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Muehlegger is very good at "debunkery by association"

Mar 15, 2002 05:49 AM
by Daniel Caldwell

Brigitte, in your posting at:

you write of a "purple unicorn (with pink

Your text clearly shows that you are very good at
"debunkery by association". 

Read the following which is excerpted from the article
titled "Some Notes on Skepticism"

"Debunkery by association: If paranormal phenomena are
real, then we might just as well believe in
werewolves, fairies and unicorns! To rhetorically
imply, by means of direct suggestion or innuendo, that
attempts at serious research into anomalous phenomena
are no more credible than psychic hotlines, tabloid
reports of miracles and newspaper horoscopes. James
Randi is very fond of this rhetorical technique, as he
uses it ad nauseam and beyond:

'(..) cold fusion is a dead duck, the earth is not
flat, and the fault lies not in our stars, but in

Effectively, Randy is suggesting that there is some
kind of connection between research into anomalous
energy production associated with hydrogon and
astrology and the belief that the earth is flat. A
variation of this technique is to associate serious
unconventional research with mass media outlets that
report on it - Park's grotesque discussion of
parapsychological phenomena as reported by a
sensationalist, unscientific ABC program in his book
Voodoo Science (p. 195-200) was already mentioned

Another variation on this theme is to associate an
unconventional claimant with convicted frauds who used
to work in the same field. Of course, there is
incompetence and fraud in every profession. There are
surgeons who cut off a wrong leg and scientists who
falsify data, but that does not lead skeptics to
conclude that every surgeon is a quack and all of
science is bogus. But exactly that kind of wild,
slanderous generalization is commonly employed by
pseudoskeptics to discredit unconventional fields of
inquiry. When it comes to free energy, they discuss
free energy con-man Dennis Lee. To discredit
parapsychology, they devote much time and effort to
Uri Geller, Miss Cleo and John Edward. To ridicule UFO
research, they keep going back to Adamski and his
claims of arian dream women from Venus. To discredit
crop circles, they emphasize stories of crop circle
researchers who were fooled by hoaxers, as if that
somehow forbade the existence of the real thing. The
possibility of health benefits from magnetic fields is
repudiated by emphasizing obviously worthless charms
and braceletts advertised in the yellow press.
Accupuncture is dismissed as unsafe because it has
lead to serious injury in the hands of unqualified


Daniel H. Caldwell
"...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things at
their right value; and unless a judge compares notes and
hears both sides he can hardly come to a correct decision."
H.P. Blavatsky. The Theosophist, July, 1881, p. 218.

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