.

Mud, At virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
January 28, 2013 7:03pm

"Oh, I thought you were implying you were clever..

Most real heretics were."

You know all about them do you ?

Or is this another of your throw-away unarguable "statements of fact" ?

Macky, Auckland
January 30, 2013 9:24pm

Macky, sorry you missed that bit of homework as well.

As promised, I wont ever feed you as you consistently resented it since you came in.

But should you look up the herecies, heretics etc of history you find one thing;

Most of them were just as smart as those practicing orthodoxy.

Are you telling me that you dont even read history????

What do you do in NZ apart from the common rense stuff..

Off you go, do some homework.

My point about being "not as samrt as a heretic" stands ntil you have learned a bit about their writings and teachings in competition with the ruling factions.

Mud, sin city, Oz
January 31, 2013 3:31pm

I've got everything sorted out here in Kiwi, mate, don't you worry.

The heretics, too.

Possibly time for you to return to the gulag ? Or is the work there a bit too much for you ?

Macky, Auckland
January 31, 2013 5:50pm

You have to love staying down at Pho's in Gerringong the brave. There is always something to do.

Heresy and prophesying are an anathema down here.

Nobody has been to Rense.com but the birds flying from the local drome are spectacular. Makes it all worth while growing Clint Eastwoods leather neck look alike.

The odd snake from the creek is no problem at all.

I forgot, the snake concept is an anathema in NZ. Unless you take Jono's wet suit observations.

Mud, At (actually Pho's gulag) virtually missing point, NSW, OZ,
February 8, 2013 2:23am

You'll have to stop drinking the gulag's home brew, Mud.

It's not doing you any good at all.

If you're not careful I'll send Rense down to sort it out with you.
I know you'll love that.

Macky, Auckland
February 20, 2013 9:51pm

What are you talking about Macky?

Clearly you are uninformed on brewing so I'll forgive that ignorance.

True Jeff and You have a love child called a small imagination. But at least Jeff researches the further woo as well. Not just the painfully obvious credibility self abuse..

Have you gotten over the fact that he has actually stepped back from the pentagon conspiracist position?

Mud, Sin City, Oz
March 19, 2013 5:36pm

So what ?

If Jeff can't continue to back up the Pentagon conspiracist position with evidence, then he is only being perfectly sensible by stepping back.

I am however supporting my skepticism of the official story of Fl77 substantially, both with strong circumstantial evidence, and anomalies in the report itself.

Apart from my acknowledgement of Max's and Nick's better interpretations than mine of the gate cam vids ( which proves what I've always said i.e. I am happy to change my views when better evidence is presented ) nobody has provided coherent explanations against my evidence that Hanjour could not have flown the B757 the way the report says he did.

That the only evidence for those that endorse the official story comes from the US govt itself.
Therefore it is only a belief system that Fl77 happened the way the US govt says it did.

The US govt still withholds cam footage from the Pentagon cams and the over-road businesses, despite the Comm. report supposing to be the final word.
That requires no evidence from me. It is self-evident, and yet so-called skeptics accept it all without question.

It's only belief, that's all, that Fl77 flew the way the official story said it did.

In this case, I'm the true skeptic here, because I've subjected the Comm. report etc to critical analysis and found it wanting, not just swallowed it because it comes from Authority.

Macky, Auckland
March 30, 2013 12:29am

so we are back to speculation?

No, a true skeptic would say, these are the overwhelming data.

Its only belief that the jet flew the way it did from evidence.

Authority means, this is the best rendition until a better one comes along.

Mud, Sin City
May 2, 2013 12:10am

And unfortunately for your idea of what a true skeptic is in this case, I am employing true skepticism here, because I have provided the overwhelming data to cast serious doubt on the official version of Flight 77, for which in fact there is no evidence outside the Comm. and NTSB reports.

Should you wish to cling to Authority's pop phenomena version of Flight 77, feel free to do so. I don't mind.

But don't imagine for one moment that you are being truly skeptical, because accepting a made up US govt version of Fl77 without a single piece of evidence outside what the US govt has provided the public with, is not being skeptical at all.

It's simply the obedient following of a belief that the US govt is telling the truth, and nothing more.

Macky, Auckland
May 3, 2013 9:39pm

Are you spamming about F77 in here, too, now?

