Strange Responses to a Skeptical Article
March 3, 2009
On average I write between three and five articles and columns each week, most of them skeptical in nature. I cover the gamut from UFOs to the latest lake monster sighting, ghost video, or dubious statement made in the news. The nature of skeptical (or critical) inquiry is that sometimes people won’t like what you say. For example, if I write a piece pointing out that predictions made by psychics for 2008 didn’t come true, psychics get upset (a few months back, one threatened to sue me).
So it didn’t surprise me that I got some angry feedback from a recent column I write for LiveScience.com, "Why Evidence for the Paranormal Doesn’t Improve." I wrote in part:
It seems that every month or two some new piece of evidence surfaces that promises to shed light on an unexplained mystery: A miraculous healing story here, a Borneo river monster photo there. Yet like the proverbial carrot before the donkey, final evidence is always in sight but never obtained.
For decades, UFO buffs have claimed that conclusive proof of alien life is just around the corner. They believe that the "truth will be revealed" — either by extraterrestrials finally making themselves known (a visit to the White House lawn or Times Square might be on the agenda), or by the world’s governments ending their conspiracy of silence and letting the public see the real evidence and alien bodies they’ve had on ice since 1947.
For decades, New Agers have heralded the coming of, well, a New Age. Some may remember the "Harmonic Convergence" that took place in August 1987, when thousands of people gathered at supposedly sacred sites around the world (including Stonehenge and the Golden Gate Bridge) to help usher in a global era of peace, brotherly love, and unity. Unfortunately — despite two days of song, prayer, and dancing — the world’s wars, genocide, terrorism, and catastrophe have continued unabated.
Time and again, conclusive evidence is promised and fails to materialize; in fact it follows a predictable pattern. First, a non-scientist or layperson claims to have discovered some important new piece of evidence (such as the discovery of Noah’s Ark on Mt. Ararat in Turkey or the discovery of a Bigfoot track). News media then pick up and broadcast the story, sensationalizing it in the process. Then, as public interest mounts, the original promoters promise that scientists will examine the evidence and prove their claims.
I thought it was pretty fair-minded and stuck to the facts, nothing to get exercised about. Below are three responses I got from readers.
The first was from a Henrik Mattson, titled, "Your Yahoo News Garbage" :
I’m an ordinary guy from Finland with a poor academic education (music) but with a
pretty nice bookshelf, fast internet and keen interest to find out for myself and
not going with the ‘thinking of the day’...
I must say that reading your very short " why evidence for the paranormal doesn’t
improve" on yahoo news made me very sceptical you’re a real sceptic after all.
Have you bothered to read anything on these subjects? There is ALREADY a massive body of evidence (physical, e.w. accounts, official reports, whistleblower books, stories and tales) including mass-sightings, widely
broadcast incidents where you have multiple hightech equipment from ground to air
plus eyewitness accounts of the same UFO etc…that leaves us with the only really
Why is there not any public debate on a global level on these very interesting and
highly current issues? ( By the way: I saw an UFO up close just a few days ago, and
I didin’t see it once, I saw it trice)
Sincerely up yours, Henrik
Thanks for writing. You asked if I have bothered to read anything on the
subjects in my piece. The answer is yes, in fact I have conducted
first-hand investigation into these topics for over ten years. I have
researched UFO claims, Bigfoot, psychics, ghosts, lake monsters, crop
circles, miracles, and many other topics. I have written three books and
hundreds of articles on the paranormal, so I think I have a solid
background in the issues. If you believe I missed important
information or my facts are wrong, I’d be happy to hear about it.
p.s. Up yours too.
The second, from a Bob Singleton, had as the subject line, "You’re a government schill," and contained only two words:
1) the word is "shill," not "schill"
2) If I’m a government shill, where’s my check?
The third, from a Mr. Lin Liangtai, came with the heading, "US$10,000 for you to call my unbelievable article bad science"
I just read your website on bad science. So, I will pay you US$10,000 to call my
article bad science, disproving it publicly.
Attached is my article entitled "A study on a Carboniferous Human Femur Fossil".
I didn’t even know what to say to this guy. Never heard of him and I have no idea why he would pay me to call his article "bad science." If anyone else out there wants to read his article and call it bad science publicly, it might just be worth your while…