Ever had someone try to convince you of something he or she is trying to prove by saying, “Look at it logically…” and then trotting out their reasons why you should believe them? Or maybe someone makes their case and follows it with, “It’s logical, isn’t it?”
This happens to me occasionally, and I don’t suppose I’m in a unique position here. The problem, however, is that so often those people are wrong about the points they are trying to prove, but the way they state their arguments seems to sound vaguely sort of right, but at the same time you can detect that something isn’t right at all. But you might not be able to just put your finger on it. You might even know that that person is factually incorrect, but their argument seems unassailable because you can’t quite identify their error. What’s going on here?
That kind of scenario happened to me all the time when I was much younger. It didn’t matter what the subject might be, I couldn’t win an argument.
But when I went off to university, I chose a course which was Psychology, but which was structured in such a way that related subjects – such as logic as a complete course in its own right – was integral to the whole thing. I was determined that I would never lose another argument!
As it happens, even with an honours degree to show for my trouble, I still can’t win an argument – but at least now I know why. (Just kidding – I can win an argument; the problem, more often than not, is that the other person doesn’t realise it.)
The bottom line is this: everyone thinks that they think logically, but in fact humans are not “hardwired” to think logically. Humans have evolved to survive, and logic did not come into it. Better to dive for cover than stand there trying decide whether that’s really a predator coming at you. Logic is a subject – a method of reasoning – that has been developed over thousands of years by some of the greatest thinkers. From Aristotle to the present day, logic has been a work in progress, and science would not exist if the so-called logic of the average person underpinned it. In fact, there are many people who seem to be trying to destroy science and thereby take us back to the dark ages. That has to be fought against.
This new blog is going to tackle various paranormal, supernatural, UFO, quack medicine and other claims, but using logical reasoning to question those claims. One thing needs to be clear before we go any further, though: there is no way, logically, to prove a universal negative; in other words, I can’t disprove the alleged existence of the paranormal, etc., but I can show why various claims of so-called “paranormal experts” can be dismissed – or at least why they do not need to be taken seriously.
Let me say, however, I have no objection whatsoever if any paranormal, supernatural or any other related claim can be proven to be true. I would say this: if the paranormal can be proven to be real, then it would become a scientific fact the same as any other, whether you like it or not. A paranormal hypothesis that is actually testable, i.e., falsifiable in the scientific sense, is something I would welcome. In fact, rather than being called a debunker, I would really like to be the first person to be able to prove it is real. A Nobel Prize on my CV would be useful, after all.
I already have it worked out, as it happens. Once I prove that any single aspect of the paranormal is real, I can then spend the rest of my life raking in the cash whilst being feted around the world. There will be the book deals; the film rights (maybe Tom Cruise can play the part of me); the worldwide lecture tours; TV, radio and magazine interviews; glamorous women throwing themselves at me, etc, etc, etc.
But realistically, I don’t think that is really going to happen. I might just have to content myself with poking a pointy stick in the eye of irrationality. And building a resource for thinkers based on reason rather than belief.
But fear not, I have vowed to use my sceptical powers only for good. Here we go…