Sorry, Macky, but you're pretty far from what I would consider a true sceptic.
You've made some strange and clearly uninformed statements about 9/11 which were quickly shot down, and since then you've just been repeating the same things ad nauseum like a broken record, barely even listening to and replying to our answers.

If that's scepticism, call me a sheep.

Øyvind, Sogndal
May 13, 2013 9:07am

Get your facts together Øyvind.

The only reason why I mentioned Fl77 in this thread was in answer to Mud, who brought it up first.

As to your comment about spamming, if Brian thinks that I am spamming, he has the right to remove my posts, like any other.

I fail to see why you believe I've been quickly shot down on my "uninformed statements" about 9/11 when you have never given any answers whatsoever to clear evidence presented to Skeptoid.

In fact, many of my statements come from the official reports themselves, and mainstream wiki accounts which are peer-reviewed.

So where you get your "uninformed statements" comment from, who knows ?

If you had taken even the slightest notice of my posts instead of repeating the official story like a mantra, you would have noticed that I expanded my arguments through successive posts, both in scope and detail.

And as to your "repeating the same things ad nauseum like a broken record" it is quite obvious why I've repeated myself.

Firstly, as only one of two dissenters here on Skeptoid, I have had to reply to many pro-official story supporters who popped in, repeating the same old tired arguments which are only what the Comm. report says.
Secondly, none of your answers actually answered to the points I was making, but merely kept on repeating the same old dogma.

Like I have invited you several times now, bring me some evidence that is better than mine, and I'll drop my skepticism of Fl77.

And I don't call anybody a sheep, here.

Macky, Auckland
May 13, 2013 1:04pm

Oyvind,

yer right, he is hardly a skeptic and now he is referring to someone he has denied knowing the existence of by his first name.

Its the poor referencing skills of the above that has made me flower to my new incarnation on the cosmic wheel..

No matter what we are talking about, it reduces to..."I read about it on a wiki". Rots me fins on cold days!

Not that I have any evidence past a wiki for that..

Moral Dolphin, Greenacres by the sea Oz
May 13, 2013 5:38pm

Pure ad hominem.

No coherent arguments against mine, only pronouncements of propriety on my research source (as usual) and what I'm supposed to be.

What an miserable indictment on such a fine mind.
Arguments comprising of nothing but derision.

Øyvind, I'm waiting for some solid evidence from you regarding the support of Fl77 of the 9-11 attacks.
If you haven't got any, just admit it. I don't mind.

But so far all you've come up with is nonsensical aviation "facts" which under even the most elemetary scrutiny fail to stand up, and all your other arguments, like Another Nick's, have been taken apart one by one.

If and when you come up with something that causes me to drop my skepticism of the official version of Fl77, I would ask you to post it on "The Pentagon and the Missile" thread, seeing as how you have accused me of spamming.

Macky, Auckland
May 13, 2013 9:31pm

No Macky, Its what you have stated all along, you only speculate, use "mainstream evidence" and are generally unwilling to research.

Cant help paraphrasing a cohort of your replies. This is hardly derision, its just repeating what is consistently posted.

Oyvind, dont answer here. Go to the particular posts and collect the evidential statements you read and analyse them.

As to overwhelming someone, it wont work on the basis of the underwhelming conspiracism to date. Speculators have to live too..

As to spamming, I think that would be streng verboten in Brian world.

Moral Dolphin, Pho's Slave palace, Gerringong the Brave, NSW
May 14, 2013 5:03am

Sorry Mud, or Moral Dolphin, or Henk, whatever moniker you are posting on currently, but your constant casting of aspersions on my mainstream evidence and research just doesn't cut it, in reality.

Obviously when pure science is being discussed, then comprehensive research is required, and I have no argument with that.

But when it comes to human events and the historical interpretations that govts sometimes use to hide and deceive, even just for trivial purposes, then that is quite a different matter, one which you have failed to appreciate right from the start.

As I have posted before, your use of scientific tenets to cover everything else under the Sun results in stilted thinking which has demonstrated an overwhelming tendency on your part to embrace everything that officialdom dishes out to the public without question.

I agree with you that Wiki is only a start, when it comes to scientific enquiry.
On the other hand, Wiki is a peer-reviewed internet encyclopedia which is quite accurate in the information it imparts, and is reasonably reliable, especially on events such as 9-11. It has to be.

