Saturday, April 26, 2008

Doggerel #152: "Even if I Showed You the Evidence, You Wouldn't Believe It!"

Welcome back to "Doggerel," where I ramble on about words and phrases that are misused, abused, or just plain meaningless.

It's been my experience that woos are really, really, cynical people. There are few ways they express that cynicism more completely than to assume we won't respond to evidence. What I think throws them off is that we express greater curiosity than they did when they heard the evidence: The skeptics I know have seen a lot, investigated properly, and know a thing or two about science. Most of us would be ecstatic if you proved magic, alien spacecraft, or The Force existed. The problem is that we've already looked at a LOT of claims about that, and know alternate explanations for weird stuff.

That's why we ask questions: We're trying to eliminate all those alternate explanations. People are fooled much more easily than the average person thinks. We're the sort who doesn't want to be fooled into believing falsities. Besides, as cool as all the stuff in my D&D books is, it'd be infinitely cooler if it really, verifiably existed. (Though it might not be a net good, it'd still be cool.) All the magic of woo claims would be useful, nifty, or whatever if they were true, but that's only if the evidence is good enough. That's why we ask questions about the evidence. If you aren't willing or able to answer them, we have no idea how good it is, or even if it tells us anything at all.

What's the point of withholding the evidence anyway? If you won't tell us anything because you're convinced we're blind naysayers, showing off your bigotry and foregone conclusions isn't going to score any points with us or the peanut gallery.

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