That the official version of at least one of the flights of 9-11 (AA77) should be so easily unraveled by the merest scrutiny of Wiki, plus of course the Comm. and NTSB reports themselves, is not an indication of poor research at all, but rather a proof of how easily anomalies, lies, and corruption in the 9-11 report are exposed.

Macky, Auckland
May 14, 2013 11:58am

No Macky, I am casting nasturtiums at your unwillingness to look further when there is an absolute treasure trove of reference material for every subject you care to name in the journal literature.

The literature covers nearly everything our culture offers to date. Maybe you should just have a look for a change.

Wiki isnt peer reviewed at all. Its user reviewed.

As to your last paragraph; are you sure that our merest scrutiny of a wiki article is enough to use as reference for comment?

Note that your merest scrutiny of what you mentioned above may lead you think that you have exposed (your last paragraph) but one notes that you probably didnt really read the references that well.

Maybe its called "coffee tabling".

Hey, I might use that again.

Moral Dolphin, Greenacres by the sea Oz
May 26, 2013 5:40pm

"Wiki isnt peer reviewed at all. Its user reviewed."

There is no firm standard for what peer review actually is. It's certainly important when rigour and review are required in science, but in human events and affairs, peer review can be not so strict, and be simply carried out by those of similar skills of a certain subject.

Even so, our strandpulling wiki has been edited by someone who posed unnecessary restrictions on our material, and recently I received a notice that there are actually editors who do review the contributions to wiki.

In general, wiki is constantly improving, and is quite a reliable source of information at a basic level that one can tee off on.
And I have actually dug a bit deeper sometimes into the more formal discourses on various aspects of the subjects I have posted on.

The point I was making in my last post's last paragraph is quite clear.
That the official version of Flight 77 is so easily unravelled by the merest scrutiny of Wiki, and the official reports themselves.

That people still believe the official (read urban legend) version of Fl77 when the information is staring at them in the face, from the very articles and documents that promote the official version, that things are not what they have been made out to be, doesn''t need very much deep research at all

The official comm. report contradicts itself in many places, and one needs only a couple of other references from wiki, an interview and court record to confirm the contradictions

Macky, Auckland
May 27, 2013 4:08am

Peer review is not wiki.

Stop getting the side track in.

You are too lazy to research. I note that your references tend to be at odds with you unless its a "conspiracy wiki".

I'll look at your Fl77 when your renditions are exhausted. Its a very tasteless thing you do there without evidence.

Moral Dolphin, Greenacres by the sea Oz
May 28, 2013 2:35am

"You are too lazy to research."

You don't know that.

"I note that your references tend to be at odds with you unless its a "conspiracy wiki"."

I haven't presented any conspiracy wiki's as evidence for my skepticism.

"I'll look at your Fl77 when your renditions are exhausted."

Up to you.

"Its a very tasteless thing you do there without evidence."

I've brought solid evidence to support my skepticism of Fl77, as the Comm. Report presents it.
Why is that tasteless ?

Macky, Auckland
May 28, 2013 9:11pm

So you still refuse to hope into google and click on that "more" icon and be suddenly enlightened.

That's very strange. It indicates that you are unwilling to look things up.

The wiki authors who have posted in wiki have always included references. Surely you dont think they magically appeared? No they looked it up using journal searches rather than being directed by blog posts.

Try it sometime. You'll be amased at the mind numbing amount of literature available to you on any subject.

No, its a tasteless thing you do with evidence (none of).

From this point on, you can now say Thank you for making my life just that much easier. Maybe you might do the opposite and call me a literature sycophant. You have done similar in the past

Magnanamous Dinoflagellate, sin city, Oz
June 2, 2013 9:01pm

Well I won't be "hoping" into google on your advice, I'm afraid.

I have actually researched several references of particular wiki's I used to support my arguments, amazingly enough.
As far as Flight 77 is concerned, you may notice in your considerable number of idle hours through the day, that I take most of my evidence for my skepticism of the official story from the 9-11 Commission Report itself, with many of its notes and references to the FBI "Hijackers' Timeline" and following notes at the end of the Report.
Not to mention Court records, NTSB reports etc, with only an occasional qualifying statement taken from a wiki site dealing specifically with Hani Hanjour himself, or the Fl77 account as per the urban legend version.

On the other hand, you contribute absolutely nothing either for or against most of my arguments regarding my alternative views of a few mainstream versions of popular history, and simply maintain your continuing and unremitting carping criticisms of either my depth of research, or the sources of my evidence.

It's a rather unproductive pastime of yours, and with such an obvious capacity for your retention of large quantities of facts (but very little actual knowledge application) a pitiful waste of your intellect.

For example, it would be nice if you could spare a moment from your days-long reverie, and explain your repeated whining about the "tasteless thing I do", that's of course if you're up to it.

Macky, Auckland
June 3, 2013 3:34am

Your first two paragraphs indicate you still havent learned to search the literature. How many months have I been telling you that you will be amased at finding the things you can without being directed to them as you continually admit. (as late as the very last post of yours here).

Evidence collection from literature isnt being directed by conspiracy forums, wikis and woo lovers flagships with their references..and then complaining about corporate behaviour when one cuts and pastes a posters text and does a search.

Its validation of the best references and the identification of who has influenced the poster to copy to this forum.

Thanks for the compliment and observations on my persistence in asking you to learn how to search literature.

Its damning on you that its unproductive to this point. But I will continue.

After all, I have read what other people want me to read as well as the literature that is reviewed by the submitters peers, the books and the reports (all in the litertaure Macky, all of it).

Its a tasteless way you persist in question begging Macky.

Again, the light may go on when you click that more menu in google and see your options.

Will you find the magic option after that?

Learning, its not only observed in crows. But maybe New Zealand doesnt have crows to lead by example.

Moral Dolphin Back in Mud Suit, Greenacres by the sea Oz
June 5, 2013 5:40pm

"Evidence collection from literature isnt being directed by conspiracy forums, wikis and woo lovers flagships with their references..and then complaining about corporate behaviour when one cuts and pastes a posters text and does a search."

I don't read conspiracy forums, and I've said before that the best way to argue against the official story is to find flaws and anomalies in the official story itself.

I've told you that my main evidence against Fl77 is the Commission report itself, FBI Hijackers Timelines, Court Records of trainers comments on Hanjours incompetence etc. with an occasional Wiki for added comments.

Are all those woo-lovers flagships ?

Macky, Auckland
June 6, 2013 1:14am

I'll deal with this entire conspiracy prattle when the "aura skeptoid" has been finalised.

Please continue to protest..

Magnanamous Dinoflagellate, sin city, Oz
June 11, 2013 8:41pm

"I'll deal with this entire conspiracy prattle when the "aura skeptoid" has been finalised."

Well you've been making assurances for a long time now Mud.

What conspiracy are you talking about ? I haven't asserted any conspiracies.

I've merely announced my skepticism of the official story of Flight 77, and provided evidence for that skepticism from official sources themselves.

Macky, Auckland
June 12, 2013 7:01pm

a) yes there is a reason why I have fixed the month (should you actually read comments).

b) you have aligned yourself with many conspiracies in the position of "accuse authority" (question authority has never been argued with a basis) and speculation within an opposing "popular culture" view.

If fl77 was the only conspiracist position you have held, may I quote your above and underline all the other conspiracy posts you have commented to?

you do realise that the woo is also argued on a conspiracy based position? Its a few times I have heard that general practitioners treat sore knees and common complaints with mind altering drugs..

Magnanamous Dinoflagellate, sin city, Oz
June 21, 2013 3:45am

I've brought plenty of "basis" to question Authority's version of events. Even Authority's own official accounts themselves.

That you have never argued against them is because you have no constructive arguments of your own to argue with.
All you do is cast aspersions and inferences on the depth and sources of my research, a comfortable position for one who has no original ideas of his own but merely follows the official story, unevidenced as it is, or otherwise.

As to your last sentence, I have had personal experience of doctors who prescribe psychotropic drugs for common ailments.
One friend of mine who was just a little bit sad because she lost her husband of 30 years was prescribed a powerful mind-altering drug which warns of side-effects such as feelings of wanting to commit suicide, when she went to her doctor for a leg problem.
She was worried after reading the warnings, and promptly took my advice and threw the lot where it rightly belongs, in the rubbish bin.

My son-in-laws' doctor friend had a young boy brought to her for a knee complaint. His previous doctor had prescribed psychotropic drugs for the problem, and was phoned and warned that such quackery would result in a complaint to the medical authorities if he kept it up.

This is plain life experience Mud, nothing out of a text-book or journal.
And you've got the hide to call what I've suggested may be reasonable alternatives for SOME medical complaints woo when quackery is rife in mainstream medicine.

Macky, Auckland
June 21, 2013 5:19am

a) yes there is a reason why I have fixed the month (should you actually read comments).

b) you have aligned yourself with many conspiracies in the position of "accuse authority" (question authority has never been argued with a basis) and speculation within an opposing "popular culture" view.

If fl77 was the only conspiracist position you have held, may I quote your above and underline all the other conspiracy posts you have commented to?

you do realise that the woo is also argued on a conspiracy based position? Its a few times I have heard that general practitioners treat sore knees and common complaints with mind altering drugs..

Magnanamous Dinoflagellate, sin city, Oz
June 21, 2013

No argument pursued to date..

Magnanamous Dinoflagellate, sin city, Oz
July 2, 2013 11:46pm

I haven't asserted or adopted any conspiracist position regarding Fl77, Mag. De Flagellation.

1) I am skeptical of the official version of Fl77.
2) The US govt knows more about Fl77 than it is letting on.
3) There is NO evidence for the official story of Fl77 other than what the public have been told by a routinely abusive and untrustworthy US govt.

I still hold the position of the above three assertions, backed with substantial evidence, and official non-evidence, and has not changed from the start.

"you do realise that the woo is also argued on a conspiracy based position? "

Only in your own dreams, Mag. D. Flag.

Macky, Auckland
July 5, 2013 3:26pm

1) Thats nice.. thanks for not supporting an argument.
2) thanks for letting us know that further arrests and litigation are expected.
3) yes, apart from the wreckage there is no evidence...Hang on? did somebody miss the collation of evidence here?

Quacky, there is no evidence to support your position unless you hold grand proclamations of conspiracits.

As far as to dreams Quacky, yours are bludged from sensationalists.

Evidence as bad as your own from chemtrails and as preposterous as those from people who make a living from generating chat is clearly not evidence.

You have never given us evidence.. just general web chit chat.

Clearly your sources do not agree with you but a read of conspiracy sites would direct you to believe so.

I eschew any conspiracism, its about time you do as well and then argue again without these.

After all, you have denied the conspiracists that make your view.

Midrash Delinquent, Gerringong NSW Oz
July 13, 2013 12:11am

Honk, it seems as though you've changed your posting-name again, by your nonsense that is contained therein.

Can't you stand behind a single name for long ? You're like a boxer who runs around the ring hurling insults but not actually engaging in swapping a few hits.
When I was in the ring, such and opponent was regarded as dishonest (for getting into the ring in the first place), and gutless (for not actually engaging in boxing).

1) I've supported my arguments.
2) Self-evident. The FBI still withholds cam footage (at least).
3) The wreckage is no proof that Fl77 hit the Pentagon.

Now for the rest of your rubbish, why don't you do what I've asked others to do ?

Bring some evidence outside the US govt's that supports the official version of Flight 77. It shouldn't be hard, given your giant intellect.

And just so as you know, I have not proposed any conspiracy (yet) regarding 9-11, and particularly Fl77.

"Quacky, there is no evidence to support your position unless you hold grand proclamations of conspiracits."
What that means is anyone's guess.

I have not asserted any CT from the chemtrail article.

I'm not a bludger. Coming from an Oz (even a naturalized one) that's a pretty bad insult. Not that I care.

"After all, you have denied the conspiracists that make your view."

I don't read CT sites and they do NOT make my view.

Stop talking nonsense and address the subject in a clear and coherent manner.

Macky, Auckland
July 13, 2013 12:47am

1, 2, and 3 are quite properly explained in my 100+ posts on the Pentagon Missile article.

There is ample official evidence there for my skepticism, if you are not too lazy to read some of it.

There is no evidence except for what the US govt and its agencies have supplied, for the official version of 9-11, and in particular Fl77.

Your posts are simply denial of my assertions, and provide no arguments dealing with the subject at hand, only continued comments about myself.

Macky, Auckland
July 13, 2013 3:33am

Evidence as bad as your own from chemtrails and as preposterous as those from people who make a living from generating chat is clearly not evidence.

You have never given us evidence.. just general web chit chat.

Clearly your sources do not agree with you but a read of conspiracy sites would direct you to believe so.

I eschew any conspiracism, its about time you do as well and then argue again without these.

After all, you have denied the conspiracists that make your view.

Muntacious Deanfleagle, sin city, Oz
July 17, 2013 11:21pm

"Evidence as bad as your own from chemtrails .."

I've never provided evidence of chemtrails, only detailed sightings of trails which are not like contrails, along with at least three others, who like me also do not promote any CT-CT.

"After all, you have denied the conspiracists that make your view."

CT's don't make my view. I certainly deny that they do.

M.D. you're always on about the lack of, depth, or sources of my research.

Why not post some of your own, for once, that allays my skepticism of the official version of Flight 77.
I'm sure by now everybody is positively slathering with anticipation for some examples of your expertise, which so far have been noticeable by their absence.

Macky, Auckland
July 18, 2013 8:48pm

Nope, no detailed sightings noted here. Maybe you could repost the sighting of yours?

"M.D. you're always on about the lack of, depth, or sources of my research"

Macky, Auckland
July 18, 2013 8:48pm

what research, have you looked anything up yet.

"Why not post some of your own, for once"
Macky, Auckland
July 18, 2013 8:48pm

When I post research you call it corporate behaviour..

As to my real research, have you looked it up yet?

After all, if you cant find something that simple to find, goodness knows what you are making up here (spotted) but have been directed to as your appear just a little inept at carrying out literature review.

Macky, you have never done any research.

You have never done a shred of literature review and I have severe doubts about the only two claims you make here.

1) Seeing etherics from a book (or at all)
2) Seeing any sort of chemtrail but have copied someone elses.

This started to be confirmed when you started denying the existence of Conspiracy Posits in your prose and Jeff Rense in particular,

Flight 77 started to become a bit silly when you did that.

Sorry for being a bit corporate there me old bean!

Mountain Denier, sin city, Oz
August 1, 2013 1:36am

You above post is bereft of any evidence for your multiple fabricated assertions, Henk.

They lay entirely in your imagination and nowhere else.

You have not answered any of my direct questions on many subjects that I have posted to you on Skeptoid, Henk.

Instead, you maintain a constant tirade of false innuendo, outright fabrication, and criticism of my research, both in the depth and source.

Your posts as usual, Henk, have nothing going for them, and are silly exaggerations and examples of blowing things up all out of proportion.

Like yourself.

Macky, Auckland
August 2, 2013 5:18pm

I suppose its back to "that darned science"..

Empiricism is still running a shut out in the game of achievement..

Belief, is still shut out..

Minty Dateroll, sin city, Oz
August 15, 2013 11:05pm

Irony: Action that does something the body performing the action says is wrong.
E.g. Macky ignoring the contents of a critical comment and only noting it ignores the contents of his critical comment.

Bill, Canberra
May 14, 2014 2:41am

Bill

Care to post some examples and explanations of your E.g. ??

I'm still waiting on the FEMA Prison Camp thread for some examples of your little "digs" that you slip in every so often.

Or is it that you have actually no evidence whatsoever for your comments, and will as usual remain silent after being called out, or simply not answer direct questions, similar to Henk Van Der Gaast, posting under "Mud" and various other aliases in this thread ?

Macky, Auckland
July 11, 2014 5:40pm

Apologies to all, but what was the original question? All of this esoteric chatter and sweeping generalization has just got me lost in the fog.

Swampwitch7, Gainesville Fl
July 22, 2014 10:52am

Apologies Swampwitch7

There are many posts involving a running "battle" mostly prior to August 2013, between myself and a scientist called Henk van der Gaast, who posted under various names shown above and who demonstrated almost a religious belief in science being the only valid proof for anything, notably shown by his convoluted diversions and refusal to answer multiple straight questions that I had posed to him over some 2 years of my posting to Skeptoid.

I was also misrepresented by Brian in this article in two ways.
Firstly I have never said that science is dogma, but that it took on the appearance of dogma by the way scientists who came up with something new were often pilloried by the others, or at least shunned in some way.

The "heretic" thing was only an attempt at wry humour during Mud's (van der Gaast's) and my rants at each other, as a mark against his near-religious endorsement of science as the all and end-all of reality.
It was added ONCE to my Name/Nickname, and picked up by Skeptoid and misrepresented by implication, as you can see in this article.
".. who wishes to be seen as a maverick courageously bucking the trend."

Obviously not true, as I have mentioned so many times that my assertions/beliefs are not cast in stone, and that should anybody, Skeptoid included, present better evidence than mine, I will change my views according to the quality of said evidence. And that I have done several times.

Macky, Auckland
July 22, 2014 5:40pm

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